Studies in Genesis 2
So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. (Genesis 2:21-22 ESV)
God does something only God can do. He creates. This is not ex nihilo creation. God does not create the woman out of nothing. Instead He takes available material, the first man, whom He had fashioned from available material, dust or dirt, and makes a new person, like the first man yet at same time, unlike him. This act of creation is consistent with the description of God’s other acts of creation.
Adam, the first man, was formed from earth, or dirt. “Then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature” (Genesis 2:7 ESV) Here, the word “formed” means to squeeze into shape, or mould as a potter fashions a vessel at the wheel. It is a different word than the one used by God when He built the woman. “And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man” (Genesis 2:22 ESV). In this verse the word “made” means build or rebuild, or to make something continue. It does not mean to add on to an existing thing.
We cannot ignore the word of God when He created Man in His image. “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27 ESV). God uses the same word when He created Man as He used when He created the universe, and then the sea creatures. The word “created” means to make something new that did not previously exist using either already created material or creating ex nihilo, out of nothing. Only God can create either ex nihilo or out of existing material He has already created.
The woman is not an extension of the man but one of two persons God uses to begin building the human race. It takes two, a male and a female, to make the population of people grow. Though God could fashion everyone out of the dust of the earth or from the rib of anyone, He does not work this way. He works, and fashions people according to the natural laws of procreation, in a way that requires one know another physically intimately. We are not told whether the first man knew what God was going to do to make a helper for him. As a servant of God the man would be willing to do whatever God wanted done.
God caused the man to fall into a sleep so deep he would not know the pain of the surgery performed. Taking a rib out of a person is a painful procedure. It would have been much easier for God to create the woman out of the dust of the earth. In the surgery is the act of giving oneself completely to another as an act of selfless love to both God and the woman, his helper.