By John Fulton
One of the most controversial passages in our modern world is Genesis 2:18. “Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good for man to be alone; I will make a helper suitable for him.’” – NASB
First off, how amazing is it for God to say it is not good for man to be alone, for as we know and will see in later chapters, Adam is conversing regularly with God. He knows His voice. Surely, how much better can it get than just Adam and God chilling in the garden together? And yet, God says, “Just God and me,” as we would say it, is not good. To be in intimate relationship with God, but without physical companionship is to be, what? Yes! Alone! Just me and Jesus is not a good place to be, at least according to Jesus’ Father, Yahweh.
Stepping back, Genesis 2:18 has long been used to say women are little more than helpers for men; or more fully just house slaves to cook, clean, rear children, provide release for sexual needs, etc. Modern women and the modern world have rebelled against this. So, who is right? The traditional, historical church or the modern world? Frankly, neither, for they argue over a faulty translation. What does 2:18 tell us when translated according to the definition of the words within it?
Well, a more literal translation is simply, “Pronounced Yahweh God, ‘Not good to be the Adam separated’. He [God] made a helper as NGD him.” NGD are the Hebrew consonants to the word translated in the NASB as suitable, ESV as fit, HCSB as partner, NRSV as companion. All are very odd translation choices given the possible meanings of NGD.
So, what are our choices? Well, there are three, for we must remember that the vowels in the present Hebrew text were added thousands of years later by the Medieval Masoretes. They did not exist in the original text.
The first choice is Nagad which carries the idea of telling, reporting, describing, putting forward. All the meanings essentially reduce to communicating. This root meaning of NGD seems a good fit, but one to presently hold lightly. Was woman created as a communicator for him? As someone to talk to?
The second choice, Negad, is stream or flow, but from our own language we know this and the prior definition are the same idea; for we “follow the flow of the conversation,” or describe our “stream of consciousness.” Our language is replete with ideas that compare a stream to conversation (the babbling brook). Thus, these two definitions are one and the same.
The final choice is Neged which means opposite or complement/counterpart, often thought of as the second part of a pair. The word can also mean in front of or before. So, is God saying he made a helper as counterpart or complement to him? And if so, which him, God or Adam?
Does the Septuagint help us choose? For Jesus quoted from it, not the Hebrew texts. Sadly, no. It does not help, for it says, “He [God] made a helper according to him.” Again him – does him mean God or Adam?
We have two open questions from our review of the possible definitions for NGD. Which definition is right? And if we use the third, does him mean God or Adam? Let’s allow the context to help us understand which is which.
Adam is in the garden. He is in conversation with God. This is Adam’s state and according to God, it is not good. What? Adam gets daily walks in the garden talking to God alone and it is not good? Well, so says God; so, it must be true. For when Adam looks opposite him, in front of him, he sees nothing physical, nothing to hold and touch and be in community with in the physical realm, for God is spirit.
So, Adam is alone. For although his spirit has a complement in Yahweh, his flesh does not. Hence, God makes a fleshly complement to Himself for Adam – a complement to walk with Adam in the garden, hold his hand, and, most importantly, converse with him, talk with him, complement him and be the opposite part to him.
In the spiritual, the man and God are two parts, so are the woman and God. Together, as are Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; Yahweh, Adam, and Eve form a spiritual trinity. In both trinities are the Father, an Adam, and the feminine.
In the physical, the man and woman are two parts. They complement each other. They help each other not be alone. Together with God they make that which is not-good, good. When they are gathered together, God is in them and in their midst.
So why did God create woman? He created her to be the physical complement to Himself and to give Adam someone to walk with, talk with, and hold tight.Tweet
As for Adam, so for woman. Adam complements God, provides woman with someone to talk to, be held by, walk with. They complement each other and complement God.
They are not self-sufficient. Just God and them is not good. They need each other’s physical presence just as they need God’s spiritual one.
God looked on Adam’s physical isolation and declared this was a bad state. He created woman to end Adam’s physical isolation. Then, even more so, He made woman to make more Adams and more womans so the isolation could grow less and less, and the not-goodness could get weaker and weaker as the community grew in size.
In our world where we isolate ourselves more and more; where we relate over electronic devices; where we are so willing to forsake gathering in each other’s physical presence; it should not surprise us that things are not good. For as isolation grows, so grows the not-goodness Yahweh declared over Adam. For we were made to complement each other, to wash away loneliness, to complement God’s spiritual presence, to hold and touch and comfort in good and bad, in life and death, in love and war, in fear and joy, until we depart for eternity and perfect union with God and the community of the saints. This truth applies not only to men and women in a marital relationship, but to humanity as a whole – to brothers, sisters, friends, and co-workers.
Now we can see why it is said, “Do not forsake the gathering together, as many have done to the destruction of their faith.” For the physical gathering complements the spiritual faith.Tweet
The physical conversation complements the spiritual conversation. The physical gathering pushes away the loneliness and lets us feel and be whole, to have shalom.
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