Is the Wife “The Helper” and What Does that Mean?

Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.” -Genesis 2:18 

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I do have to chuckle a little when I think about how traditionalist often understand the verse above to mean that the wife is to take a subservient role in marriage (as I picture myself saying “yes master” to my husband).  It shows how much they lack understanding of what “a helper” actually means in ancient Hebrew.  

When God took “Eve” out of the side of Adam, he literally broke Adam in half.  Before Eve was created, Adam reflected the whole image of God.  After Eve was created, Adam reflected half of the image of God, while Eve reflected the other half of the image of God.  When a man and woman come together as husband and wife, they again reflect the whole image of God.

Female is not and cannot be inferior to male according to Genesis, as they were created from the same substance, but reflect God in unique ways.  Many traditional theologians argue that men and women are equally valuable, but created for different roles and purposes.  This is true to a degree, but what they add on is that the male’s “role” is more authoritative and powerful than the female’s role.

Many have strongly argued for a power-hierarchy within marriage, due to the word “helper” found in Genesis 2:18.  When we translate the word “helper” using our English language, it is not difficult to understand why many think this way.

However, the Hebrew word (the original language Genesis was written in) for “helper” is “ezar.”  This word is actually used 19 times in the Old Testament – twice to describe a wife and seventeen times to describe God Himself (Fashioned to Reign by Kris Vallotton).

Examples to this include:

“Our help (ezar) is in the Name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth” -Psalm 124:8

“How blessed is He whose help (ezar) is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God.” -Psalm 146:5

Hence, a wife is not needed by a man so that she can cook, clean, and do the washin;’ but rather, a wife is needed because she is his missing half and without her all men called to marriage feel incomplete.  This is meant to symbolize Christ’s great desire to be reconciled with “His Church,” “His Body,” “His Bride,” “His Beloved.”  All of these mean the same thing and include both Christian men and women.

Many have taken this verse to literally mean that Husband’s are supposed to rule and reign over the home (as Jesus rules and reigns over His Church) while wives are supposed to be the husband’s helper in the sense of “second in command,” assistant, or at worst – his slave.

Adam does not state, “Oh thanks God, now I have someone to assist me in all my self-centered endeavors, cook my meals, clean my house, make my babies, and serve me.”  Rather, He jumps up and down in excitement (I imagine) and says, “At last!  This one is bone from my bone, and flesh from my flesh! She will be called ‘woman,’ because she was taken from man (Gen. 2:23).”

A wife is supposed to help her husband, but “helper” reflects more of a “partner” than an assistant.  In other words, the husband is not president, while the wife is vice president.  Both the husband and wife are the president because as the Bible says, they are actually one in the same.

And the two will become one flesh.  So they are no longer two, but one flesh. -Mark 10:8 

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