Hope Chapel Blog
Learning and living the Way of Jesus!
Daily Devotional – Tuesday, June 22, 2021
“LORD God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.’” (Genesis 2:18, NLT)
There is a principle in hermeneutics (the interpretation of biblical texts) that indicates the need to understand difficult passages of Scripture in light of more straightforward ones. Unfortunately, when it comes to understanding the teaching about men and women from God’s Word the opposite is sometimes employed. Take for instance the Hebrew phrase ‘ezer kenegdo’ which is translated ‘suitable helper’ in English. ‘Kenegdo’ refers to the suitability of the kind of helper that the first man requires—God brings all the other creatures to Adam, but none of them fits the bill. A suitable helper for Adam turns out to be another human, created from one of his very own ribs, to which God gives the commandment to ‘multiply.’ Together the first man and woman can fulfill the requirement, whereas on their own they cannot.
The Hebrew word ‘ezer,’ often translated ‘helper,’ is of equal or even greater significance. In English, the use of the word ‘helper’ is unfortunate as it can contain the idea of subordination. Not ‘ezer.’ This Hebrew word for ‘help,’ which appears 21 times in the Old Testament, is used most often (16 times) in reference to the type of help that God provides—strong and capable of rescue (often used in a military context). God as ‘helper’ is no assistant or subordinate to the one being helped. When God provided man with an ‘ezer,’ he was being provided with a powerful, competent individual to work alongside him in the care of the garden and to rule over the creatures of the earth, the fish of the sea and the birds of the air…together with him, not beneath or behind him.
It really is straightforward, yet this is where the hermeneutical gymnastics begin for some. They don’t want to accept anything but a God-ordained patriarchal worldview and so attempt to explain away the clear understanding of Genesis 2. Some will even go so far as to revise their translations of the Bible to suit their ideology, all the while being guilty of introducing ideas not contained in the original languages, for the sake of ‘clarity.’ When we take this approach to Scripture, however, we run the risk of reading our ideas into God’s Word rather than deriving our ideas from it. We risk introducing false doctrine and even doing injury to our understanding of the nature of God and His promised help. In the attempts to reduce the first woman to ‘Adam’s little helper,’ there is a real danger that God’s very nature will also be diminished.
For those who preach that a woman’s place is to support her husband, often unseen from the seclusion of their shared home, let me leave you with these final thoughts. When God announced that it was ‘not good’ for man to be alone and decided to provide him with a ‘suitable helper’ there were no children to attend to (not until after they have been expelled from the garden), there were no meals to cook (they ate the fruit of the trees of the garden), there were no clothes to make or mend (they were unashamedly naked), there was no house to clean (they lived in the comfort of the garden). So what did Adam need ‘help’ with? God created him as a communal being—he needed companionship; God gave him the task of tending the garden—he needed a partner to do the work with him; God gave him the rule over the other creatures—Adam needed another being, like himself, competent, capable and equal to the task of ruling. And after God presents Adam with His specially designed ‘helper,’ God commands them to fill the earth with others like themselves, made in the image of God, who will continue to work together as ‘suitable helpers’ for the tasks that God had prepared for them to do.
~ Pastor Jane
#hopechapel #collingwoodchurch #Genesis2 #devotional #suitablehelper #ezer #ezerkenegdo
For further study: https://margmowczko.com/a-suitable-helper/
First licensed for pastoral ministry in 1994, Pastor Jane Peck has served in camp and church ministries in three denominations, five provinces and in a variety of roles. Her most recent position is that of Pastor at Hope Chapel which she began in 2020. She is excited to see what God can and will do in the days to come!