The Bible is an ancient collection of sacred scriptures. It was written in another culture, at another time, to a different audience and by men who spoke another language. Most people tend to forget this when they “read the Bible for all it’s worth.” They sit, they read, they elucidate and then apply a biblical solution to a 21st century issue based on their personal level of understanding.
The lens through which they interpret is the one of their own race and culture. The average Christian will rarely research the original language, syntax and culture or question the author’s original intent.
If we neglect to consider the cultural and language differences of the Bible, we miss something important the authors have to say and sometimes we miss the entire point of the passage. Since no language translates verbatim into another language, many Hebrew and Greek words in the Bible can lose their original meaning and power during the translation process.
Lets consider for a moment the words “helper suitable” from Genesis 2:18:
The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”
Various versions of the Bible also record: suitable helper/helpmeet/helpmate/helper fit/aide fit/suitable partner/helper comparable.
Up until this point in Scripture God has declared all things “good,” now he makes this startling statement in Genesis 2:18: “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” The word “helper” used in this verse in the Hebrew is ezer. Ezer means: to rescue/to save/to be strong. When these two words “helper suitable” are translated together you get ezer kenegdo and there are only two options when translating them into English: mighty strong helper or mighty strong power.
The word ezer is a military term that God uses as his own name throughout the Old Testament to describe how God comes through for his people in times of great difficulty. God says “I will be your Ezer Israel,” “I will rescue you!” God gave THAT name to Eve and we are her daughters, therefore we are ezers too! God could have given Eve the Hebrew name for wife, but he did not. He could have given Eve the Hebrew name for assistant, but he did not. He could have given Eve the Hebrew name for aide, but he did not.
When rephrased based on this new understanding you can read:
The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a mighty strong power for him.”
Stated this way, there is not a hint of inferiority in this passage, yet throughout Christian history, Eve has often been presented as a subordinate helper to Adam. I would say something vitally important has been lost along the way.
The word helper in English means: teammate, aide, supporter, colleague. The problem with those words is that none of them were the Hebrew word used in Genesis 2:18. The word that was used was ezer: mighty strong power! That was Eve’s first name and she was named ezer because that is the name God wanted her to have.
In Genesis 3 the ezer did something totally unexpected of a mighty strong power. Eve sinned. She did a “thing” she listened to the lies of the serpent, was deceived, ate the fruit from the tree she knew she should not be eating from. Immediately, she had a new awareness she didn’t have before and she suddenly feels that warm wash of shame, then came all the blame.
It was then that the relationship began to crumble. Now the equal partnership between the adam and the ezer was broken until Jesus came to reconcile the relationships between humanity and God and men and women. The statement “and he will rule over you” in Genesis 3:16 is a consequence of sin. God was NOT making a new command whereby wives should be under the authority of their husbands, it was a proclamation that this would be the new marital dynamic. Patriarchy became the norm after the fall, but it was never commanded and endorsed by God.
So my friends, it is time to reclaim our identity as ezers! There is no hierarchy in Christ. There is no God then husband then wife for God created husband and wife to stand shoulder to shoulder with one another as co-leaders and co-heirs in Christ and that is GOOD NEWS!
Being an ezer should not only be good news to women, it should be good news to men too because this means men do not have to take on the full weight of the home and world on their shoulders. Sisters, as the ezer you get to share that burden!
References: Reclaiming Eve, Vindicating the Vixens, Ezer Rising