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Plowing through History from the Aleph to the Tav

Topics Biblical Interpretation

What is a "help meet?"

By Jeff A. Benner


And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. (KJV, Genesis 2:18)

While the KJV translates the Hebrew phrase עזר כנגדו (ezer kenegedo) as "help meet for him," other translations provide additional translations including; "a helper fit for him" (RSV), "a helper as his partner" (NRS), "a helper comparable to him" (NKJ) and "an helper as his counterpart" (YLT). What exactly does this Hebrew phrase mean?

The first word in the phrase, עזר (ezer, Strong's #5828), is simple and means "helper." The second word, כנגדו (kenegedo) is a little more complex. The base word is the word נגד (neged, Strong's #5048), which will be discussed shortly, with the prefix כ (k) meaning "like," and the suffix ו (o) meaning "of him" of "his."

The word נגד (neged) comes from the verbal root נגד (N.G.D, Strong's #5046) meaning "to be face to face." This verb is always used in the causative form where it would literally be translated as "to make to be face to face," and is always used to mean "to tell" in the sense of causing another to come face to face in order to tell them something.

The noun form, נגד (neged), is often used for something that is face to face with something else. An example can be found in Genesis 21:16 where Hagar went and sat down "opposite" her son. Even though she and her son are a distance away, they are sitting "face to face."

Putting all of this together, the phrase עזר כנגדו (ezer kenegedo) literally means "a helper like his opposite." In my opinion this means that Eve was to be his "other half," like him, but with the opposite attributes.

In Genesis 1:27 we read that Elohiym filled the Adam (a Hebrew word meaning human) with his shadow, meaning he placed a representation of himself in the man. We also read in this verse that Elohiym filled them, male and female, meaning that he placed within each his attributes, his male attributes to the man and his female attributes to the woman. We do not normally think of Elohiym as having male and female attributes, but there are many passages in the Bible reflecting this idea.




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