Genesis 2:18, There is No Such Thing as a “Help-Mate”
And Yahweh Elohim said, “Not good the man be to his self! I will appoint him [ezer] as his opposite.” (Genesis 2:18, my interpretation)
What if “helpmate” did not actually appear in Genesis 2:18?
“lo-tov heyot ha-adam l’vad-o / eeseh-l’o ezer k’neged-o” (not good be to his self / I will appoint for him aid as his opposite)
This is the only passage “ezer” is translated as “helper”, “helpmate” or “help-meet” in the whole Hebrew Bible, which is quite suspect. Such a translation makes it seem like a woman was designed for a support role, an ‘executive assistant’ to a man’s entitlement of ‘CEO’. The rest of the passage hangs on the proper translation of ezer; if it implies a sense of inferiority, then women would be viewed slightly more valuable than the cattle or birds of the air which Adam would eventually name (see vv. 19-20).
The fact is, the rest of God’s Word does not define ezer with even a hint of inferiority. In actuality, it fits a context similar to:
And the name of the one- Eliezer, for [Moses said] “the God of my father (brought) my ezer, and he would take me from the sword of Pharaoh.” (cf. Exodus 18:4)
Moshe felt rescued from the hand of Pharaoh, as ezer describes a type of deliverance or relief from distress. In the Psalms, the power to “ezer” is ascribed to Yahweh, continuing the praises of Moshe in the Torah. According to the rest of Tanakh, YHVH brought ezer by swallowing up Pharaoh’s armies in the Sea of Reeds, or becoming an ezer to shield Israel. Therefore, Almighty God didn’t just “assist” Israel, He brought about great rescues!
Thus, it seems the real reason God created a woman was for a man’s rescue… and how does she rescue him? As the text literally says “not good the man be to his self” it’s apparent she rescues a man… from himself!
This is not to say that men are complete messes before women enter their lives… sorry ladies. The text also says that a man’s alternative is “to be to his self.” God calls such solitude as “not good”, a paraphrased way of saying “it’s evil.” Therefore, a woman’s open arms rescue him from a boring, lonely, and thus evil life. Yet there is even another way a woman rescues a man from himself.
The word ezer is paired with neged, meaning a “counter, opposite, side.” When placed together in the phrase “ezer k’negedo“, it means “rescue as his opposite.” This phrase appears not once, but twice in the passage (vv. 18 and 20) to emphasize the role of a woman, which reads like an oxymoron! So how does a woman rescue but oppose a man at the same time?
She does this by providing her point of view. You see, women have to counter the rationale of their men with her intuition and reasoning, which may save him from making mistakes and error. For this reason, society makes a grave error by condoning that women be and think exactly like men. The Bible would argue that she must be a type of opposite to think differently and provide such intelligence to her spouse! Otherwise, the world would be trapped in man-think and be doomed.
A man with his wife is like a man talking to himself in a mirror… but his reflection – his opposite – answers. So it is when a man looks at his wife. For this reason the Scriptures are filled with words such as:
“In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.” (Ephesians 5:28)
Such words are a continuation of the precedent set forth by God in the Beginning. From Genesis to Ephesians and beyond, it’s quite clear the text of the Bible calls woman complete and utter equals to men, a valuable rescue in the life of man. It is not right to call her a “helper”. She can and does provide so much more. ♦