“Ezer kenegdo means that the wife was created to be the husband’s help meet.”
If you’re like me, that kind of makes you cringe. I think we’ve been brought up in a world where the word “helper” evokes a much different meaning than what the scripture actually meant by “ezer kenegdo.” When I heard it, it’s almost like I pictured myself with a bonnet, saying “yes, sir” and “no, sir” to my husband. Like a servant. Someone under the foot of another person. Not there to play a vital role themselves. Only there to help.
This post was originally going to be something simple: verses to help wives who were in need of reassurance. And then God (in true Godly fashion) opened up something completely different to me. Naturally, what He wanted to say was better, so I’m sharing it with you today!
And the Lord God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.” Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name. So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him.
And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man.
And Adam said:
“This is now bone of my bones
And flesh of my flesh;
She shall be called Woman,
Because she was taken out of Man.”
Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.
Genesis 2:18-25 (NKJV, emphasis mine)
Adam Without Eve
It wasn’t good for man to be alone.
So why didn’t God make Eve sooner? As the all-knowing being of the universe who isn’t bound by time, He knew already that it wouldn’t be good for man to be alone. Yet He waited to make her. Why? I offer these two explanations to you:
- God wanted to have a close-knit relationship with Adam before he met Eve. Just like He also took time to form Eve alone before bringing her to Adam. We have no idea of the exact time line here. How long did God spend alone with each of them? Long enough to give them what they needed. And He wants an intimate relationship with each of us apart from our spouse, too. We’re not made whole in each other but only in God.
- God wanted Adam to see his need for Eve before creating her. If she had always been there, how would he know the significance of her presence? How would see the vital role she played in the garden and in his life? Sure, he was a whole person in God. But that doesn’t mean her entrance into his life was insignificant.
Why Adam Needed an Ezer Kenegdo
Then God brought something else to my attention: But, God, wait. How was Adam “alone” when he had You? The question wouldn’t leave my mind. I had to go back and read, and when I did, this is what I found:
Directly before saying it wasn’t good for man to be alone, God had told Adam about the dangers of eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. He implored him not to do it because if he did, he would die. After saying this, He then remarked about it not being good for man to be alone. He needed an ezer kenegdo in life. And I think this is part of the reason why:
Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (NLT)
Ezer Kenegdo Breakdown
Adam needed an ezer kenegdo, which has been translated to “help meet” or “helper comparable.” While ezer does mean “help,” its root word means “to surround or protect.” Also super important: ezer is never meant to subordinate another person. In fact, it’s often used to describe God helping humanity.
Kenegdo is only used in this instance in scripture, so it’s harder to understand the full meaning. But it’s from the root word neged, which means “a front, i.e. part opposite.” The definition cites the words “counterpart” and “mate.” But it also says “against.” What can we make of that? Don’t those things sound a little opposed to one another?
Some explain it as a mirror. It’s something in front of you but also opposite of you. It allows you to see yourself more clearly.
Some Rabbi’s explain Eve’s role as kenegdo to either be in front of Adam or against him. In other words, she would champion and aid him when he was right or be opposed to him when he was wrong.
Her role was to balance Adam and help him to see life and himself more clearly. And I’m sure he did the same for her. If you’re married like me, you know how true that is. One of the hardest parts of marriage (for me at least) is that, my husband, Chris is truly my mirror. There’s something about who he is that reflects back and shows me things about myself–the good, the bad, and the ugly.
That’s why it’s so important that God is the third strand in our chord (from the verse in Ecclesiastes above). He comes in and fills all the areas where each of us are lacking so that our relationship isn’t easily broken.
Creation of Woman
Have you ever really thought about how the first woman was created? The universe and the Earth were created with words. Adam was formed in God’s hands from the dirt. (How cool is that He got down in the filth and got personal with the creation that was made in His image?)
But Eve wasn’t formed from words or dust. No, Eve was created from part of Adam. From part of an already living being. And we wonder why women are so relational! She was taken from his rib, the place tucked under his arm. Then God took her away to form her before bringing her back to Adam. What happened when she was alone with God? What did He speak into her? What is at the core of woman?
We may not know exactly what He spoke into her, but we do have clues.
- The reason for her creation was that it wasn’t good for man to be alone. Like we’ve seen, he needed an ezer kenegdo. So, God would have spoken what was needed into the very fiber of her being. Every part of her was driven to surround and protect. She wouldn’t have been some silent woman, helping with menial tasks. She was needed. Her voice was needed.
- She was taken from his rib. What is its function? It surrounds our core and protects the vital organs there, including the heart. Sound familiar from the root word for ezer? So not only was this probably spoken into her, but the material from which she was made was already used for the same function. It wasn’t anything she had the burden of becoming. It’s what she was made of.
- The root word for rib can be defined as “to curve, to limp (as if one-sided).” Without Eve, Adam was only one-sided. All of humanity was created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27). But as we know, men and women are different. We each reveal a different part of who God is. Without woman, man only reflects one side of God. Eve was given her own special part of God to radiate.
More than Just a Helper
Woman was taken from the rib of man because she was made to surround and protect his very core. And yet, we were also made to bring him clarity and balance. We are not just a “helper” in the sense our minds may jump to. We’re not subordinate. Our thoughts don’t matter less. And yet there’s something about the word “helper” that always made me feel my role was smaller.
But doesn’t Jesus describe His Spirit as our Helper (John 14:26)? Do I think the Holy Spirit’s role in my life is small? Of course not!
That’s the way we need to see ourselves. As someone mighty enough to help. To surround in love, support, and protection. An aid in times of trouble and every other moment along the way. That’s the special piece of God we were created to release on this Earth.
Until next time,
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