echoes of confirmation
Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.” Genesis 2:18 NASB
In looking at the meanings of ‘helper suitable’ and ‘alone’ within the Genesis 2:18 text, and using their root words to understand the strength and weakness explicit in their meanings, we need to be able to confirm this in the wider scripture. There must be other verses or portions of scripture elsewhere confirming what YeHoWaH has purposely placed there for us to know. If there isn’t, then this is an isolated, unsupported and therefore incorrect understanding of these words.
To recap, I am presenting ‘ezer kenegedo’ (helper suitable) with the meaning being understood as: a strong/efficient help/aid to rescue/save by -both presence and voice, standing opposite the man to oppose, praise, declare, expose… speaking thus into his life. In the best possible sense being a ‘messenger’ fully authorised by God to help man concerning his weakness of being ‘alone’ –of wanting his own way, independent of YeHoWaH Elohim. God designed her for his good.
Scripture itself does indeed echo this meaning of the ‘ezer kenegedo’ provision of the woman. The following are confirmations of this special strength YeHoWaH Elohim supplied for man within the woman:
As mentioned as being interesting in a previous post, God fashioned the woman from ‘a rib’ (אחת –one מצלעתיו -rib/side) taken from the man in Gen 2:21. The ribcage being part of our skeletal structure provides protection to our vital organs (lungs, heart, liver, spleen, gall bladder, kidneys, stomach and duodenum). Twenty ribs (ten each side) come from the spinal column and horizontally arch round the central trunk of the body, enclosing the chest cavity, by attaching to the sternum via cartilage joins, surrounding and protecting the organs from physical forces that would cause damage were it not there. Primarily here the oxygen and food is processed and distributed, via the action of the heart to the rest of the body. It is also understood as being the ancient location of the ‘mind of man’ or ‘inner man’ in scripture, the figurative ‘heart’ where sin or righteousness is seeded and finally outworked through our words and actions. God is hugely interested in our heart –our inner man. In her description as an ‘ezer’ –is the meaning to surround:- to protect or aid –which is also the physical function of the ribcage. Just one of his 20 ribs was removed, and fashioned into an ezer kenegedo. She is not his complete protection –but God has designed her as an integral part therein. Genesis 2:21 therefore supports the ‘ezer’ and ‘alone’ meanings of Genesis 2:18.
… 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’ -removed)
Paul confirms this understanding and turns an old Jewish Oral Law tradition upside-down, by identifying ‘her head’ (kephale=source/origin) as ‘the man’ in 1 Cor 11:3, saying ‘I want you to understand…’ therefore setting the basis for his future use of the word ‘kephale’(translated ‘head’). He is saying: because she was made as ‘one with a message’ (angel/messenger) – being the strength given for man’s weakness, God has given her authority concerning her ‘head’ – the man. Therefore if anyone is to wear something on their heads to indicate authority over them –it should, by reason of scripture, be the man as the next verse –Proverbs 12:4 again clearly illustrates.
An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, But she who shames him is like rottenness in his bones. –Proverbs 12:4 NASB
Proverbs 12:4a says- ‘A virtuous/excellent wife is a crown to her husband…’ The Hebrew word translated ‘excellent’ for the wife/woman is the masculine noun –‘chayil’ חָ֫יִל –meaning: a force, whether of men, means or other resources; an army, wealth, virtue, valor, strength (SEC) and is understood to come from ‘chuwl’ חוּל meaning- to ‘bear’ in the sense of great pain and to bring forth –to endure, to be firm, strong. (see also 2342a and 2342b –NAS separates it out)
Traditionally we have imbued the description –‘virtuous/excellent wife’ with a very high moral standard, but maybe another picture of excellence is the woman whose presence and voice endure within difficult circumstances. Maybe this proverb should be understood not from a man’s perspective of what an ‘excellent wife’ is, but from God’s perspective- her excellence being the ‘strength that endures’.
The word for ‘crown’ in the Hebrew is ‘ă-ṭe-reṯ’ עטרת meaning: crown/wreath and comes from the primitive word – ‘atar’ – to compass/encircle (for attack or protection). A crown is worn specifically on the head, encircling the brain where thoughts and environmental stimuli are processed. A woman of ‘strength’ -in the way God designed her-scripture says- was given as effective in protecting man, her voice of counsel being this added protection for him. The 2nd half of Proverbs 12:4 shows us the woman who is not operating in this way for God, and within its meaning is the understanding of shame, disappointment, confusion and doing evil – she is as ‘decay in his bones.’ She is not helpful. Proverbs 12:4 confirms Genesis 2:18 ‘ezer kenegedo’ and ‘alone’ – her voice and presence being in support and/or opposition to him. It is also important to note that the crown is a thing that distinguishes the wearer, being a representation of glory that is placed down upon his head and is thus displayed for everyone to see –just as 1 Corinthians 11:7b declares – ‘…the woman is the glory of man’. However it is in the man’s hands as to whether she is honoured/acknowledged thus, as with a crown he ultimately chooses whether or not to wear it, so he can choose whether or not to avail himself of her aid. God describes the outcome of this choice as being either to his ‘good’ or his ‘detriment’, walking the way of life or the way of death, and always within scripture He urges us repeatedly to choose life.
Proverbs 8:1-36 speaks to us of wisdom personified as feminine.
Does this mean all words from a woman are wise and wisdom is only found via the lips of women? -Of course not. Wisdom comes from God, and both men and women can be vehicles of God’s wisdom to each other. However, Proverbs 8:2-4 presents to us wisdom in presence and voice in the feminine:
On top of the heights beside the way, where the paths meet, she takes her stand; beside the gates, at the opening to the city, at the entrance of the doors, she cries out: “To you, O men, I call, and my voice is to the sons of men.”
Words of wisdom, encouraging us, rejecting what is evil, speaking what is true, desiring the knowledge of God, and revealing the riches available to those who walk in the way of wisdoms counsel. –This is our purpose in the body of Messiah: encouraging each other in our walk in Yeshua. This is not gender exclusive. I think God purposely portrayed wisdom as feminine as He knew the end from the beginning and the abusive use by men, of certain verses in the bible to silence the voice of women in the church and society – wisdom is portrayed as feminine so as not to exclude women’s voices. Some New Testament verses appear to endorse women’s silence, but this is (in part) because of centuries of sinful traditions concerning women, blinding us all (both men and women) to the realization and full expression of what it really means to be one in Yeshua. I will look at these verses in another post.)
Proverbs 4:6 speaking of wisdom says: “Do not forsake her, and she will guard you; Love her, and she will watch over you.” This again speaks of the protective aid echoed in the function of the ezer kenegedo’s counsel –her voice. I think it is telling that the first ‘intervention’ by YeHoWaH concerning human sin, post-fall, was in Genesis 4:7 with Cain. His help for Cain came in the form of ‘counsel’ –Cain must gain control over the desire/turning to sin. This counsel being all that was needed to help/aid him in doing right. But Cain did not love God’s word to him, and just as his father Adam, he chose his own way, which resulted in the way of death and a curse. So is the ezer kenegedo’s counsel to a man. He can choose to listen or reject it, and God will hold him responsible for his own actions. Proverbs 4:6 says protection is gained by loving wisdom –choosing to walk therein; protection is not there if wisdom is forsaken.
To further clarify my use of ‘wisdom’ in supporting the ezer kenegedo’s function: An often quoted verse, especially at weddings is Proverbs 18:22 –
He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the LORD.
Please note -‘thing’ is absent in the Hebrew. This has been added by translators and skews the textual meaning intended, as a woman is not ‘a thing’ – to possess, but simply ‘a good,’ as is the same in Psalm 103:4–5:
‘(YeHoWaH)…who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion; who satisfies your desire with good, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle.’
(the word ‘things’ is removed, as is not in the original Hebrew) so Proverbs 18:22 should read thus:
‘He who finds a wife finds a good and obtains favor from the LORD.’
This is strikingly similar to Prov 8:35 for the one finding ‘wisdom’-
“For he who finds me finds life and obtains favor from the LORD”
Instead of ‘a good’ – ‘life’ is identified. With this in mind we go back to the garden of Eden – to our very first parents. After everything went to custard, and the ‘pawpaw hit the fan’ (as my good friend says) maybe Adam conceded this in the ezer kenegedo God Himself provided for him, by giving her the name ‘Eve’ –Chavvah חַוָּה … the Hebrew word for ‘life’.
…thus are the two united in the woman – YeHoWaH describing her as ‘a good’ and Adam himself identifying her as ‘life’.
These are the scriptures that come to mind for me in confirming the ezer kenegedo’s function. There are quite likely more to be found that echo the purpose and design set within a woman concerning the man. However, Deuteronomy 19:15 and Matthew 18:16 plus others say only two or three witnesses are required to confirm a ‘truth’ in question. This also applies for an individual scriptural ‘truth’ or ‘teaching’ – the bible itself being required to confirm a ‘truth’ within the wider body of scripture. Let us then be as the Bereans who searched the scriptures to see if this was so.
Heavenly Father – YeHoWaH Elohim – may your word be to us as precious treasure, that we would desire to know you, investing our time and energy in pursuit of your heart and walking thus, in the way of life. Amen.
This ends the 3 part ‘ezer kenegedo’ study of what it means to be a ‘suitable helper’. Understanding what God is actually saying within the words of scripture; who we are in relation to others; and disseminating our beginnings in Genesis in a meaningful and honest way. We need to look with fresh eyes on the events in Genesis that laid the foundation for so much abuse and mistrust throughout our past and present human history. It cannot be viewed through the lens of history’s traditions; it must be from the voice of God as found in His word. Understanding Genesis 2:18 therefore, is critical to understanding what unfolded in Genesis and the New Testament scriptures concerning the relationship between men and women in Yeshua.