“The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” (Genesis 2:18 TNIV)
There are some verses in the Bible that are soft and warm and others that are like dynamite, rousing the greatest of passions. Words are powerful things, and the words in this verse are no exception. They’re dynamite all right. But what do they actually mean?
Helper sounds like tea lady, back up, assistant, say some. And for those women who hoped that God had something more in mind for their identity, it’s heartbreaking. It’s not that they wish to belittle housekeepers, assistants, secretaries etc. It’s just that they know, oh how they know, that there’s something else in their hearts, and they believed God put that something there. And it doesn’t involve assisting. It employs their passions and intellects and initiative in a different way; their strategizing and strength for with a different end in mind. They’ve been frustrated for long enough -surely God hasn’t stopped believing in them too? And then there’s the suitable for him bit. For some, the heartbreak just deepens with the feeling that women were set on earth soley to compliment, help, make a man look better. They feel as though it meant they had no contribution of their own to bring. At times suitable has been exchanged for lifesaver, one who brings out the best in their partner. Which doesn’t sound bad at all really. Unless you are single. Then what’s your purpose? Are you a nobody because you didn’t get married?
When you’re dealing with a rich language like the Hebrew of the Old Testament text, it’s worth a much closer look. There we discover that the word translated helper or helpmeet is EZER. We discover that it appears many times in the OT, but the vast majority of those times EZER describes God, as he is delivering and rescuing (helping) His people. It’s a word conveying power and strength, a word with military connotations. To be named EZER is not some afterthought, but in His image and likeness. And what an image and likeness! Not someone deemed unable to do more than assist because of their weakness, but one who can help because they have the passion, power and purpose to do so.
Then the Knegedu “suitable” bit. The phrase means facing, corresponding to, like it. “Facing” is important because it means to stand in a person’s presence as an equal and other entity. The EZER is not wrapped up and consumed in someone else’s story. The Ezer stands in bold partnership separate and equal, eyeball to eyeball. EZER is also a verb meaning to protect, surround, defend, cherish.
So what does that mean for us – does the EZER live today? I think so – I see the EZER in the mom who devotes her life to her family. The ezer is in the neighbor who cares about safety and security in her neighborhood. She’s the single mom who holds down a full time job and raises her kids alone. The career woman passionate about her work, the campaigner for human rights. She’s the youth pastor who works tirelessly for the youth in the community. She is the senior pastor who has paid a high price to get to where she is, but is prepared to be misunderstood by men and women, knowing she is understood by her Heavenly Father.
Ezers come in all shapes and sizes, all ages, colors and classes. They look and live their lives very differently, but share something in their DNA. Made in God’s image, they have God’s power and strength. They can initiate or support. They have something about them. And they stand equal, autonomous, yet face to face with men. They have something to offer the men in their lives, and something to learn and receive from them.
When God looked down from heaven and made woman, what on earth was he thinking?
He was thinking EZER.