The Scriptural Role of ‘Ezer
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And said YHWH Elohim, “It is not good being of the man alone; I will make for him an ‘ezer corresponding to him.” Genesis 2:18 (as literal as I can get)
‘ezer – This is going to take some time, so digest slowly. A great deal of misinformation has been foisted upon the believing community because we did not read this verse in its Hebrew context. Most of our thinking about the role of women and the status of the wife begins with Paul. We assume a New Testament orientation to these issues, forgetting that Paul is not a New Testament Christian believer. Paul is a rabbinic Messianic Jew. In fact, he probably never thought about calling himself a Christian. His orientation began in the Torah. His Scriptures were the Hebrew Bible. His thoughts were dominated by God’s revealed word to Moses, the prophets and the kings. If we want to know why Paul says those very disturbing things in Corinthians, Ephesians and Timothy, we have to start here, in Genesis. And we will have to proceed slowly, trying to grasp each nuance of the Hebrew text. After all, Paul could never have been a Pharisee of the Pharisees without a thorough and exhaustive understanding of passages just like this one.
God chose the word ‘ezer to describe the woman. It’s wasn’t Adam’s word. By the time Adam gets around to giving the woman a name, all kinds of drastic things have happened. The name Adam chooses is Havvah (which we have contorted into Eve). That name is a clue to her post-Fall identity. She is the mother of all living simply because after the Fall everyone will die. The propagation of all human beings will have to come through her pregnancy. Adam and Havvah are not going to live forever.
So, if this is God’s word for woman, that means that God tells us about her essential identity through this word. Just as the word ‘adam tells us about the essential identity of the man (made from dust), so ‘ezer tells us about the ontological and functional identity of the woman. After all, God didn’t just accidentally wave His magic wand for her to appear. The Hebrew text tells us that God crafted her according to a deliberate and specific plan. Adam was created. Havvah was built!
Why did God construct this person? The verse tells us that God saw that is was not good for the man to be alone. But wait a minute. Adam wasn’t alone. He enjoyed the very presence of God. He had the companionship of all the other creatures. What more could He have wanted or needed. Isn’t it enough to have a personal, face-to-face relationship with the Creator?
Apparently it’s not. Adam might not have realized that something was missing, but God did. It is God who recognizes that the situation is not good. This pronouncement stands in stark contrast to everything else in creation. God acknowledges that every other part of creation is good. He blesses many of His creatures. But when it comes to the last and best of His handiwork, He sees something incomplete. Man is alone, and this is not good…