Helper in Genesis 2 – Partner or Go-fer?

adam-and-eve-~-vmo0001Genesis 1 is the wide angle lens.  Genesis 2 is the close up.  Here we learn more about the husband and wife relationship.  Read Genesis 2:18-25

             Helper.  All through Genesis 1 the Lord says, “It is good.”  When any part of the world is brought into functioning order, the lord says “It is good.”  At the creation of humanity, he says, it is very good.”  Yet here the Lord looks at Adam alone in the world and says, “It is not good.”

            The Lord is not alone in this opinion.  Man and women have been looking for a partner in life from the get go.  We don’t care much in grade school, and then something happens in middle school to high school and we are maybe even obsessed with trying to find a match.

            I like to say that I met my match and married her.

            Look at all the computer dating sites!  People are looking for someone to partner with.  Yet the word in Genesis 2 is “helper.”    

            In English “helper” sounds like an inferior.

            I was a carpenter’s helper in seminary for a summer.  I learned a lot. But you know I was not the equal of the carpenter.  He got paid more than me.  Whatever he paid me, he charged the customers double and paid himself half of that! 

            I was a UPS driver helper one Christmas.  That was real work and good pay. Now the driver organized packages in the truck and I delivered them to the door. This was in December in Montana – so who got to stay warm and who got cold?  No equality there.         

            Is Eve to be seen as Adam’s helper in that sense?  She is the Go-fer.  She gets the jobs that Adam does not want?

            The trouble with this is that the word Helper in Hebrew is also used of God.  If we say that Eve must be lesser because she is called a “helper” we have to say that the Lord is less than us because he is sometimes called our helper.  Consider just one example of many. Ps 33:20

            “We wait in home for the Lord;

            He is our help and our shield”

             It is the exact same word.  A study of this word shows that it does not contain the idea of being a lesser.  We bring that in because of what “helper ” means in English.  Rather the word simply indicates that one person is offer aid or help, strength or partnership to another.  Only the context indicates if there is some inherent difference.

             Poetry.  Adam composes a little love poem to Eve when he meets her.  He is fascinated. He met all the other creatures in Eden, but Eve, well she was something else.  She was like him, only different!  V. 23.  She will be called woman (ishah) for she was taken out of man (ish).  Man in Hebrew is “ish” – no jokes allowed!  To add a feminine ending in Hebrew you put an “h” at the end.  He is “ish” she is “ishah”, it is the same word with a different ending.  We know that men and women are the same and different.

            It has been pointed out that God did not take from Adam’s foot or head to create Even but from his side.  So she is beside him and near his heart.

             The marriage Verse.  V. 24 is quoted in many places as the foundational verse on marriage.  What does it say?

             There are three parts.  Leaving, cleaving and becoming one flesh. 

            The Man leaves his family to be joined to the wife – she does not become a servant of his household.  He leaves so they can start something new.

            He cleaves – this indicates being united as if they were glued together.

            He becomes one flesh with her – this also indicates unity.

             The emphasis here, as I read it, is that a man and a woman are jointed together not as boss and servant. But as two parts of one new unity.  Both belong to each other.  They are to be united in marriage, in the bond of love and in physical unity.