What Does the Biblical Phrase Ezer Kenegdo Mean for Gender Roles Today? - Unity In Christianity (2024)

The issue of non-public identity is a hot topic of debate and discussion in today’s culture. Generally speaking, humans define themselves using a posh formula of beliefs, ideas, and perspectives. Most Christians depend on God’s Word to tell our beliefs, shape our ideas, and gain our Creator’s perspective. In scripture’s first pages, the origin of humanity unfolds as God forms the primary man and the person’s ezer kenegdo, each in God’s image. But what does this ancient Hebrew term really mean?

Where Does the Bible Use the Phrase Ezer Kenegdo?

The phrase ezer kenegdo appears just once in scripture as an integral a part of humanity’s origin story. On the primary day of creation, God spoke light into existence. He separated the sunshine from the darkness and labeled the 2—day and night. On the second day, He formed the sky to separate the heavens from the earth.

On the third day, God sequestered all of the groundwater into vast pools to differentiate it from the dry ground. He called these two formations land and sea. He then created vegetation—classifying all of the varieties into seed-bearing plants and fruit-bearing trees.

On the fourth day, God created two giant orbs of sunshine—one to control the daytime and the opposite to control the nighttime. Together, in harmony with the celebs, they might help delineate time and mark the separation between light and darkness. On the fifth day, God created two varieties of creatures: those living in the ocean and flying within the air.

On the sixth day, God created land creatures. Then, as a grand finale before He took a day of rest, God fashioned man and woman in His own image (Genesis 1:27). Gathering the dust from the earth, He formed the primary man, Adam, and breathed life into his nostrils. Seeing that it was not good for Adam to be alone, God said, “I’ll make a helper [ezer] suitable [kenegdo] for him” (Genesis 2:18).

To accomplish this, God placed Adam right into a deep sleep and removed considered one of his ribs. He didn’t use the bone to clone Adam, but as a substitute because the constructing block to create a brand latest, separate being unique in form and performance. When Adam woke up and saw God’s masterpiece, he said, “This is now bone of my bones; and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman’ for she was taken out of man” (Genesis 2:23).

God placed the primary couple in a garden crammed with lush vegetation, a flowing river, and trees that bore various delicious fruit. They lived together in complete freedom there, naked and unashamed, while caring for his or her paradise home. God issued just one restriction for the primary man and woman. He warned them to not eat the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of fine and evil, or they might die (Genesis 2:17).

What Does Ezer Kenegdo Mean?

In every mainstream version of the Bible, the phrase ezer kenegdo (in Hebrew, עֵזֶר כְּנֶגְדּוֹ) is translated from the unique Hebrew to mean (some variation of) “an appropriate helper” or “help meet.” Here are only a number of examples:

“I’ll make a helper suitable for him.”(Genesis 2:18b, NIV)

“I’ll make him a helper suitable for him.”(Genesis 2:18b, NASB)

“I’ll make himahelp meet for him.”(Genesis 2:18b, KJV)

“I’ll make him a helper fit for him.”(Genesis 2:18b, ESV)

In 1983, R. David Freedman, a Religious Studies professor on the University of California at Davis, wrote an article that disputed the standard meaning of ezer kenegdo. In the article, Freedman asserts:

“I think the customary translation of those two words, despite its near universal adoption, is unsuitable. That will not be what the words are intended to convey. They needs to be translated as a substitute to mean roughly, ‘an influence equal to man.’” – “Woman, a Power Equal to Man”

In his article, Freedman analyzes the foundation words ezer kenegdo and cross-references each with correlating scripture passages to support his position that “God made up for the for the inadequacy of his original creation of man …by creating the feminine of the species to be ezer kenegdo, an influence equal to man.”

Other Biblical scholars have reinterpreted ezer kenegdo latelyto mean something aside from “helper.”However, sinceFreedman’s article was first published in 1983, his linguistic evaluation of ezer kenegdo has often been quoted as fact in academic papers, Christian books, articles, and blogs. Today, a straightforward web seek for “ezer kenegdo” reveals the wide-reaching acceptance of Freedman’s re-interpretation by Christian popular culture.

Dr. Mark Steven Francois, a linguist whose Ph.D. is in Old Testament theology, vehemently disagrees with Freedman’s article. In his 2019 video “Ezer Kenegdo in Genesis 2:18 – A Power Equal to Him?” Francois goes point-by-point through Freedman’s interpretation of ezer kenegdo and argues Freedman’s interpretation is linguistically flawed.

Why Does the Meaning of Ezer Kenegdo Matter and Why the Controversy?

Although the Hebrew words ezerandkenegdo appear together just once in scripture, the term is essential. The phrase’s meaning helps Christians discern God’s original plan and purpose for creating women. But more importantly, the term helps us higher understand our Creator’s faithful provision for all humanity.

The controversy in regards to the meaning of ezer kenegdopeaked at a pivotal time in Christian history. For many years, two opposing viewpoints about biblical manhood and womanhood had churned beneath the surface of evangelical Christianity. In the late Eighties, leaders from the opposing camps arose to form two separate national organizations to represent their deeply held Biblical convictions about God’s purpose for men and girls.

On one side was the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW), formed in 1987. The CBMW described itself as concerned about radical feminism resulting in widespread unbiblical teaching on gender. Its mission statement describes the organization as existing to “set forth the teachings of the Bible in regards to the complementary differences between men and girls, created equally within the image of God because these teachings are essential for obedience to Scripture and for the health of the family and the church.”

On the opposite side of the spectrum was Christians for Biblical Equality, founded in 1988. Its mission statement describes the group as founded over concerns about “the shallow biblical premise utilized by churches, organizations, and mission groups to exclude the gifts of girls.” The CBE was founded to “promote the biblical message that God calls men and women of all cultures, races, and classes to share authority equally in service and leadership in the house, church, and world. CBE’s mission is to eliminate the facility imbalance between men and girls resulting from theological patriarchy.”

These two organizations represent opposing theological viewpoints, which have come to be often called complementarianism and egalitarianism. In a nutshell, complementarians and egalitarians each consider that men and girls are equal in standing and price with God. But complementarians consider that God designed men and girls to play separate roles in the house and the Church; egalitarians consider that in Christ, there aren’t any gender-based restrictions for roles in the house or the Church.

Complementarians are inclined to favor the standard translation of ezer kenegdo as helper. Egalitarians typically embrace the fashionable translations that describe women as an influence, rescuer, or savior.

What Can We Learn from the Phrase Ezer Kenegdo Today?

In 2 Timothy 2:14-15, Paul tells his young protégé Timothy to warn people in regards to the utter uselessness of arguing about words because there isn’t a value within the exercise, and it only ruins those that listen. Paul instructs Timothy to do all the pieces he can to realize God’s approval as a employee who accurately and unashamedly handles the word of truth.

If you’re a Christian and confused in regards to the meaning of ezer kenegdo or your identity and purpose, lay aside the controversy and camps and prayerfully take your questions on to God. He guarantees that if we lack wisdom, we’d like only ask (James 1:5-8). Resist the urge to cringe when Biblical words like helper, servant, or meek irritate your culturally sensitized perception. Remember that God’s perspective differs from ours (1 Corinthians 1:28, Matthew 20:26-28, 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, Matthew 5:5).

Be wary of the enemy’s age-old tactics from the Garden of Eden: the never-ending query, “Did God really say …?” (Genesis 3:3) We’ve already been there and done that. Be wary when traditions of man are equated with commands of God and used to excuse sin (Mark 7:7-13). When we seek God with our whole heart, we are able to trust that His Holy Spirit will lead us into the reality of His Word and teach us the things of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:13-14).

We don’t should be linguists or Bible scholars to know who God created us to be. Our purpose, value, and identity are hidden treasures. We need only seek Jesus to seek out them. “For we’re God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared prematurely for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10). “It’s in Christ that we discover out who we’re and what we live for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, a part of the general purpose he’s figuring out in all the pieces and everybody” (Ephesians 1:11).

Photo Credit:©GettyImages/pcess609

Annette Marie Griffin is an award-winning creator and speaker who has managed and directed children’s and youth programs for greater than 20 years. Her debut children’s book, What Is A Family? released through Familius Publishing in 2020. Annette has also written curriculum for character growth and development of elementary-age children and has developed parent training seminars to learn the community. Her passion is to assist wanderers find home. She and her husband have five children—three who’ve already flown the coop and two adopted teens still roosting at home—plus two lovable grands who add immeasurable joy and laughter to the entire flock.

This article is an element of our Christian Terms catalog, exploring words and phrases of Christian theology and history. Here are a few of our hottest articles covering Christian terms to assist your journey of information and faith:

The Full Armor of God
The Meaning of “Selah”
What Is Grace? Bible Definition and Christian Quotes
What is Discernment? Bible Meaning and Importance
What Is Prophecy? Bible Meaning and Examples

What Does the Biblical Phrase Ezer Kenegdo Mean for Gender Roles Today? - Unity In Christianity (2024)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Dong Thiel

Last Updated:

Views: 5756

Rating: 4.9 / 5 (59 voted)

Reviews: 82% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Dong Thiel

Birthday: 2001-07-14

Address: 2865 Kasha Unions, West Corrinne, AK 05708-1071

Phone: +3512198379449

Job: Design Planner

Hobby: Graffiti, Foreign language learning, Gambling, Metalworking, Rowing, Sculling, Sewing

Introduction: My name is Dong Thiel, I am a brainy, happy, tasty, lively, splendid, talented, cooperative person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.