Hebrew In Israel | One Flesh (Gen 2:24) – Learn Torah

One Flesh

Hebrew In Israel | One Flesh (Gen 2:24) – Learn Torah


I was asked the following question about the relationship between man and woman in the context of Gen 2:24, and the meaning of the words בשר אחד.

Q:  Shalom! Have you done a teaching on Bereshith 2:24 explaining exactly what becoming “one flesh” means?  If so could you direct me to it and if not would you mind explaining it?  I’m not particularly convinced it is only in regard to intercourse yet this is the typical understanding. Thank you.

A:  In overall the sexual side is the most appropriate interpretation.  This link is done mostly because marriage has an overall way of approving sex between a couple.  It also stems from the context of the word “flesh” relating to the reproductive organs.  Israel Knohl in his book “Beliefs of Scripture” takes it even further and cites Ibn Ezra who claimed “Knowledge” from the tree was of a sexual nature (Knhol I, Magnes press 2007, pp.24-39).

Word Meaning

As a rule, words in BH have several meanings, which is different from how words might work in English.  Word definition is given based on context, which means a word can have different meanings depending on the text.

בשר in BH has sveral meanings:

a. Flesh- the material covering the bones

b. The body or person in general

c. All living forms

d. Reproductive organs

The word אחד usually translates as “one”.  In our case it means “as one” in the sense of unifying to become as if one person.  One in Hebrew has multiple meanings and is used as a regular number, noun, and adjective creating a very diverse collection of meanings (Waltke&O’Conor, BHS pp.273-275).  This diversity has also created many arguments over the use of it in key verses.

Another option

The above by most are flesh as the body to its different parts.  However, the term בשר-flesh is not only a reference to the reproductive organs or the body in general.  Being one flesh can also be connected to the idea of שאר בשר– blood relative (Leviticus 21:2).  In BH and Akkadian She’er/Siru means “flesh” in the sense of a relative.  Later on the form was pushed aside, but the form שאר בשר-She’er Basar was created to indicate relative.  If this is the case, בשר could mean that they become as blood relatives and must care for one another.  This would be protecting one another, financial care, emotional care and funeral arrangements.

Originally Published:  28 Sept 2016


James Perone

May 15, 2018 at 8:19 am

So you mean one flesh encompasses material physical economical spirituality mentally that all these things are supported by both parties husband and wife?

    Yoel Halevi

    July 2, 2018 at 5:27 pm


E Boyd Daniels

October 8, 2018 at 5:39 pm

What about the idea that two join together to create a new flesh, a child? 1 + 1 = 1

    Yoel Halevi

    October 19, 2018 at 4:47 am

    Interesting idea, but this is not the way the word “flesh” is used in this context.


May 18, 2019 at 10:55 pm

By comparison to the creation of man and woman, Adam would have looked at Eve/the woman and seen a being that was quite literally made from his flesh. Hence they were in a sense actually one flesh.
As it goes on to talk about a man leaving mother and father to be one flesh with his new partner, this suggests that a family is also one flesh. Hence when a man leaves his parents and bonds to a woman, he now views her as his flesh similar to how he viewed his family, i.e. A blood relative as discussed in the article.
By being one flesh they can produce children together which once again will be quite literally a flesh made of both of them, hence they as a family unit will be one flesh just like how the man was before leaving his parents and like how Adam was to Eve.
To be one flesh in turn is to view each individual in the relationship as a blood relative and in an even stronger sense demonstrated by Adam and Eve, to treat the other as one would treat their own flesh.


January 21, 2024 at 11:02 pm

Question: if Eve was taken physically from Adam, with one rib, I would assume that Adam is the only one short one rib. If Eve was taken spiritually, and emotionally from the inside of Adam, with this not only make them, but also one spirit, one soul… This is the reason why they can be divorced physically; the God would have to divorce them spiritually because God is a spirit, and that which God has joined together no man can tear apart


January 21, 2024 at 11:09 pm

Sorry, I hit the wrong button. The question is, would they not only be one flash, but also one spirit, and also one soul separated into each other

    Yoel Halevi

    March 24, 2024 at 12:03 pm

    One flesh is body only, this is why divorce is acceptable in biblical law. The idea of one soul and so one is a deterministic idea which is not found in the biblical text. This idea is presented in some 2nd temple sects but was not accepted in Jewish thought.

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