‘Help meet’ or ‘Suitable helper’ is the genesis of people’s belief in divinely orchestrated gender roles and gender statuses. The idea is, if it was there from the beginning of time, then that must be the way that it is supposed to be.
Thoughts from previous post under consideration:
#1. The male is the ‘main (hu)man’, and the creation of a female was an afterthought.
#2. The work was his actually. It was not their work. God ‘handed over’ the garden—the earth—to the first male. The female was made to help and support him. There was no equality (of responsibility) from the beginning. The male has always had to do more.
#3. The male was made to excel the female in all things. A real man should always excel a woman. Know more, have more, be more. If he does not excel her, he is failing to conform to his divine design.
P.S. Responsibility is what confers honour. The more value you create, the more honourable you are.
To arrive at these points, many rules of doctrine formulation and scriptural interpretation have been flouted. Context, a clear divine injunction, scriptural harmony, etc.
#1 springs from looking at just one verse of scripture in isolation, away from the entire account of creation. Genesis 1 and 2 tell one creation story. The two accounts must agree, because all scripture must agree. The interpretation of the person of the female that is drawn from Gen. 2 is divergent from what is written of her in Genesis 1:26-28. That cannot be. Granted, two readings may say two different things. There can be elaborations. But there cannot be negations. Deducing the idea of ‘female afterthought’ from the narrative in Gen. 2 results in a conflict with what is written in Genesis 1 about how humans, particularly the female, came to be.
Gen 1:26-27 And God said, Let us make man (adam) in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
So God created man (adam) in his own image, in the image of God HE created him; male and female He created them.
Notice that humanity is described as one entity (him) as well as two (male and female). The idea of creating humans—male and female—was conceived in the heart of God at the same time. There is no such thing as the female being an afterthought creation. That’s nonsense! Not only that, male and female were created at the same time, on the same day (vs. 27). (More on the two creation accounts later).
#2; The worlds were framed by the word of God. It is what God says that we uphold as principle. The idea that there was some ‘handing over’ of work to the male—it was his work and she came to help him—is just an assumption. God said no such thing. It actually negates what God said.
Gen 1:28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
God said to male and female humans their responsibility. There was no handing over of anything to the male. There was no sharing of roles. There is also no injunction that the male must excel the female. He is never told to do more, be more, or know more. God blessed them and said the exact same thing to the two of them.
Please discard such ideas from your mind. They have no divine backing. Both man and woman were given the work. That was the plan from the get go. The fact that we see first, one human working, as stated in Gen. 2, does not mean that there was a ‘main man’. Such a thing does not exist! As a matter of fact, it was because the work was actually meant for two people that God said it is not good for one person to do it alone.
In the beginning, there was equality of responsibility between male and female humans. Thus, equality of honour. It was their work. Not his work. The female human was not made to help the male human in his work. They were both made to work together in their work. Partnership. No side-kicks.
Human beings were made primarily to work. Work is the definition of humanity, whether male or female. Work is the blessing. Work is what gives humans honour. There was nothing said here about relationships. The female was not made for the male, she was made for the Blessing, made for dominion just as the male was (Gen. 1:26). Relationships appear to have been secondary in the Beginning.
Perhaps God said something about the female being made for the male in Gen. 2? Perhaps He said something about gender roles?
Gen 2:22-25 And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.
And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.
(God speaking) “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.”
And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.
We know it is God speaking in vs. 24 because of what Jesus said here. Here God institutes a unique relationship that will exist between males and females. We know he instituted it because He said it. This is no assumption. Marriage is not a social construct.
But…we find no instance here, where God by His Word instituted any power play between male and female. We find no mention of gender roles. So, where did all those beliefs come from? It seems all we have always had as basis for the claims of hierarchy between male and female in the Beginning are mere assumptions. Preconceived notions. Nothing objective. Teaching males to excel females is a revert to what God said is not good; working alone.
Now to the ‘help-meet’ phrase itself. The Hebrew phrase translated to English as helpmeet is ezer kenegedo. Ezer for ‘help’, kenegedo for ‘meet/suitable’. The erroneous deductions it elicits ought to make us question whether this translation to English is indeed accurate or not. Let us do a re-examination.
ʻÊ-zer means ‘help’. It is the same word used to depict the help of God all through the Hebrew Bible. Therefore, we understand that this could be no small kind of help. It is literally salvation and deliverance. It is a strong, formidable kind of help that is employed for great, important tasks. An ʻÊ-zer comes to relieve and unburden. An ʻê-zer does not come to be a friend or a companion. Maybe in the process of help, a friendship could ensue; in many instances a friend could be a mighty deliverance out of trouble for a person. The point here is, companionship is not the primary understanding of the purpose of ʻê-zer. Loneliness is not what informs the need for an ʻê-zer. Work is. Responsibility is.
The first man was not lonely. He was alone. There was work to be done. Females are not the divinely designated cure for the loneliness of males. Females were made for work just like males.
Kə-neḡ-dōw is a prepositional phrase used as a form of adjective to qualify the noun ʻê-zer. The root word of the phrase is neged, and it means ‘to be in front of’, or ‘to stand face-to-face’. The frontal position depicted by neged is always a face to face position. The prefix kə means ‘as’ or ‘like’, while the suffix ōw is translated as ‘of him’ or ‘his’. A word-for-word translation of kə-neḡ-dōw would therefore be, ‘as (a) face-to-face of him’, or ‘as his face-to-face’.
What could this mean? You are free to make of this as many connotations as the spirit of God enlightens you.
These are mine; A mirror image. An equal. A contemporary. A mate. No indication of a subordinate or side-kick. A very, very far cry from the traditional ‘help meet’ translation. ʻÊ-zer kə-neḡ-dōw, to me, means someone that would stand on the opposite side of another and together they would carry one burden.
Conclusion; There is no divinely ordained female-as-assistant-and-help-meet-for-the-male. But there is, ”Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labour (Ecc. 4:9).” In the Beginning, the work was theirs, and not just the man’s; the man helped the woman as much as the woman helped him; man and woman operated a perfect balance of mutual exchange of help.