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"I will make him an help meet for him"

November 1, 2007

I  dislike the demeaning interpretation of “help meet” which has historically been bandied about. For example look at this description:

John Gill (1697-1771) Bible Commentary: I will made him an help meet for him; one to help him in all the affairs of life, not only for the propagation of his species , but to provide things useful and comfortable for him ; to dress his food , and take care of the affairs of the family ; one “like himself” {c}, in nature, temper, and disposition, in form and shape; or one “as before him” {d}, that would be pleasing to his sight, and with whom he might delightfully converse, and be in all respects agreeable to him , and entirely answerable to his case and circumstances, his wants and wishes.

She sounds very much like a “household appliance”.
Slightly more useful than a plain doormat.

Here is a description which really ministered to me. I found it very edifying and empowering in a way which is constructive to both myself, my husband, and our marriage:

From Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge

When God creates Eve, he calls her an ezer kenegdo. “It is not good for the man to be alone, I shall make him [an ezer kenegdo]” (Gen 2:18 Alter). Hebrew scholar Robert Alter, who has spent years translating the book of Genesis, says that this phrase is “notoriously difficult to translate”. The various attempts we have in English are “helper” or “companion” or the notorious “help meet”. Why are these translations so incredibly wimpy, boring, flat… disappointing? What is a help meet, anyway? What little girl dances through the house singing “One day I shall be a help meet?” Companion? A dog can be a companion. Helper? Sounds like Hamburger Helper. Alter is getting close when he translates it “sustainer beside him.”

The word ezer is used only twenty other places in the entire Old Testament. And in every other instance the person being described is God himself, when you need him to come through for you desperately.

Most of the contexts are life and death, by the way, and God is your only hope. Your ezer. If he were not there beside you… you are dead. A better translation of ezer would be “lifesaver”. Kenegdo means alongside, or opposite to, a counterpart.


Gen 1:26-28 God gave both male and female dominion: they are the King and the Queen
I do see them given different roles

Gen 2:15¶ And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.

Clicking on the word “keep” will take one to the Strong’s definition of the Hebrew Word “shamar” (which is not just gardening). It is to protect, guard, watchman, preserve, etc which implies there is an enemy, a danger and Adam is responsible to guard and protect.

Eve’s intended (by GOD) role is stated here:
Gen 2:18 And the LORD God said, [It is] not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.

By clicking on the word “help meet” one can see that it carries the meaning of aid, succour, one who helps. But please notice the other occurances of the Word by scrolling down the page at that link. The same word translated “help meet” of women is used of God.

So the husband has the authority to protect, nurture, nourish, cherish, love, understand, value, esteem, and respect his wife (see also Eph 5 and 1Peter 3 instructions for husbands). And the wife has the authority to help, nourish, love, humbly cooperate with (aka submit to), and reverence her husband (see also Eph 5 and 1Peter 3 instructions for wives)

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