She Shall Be Called Woman
Part One Session Two
In Session One we learned that the creation of human beings in Genesis 1:27 is clearly both male and female and that dominion was given to both genders. The second chapter gives details the elaboration of the original creation but nowhere uses the word "create." The chapter unfolds and it is within the context that we get a full view of what God wants us to see. We will highlight a few verses that pertain to people, but we highly recommend that you read the whole chapter.
First let’s take a close look at Genesis 2:7.
2:7 "And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being."
In this case the scripture no longer says just "man" (adam) but specifies "the man" (ha’adam) referring to a particular human creation. The male was formed first from the dust of the ground. The Hebrew for formed (yatsar) is a different word from that for created (bara). It speaks of development rather than original creation. "The man and the woman (so far as the primal state is concerned) were created simultaneously, but the male was formed, elaborated, first." It is in Genesis 2:18-19 that we find the basis of the third myth.
Myth Three: Woman was created to be man’s helper.
Genesis 2:18-19: "And the Lord God said, "It is not good that man should be alone, I will make him a helper comparable to him." (or as the King James says, “a help meet.”)
How did “very good,” become “not good?” Traditionally, we have been led to understand that when God said "it is not good that man should be alone" He could have meant that the man was lonely or that he needed a mate or something even more profound.
Let us say here that the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, is primarily written in Hebrew and Greek but within the context of Jewish and Middle Eastern concepts and customs. Most of our English language Bibles have been compiled by men applying middle class western mindsets to Hebrew, Middle Eastern words and concepts. In departing from the Hebrew roots of Christianity we have failed to grasp many of the concepts and ideas being expressed in both the Old and New Testaments. This tendency to totally ignore the Jewish roots of our faith when translating and teaching the scriptures has robbed us of many deep spiritual truths that can only be understood in their cultural setting. Therefore you will find in these studies that we will, whenever possible, share the Hebrew background and context of a scripture passage so that we may receive its correct and full meaning
The Hebrew word for "alone" in Genesis 2:18 is "bad" from the root word "badad" (Strong’s H. 905). Literally this word means "separated, divided or incomplete." It conveys the idea of two separate functioning parts of an object being incomplete and unable to function to full capacity, because they have not been brought together. This word, so often translated into English as "alone", does not mean the man was lonely. It means he was incomplete, which is an entirely different thing.
If we look at the context we see that immediately following the “not good” statement we get a clue to what God meant when He said man was incomplete (alone.) In Genesis 2:19 God brings the animals to the man for him to name and points out that no animal is like him.
19 "Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name. 20 So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him."
We know that everything God does is good, but here we see that God looked on His own workmanship and said it was "not good"! In other words, God saw the man’s present level of creation as not being good enough to totally satisfy God's creative nature. (This is what Paul was referring to when he wrote to the Corinthians "Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord." 1 Corinthians 11:11. The man is incomplete without the woman, and the woman is incomplete without the man.)
*Now let us look at the word that has been translated as "help meet" in the King James Bible. Here are some other modern translations that do very little to shed light on the original meaning of this word:
NKJV "I will make him a helper comparable to him."
N.I.V.. I will make a helper suitable for him."
NASB: I will make him a helper suitable for him."
NLT I will make a companion who will help him
C.E.V I need to make a suitable partner for him."
When we hear the English word "help meet" or "helper" applied to the creation of the woman, it indicates an idea of one who assists from a subservient position. Added to this is the fact that the church for many hundreds of years has additionally taught that woman was created for such a subservient role. The argument is used that the scriptures say the woman was created as Adam's 'helpmeet", therefore any woman who seeks a leadership or authoritative role is rebelling against God who created her only to assist the male.
The fact is that in the original Hebrew text of Genesis 2:18, the word "helpmeet" does not even occur. Again our English translations have failed us, for this single word "helpmeet" is actually a very poor attempt to translate two Hebrew words: ezer, and kenegdo.
The first word ezer is used 16 times in the Old Testament - twice only to refer to the female and 14 times to refer to God. This word (ezer) means 'to surround with protection and aid'. In fact, if you look at the context of every other use of the word ezer in scripture, you will see that ezer refers to either God or military allies, and that in all other cases the one giving the help is superior to the one receiving the help.
Adding the word "kenegdo" (meet) to "ezer" modifies the meaning of the phrase to one who is neither superior or inferior, but of equal status. So then, the two words together literally mean "one who is the SAME as the other and who surrounds, protects, aids, helps, supports."
In English we have a similar concept - a counterpart. A counterpart is a person or thing that corresponds exactly to another. It means different yet equal. Yet in many, many churches worldwide the erroneous concept of woman as a subservient assistant to man, defined by the faulty translation "helpmeet" which goes back to the Middle Ages, is still embraced.
Please note that in the original Hebrew there is no indication of inferiority or a secondary, assistant position for the woman. There is also no idea of separation of the male and female into different spheres of responsibility, authority, or social position. This is confirmed in Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance quoted below.
HELP Strong's # 5828 (Hebrew = ezer) aid: help. Strong's Root = # 5826 (Hebrew = azar) prime root:" to surround, ie, protect or aid: help, succour " The primary idea lies in girding, surrounding, hence defending
MEET (Hebrew = kenegdo) means "corresponding to, counterpart to, equal to or matching"
So we see that the creation account in Genesis 1 & 2 records the creation of adam, (humankind) and then records the completion of humankind with the bringing forth of the female from the male.
Why is it so important we understand this? Because we need to see that woman was brought forth from the man not because the man was lonely but because he was incomplete and unable to fulfil his purpose without her.
Further, and this is most important, we need to see that woman was not created by God to satisfy the man, but to satisfy God Himself! It was in the plan from the beginning. He created them male and female and He formed (made) the male and then the female.
It is important that both men and women pause at this point and allow the following vital Biblical truth to sink deep into their spirits:
WOMAN WAS CREATED FOR GOD'S PLEASURE AND CREATIVE SATISFACTION, AND NOT TO PLEASE ADAM!
“Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” Rev. 4:12 King James Version
“You are worthy, O Lord our God, to receive glory and honor and power. For you created all things, and they exist because you created what you pleased." Rev. 4:12 New Living Translation
So, what have we established in this session?
a) That woman was created primarily for God's pleasure, not primarily for man's pleasure.
b) That man without woman was incomplete and woman without man is also incomplete.
c) There is no hint or suggestion of one dominant gender in the Genesis account of the creation of human beings when the scriptures are studied sincerely and without bias.
QUESTIONS AND DISCUSSION POINTS
1. In your belief, how important is the accurate teaching of biblical truth about the passages from Genesis we have studied in this session?
2. As you study the scripture you find that God is very specific about other words used when they are studied in the original languages. For example, what difference do the words bara and yatsar in Hebrew mean and what difference do they make to our study?
3. Has traditional teaching on the place of women as helper for men affected you personally? If so, how.
4. Do you have any questions, concerns or points of disagreement about what we have studied in this session? If so, what?