The REAL Meaning Of Helpmate (4 truths about this powerful word) (2024)

“Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone. I will make him a helper suitable {helpmate} for him.'” – Genesis 2:18

Let’s be honest. This verse doesn’t really jive with the 21st century way of thinking. Many Christians simply avoid it or pretend it’s not in the Bible. A wife being labeled a helpmate (or sometimes helpmeet) is seen as a demeaning role that places women below a man.

But that’s because we have the wrong idea of what a helpmate actually is. So, I want to dive into the Genesis 2:18 meaning and see what helpmate actually means.

Table of Contents

What Helpmate DOESN’T Mean

I want to start by dealing with some misconceptions right off the bat. Unfortunately there are a lot of misconceptions about the Genesis 2:18 meaning of the term helpmate.

1. It Isn’t A Term Of Inferiority

Many view this term helpmate as a status that places Eve underneath Adam. Thus the wife should be subordinate to her husband. But we shouldn’t forget that both Adam and Eve were created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27). And God created Eve as Adam’s helpmate with no implication that she was subject to him.

Of course that’s before the fall. Once sin entered the picture everything changed. However, we should recognize God’s original plan. Adam and Eve, husband and wife, are different but equal.

Being a helpmeet doesn’t infer inferiority. Though their strengths might be different, Adam and Eve are two equal halves of a whole.

2. Wives Are Servants To Their Husbands

This might be the most egregious view that is unfortunately very common. When a Christian husband treats their wife as a servant that does his bidding he’s missed the point of what helpmate means. Wives aren’t a servant to their husbands, they are a co-labourer in Christ.

Sadly many Christian marriages have been held back from reaching their full potential because the husband holds the wife back.

3. Women Can Never Lead

Woman are meant for so much more than just supporting roles within the home. The Bible is full of stories that highlight women doing incredible things and holding leadership positions.

Now, I’m not saying men and women are the same. There are unique differences, roles, and strengths between them. But those don’t make one better than the other. Rather they make us NEED each other.

That’s what the term helpmate implies. We need each other. But all too often we hold women back and don’t allow them to us their God given abilities and gifts.

You can read more here: Jesus’ Revolutionary Treatment Of Women

Helpmate In The Bible (ezer meaning)

So, what does helpmate actually mean? Let’s start by looking a little deeper at the word helpmate.

Genesis 2:18 says, “I will make a helper suitable for him.” In older translations the word helpmate or helpmeet is used. Originally this passage was written in ancient Hebrew and has since been translated into English.

The original word used in Genesis 2:18 to describe Eve is ezer kenegdo (עזר כנגדו). It’s a difficult word to translate. Really it’s two words.

We will start with Kenegdo because that one is pretty straightforward. Kenegdo means to be opposite, counterpart, or alongside him. In other words, it means that women are different but equal.

Ezer is a notoriously difficult word to translate. “Helper” or “helpmate” are the most commonly word used, but I don’t think that captures the picture Genesis 2:18 is trying to paint. The meaning of Ezer is to be strong, to rescue, or to save. (Strong’s Concordance)

Ezer is used 21 times in the Old Testament. The first two times it’s used in the Bible it describes women (Genesis 2:18, 2:20). But the majority of cases after Ezer is used to describe God.

What’s interesting about this word is that’s it’s primarily used in military contexts (Deuteronomy 33:29, Psalm 115:9, Exodus 18:4, Ezekiel 12:14). God continually describes himself as Israel’s ezer in times of conflict.

If you read all the verses that use the word ezer you would see imagery of swords, spears, shields, deliverance, and victory.

Thus when ezer is used to describe women it’s not a term of inferiority or weakness. It’s quite the opposite. Just as God is our helper, Eve was Adam’s helper. It’s a position of strength, not of servitude. To be a woman is to be a warrior, not a servant.

God continually uses military terms to describe women. Why? Because women are meant to be on the frontlines.

Now that we know the ezer meaning, let’s take a took at what all this actually means.

4 Truths About The Helpmate Meaning

Let’s end by distilling what we just went over into 4 lessons about the ezer meaning.

Lesson 1: Women Are Equal, But Different

Remember in Genesis 2:18 woman is describe as ezer kenegdo. This shows that Eve was to be a counterpart to Adam. And the reverse applies too, Adam was a counterpart to Eve. On their own each were lacking something, but together they perfectly complimented each other.

Helpmeet carries the idea of complementarity. But it does not imply inferiority. Remember, God uses this word to describe himself. Woman is not less than or superior to man. They are equal. But different.

Lesson 2: Eve Was A Help Alongside Adam, Not Behind Adam

Unfortunately for most of human history women have been cast aside and seen as less than. Scripture has been twisted and distorted to support this view. But that was never God’s intent. God created man and woman to each uniquely reflect who he is.

Yes, men and women are different. But differences don’t reflect our value. Who’s image we bear is where we get our value.

Both men and women are created in the image of God. Women are just as much an image bearer of God as men. They are equal.

Eve was created to work alongside Adam.

Lesson 3: Ezer Is A Term Of Strength

Most people cringe at the term helpmate today. It’s seen as a pejorative term. But nothing could be further from the truth. Ezer (helpmate) is a term of strength. It’s how God chooses to describe himself when he comes to the rescue of his people.

If anything the term helpmate is pointing out the weakness in man, not woman. God created man to need a helper who is strong.

Lesson 4: God Is Our Helper As Eve Was Adams

Throughout the Old Testament God is described as his people’s ezer, their helpmeet. When this term is used to describe women what the Bible is doing is showing one of the ways that women uniquely carry the image of God.

This isn’t a demeaning term or one that places woman below man. It’s the opposite. It’s a position of strength that reflects God’s goodness. It’s part of who God is, and he’s placed that piece of himself into Eve.

Closing Thoughts On The Genesis 2:18 Meaning

Men and women are BOTH created in the image of God. Both reflect his goodness. Both bear his image. But in different ways. Those differences don’t make one more or less valuable, both are equal.

Our culture has the tendency to downplay the difference in the name of equality. We think equality is found when there are no differences. That’s not how God designed us. We are different and those differences should be celebrated.

While our differences should be celebrated, our differences should not be elevated over the other. We are different but equal. Men are not better or over women (or vice versa). Instead we are each created to reflect God’s image. That should be celebrated.

That’s what Genesis 2:18 is showing us with the use of ezer (helpmate). Women are created to be strong, to rescue, or to save. Just as God has done so for us.

I hope that you enjoyed this blog post on what helpmate actually means. And that it helped you rethink parts of your life and faith. If you did would you share it with a friend or on social media? That way more people can benefit from it as you have.

You might also like: 7 Important Truths That The Bible Teaches Us About Marriage

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Jeffery Curtis Poor

Husband. Father. Pastor. Church Planter. Writer. Trying to be more like Jesus each day.

BA in Biblical Studies - Ozark Christian College (2012)
MA in Theology - Regent University (2019)

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