Part 3: Woman, An Image Bearer of God

By: Margaret Knight

The beginning of man and woman

After God created Adam and put him in the Garden of Eden, He said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him” (Genesis 2:18).

Pensive woman in a field

What does helper mean?

The Hebrew word for helper is ezer. According to David Freedman, a Jewish biblical scholar and archaeologist who later became a Presbyterian minister, the word ezer is a combination of two roots.[1] One root means “to rescue and/or save”.[2] The other root means “to be strong”.[3]  At one point in the development of the Hebrew language, the two roots merged together and so did their meaning.[4] Freedman said translators interpret ezer to mean “helper” so that ezer takes on both meanings (to rescue/save and to be strong).[5]

Ezer is used twice in the Bible to describe Eve. The rest of the time, ezer is used to describe God. Ezer is used to describe God when He helps the Israelites in battle and protects them from all their enemies, physical and spiritual. For example:

“I am afflicted and needy; Hasten to me, O God! You are my help and my deliverer; O LORD, do not delay” (Psalm 70:5, my emphasis added).

Here’s a list of other times the word ezer is used in the Bible: Deuteronomy 33:7, 26, 29; Exodus 18:4; 1 Samuel 7:12; Psalm 20: 1-2; Psalm 33:20; Psalm 89:19; Psalm 115:9, 10, 11; Psalm 121:1-2; Psalm 124:8; Psalm 146:5; and Hosea 13:9.

Going deeper into the Ancient Hebrew

Ancient Hebrew was written in pictographic script before it evolved into the Hebrew script it is today. In Ancient Hebrew, the word ezer was an eye, a man, and a weapon.[6] One commentator said that the meaning of ezer in this pictographic script was “revealer of man’s enemy.”[7]

We are waging a spiritual battle against the Enemy and our flesh.[8] A woman is a spiritual help, man’s fellow warrior (2 Timothy 2:3-4 and Ephesians 6:13) and a defense in the spiritual realm.[9] For example, a wife is in a unique position to help her husband because she can easily spot her husbands’ sins, better than anyone else in his life.[10] Because she knows his sins, she can help him defeat sins that entangle him and hinder him from being the spiritual leader he is supposed to be.[11]

What does suitable mean?

The word suitable is k’enegdo in Hebrew, which means opposite to or contrasting.[12] Eve was Adam’s mirror opposite.[13] Adam and Eve were designed to fit and work together.[14]

Adam was not “fit” to be alone.[15] Where a man is weak, the woman is strong.[16] Where a woman is weak, the man is strong.[17] Together, Adam and Eve, man and woman, can accomplish so much more than when they are both alone.[18] To quote one commentator:

“Adam had to lose a rib, but he gained so much more.”[19]

Genesis 2:22 says that God made Eve from Adam’s rib. The word for rib is tsela. Some commentators wonder if “rib” is even an accurate translation since the word is used several times throughout the Old Testament as “side”.[20] Because of its usage, some think Eve may have been created from a whole half of Adam.[21] Whatever the most accurate translation and understanding, Eve was created from Adam’s side. She was his equal.

What the ezer k’enegdo is not

Ezer k’enegdo is not meant to be a superficial sex object for some to use and throw away or a slave to control and bully. A man who sees a woman this way does not value her. He doesn’t value her, because he fails to see her as God intended her to be, the ezer k’enegdo. A woman has God’s likeness and shares His characteristic of being a saving deliverer. If all men saw women like that, they would be afraid to demean and buy them. They would be afraid because they would know they would be sinning against a holy God and rebelling against His will for His own creation.

Preview of Part 4

So, what went wrong with Adam and Eve and how did we get to where we are today? We’ll discuss the Fall and its ramifications in Part 4.


 

Social JusticeMargaret lives in Indianapolis where she is a law student focusing on Criminal Law. After graduating from law school, she wants to be an advocate for those who are suffering from injustices, most specifically human trafficking. Margaret enjoys learning how to cultivate a hospitable heart, traveling to new places, and growing in knowledge about God through His Word and life experiences. She has volunteered as Ascent 121’s social media and blog manager since March 2015. 


Sources

[1] Farrell, Heather. “The Real Meaning of the Term “Help Meet”.” Women in the Scriptures. November 9, 2010. Web. http://www.womeninthescriptures.com/2010/11/real-meaning-of-term-help-meet.html.

[2] Farrell

[3] Farrell

[4] Farrell

[5] Farrell

[6] Bramson, Dr. Walter. “What is an ezer?” Dr. Walter Bramson: Separating the truth of God’s word from the traditions of man. Web. http://drwalterbramson.com/what-is-an-azer/.

[7] Bramson

[8] Bramson

[9] Bramson

[10] Bramson

[11] Bramson

[12] Farrell

[12] “Why did God use Adam’s rib to create Eve?” gotQuestions. Web. http://www.gotquestions.org/Adams-rib.html.

[13] gotQuestions

[14] gotQuestions

[15] gotQuestions

[16] gotQuestions

[17] gotQuestions

[18] gotQuestions

[19] gotQuestions

[20] gotQuestions

[21] gotQuestions

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *