“And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof.” (Genesis 2:21)
This is the first of seven occurrences of the unusual term “deep sleep” (Hebrew tardema) in the Old Testament. In each case it seems to refer to a special state induced by the Lord Himself in order to convey an important revelation to, or through, the person experiencing it.
In Adam’s case, God made a bride for him during his deep sleep from whose seed would be born all the nations of the earth. “And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man” (v. 22). The covenant God made with Adam and Eve delegated dominion over the earth to their descendants.
The second deep sleep was that which “fell upon Abram” (Genesis 15:12) when God passed between the sacrificial animals and established His great covenant with him, promising that from his seed would be born the chosen nation. “And I will make of thee a great nation” (12:2). The Abrahamic covenant also delegated the central land of the earth to Isaac’s descendants (15:18-21) and promised that “in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed” (12:3).
But Adam was a type of Christ and Abraham was a type of Christ, and their deep sleeps pre-figured His own deep sleep of death on the cross. There He became the last Adam and the promised seed, dying to give life to His great bride and living again to establish a holy nation of the redeemed, fulfilling all of God’s ancient covenants, and instituting the eternal New Covenant in His own blood.
When Adam fell into a deep sleep, a bride was born; when Abraham fell into his deep sleep, a nation was born. But when Christ slept deeply in death on the cross and in the tomb, death and hell were judged, and a new world was born. HMM