The “Suitable Helper” for the Man

One thing that contributes to the patriarchal bias that is commonly taught in our churches is the fact that God decided that the man needed a helper in Genesis chapter 2. We interpret this to mean that the woman was somehow the subordinate, gofer, sidekick, or lackey to the man. He was Batman and she was Robin. He was the dad working on the car and she was the kid fetching the needed wrench or screwdriver.

But is this the only way we have helpers? I saw firemen rescuing people from the World Trade Center; weren’t they helpers to the ones rescued? I saw Good Samaritans carrying people out of Katrina’s flooded areas; were they not helpers to those stranded? These rescuers were not subordinate to the ones they helped, were they? When we consider that there are different types of helpers we are left to determine how the woman was to be a helper to the man.

The first clue for us should be in the needs of the man. What did he need help with? Why was it not good for the man to be alone? What would the man have learned from observing the animals?

God’s commission for mankind was that they would be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. He can not accomplish this alone. He might have seen in the animals how each alligator had an alligator mate and each elephant had an elephant mate but he found no mate for himself. So the man needed a helper, someone without whom he was powerless to accomplish his commission from God.

Another consideration that should have been part of the discussion all along is the meaning of the Hebrew word ezar ( rz<[Eß). This word is used (in the same form) eighteen times outside of Genesis 2. Four of these are in names. The other fourteen are used exclusively to describe helpers in the rescuer sense! 1 Ki. 20:16; 2 Ki. 14:26; Job 29:12; 30:13; Ps. 30:11; 54:6; 72:12; 89:20; 107:12; Isa. 31:3; 63:5; Jer. 47:4; Ezek. 11:1; Dan. 11:34. Look at the role of the helper in Job 29:12 “because I rescued the poor who cried for help, and the fatherless who had none to assist him.” Does this sound like it is referring to a subordinate? In some of these God himself is the helper! Psalm 54:4 Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me. What should be somewhat disconcerting to us is how it is that simple considerations like these have been conspicuously absent from discussions in our churches about the woman as a helper for the man. The search for Truth is as needed today as ever! May God richly bless yours. Randy