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Woman is Ezer Cenegdo

Thursday, July 31, 2014

God’s calling for a woman is not dependent on her marital state but on God alone.  Woman is not dependent on man, but on God, for her creation and her being, just as man is.

In Gen. 2:5-25, we find that a woman is created to be an as a Helper to the man. In English "helper" implies someone who is an apprentice, still learning, under someone in authority.

Joseph Coleson, Professor of Old Testament at Nazarene Theological Seminary - a very respected scholar and archaeologist, says the English versions consistently translate 'ezer cenegdo  as "Helper."   

Ezer, a Hebrew word, is used 20 times in the Old Testament: seventeen times to describe God and three times to describe a military ally or aide.

Even if we translate 'ezer to mean helper, we must remember that English has different nuances than the Hebrew language does.

So in Hebrew "helper" implies one who has the power to give help—it refers to someone in a superior position.  

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There is another possible definition for ezer: “power” or “strength.” Both words are from the same Hebrew root and the nouns would be identical. This is seen in how ezer is translated as either “helper” or “power/strength” in the Judean king’s name, Uzziah, which means “God is my strength,” as well as the other name he is known as, Azariah. There are also poetic passages where “power” or “strength” are the only logical translations of ezer. It is clear that in some passages the root for ezeris “helper,” and in others it is the root for “power.”

Cenegdo is two prepositions, and together their literal meaning is “facing.” Ke is the first preposition and it means “like” or “corresponding to.” Negdo means to stand in someone’s presence. Paired withke it means to be in the presence of an equal. Together these two prepositions show the relationship between two people: it means they are standing or sitting facing each other, which shows they are equals. Ezer cenegdo does not mean or even imply to mean one who is subordinate or inferior—in creation or in function. Woman was created to be a power equal to man; an autonomous being that God created so that the man would have someone like him, and equal to him, to share his life with.

The man acknowledges this when he sees the woman. In the second verse in the Bible he proclaimed: “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh”! He knew at last an ezer cenegdo had been brought to him. His speech reinforces the woman as his equal. Unlike the animals, she corresponds to him—she is like him; there is mutuality, unity and solidarity. The man recognized what God had done by calling her woman and saying she came from man.

In the beginning, men and women were both created in the image of God (Gen. 1:27), and they were created to be equals. They were both given the commands to be fruitful and to rule over the earth (Gen. 1:28-30). The woman was not created to be a subordinate helper to her husband. She was created as an autonomous being; she was a complete human being, just as the man was. Her existence was not dependent on him as his existence was not dependent on her: their existence depended on God alone who created them both.

Inspired by Shawna Atteberry

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