(tsela`, tsal`ah; Aramaic `ala`): The Hebrew words designate the "side," "flank," thence the "ribs." They are found thus translated only in connection with the creation of Eve: "He (Yahweh) took one of his (Adam's) ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof: and the rib, which Yahweh God had taken from the man, made he (margin "builded he into") a woman" (Ge 2:21-22). The Aramaic word is only found in Da 7:5.
Twice the Revised Version (British and American) uses the word "rib" in a figurative sense of two beams or rafters built in to the ark of the covenant and the altar of incense, on which the golden rings were fastened, which served to carry ark and altar by means of staves (Ex 30:4; 37:27).
A curious mistranslation has crept into the King James Version, which here follows Jewish commentators or etymologists, in four passages in 2 Samuel (2:23; 3:27; 4:6; 20:10), where the "fifth rib" is mentioned as the place of the body under which spears or swords are thrust, so as to cause lethal wounds. The Hebrew word chomesh, which indeed means "fifth," is here a noun, derived from a root meaning "to be staunch," "stalwart," "stout" "fleshy," "obese" (compare chamush, "armed," "equipped soldier"; Arabic el khamis (el chamis), "the army," which, however, Arabic lexicographers explain as meaning "fivefold," namely, vanguard, right and left wing, center and rear guard). The word is to be translated "abdomen," "belly." the Revised Version (British and American) renders correctly "into the body."
H. L. E. Luering