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24 That is why[a] a man leaves[b] his father and mother and unites with[c] his wife, and they become one family.[d] 25 The man and his wife were both naked,[e] but they were not ashamed.[f]

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  1. Genesis 2:24 tn This statement, introduced by the Hebrew phrase עַל־כֵּן (ʿal ken, “therefore” or “that is why”), is an editorial comment, not an extension of the quotation. The statement is describing what typically happens, not what will or should happen. It is saying, “This is why we do things the way we do.” It links a contemporary (with the narrator) practice with the historical event being narrated. The historical event narrated in v. 23 provides the basis for the contemporary practice described in v. 24. That is why the imperfect verb forms are translated with the present tense rather than future.
  2. Genesis 2:24 tn The prefixed verb form יַעֲזָב (yaʿzov) may be an imperfect, “leaves,” with a gnomic or characteristic nuance, or a jussive, “should leave” (possibly indicated by the short o-vowel). The next two verbs, each a perfect consecutive, continue the force of this verb. For other examples of עַל־כֵּן (ʿal ken, “therefore, that is why”) with the imperfect in a narrative framework, see Gen 10:9; 32:32 (the phrase “to this day” indicates characteristic behavior is in view); Num 21:14, 27; 1 Sam 5:5 (note “to this day”); 19:24 (perhaps the imperfect is customary here, “were saying”); 2 Sam 5:8. The verb translated “leave” (עָזָב, ʿazav) normally means “to abandon, to forsake, to leave behind,” when used with human subject and object (see Josh 22:3; 1 Sam 30:13; Ps 27:10; Prov 2:17; Isa 54:6; 60:15; 62:4; Jer 49:11). Within the context of the ancient Israelite extended family structure, this cannot refer to emotional or geographical separation. The narrator is using hyperbole to emphasize the change in perspective that typically overtakes a young man when his thoughts turn to love and marriage.
  3. Genesis 2:24 tn The verb is traditionally translated “cleaves [to]”; it has the basic idea of “stick with/to” (e.g., it is used of Ruth resolutely staying with her mother-in-law in Ruth 1:14). In this passage it describes the inseparable relationship between the man and the woman in marriage as God intended it.
  4. Genesis 2:24 tn Heb “and they become one flesh.” The retention of the word “flesh” (בָּשָׂר, basar) in the translation often leads to an incomplete interpretation. The Hebrew word refers to more than just a sexual union. The man and woman bring into being a new family unit (הָיָה plus preposition ל [hayah plus lamed] means “become”). The phrase “one flesh” occurs only here and must be interpreted in light of v. 23. There the man declares that the woman is bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh. To be one’s “bone and flesh” is to be related by blood to someone. For example, the phrase describes the relationship between Laban and Jacob (Gen 29:14); Abimelech and the Shechemites (Judg 9:2; his mother was a Shechemite); David and the Israelites (2 Sam 5:1); David and the elders of Judah (2 Sam 19:12); and David and his nephew Amasa (2 Sam 19:13; see 2 Sam 17:25; 1 Chr 2:16-17). The expression “one flesh” seems to indicate that they become, as it were, “kin,” at least legally (a new family unit is created) or metaphorically. In this first marriage in human history, the woman was literally formed from the man’s bone and flesh. The first marriage sets the pattern for how later marriages are understood and explains why marriage supersedes the parent-child relationship. See NT use of this passage in Matt 19:5-6; Mark 10:8; 1 Cor 6:16; and Eph 5:31.
  5. Genesis 2:25 tn Heb “And the two of them were naked, the man and his wife.” sn Naked. The motif of nakedness is introduced here and plays an important role in the next chapter. In the Bible nakedness conveys different things. In this context it signifies either innocence or integrity, depending on how those terms are defined. There is no fear of exploitation, no sense of vulnerability. But after the entrance of sin into the race, nakedness takes on a negative sense. It is then usually connected with the sense of vulnerability, shame, exploitation, and exposure (such as the idea of “uncovering nakedness” either in sexual exploitation or in captivity in war).
  6. Genesis 2:25 tn The imperfect verb form here has a customary nuance, indicating a continuing condition in past time. The meaning of the Hebrew term בּוֹשׁ (bosh) is “to be ashamed, to put to shame,” but its meaning is stronger than “to be embarrassed.” The word conveys the fear of exploitation or evil—enemies are put to shame through military victory. It indicates the feeling of shame that approximates a fear of evil.

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