Ezer Kenegdo

“Hear, O Lord, and be gracious to me! O Lord, be my helper!

“Surely, God is my helper; the Lord is the upholder of my life.”

Psalms 30:10 and 54:4

It is significant that after delivering His grave caution, in His very next breath, God spoke within Himself and said, It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”

Not good for adam to carry on the work alone, to enjoy the garden alone, to develop in relationship with God alone. It was not good for adam to face the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, alone.

Up to now everything had been pronounced “good” and on the sixth day of creation God said that everything He had done was “very good.”

And it really was. The earth thrived, and in the protected confines of the Garden, the human being thrived, finding joy and satisfaction in the work, love in companionship with God, and all the new creatures to delight adam’s curiosity and creativity.

But God now named a ‘not good’ thing that was happening. ‘Not good’ in this context means ‘not complete.’ It was ‘not good’ for adam to be alone, because humankind was incomplete as a solitary being. Loneliness is one of the most crushing of human emotions, some consider it to be worse even than any physical suffering. And, loneliness is a profoundly human experience. God designed human beings with a deep longing to be fully known along with being fully accepted and loved by another. Every person actually needs human companionship. We were not made to exist in loneliness.

Yet, how could God’s beloved person be lonely when adam was a perfect being in a perfect setting in perfect fellowship with perfection personified, the Lord Himself? The answer is found in God’s very nature. God is three-in-one, the trinity, a community, if you will. It was God’s intention from the very beginning to make male and female in the creation of humankind, a community, as a more complete expression of God’s image, the community of the trinity.

Adam was incomplete without an ‘ezer,’ so God fostered within adam’s heart a desire for someone like adam. As God revealed to His adam all the joyous richness of the garden, filled with every kind of creature, the human became lonely. In all the green glory of this garden, there was no one else like adam. Each creature had a companion of its own kind, yet adam had none. Picture the solitary human being one dusky evening, leaning against the warm bark of the Tree of Life, hands folded quietly in the lap as slow tears fell, tracking lines of heartache on adam’s dusty cheeks. So inconsolably alone.

God was sad for His adam. So, as the little, lonely creature slept, the Lord once again brought forth life. God scooped half of the creature’s clay away, and began to fashion a new person, just like adam, but not really like adam, either. She was something new.

God took from adam’s essence—the word “rib” is much better translated “side,” indicating God took a significant portion of adam’s body to form the woman—and created a suitable counterpart to adam. The Hebrew word translated helper, here, is ‘ezer.’  ‘Ezer’ in scripture usually refers to God in His relationship to His people and means far more than the word ‘helper’ might imply.

The word ‘ezer’ originally had two roots. One meant ‘to rescue, to save,’ and the other ‘to be strong.’ The next word, ‘fit,’ is ‘kenegdo’ in Hebrew, ‘kenegdo’ means ‘corresponding to.’  Put together, these words could be translated as God saying, “I will make a power [or strength] corresponding to adam.” God would make for the man a woman fully his equal and fully his match, and together with God, they would form a flourishing, vibrant community, in the very image and likeness of God Himself.

God’s plan was for woman to correspond to man, as someone to share not only his life as a companion, but his work and responsibilities as well. Woman was to be “a help comparable” to the man, an equally valued human being and an equal partner in God’s grace. God created woman to be the counterpart of man in life. It was God’s stated plan in the beginning that men and women should be together, working with a common purpose in life, the woman would be a real partner, a “companion like the man,” one who would “be strong” for him, and with him; one who would even, at times, “save” and “rescue” him.

God made woman to share with man a mutual concern and responsibility, a shared commission to govern the earth, with united commitment to each other that reflected God’s own eternal three-in-one being of equal deity and power.

After creating woman God brought her to adam. Oh what a happy morning that was for adam, the whole sky was full of the rainbow of his joy when he cried out, “She is me!!”  Thank You God!!

Adam now instantly realized he was a man, and from his own body had come the perfect one for him, exclaiming in Hebrew, ‘ish shah.’ ‘Ish,’ is Hebrew for man, because he could see that she was made from the same substance as himself, made to fit who he was in a perfect way, filled with the same breath as his breath, unique among all creation, corresponding to him alone.

The second part of the word ‘shah’ can refer to being soft to the touch, denoting woman as having a special ‘feminine’ nature different from man. She was ‘soft man’!

He loved her deeply from his heart, and wove his life around hers as a vine wraps itself around a tree.

Published by Joanne Guarnieri Hagemeyer

Bible Teacher and partner with Ancient Voices, Sacred Stories

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