for the man’s sake
Following on from Ezer Kenegedo 1 we see clearly the kind of strength God designed in women, to meet the need He identifies in man.
Genesis 2:18 presents with clarity both the problem and its solution. YeHoWaH Elohim sees the man’s ‘aloneness’ as his weakness –describing it as ‘not good’. The Hebrew word lə-ḇad-dōw translated as ‘alone’ in Genesis 2:18 means – alone, apart, bar, besides, branch, by self, of each alike, except, …and interestingly -strength (SEC). It comes from ‘badad’– a primitive root –‘to divide’:- to be solitary or alone. Brown-Driver-Briggs has this to say of the root word ‘badad’ –it is a verb meaning- be separate, isolated:- (Arabic – cause to withdraw; separate, disunite; divide into parts; go alone, act independently). Examples given – of the straggler in the army, of a wild ass (a simile of Ephraim) going alone for itself (i.e. willfully), and of a bird sitting solitarily (please use the ‘badad’ link to see their accompanying verses).
The Hebrew words of the text read, can represent our outer person that others are able to see and read, and their underlying root words, revealing the inner person of the heart that God sees clearly. I think, just as we can hide the condition of our heart from others, so YeHoWaH reveals our heart’s treasures by his Word –‘being sharper than a two edged sword…exposing/judging our innermost thoughts and desires/intentions’ –Hebrews 4:12. We don’t see the condition of Adam’s heart in the casual reading of the text. It is only in studying the word meanings and their root words that God allows us to see the hidden state of his heart. Adam is alone. Adam is wanting to be separate, to divide … but from whom?
We need to pause here and realise that God identified this in Adam the man – before the woman even existed. There is only one relationship in focus in the text at this point, and it is between God and man. We know it is one where intimacy is wanted because in Genesis 2:4 (which begins the more detailed account of the creation of man), Elohim/God first reveals his name –YeHoWaH. This is about relationship. His desire is for us to know Him…to know His heart as He knows ours. So before there is a woman to divert our attention, we must understand that this is why God declares man’s state as ‘not good’. YeHoWaH Elohim saw his heart -at the very least- ‘turning to’ or ‘desiring’ independence -Adam even then, was wanting his way – apart from God’s. Because this occurs immediately after the command given, I think we can safely assume it is in response to God’s directive. Psalm 33:15 says –He forms the hearts of all and considers everything they do. Our hearts (or inner man) being laid bare before Him. None of our secrets are hidden from YeHoWaH Elohim.
So what does He do, seeing the potential in man to walk the way of death, walking apart from Him? …You know it. He places an ‘ezer kenegedo’ in his life to walk alongside him; to ‘correspond’, to hold him to account –to be in relationship with him. She does not replace his conscience; she is there to aid him. She is there to remind him of what God has already told him by means of her voice and actions. Her function as an ‘ezer kenegedo’ has nothing to do with their sexual relationship or the everyday work involved in simply living as ‘one’ in this physical world. His heart for ‘self determining’ or ‘self rule’ is the issue in God’s eyes. The other, albeit important aspects, are determined between them together – ideally within a relationship of mutual support. However, whatever the state of their relationship, God has placed within the woman this strength, for the sake of the man.
In Pauls response to the requirement of women to wear a physical head covering (-acknowledging men’s authority over them) in 1 Corinthians 11, he brings the reader audience back to Genesis, and in verses 8 -10 says the following:
… man does not originate from woman, but woman from man; for indeed man was not created for the woman’s sake, but woman for the man’s sake. Therefore the woman ought to have authority on her head, because of the angels. (NASB –‘a symbol of’ has been removed – as it’s not found in the original Greek.)
Because of Genesis 2:18 and because Paul in verse 3, defined who the woman’s/wife’s ‘head’ (‘kephale’) was – the man, we can know that he is saying – women are in a position of authority concerning men. Her authority is because of her function as an ‘ezer kenegedo’ –one who stands opposite -declaring, exposing, expounding… – this being understood by his referring to the ‘angels’/ ‘messengers’ in verse 10. Because God designed this ‘strength’ in her, for the man’s weakness, her position is of authority in his life. However, to give no room for sinful tendencies of selfish ambition or ‘pay-back’, he goes on to say in verses 11 and 12:
‘However, in the Lord, neither is woman independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. For as the woman originates from the man, so also the man has his birth through the woman; and all things originate from God.’
Paul explains to the Corinthians, that the man, being the woman’s source or ‘head’ of origin, is now not a valid reason for a man to expect entitlement or authority over a woman, as it is now, from out of a woman that he comes to be. Nor can she assume entitlement over him because of the authority vested in her. Neither are independent of each other –this being designed by God who trumps all -in claims of authority -by reason of being the original source/ ‘head’ of each of our given authority.
So Paul is saying, God dealt with this right at the beginning within Genesis, before the ‘fall’. Plainly showing the weakness found in the man and the strength supplied in the woman for him. Therefore for us to walk otherwise, with an attitude of entitlement or authority over another, is to walk according to the flesh and out of step with Him.
YeHoWaH wrapped this authority concerning origin in physical strength* and the authority of the kenegedo in physical weakness* (*a comparative generalisation only). Both positions are platforms that can reveal our hearts within. Will a man use his strength advantage to subdue the woman? Will a woman use her physical presence and voice to control the man? In Messiah we know this is unacceptable, and clearly identified as a work of the flesh. So how is it then seen as legitimate, in the body of Yeshua and in the believer’s home, that the man can hold the overriding authority over the woman? –as this is no different in essence, to all other religions and human society as a whole (differing only in the application or amount of force required to keep her in submission). How have we come to legitimise this show of walking after the flesh within the body of Messiah?
Control by strength and control by manipulation (-witchcraft) is easily identified, but there is yet another way in which we can control others, and that is by ‘knowledge’. Francis Bacon rightly noted in 1597 that ‘knowledge is power’. We all possess knowledge to some degree or other on different topics of life and interest, however the one possessing less, is clearly at a disadvantage to the one possessing more. Withholding information/knowledge for one’s own advantage is unfortunately usually only identified after the damage is done and wrongs even ‘set’ in place. It is most often only in retrospect that the sin is clearly seen. But praise God that He is the TRUTH as it is only by the truth that we are set free and able then to walk in true freedom.
So, Genesis 2:18 reveals -when looking into the words and their root words – both Adam’s outward face and inner heart with the fullest meaning of the text. It is explicit. It is not unknowable or vague and open to various interpretations, nor to be skewed by cultural norms of the day. YeHoWaH Elohim reveals Adam’s hidden man of the heart, one desiring independence from God and His ways. Adam wants to walk alone. But because YeHoWaH Elohim loves him, and causes all things to work together for good (Rom 8:20) He gives him a companion with a special strength designed for his weakness, and one by whom he can never truly live independent of. His ‘ezer kenegedo’ – fashioned from his flesh and bone – a woman.
We need, obviously, to be able to confirm this in the wider scripture. Therefore, my third and final post for ezer kenegedo will be looking at supporting texts within both the Old and New Testaments that confirm the purpose and design of the ezer kenegedo for the man’s sake.
Heavenly Father -YeHoWaH Elohim – enable us by your Holy Spirit to walk in strength for the men we love. Open our eyes to see, our ears to hear and give us a heart that responds in love to yours. Amen.