What Does It Mean that Eve Was Adam's Ezer Kenegdo? - Topical Studies (2024)

If my husband introduced me as his ezer kenegdo, I’m sure we would be greeted by blank stares (or shown the door for being unnecessarily obnoxious). While I don’t recommend this as an introduction (unless you’re with a group of theology students), I highly recommend understanding the meaning of this term and considering what it means for your relationships, whether you are married or not.

No matter what else men and women are to one another in the world, we know from Genesis 1:18 that we are made in His image, male and female, and that God said this was good (Genesis 1:31). Above all of creation, men and women together, enjoy a special relationship in our shared humanity and the joy of being made in God’s likeness.

What Does Ezer Kenegdo Mean in Hebrew?

While Genesis 1 provides a grand scope of creation, Genesis 2 zooms in to provide details about the creation of man and woman. Genesis 2:7 says, “Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.” The word used for man here is ḏām from which we get the name Adam.

But, while Adam enjoyed a close relationship with the Living God, engaged in meaningful, productive work in a beautiful garden, and was surrounded by animals, God determined, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” (Genesis 2:18)

The word helper, as the English Standard Version (ESV ) translates it, is from the Hebrew ʿēzer, which is from the word ʿāzar, meaning “help or succor.” Other translations use synonyms such as “help meet” or “help mate.” Ezer appears again in Genesis 2:20, “the man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him.”

The word translated “for him” in each verse comes from neḡeḏ in Hebrew. This term has a variety of definitions depending on the part of speech it plays in a sentence, including:

  1. What is conspicuous, what is in front of you (as an adverb)
  2. Before your face, in your view or purpose (with a preposition)
  3. Bver you or for you. The ESV has a note on the word “for,” stating it could also mean “corresponding to.”

So, on the surface, the phrase translates to mean a helper for Adam, a suitable helper, or a helper who corresponds to him.

Why Does God Say that Adam Needs an Ezer Kenegdo?

It’s important to understand that even though Adam is in a happy relationship with God at this point (because sin has not entered into the picture yet), God still believes it’s not good for him to be alone. Throughout the creation narrative, we’ve seen God creating and declaring things as good. Now, for the first time, He declares something as not good and creates a remedy for it.

Adam had been made from the ground’s dust, and then God breathed life into him. In Genesis 2:19-20, God creates more beings from the ground—animals of every kind. But none is a suitable ezer kenegdo.

“Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him.” (ESV)

This is an important understanding to bring forward from Genesis. It isn’t good for man to be alone. We were created to be in relationship with others. No other creature fills the role that woman was designed to fill.

Where Does the Bible Use Ezer Kenegdo to Talk about Eve?

The creation of Eve is distinctive among the living beings God created. In Genesis 2:21-22 it says, “So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.”

God used a rib from Adam to find a suitable helper for Adam. Adam immediately recognizes the suitability of this new creation: woman. His reaction is captured in Genesis 2:23, “Then the man said, ‘This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.’” The Hebrew for man is 'îš while the Hebrew for woman is 'iššâ, the language reflecting that the man and the woman are of the same substance and yet not entirely the same.

It is from this chapter that the term ezer kenegdo is related to Eve (although Adam will not call the woman Eve until after the fall as recorded in Genesis 3:20). In a general sense, as relates to humanity, we can determine that men were not meant to “be alone” but benefit from the existence of women. There’s no place in marriages, families, congregations, or communities for women to be dismissed, put down, considered worthless, or free to be abused. God created women to have a special relationship with men beyond all other creatures God created, and she should be respected as such. Together, we reflect His image.

In an individual sense, because the final verses of Genesis 2 (“Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed,” Genesis 2:24-25 [ESV]) make immediate reference to marriage, we can also extract lessons about relationships between men and women in marriage.

What Does Ezer Kenegdo Teach Us about Marriage?

First, every husband and wife can see that God intends us to be grateful to have one another. After Genesis 2, sin entered the world, and that had a profound impact on all human relationships—with God and with one another. But, initially, God saw it wasn’t good for Adam (man) to be alone, so He designed a suitable or coordinating helper for him (Eve). Adam’s initial joy at finding this one, out of all creation, who was most like him and perfectly suited for him should mark our marriages. Our conversations about our husbands and wives should be characterized by this same grateful happiness that God has seen fit to bless us with another.

Second, we can clearly see that the woman was intended as a gift or a help. Christians spend a lot of time debating what is meant by “helper.” Some say it suggests a lesser or subordinate role in marriage. Others point to the word ezer in reference to God’s help in military conquest. Therefore, they teach that the word means wives are warriors for men and even a type of savior or protector.

Perhaps, as some others say, the helper doesn’t mean subordinate or savior but instead indicates that wives are intended to benefit their husbands in life—that the help women provide is separate from any idea of position or hierarchy in marriage. The Bible teaches about marriage in many passages throughout the Old and New Testaments, and it must be viewed as a whole. The emphasis here is on the gift of one who helps. Psalm 46:1 says God is “a very present help in trouble” (ESV). We can accept that we are to help men as God is present help.

Finally, I wonder if we can take a step back from considering what ezer kenegdo says about what we can or must do and consider what it says we just are. When God tells us His name, He says, “I am.” He’s not telling us what He does but who He is. When the Bible describes the woman as a helper, He’s telling us she’s a benefit, that the help she provides is likely in her very design, her existence, her likeness, and her correlating unlikeness to the man.

God is good, and what He creates is good. Man and woman are good creations who should enjoy one another, respect one another as gifts from God, and appreciate what we share and how we differ. The woman is a helper suited for the man; together, they have dominion over all creation. This can be good.

Photo Credit:©GettyImages/Studio-Annika

What Does It Mean that Eve Was Adam's Ezer Kenegdo? - Topical Studies (1)Lori Stanley Roeleveld is a blogger, speaker, coach, and disturber of hobbits. She’s authored six encouraging, unsettling books, including Running from a Crazy Man, The Art of Hard Conversations, and Graceful Influence: Making a Lasting Impact through Lesson from Women of the Bible. She speaks her mind at www.loriroeleveld.com.

This article is part of our larger resource library of popular Bible verse phrases and quotes. We want to provide easy-to-read articles that answer your questions about the meaning, origin, and history of specific verses within Scripture's context. We hope that these will help you better understand the meaning and purpose of God's Word in your life today.

  • Do Unto Others
  • The Truth Will Set You Free
  • Guard Your Heart
  • Love One Another
  • Blessed Are the Meek
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