The Wife as Helper

The Bible says that the woman was created as a helper for the man, but what does that mean? What does it mean to help and how is she supposed to help? This scripture does not mean women/wives are only “the help” as in maids.

In Genesis 2:18-20 God says, it is not good for the man to be alone and make a helper (the women) because there was no other suitable helper for him. Various English translations have various phrases like “helper just right for him” and “help meet for him”. The word “helper” is way more powerful than we give it credit for. The Hebrew word ezer (עֵזֶר) is the word translated as “helper” in Gen 2:18. Ezer is based on azar (עָזַר) which is the verb to help.

Here are some other uses of the word “ezer” or “helper”.

God is functioning as ezer:
In Exodus 18:4 Moses names his second son Eliezer (Eli-ezer) which means “God is my helper”. Moses named his son this because God helped rescue him from the Pharaoh that put a bounty on him for murdering the Egyptian slave owner.

In Deut 33:7 while Moses is blessing each tribe of Israel, he asks God to be the “helper” of Judah against his foes. At the end of the Duet chapter 33 (v26-27), Moses gives a final blessing over all of Israel and says may the God of Jeshurun (Israel), ride across the heavens as their help to drive out their enemies before them. In v29 Moses says “bless be Israel, who is like them? A people saved by God who is their shield and helper, as well as their sword.”

More examples can be found in Psalms 20:1-2, Ps 33:18-20, PS 121:1-2, and Ps 149:5-6.

Humans functioning as ezer to other humans:
Isaiah 30:5 prophesied against Israel because they put their trust in Egypt (instead of God) to help them fight the Assyrians. It says that Egypt cannot be of help because they are good for nothing but shame and reproach.

Daniel 11:34 refers to when the wicked foreign king from the north persecutes the Israelites, and how some will help them but it will be futile because they will not be sincere about it.

The verb form azar is used in reference to the Israelites rescuing the Gibeonites (their new servants) from other Canaanite tribes in Jos 10:6. In v33 of the same chapter, it is used to describe the Canaanite kings helping each other but ultimately failing to beat the Israelites. 2 Sam 8:5 also features enemies of Israel helping each other in the battle against the Israelites. In 2 Sam 18, David wanted to help his men take down his rouge son Absalom who usurped his kingdom and in verse 3, his men tell him that it is too dangerous for him to go with them as they fight and insist he simply supports (or helps) them from the city and he agreed.

The Bible refers to the church as a “Bride of Christ” (Ep 5:22-33, 2 Cor 11:2, Rev 19:7), yet he didn’t tell us to sit down, shut up, and look pretty. He gave us the “great commission”, to help him reach the world. He did the hard work of being sacrificed and resurrected so that we could receive the Holy Spirit and now we do the rest of the assignment by teaching all nations (Matt 28:18-20). He is the head and leads us because of it, but we are valuable for who we are and not simply God’s slaves. For married men that had slaves, their female slaves were not equal to their wives. Their wives represented them when they were not there because function as one flesh (Gen 2:24). When a female slave marries a free man she becomes a free wive and if she divorces she remains free (Ex 21:9-11). Based on this principle, since the church is married to Christ so “she” is free from slavery to sin. That is why Jesus said he set us free from slavery to sin in John 8:34-36. We as the body of Christ are partnered with God as his helpers and we follow his lead on helping.

John 8:34 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin. 35 A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son is part of the family forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.

Following this pattern, one can see that being a helper is not about subservience since God is not our servant. A helper in the bible is someone to come rescue you or aid in a difficult challenge, to have your back. In the above human examples, we can see that these helpers have limitations, but God is the ultimate help. However, while God rules in the heavens, he put a man in charge of the earth and made a helper (the woman) sufficient for him to help accomplish the task of being fruitful and subduing the earth. She is clearly not his slave or servant since she was made by God specifically to do God’s work with him. The animals have roles that are subservient, that is why he had to make the woman for the man because animals and humans are not equal since animals are not image-bearers of God like humans are (Gen 1:26-27). We can see that in the military scenarios, God can send help from other humans, like sending the Israelites to rescue the Gibeonites (Joshua ch.10). God made the helper, not to rule over, or be ruled over but to help in finishing the task we were assigned.

Ezer (עֵזֶר)
Azar (עָזַר)