Not Good!

not good Adam_with_Lion (3)

c) Gen 2:18: Coming after a pattern of God declaring his work “good” (tov) (Gen 1:4; Gen 1:10; Gen 1:12; Gen 1:16–18; Gen 1:21; Gen 1:25), and “very (meod) good” (Gen 1:31), the phrase “not (lo) good” is emphatic, abruptly halting the flow of the narrative.

What made Adam’s isolation unacceptable? The Lord in whose image he was created exists in a trinity in the middle of a heavenly court.[1]

Even God—who has no needs—exists in community, not alone.

Since Adam’s strength remained inadequate,[2] the Lord created Eve. She was neither superior nor inferior to him. Instead, she performed an essential contribution for him.[3]

Corresponding to the Hebrew verb, the noun translated as “helper” (ezer) describes someone who works to “provide support,” “save from danger,” or “deliver from death” (Ps 54:4; Job 29:12).[4]

Eve rescued or saved Adam from his isolation,[5] providing him with emotional and physical support.

Contrary to English usage of the word “helper,” ezer tells us nothing about the relative status of the helper to the one being helped.[6] It implies that one being helped does not possess enough strength for the task at hand (Josh 1:14; 1 Chron 12:21–22; Ecc 4:9–12).[7]

Indeed, the term “ezer” applies to God in sixteen of the nineteen times it appears in the Old Testament (e.g. Gen 49:25; Ps 27:9).[8]

In the Hebrew context, a  human “helper” serves above or beside another person, not under a leader.[9]

Likewise, “suitable” (kenegdo) means “equal and adequate.”[10]

The combination of “helper” with “equal and adequate” suggests reciprocal assistance between two people who correspond to each other.[11]

Perhaps the best translation to capture these nuances would describe Eve as Adam’s “partner” or “counterpart.”[12]

She shared Adam’s mandate (Gen 1:27–28), assisted him in his vocation (Gen 2:15), participated in his delight (Gen 2:8–10), and was to respect the prohibition placed upon him (Gen 2:16–17).[13]

God’s concern for mutual support and marital companionship has no parallel in Ancient Near Eastern literature.[14]

For example, in the Epic of Gilgamesh, Enkidu was born and lived in the wild, content to commune with only animals. Finally, Gilgamesh sent a prostitute to seduce him. Only then did Enkidu seek human companionship.[15]

Image via Wikimedia Commons

 

Read Gen 2:18. Why did God recognize that Adam should not be alone?  What kind of person was best for him? How can you live as an adequate and equal helper?

 

 

 

 

 

Go to A Parade of Animals

 

[Related posts include Let There Be Light (Gen 1:3–5); Dry Ground Appears (Gen 1:9–13); Greater and Lesser Lights (Gen 1:14–19); Inhabitants of the Sea and Sky (Gen 1:20–23); Living Things from the Earth (Gen 1:24–25); Let Us Make Humanity (Gen 1:26); Male and Female He Created Them (Gen 1:27); The Blessing of Fruitfulness (Gen 1:28); God Evaluates His Creation (Gen 1:31); A Well-Watered Garden (Gen 2:8–14); Serving and Keeping (Gen 2:15); Forbidden Fruit (Gen 2:16–17); An Equal and Adequate Partner (Gen 2:21–23); A World-Altering Conversation (Gen 3:2–5); A Day of Reckoning (Gen 3:9–13); A Restoration of Status (Matt 28:10); Equality with God (Phil 2:5–6); and Ancient Literature]

 

[Click here to go to Women and Marriage Throughout Redemptive History or to Chapter 5: A View from the Ground (Genesis 2:4–25)]

 

[1] Waltke and Fredricks, Genesis: A Commentary, 88.

[2] Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 68.

[3] Waltke and Fredricks, Genesis: A Commentary, 88.

[4]E. Lipiński and H.-J. Fabry, “עָזַר” (azar), TDOT, 11:13–18, 13, https://archive.org/stream/hebrewenglishlex00browuoft#page/740/mode/2up.

[5] Hamilton, Genesis, Chapters 1–17, 176.

[6]Walton, Genesis, 176.

[7]Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 68.

[8] Waltke and Fredricks, Genesis: A Commentary, 88.

[9]Walton, Genesis, 176.

[10] Brown, Driver, and Briggs, נֶ֫גֶד” (negdo), BDB, 617, https://archive.org/stream/hebrewenglishlex00browuoft#page/616/mode/2up.

[11]Allan M. Harman, “עֵ֫זֶר” (ezer), NIDOTTE, 3:379.

[12]Walton, Genesis, 177.

[13]Waltke and Fredricks, Genesis: A Commentary, 88.

[14] Waltke and Fredricks, Genesis: A Commentary, 88.

[15] “The Epic of Gilgamesh,” ANET, 2:1–26, 77, https://archive.org/stream/Pritchard1950ANET_20160815/Pritchard_1950_ANET#page/n101/mode/2up.