Assistant. Support. Carrying out man’s vision. Mommy’s little helper.
Projecting todays perceptions of the word helper back on to Scriptures can cause great confusion and pain. In the Old Testament God said, “It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a helper (ezer) who is just right for him.” (Genesis 2:18)
It’s important to note the word ezer appears over 20 times in the Old Testament – twice in reference to woman (Genesis 2:18 & 20) three times in reference nation of Israel and sixteen times in inference to God. Most of twenty references depict powerful military language. Take a gander at some examples below.
After scanning the list what words now come to mind when you hear the “helper” (Ezer)?
Protect. Provide. Shield. Defend.
Would you say these tend to ascribe these attributes as being masculine or feminine? Masculine right? And yet, here the Scripture God called the woman ezer, a word most used in the OT to describe a warrior.
But that’s not all, let’s look at the full title given to woman -suitable helper (ezer kenego) in context of the passage. (Genesis 2:18-25)
18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.” 19 So the Lord God formed from the ground all the wild animals and all the birds of the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would call them, and the man chose a name for each one. 20 He gave names to all the livestock, all the birds of the sky, and all the wild animals. But still there was no helper just right for him.
21 So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep. While the man slept, the Lord God took out one of the man’s ribs and closed up the opening. 22 Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib, and he brought her to the man.
23 “At last!” the man exclaimed.
“This one is bone from my bone,
and flesh from my flesh!
She will be called ‘woman,’
because she was taken from ‘man.’”
24 This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one. 25 Now the man and his wife were both naked, but they felt no shame.
Go back to verse 18. God said it is not good for man to be alone. What should we expect God to do next? Create woman. But he didn’t. Instead he paraded animal after animal in front of Man.
And what did Man do? He looked at the frog and said, I’ll call you frog. I’m not a frog. Dog. I’m not a dog. Pig. I’m not a pig. It’s through the naming process Man discovered there was no creature like him. He was alone. Unknown. Some speculate it took Man over 100 years to name the animals. That’s a long time to be alone. Unknown. The animals enabled Man to know who he was not but he still didn’t have a mirror to help him know who he is.
God put Man asleep, created woman and brought her to him. She was his “ezer kenego” (face to face opposition). With out her Man was hopelessly bent into himself. The creation of the woman is meant to make the man look away from himself, to open him up to the world, to make him a fully worldly being. Enough like him to understand himself – enough different to bring him into otherness.
Time Magazine’s edition, “The Science of You” made this statement, “In a country like the United States that thrives on its citizens’ individualism and competitive spirit, empathy is often seen as a luxury or a frill- a personality trait that is admirable, sure, but far from essential. In fact, the ability to understand the mind of others and then care about what the world looks like from their perspective is a fundamental building block of normal personality, not to mention crucial to attaining happiness and staying healthy.” (Emphasis mine, P. 17)
This is not just some “hey check out my hot wife” thing as some pastors indicated, it’s was way more than that. The expression first and foremost was one of wonder. When God brought woman to man, Man understood himself, his true self-nature to be a relational being. It’s that relationality that makes mankind in the image of the Triune God. Fundamentally the Trinity is communal – relational, therefore in order to image him we must be too.
What if that was the point to the name ezer kenego? What if that was the point to naming the animals.