(3) זכר ונקבה ברא אותם MALE AND FEMALE CREATED HE THEM — And further on (Genesis 2:21) it is said: “and He took one of his ribs etc.” (The two passages appear to be contradictory.) But according to a Midrashic explanation, He created him at first with two faces, and afterwards He divided him. But the real sense of the verse is: here it tells you that both of them were created on the sixth day, but it does not explain to you how their creation took place; this it explains to you in another place (Genesis Rabbah 8:1 and see Eruvin 18a) .
רשב"ם בראשית פרשת בראשית פרק א
זכר ונקבה ברא אותם - כמו שמפרש לפנינו ויקח אחת מצלעותיו כלל ואח"כ פירש.
אָמַר רַבִּי יִרְמְיָה בֶּן אֶלְעָזָר בְּשָׁעָה שֶׁבָּרָא הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא אֶת אָדָם הָרִאשׁוֹן, אַנְדְּרוֹגִינוֹס בְּרָאוֹ, הֲדָא הוּא דִכְתִיב (בראשית ה, ב): זָכָר וּנְקֵבָה בְּרָאָם. אָמַר רַבִּי שְׁמוּאֵל בַּר נַחְמָן, בְּשָׁעָה שֶׁבָּרָא הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא אֶת אָדָם הָרִאשׁוֹן, דְּיוּ פַּרְצוּפִים בְּרָאוֹ, וְנִסְּרוֹ וַעֲשָׂאוֹ גַּבִּים, גַּב לְכָאן וְגַב לְכָאן. אֲתִיבוּן לֵיהּ וְהָכְתִיב (בראשית ב, כא): וַיִּקַּח אַחַת מִצַּלְעֹתָיו, אֲמַר לְהוֹן מִתְּרֵין סִטְרוֹהִי, הֵיךְ מָה דְאַתְּ אָמַר (שמות כו, כ): וּלְצֶלַע הַמִּשְׁכָּן, דִּמְתַרְגְּמִינַן וְלִסְטַר מַשְׁכְּנָא וגו'.
(1) ... Said R’ Yirmiyah ben Elazar: In the hour when the Holy One created the first human, He created him [as] an androgyne/androginos, as it is said, “male and female He created them”. Said R’ Shmuel bar Nachmani: In the hour when the Holy One created the first human, He created [for] him a double-face/di-prosopon/ du-par’tsufin, and sawed him and made him backs, a back here and a back [t]here, as it is said, “Back/achor and before/qedem You formed me” [Ps 139:5]. They objected to him: But it says, “He took one of his ribs/ts’la`ot . . . ” [Gn 2:21]! He said to them: [It means] “[one] of his sides/sit’rohi”, just as you would say, “And for the side/tsela` of the Tabernacle/ mishkan” [Ex 26:20], which they translate [in Aramaic] “for the side/seter”.
It is stated: “And the tzela which the Lord, God, had taken from the man, He made a woman, and brought her unto the man” (Genesis 2:22). Rav and Shmuel disagree over the meaning of the word tzela: One said: It means face. Eve was originally one face or side of Adam. And one said: It means tail, which he explains to mean that the tzela was an appendage, i.e., one of the ribs in Adam’s chest.
The fact that a careful and literal reading of Genesis can be made to support the surprising interpretations of R. Samuel ben Nahman and Resh Lakish that the first human was an androgynous being does not explain what motivated them to advance this interpretation. How did they think of this idea and why did it appeal to them? There are other, simpler ways to solve the contradiction. For example, Rashi, Rashbam and Radak all assume that Gen. 1:26-27 was meant as a general statement and that Gen. 2 fills the reader in with the details—a case of klal ufrat—a generality followed by a specific.
Plato’s Symposium clarifies the Rabbis’ exegetical motivation. The very same Greek word used in the Midrash by Samuel ben Nahman, androgynos, appears in Plato’s Symposium (ca. 4th cent. BCE) and is spoken by Aristophanes, who is theorizing to his colleagues regarding the origin of humankind.
Plato, The Symposium
'Now indeed, O Eryximachus,' said Aristophanes. 'I must speak something different from what you and Pausanias said. For to me, humans completely misunderstand the dynamics of Eros [Love]; if they perceived Him, they would build the greatest temples and altars, and would make the greatest sacrifices, just as now none of these things happen for Him, although most assuredly it is fitting that they all happen. For of all the gods, He [Eros] is the philanthropist, being an ally to humanity, and a healer in those things needing healing, bringing the greatest happiness to the human race. Therefore, I shall try to initiate you into the mysteries of His dynamics, and you will become teachers of others.
First, you all will learn about the nature of humanity and its experiences. For long ago its nature was not as it is now - one became the other. For at first there were three species [or sexes] of humans, not two, just as now: male and female, as well as another third one [androgyne], sharing things in common with both of these (of which its name remains although it has disappeared). For the androgyne back then was distinct in shape and name, out of having in common both male and female, but now its name survives only in reproach...
After that, with their natures hewn in two, each one missed the union with its other half....
It is from that time that the innate Love [Eros] of humans for each other came to be, and draws us to that primeval nature, and as a consequence makes one out of two and heals humanity's nature.
Arrow Young Men Founding Legend, Coos Native American Tribe
Two young men were traveling… They stopped in the middle of their journey (and one of them said), “How would it be if we two should try it? What do you think about it?
“It would be good if we two should try it,” answered the other one.
“We ought to try with that soot here.”
They had five pieces (disks) of soot. Now they stopped and dropped one piece into the ocean. The world at that time was without land. Everything was covered in water….
The next day they dropped another disk. Then they stopped at some small place and dropped another small disk into the ocean. They looked at it from above. Now land began to appear, and they saw it. They were very glad when they saw the land coming up…
Early in the morning they went back to see the world they had created. Suddenly they saw tracks on the ocean beach. “Whose tracks may these be?” asked one of them.
They followed the tracks, and soon came upon a person sitting (on top of a snag). “You, indeed, must have made those tracks. Who are you?”
“I am a medicine man,” answered the person whose face was painted all over with red paint.
“You have no right to travel here. This is our world. We have made it. Are you surely a medicine man?”
They seized the stranger and killed him. Then they spilled his blood in all directions, and said to him, “You will be nothing. The last generation shall see you.”
Then they turned back. Suddenly one of them became pregnant. The child could not come out. “What will become of us? We ought to have wives.” None of them had done anything; nevertheless, he became pregnant. The child was trying all the time to come out but could not do it. So they sent some one to the north and told him, “There is a man living there. He is a good man. Bring him here…”
As soon as [the man from the north] saw the pregnant man, he took out the child. It was a girl. From this girl, all the people took their origin. She caused the people to multiply, and to inhabit the world.”
Creation stories such as “Arrow Young Men (Creation of the World)” cement the spiritual power and responsibility of Two-Spirit individuals. The Arrow Young Men were the first men to walk the Earth, and a powerful medicine man that traveled through space and time appeared before the men and sacrificed himself to have his blood bless the blooming Earth (Elledge 4). A Two-Spirit medicine man appearing as a powerful presence to promote the creation of the world promotes positive portrayals and depictions of Two Spirit Indigenous individuals in native communities.
Daniel Boyarin, Carnal Israel, pg. 36
One of the clearest arguments for rabbinnic resistance to the surrounding discourse of the body is the Rabbis' citation of that discourse while significantly modifying its meaning. The myth of a primal androgyne was widespread in late antiquity, particularly among platonists in the Jewish (and eventually, Christian) traditions. This myth is cited in Genesis Rabba, the earliest midrash on the first book of the bible. The midrashic version is, however, significantly different from preceding and surrounding versions of the narrative.
After this he says that "God formed man by taking clay from the earth, and breathed into his face the breath of life" (Gen. ii.7). By this also he shows very clearly that there is a vast difference between the man thus formed and the man that came into existence earlier after the image of God: for the man so formed is an object of sense-perception, partaking already of such or such quality, consisting of body and soul, man or woman, by nature mortal; while he that was after the Image was an idea or type or seal, an object of thought, incorporeal, neither male nor female, by nature incorruptible.