Genesis 2:18-24, God Appoints Spouses
And said Yahweh Elohim, “Not good the man be to his self! I will eseh him a rescue as his opposite.” And Yahweh Elohim had formed from the clay every beast of the field, and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see how he would call them. And all by which the man called the living beast – it is so named. And the man called out names to all livestock, and to birds of the sky, and to all beasts of the field; but for Adam there was not found help as his opposite. Yahweh Elohim befell a deep sleep over the man, and he slept. And He took first from his side, then closed up flesh in its place. And Yahweh Elohim built the side which he took from the man into a woman, and brought her to the man. And the man said, “This is bone from my bone, and flesh from my flesh. Thus I will call her ‘woman,’ because she was thus taken from man.” For yes, a man leaves his father and his mother, and clings to his wife: and they become as one flesh. (Genesis 2:18-24, my literal interpretation except for eseh)
The Hebrew word eseh is universally translated “to make” in Genesis 2:18, but I’m not sure it fits the context of the next six verses. Eseh appears often in the Hebrew Bible –2,633 times – and is translated at least 100 different ways according to the Strong’s reference. As Strong’s suggests, it can fit “a wide variety of applications.” It is very similar to “make” in English, as in “I make dinner.” “Make dinner” doesn’t mean dinner is created out of thin air; ‘make’ describes several actions with just one word. “Make” sums up the washing, prepping, mixing, cooking, and serving of dinner. The same logic must be applied to the eseh of Genesis 2:18.
Translators seemingly favor “make” because they equivocate verse 18 with the formation of Eve from Adam (vs. 23), but the context uses different verbs to describe how God eseh-s a rescue for Adam (“helpmate” is closer to rescue). God orchestrates many actions to bring about the man’s “rescue”.
In vs. 19, the verb bo (to come/to bring) is used instead. In vs. 20, matza (“did not find”) appears. In verse 22, banah (to build) describes the construction of a woman. Finally, in the actual matchmaking event, bo describes the presentation of Eve to Adam. All these verbs elaborate God’s originally intent: to eseh a rescue for Adam. The eseh refers to the overall process – it doesn’t necessarily refer to the creation of Eve.
I believe that the choice of eseh in vs. 18 was by design. The reason being, couples may feel like God makes, brings, finds, appoints, establishes, or any of the 100+ arbitrary translations used to describe how God enjoined them – just like the Adam and Eve story. 100 couples might each use 100 different descriptors to tell their own marriage story, but they’d all be “right”.
I think the best all-encompassing translation for this eseh is “appoint”. For example, God eseh-s the sun and moon for a purpose… “to RULE over day and night” and “for seasons” (Genesis 1:7, Psalm 104:19). Translators also favor “make” in Genesis 1:7, but “appointed” makes more sense as “rule and dominion” reflect a royal appointment. Genesis 1 is poetry and metaphor, but it’s the same description of God eseh-ing Shaul (Saul) and David to RULE the kingdom of Yis’rael, or God appointing Moshe and Aharon (1 Samuel 12:6). There are several other examples showing eseh’s association with royalty, which is why “appoint” should usurp biblical translations for eseh in Genesis 2:18. I believe this would assist readers in the following ways:
1) Along with ezer properly translated as “rescue” (instead of the implied inferiority of “helpmate”), a translation of “appoint” for eseh will undoubtedly show women were created as equal counterparts to men.
2) It will give men a sense that women are likened with royal authority, as they are appointed to be mens’ rescue. They are in charge of mens’ well-being, and respite from labor. A man should keep his wife happy as his co-regent “queen”, as she keeps him happy.
3) “Appoint” would ease the contrast between women and animals throughout the next six verses. It will easily teach how animals do not meet the standard of male companionship. However, as the passage ends with the first marriage “appointed” as one flesh, it will teach males to speak to women as a queen, not as an animal!
4) No man or woman should fear asking God for help in finding a spouse. God longs to bring marriages together; a good translation of “appoint” establishes that truth starting in Genesis and continuing throughout the Scriptures – including the words of Yeshua:
He answered, “Haven’t you read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall be joined to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh?’ So that they are no more two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, don’t let man tear apart.” (Matt. 19:4-6)
God IS actively interested in appointing a wife to every man! If God appointed the sun and moon to their courses, then how much more will He appoint a bride? We can say it 100+ different ways, but God appoints spouses. He gets it done. He makes marriages happen. He does it out of love.♦