After God created Adam He declared, “I will make an helpmeet for him…” (Genesis 2:18) What exactly is a “helpmeet”?
I developed my own offbeat translation of “helpmeet” in my early 20’s as I secretly struggled with the idea that woman might somehow be an “afterthought” or second-seat creation. Jokingly, I would spout off to a few in my circle of friends, “Look – women were created as helpmeets, because let’s face it, men need help!”
But I’ve since learned that “helper” is not the literal translation!
Joseph Coleson, Professor of Old Testament at Nazarene Theological Seminary – a very respected scholar and archaeologist, says that the Hebrew Translation is: “I will make for him an ‘ezer cenegdo.”
Coleson says English versions consistently translate ‘ezer as “helper.” ‘Ezer is used 20 times in the Old Testament: seventeen times to describe God and three times to describe a military ally or aide. Even if we translate ‘ezer to mean helper, we must remember that English has different nuances than the Hebrew language does. In English “helper” implies someone who is an apprentice, still learning, under someone in authority. But in Hebrew“helper” implies one who has the power to give help—it refers to someone in a superior position.
There is another possible definition for ‘ezer: “power” or “strength.” “Helper” and “power or strength” are words are from the same Hebrew root and the nouns would be identical.
Cenegdo is two prepositions, and together their literal meaning is “facing.” 1) ce is the first preposition and it means “like” or “corresponding to.” 2) Negdo means to stand in someone’s presence.
Paired with ce it means to be in the presence of an equal. Together these two prepositions show the relationship between two people: it means they are standing or sitting facing each other, which shows they are equals.
Coleson: “How should we translate the entire expression of ‘ezer cenegdo? A straightforward literal translation is, I will make for him a power like unto him, facing him.”
I have seen other translations from Greek whose English translations read, “It is not good that man should be alone. I will make a companion of strength and power who has a saving power and is equal to him.”
Even though I was trying to be funny in my 20’s, there was an intuitive knowing, through my own observation and experience, that great men relied upon great women. Enlightened men have a deep dependence on feminine help and strength.
And enlightened women have a deep dependence on masculine help and strength.
As I’ve matured and researched, it makes much more sense to me that “helpmeet” would translate to words such as strength, power, companion, saving, and equal. They provide clearer and stronger insights into the mortal purpose of the feminine creation.
Eve was ushered in to this Earth realm with power – a unique power which Adam did not possess – to assist in the saving of mankind. Likewise, Adam possessed strengths Eve did not. Together, and only as one, could they help set the Earth and Humanity on course to fulfill their respective missions.