Therefore, a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. Genesis 2:24
Cleave – You’ve probably heard this verse at least one hundred times. Every wedding, every sermon about marriage, every book and video from a Christian perspective ends up with this verse somewhere in the subject matter. But what no one told you is that the Hebrew verb here is not the one we would have expected, especially if we thought that becoming one flesh had anything to do with sex. If you really want to see what God has in mind, you’ll have to do some deeper investigation.
The verb here is davaq. It means cleave or cling. It’s about stickiness. But it probably isn’t the verb we would have used. You see, davaq is a middle of the road, passive response verb, best suited for gluing things together. It isn’t the passionate, relationship-oriented verb that characterizes the love action we want in erotic intimacy in marriage. In fact, it’s more about sticky wet clods of dirt (Job 38:38) or fastening crocodile scales (Job 41:9) than it is about passionate, sexual embrace. You won’t find davaq in the Song of Solomon. So, why does it show up here, in the quintessential verse about marriage? And why has every pastor who has ever given a wedding sermon using this verse avoiding talking about dirt clods?
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