A Fitting Help

As we saw in Genesis 1:26-27, God made man and woman on day 6 of creation.  In Genesis 2, we get more details of how the creation of woman came about.  At this point, God has created everything except the woman.  So every creature has a mate, except for Adam. 

And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. 19 And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. 20 And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him. (Gen. 2:18-20)

It is interesting to note that man being by himself is the first time God says something is “not good”.  (Amen to that.)  Adam needed a “help meet”.  Keil and Delitzsch translate this as “a help of his like”. (Commentary on the Old Testament, Vol. 1, The Pentateuch, Eerdmans, July 1976 reprint, 86)  My rough translation of the Hebrew would be “a helper facing him”.  The text emphasizes that this woman would be like Adam, but different.  She would be the opposite of him in some ways, but would be readily recognized by Adam as his mate who would complement him and together they would be able to fulfill God’s plan. 

To prepare Adam for the introduction of the woman, God brings the animals before him.  Adam named them, and while doing so, recognized that there was “not found an help meet for him”.  This identified for Adam a void which God was about to fill. 

And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; 22 And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. 23 And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.  (Gen. 2:21-23)

God performs the first ever surgery on Adam and takes a “rib” from him.  There has been debate over whether the Hebrew word should be translated as “rib” or “side”.  The argument for “side” is that God would need more than just a rib to create another human being.  This argument is refuted by at least two facts.  First, God can create something out of nothing, so why would He not be able to create an entire body out of a small portion?  Second, the text states that God “took one of his ribs”, pointing to the fact that Adam had several of them.  Therefore, “rib” is an appropriate translation. 

The main point to be made is that the woman was the only creature to be made from living tissue.  This makes the woman distinctive within God’s creation.  When God brought her to Adam, he right away acknowledges this distinction.  She is Adam’s “bone” and “flesh”.  She was made for Adam and from Adam.  There is no one like her. 

The Hebrew word for “man” is “ish” (pronounced “eesh”).  Adam calls her “woman”, the Hebrew being “ishah” (pronounced “eeshah”) which is the feminine form of the word for “man”.  She is his mate, his counterpart, his help. 

A final note should be made regarding the word “help”.  This should not be construed as meaning that the woman is inferior to the man.  This same Hebrew word for “help” is used of God numerous times in Scripture (e.g. Gen. 49:25; 1 Sam. 7:12; Psa. 37:40; et al.)  It is a word denoting strength and ability, certainly not weakness.