Genesis 2:18, part 2
I will make him an help meet for him. According to Adam Clarke, the Hebrew for “help meet for him,” ezer kenegdo, “implies that the woman was to be a perfect resemblance of the man, possessing neither inferiority nor superiority, but being in all things like and equal to himself.”1 He was right to a certain extent. Eve was like Adam in that she was of mankind, and not animal kind, and in that she possessed both body and spirit while the animals have only body, but was not quite “a perfect resemblance of the man.” The physical differences between men and women are obvious. The spiritual differences are not so obvious, but they are evident in the Creation story, in many other scriptural references to the differently ordained roles of men and women, and in the practical roles into which men and women have almost universally organized their activities.2
Ezer implies more of an ally than a servant. In fact, David used that word several times to refer to God. In Psalm 33, he wrote, “Our soul waiteth for the LORD: he is our help and our shield.” And in Psalm 70, he wrote, “O God: thou art my help and my deliverer.” The term implies an ally, an indispensable supporter, a rescuer, and a man’s wife is certainly all of these things. There is nothing in the word to imply inferiority, but there is really nothing in the word that implies any kind of relationship at all except one of crucial support. The fact that she was made specifically for Adam’s purposes, and not for her own, however, demonstrates God’s intended purpose for her, to actively serve Adam, just as man’s purpose is to actively serve God. Stephen B. Clark wrote, “The description of the woman as a ‘helper fit for him’ implies that the woman was not simply to be, but to do. Her role is to be an active one in the support of her husband.”3 Eve was not created just to keep Adam company, and both men and women will live happier lives if they focus on their God ordained tasks. Women will be happier if they focus their lives on serving their husbands and rearing their children.
There is also no reason to suppose that women have no other purpose but to serve their husbands and bear their children. God has often used women as prophetesses to convey his words to mankind, and he has also given women the ability to take over leadership roles when men fail either through inability or abdication. Women might have their own missions assigned directly by God, but the vast majority of women will be happier and more fulfilled as wives and mothers, just as the majority of men will be happier as husbands and fathers. And a part of being a godly wife and mother involves willingly submitting to her husband in her role as his subordinate ally.4
1 Clarke, Adam. Commentary on the Bible. e-Sword v7.0.5. Copyright 2000-2003, Rick Meyers. .
2 Goldberg, Stephen. The Inevitability of Patriarchy. New York: William Morrow & Company, Inc., 1974. 228. “…the central fact is that men and women are different from each other from the gene to the thought to the act and that emotions that underpin masculinity and femininity, that make reality as experienced by the male eternally different from that experienced by the female, flow from the biological natures of man and woman…the women of every society have taken the paths they have not because they were forced by men but because they have followed their own imperatives.”
3 Clark, Stephen B. Man and Woman in Christ. Ann Arbor, Michigan: Servant Press, 1980. 20.
4 “Genesis 2:18 describes the man’s problem as being his aloneness, but it describes the solution as being ‘a helper fit for him’. Genesis does not describe woman as a companion to man but as a helper. As Von Rad points out, the phrase is not a romantic evaluation of woman. Rather it presents woman as ‘useful’ to man. A man’s wife is supposed to ‘do something’ for him, just as he is supposed to ‘do something’ for her. If she does not do what she is supposed to do for him (and if he does not do what he is supposed to do for her) deep interpersonal sharing will not make the marriage a good marriage.” Clark. Man and Woman. 22.