The bible story concerning Adam is a primal scene about switch over from Matriarchy to Patriarchy. Matriarchy is not when women are in charge as some have thought, but rather when women stay in the house of their fathers, and their husbands come visiting, and their brothers act as fathers to the children, rather than the genetic father. This organization of society gave over to the Patriarchal system that we all know and love, well perhaps only some of us. Anyway, it is amazing how mythology hides its secrets. So in this Primal Scene of Adam and Eve in the bible, we see Adam at first alone, and then God creates woman second from his RIB. Then they are a pair, they have fun, then sin and get thrown out of the garden, etc. etc. But why that rib? The rib is the secret to the explanation of the primal scene. In mammalian social groups there is an Alpha Male, who has a harem, and which Beta males try to oust so to take over the territory and harem of the Alpha males and become Alpha males themselves. Now in that Harem the females are not distinguished. They have a pecking order, but the Alpha male more or less treats them just as his territory, as a group or mass, i.e. in a non-count manner.
By the way studies, which I have lost the reference to unfortunately, show that the mammalian social groups are bimodal. This is to say that the drama between the Alpha and Beta males over the territory and female herd is only half the story. The other half is about outcast males and females which are not part of the social hierarchy, but roam around on their own. Turns out females in some primate groups, which ones I cannot remember any more, seek out liaisons with outcast males so that they have somewhere to go if the Beta male wins and is about to kill her young. Probably there are also liaisons between the outcast females and the Beta males as well. The article that I am vaguely remembering did not talk about that. But the key is to understand that the Pharmakon is the one who is outcast even from the outcast group, and has to move out to find completely new territory because he is forced out, like Oedipus, and of course if he takes a few females with him then he is an Alpha male in any territory that is unclaimed that he finds. Thus mammalian population spread is a Dissipative Structure ala Prigogine. This whole scene of mammalian social structure makes a lot of things fall into place. First of all Matriarchy is dominant because it is hierarchical, as despots throughout history can attest. But the other mode is contractual between independent mammalian creatures. But Patriarchy in which there are marriage contracts and the females go off to live with their husbands rather than staying at home with their fathers is in the sub-dominant mode which is basically unorganized.
So Patriarchy is a mode that is successful when there is no fertility scarcity. When there is scarcity (Handmaidens Tale) then the resource of fertility is hoarded. But when there is abundance then the sub-dominant mode of Patriarchy becomes dominant because exchange of females is genetically favored. Of course females in Mammalian societies were the first currency, and that is why money is different in hoards rather than in circulation as well. All economics comes from this primal currency where humans were the token of exchange because when fertility is scarce it is the most precious thing to our species. Much of Indo-European myth is structured by these Mammalian social structures, this is basically the origin of the Caste system in Indo-European myth.
- gaia (and Uranus)
Alpha Male (king, priest, Varuna/Mitra, Kronos) Osiris Alive
- harem female — faceless — mass-like Noncount
Beta Male (knights, warriors, Indra, Baal, Zeus) Horus
- unfaithful females that go between the harem and the outcast males Isis
The Twins (Helen’s brothers) (peasants)
- independent outcast females that fraternize with Beta males Nephthys
Gamma Male Outcast (merchants) Seth
- independent female — with face that counts — Set-like Count
Pharmakon Doubly Outcast (from the Outcasts) [Alpha Male in new Territory beyond the pale] [Eros] Osiris Dead
- feminine negative fourfold (Chaos, Covering, Night, Abyss)
[see my book Fragmentation of Being and the Path beyond the Void for another version]
Now back to Adam and Eve who we left almost being thrown out of the garden. The key fact is that the rib can be seen as an individual thing within the body of Adam. We can count those ribs even though they are under the skin. And so the rib is the signifier of the woman within the harem of the Alpha male which he was when he was alone, because the alpha male is essentially alone looking after his territory and his herd of females against the world, i.e. all the Beta males out there. But when God creates Eve from Adam’s rib then he takes her out of him and makes her visible to him. At that point her face becomes important. We see the veil lifted in Greek marriage, and we are still doing it today because in patriarchy the face of the female matters, she is recognized as a particular female no longer part of the mass of the harem, she is a particular in a set rather than an instance in a mass. Thus Adam is no longer alone, but that can get him into trouble. His relation to Eve now freed from her father the Alpha male is one of contact. That is why Mitra is the god of contracts, and Varuna is the one who enforces the contracts with his magic. Contracts only make sense in a patriarchal world, because kinship is no longer the determiner of lineage but rather in the exchange of foreign females the name of the father becomes important (cf Lacan via Zizek). The contract is between the families who are sharing the precious resource of fertility.
So just as Abraham gives us a primal scene where human sacrifice gives way to animal sacrifice, the story of Adam gives us a marker of the emergent point when we tipped into the other mode of mammalian society, the outcast and contractual, i.e. non-hierarchical mode, the democratic mode. Now the Israelites were so keen on contracts they made contracts with their monotheistic god. That was a very bad idea because there was no way that they could fulfill that contract, and the Bible records in excruciating detail that failure. (See The Nine Commandments: Uncovering the Hidden Pattern of Crime and Punishment in the Hebrew Bible by David Noel Freedman)
We are very lucky to have these primal scenes as part of our heritage, like the primal scene of the Well and the Tree which is the at the core of the Indo-European worldview. These primal scenes have deep meaning, as we can see by the fact that we never tire of interpreting them in myriad different ways, like this way for instance.
For more along these lines see Meaning and being in myth By Norman Austin