2 things brought up this passage in an hour, so I feel compelled to bring it up a third and round it out.
Genesis 2:18: The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make an ezer suitable for him.”
Ezer. You probably added in the word helpmate from memory. This for me conjures up the image of a woman standing behind a man giving him a boost. or providing a third hand. or grabbing the edger while he mows. or cooking a meal for him while he works. Helpmate.
Contrast this with the roles taken on by an ezer in other places in Scripture. The image of ezer elsewhere is of God delivering from the sword of Pharoah (Exodus 18:4). and contending against the adversary (Deuteronomy 33:7). and saving his people (Deuteronomy 33:29). and assisting the troops (Ezekiel 12:14). and answering in the day of trouble (Psalm 20:2).
On and on… every time this exact title is used, all 16 other times for “ezer” in the Old Testament, it is used as a military assistance and deliverance, most often as a title for God. So where does this “boost” idea come from?
Here’s the 2 contexts of the hour:
1. A college student asks me how I defend biblically my role as a woman in the ministry of the church. My answer? Sure– I could have talked about the roles of Esther and Deborah. I can discuss the principle versus the application of Paul’s letters. But really, I see all of that as flushing out what it looks like that God said it was NOT GOOD for man to be alone, that he needed a helper suitable for him to take on the Kingdom work of subduing the earth, even before the fall. And so I conclude that men and women need each other in ministry. It’s not good to take on God’s work alone. So we need one another in the home, the church, and the business world.
2. The Boston Globe published a photo essay about the most dangerous countries for women in the world. And all I could think was– it is NOT GOOD for man to be alone! Why are women being treated in these horrific fashions? It goes against what God has created and ordained for his world.
We must, really must, recapture the God-given mandate to work together!
“I lift my eyes up to the hills. Where does my ezer come from? My ezer comes from the LORD, maker of heaven and earth.” Psalm 121: 1-2
PS. Carolyn Custis James wrote a book about the role of women in the church, and she introduced me to the meaning of ezer throughout the Bible, as a word used to describe the military might and help of YHWH, the LORD God.