A ‘Help Meet’ – Ezer Knegdo

And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.”Genesis 2:18

The Rules of the Road

The scriptures could have laid husband & wife roles in Pharisee format as a formal set of do’s and don’ts. Alternatively, perhaps an informal approach might have been utilized, e.g., quietly decide ahead of time what needs to be done, then subtly suggest it to Adam …but do so in a way that let’s him think that it was his idea. Then thank him profusely for such a wonderful suggestion.

Unfortunately no matter how subtle, a Pharisee approach would yield only a small measure of compliance and certainly not to the level where we embrace, internalize, and take ownership of God’s good word on marriage.

Nope, the Hebrew version uses the phrase ‘help meet’, ezer knegdo, and there-in begins the engagement of the mind that yields a little over 2,000,000 hits on Google, numerous books, and countless discussions. This simple phrase so fundamental to gospel principles has led many, many authors to analyze, sway and even campaign for a particular view point in the hope of capturing its meaning.

And the discussion is quite understandable: We would like to know what Jehovah intended to be the pattern for husband and wife, i.e., ezer knegdo.

The Choices

Symbolic language can incorporate many different concepts layered within one another.  But just as importantly meanings have changed since the writing of the King James Version. Language is not static but quite dynamic, and capturing the literal translation of ancient Hebrew or any language is challenging. Additionally, phrases may have no direct translation — try the Southern phrase ‘I’m fixing to do it’as an example.

With much at stake, and many factors impinging upon our understanding, we are going to find a range of interpretations. One of my favorite was that of a Jewish scholar from the middle ages named Rashi who must have been married! His interpretation translates to

If he is worthy she shall be a help to him; if he is unworthy she shall be opposed to him, to fight him.1

A lot of wisdom and moxie is found in that translation, and one that men would be wise to remember.

Hebraic words are often far richer than those in the English language and may require looking at how the word or phrase is used in a variety of passages. The word ezer is no exception, and several authors have picked up on that the word doesn’t mean just help but a particular kind of help, even a ‘strong help’ or more over ‘God’s help’.

Wayne Simpson in Adam’s Rib 2 reminds us that this is more than a little ‘hand holding’, but the powerful help defined in the very nature of the Creator:

… for He (God) was my help. Ex 18:4
… The Lord, the shield of thy help Deut. 33:29
… Be thou (the Lord) a help to him from his enemies. Deut 33:7 “…

Created to Be an Ezer: the Help Meet Dilemma 3 shares with us another example:

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth. –Psalms 121:1-2

[1] Retrieved on Jan 28th,2011 from http://being.publicradio.org/programs/marriageI/particulars.shtml Krista Tippett Blog on Being. (Website appears no longer valid.)

[2] Retrieved on Jan 28th,2011 from http://www.jasher.com/Adamsrib.htm. Wayne Simpson author. (Website appears no longer valid.)

[3] Retrieved on Jan 28th,2011 from http://www.hem-of-his-garment-bible-study.org/support-files/free-bible-study-created-to-be-an-ezer.pdf

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