Genesis 1 gives us an overview of all that God has created. The chapter begins with the words; “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” and it ends with the words: “God saw all that He had made and it was very good.”
Now please note that God did only call things “very good” after He had created the man and the woman. Until then He had called His Creation “good” but it changed into something “very good” as soon as He had created the man and the woman.
We read of their creation in Genesis 1:26-28
Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, in Our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth and over all the creatures that move along the ground".
So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
From this passage we can know that God created both the man and the woman to rule over creation together. This was to be done in perfect harmony, as a team on an equal basis. No one was to rule over the other; they were to rule creation together. We can be certain that this did take place exactly as God intended it.
Genesis 2 gives us once again the Creation Account but this time God has given us details of events which took place on the sixth day. The main focus is the creation of the man and the woman. His initial creation act was that of creating the man as we can read in Genesis 2:7
“The Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.”
When we continue reading Genesis 2 we discover that, contrary to the Creation Account in Genesis 1, something was “not good“.
We can read this in Genesis 2:18
“It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”
Isn’t that an amazing statement for it shows God’s great concern for the man. Almighty God, the Creator of the Universe, saw the man’s need, the man’s loneliness, perhaps even without the man fully realising it himself. And God decided to do something about it: He was going to provide him with a helper.
The word “helper” is the Hebrew word “ezer”. It appears many times in the Biblical text and it always refers to a significant Being or person as God, a king, a prince or a warrior. The word “ezer” underscores how necessary a “helper” is. It is someone who is of great importance, who normally will relieve another from an immense problem and who is a loyal companion. It is not the Hebrew word for a slave, a hireling or an assistant.
God the Helper
Many Scriptures mention God as a Helper. Examples are:Psalm 30:10
“Hear, O Lord, and be merciful to me. O Lord be my help.”
“The Lord is with me; He is my Helper.”
“So do not fear for I am with you; do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with My righteous right Hand.”
Other examples can be found in:
Genesis 49:24-25; 1 Chronicles 12:18; Psalm 10:14; Psalm 37:39-40; Psalm 54:4; Psalm 94:17; Psalm 118:13; Isaiah 41:14; Isaiah 44:2; Isaiah 49:8; Isaiah 50:7-9.
From these passages we can learn that in Scripture the word “helper” is used to indicate a stronger or superior party to help a weaker or inferior party and may be contrary to our understanding of the word “helper”. Now we may not have too many problems with such an understanding of the word “helper” in the case of God for He is after all the stronger or superior party compared to any one of us. But Scripture does not only mention God as a helper.
The Old Testament in various places speaks about armies coming to the help of or being the helper of other armies as in II Chronicles 28:16
“At that time king Ahaz sent to the king of Assyria for help.”
“Meanwhile, Horam king of Gezer, had come to the help of Lachish….”
The Woman as the Man’s Helper
Having looked at these examples of either God as the Helper or armies as helpers, we will now return to Genesis 2:18 where God said:
“It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”
Once again, the original text uses the word “ezer”, the same term which we have seen having been used for God as well as for stronger or superior armies.
Does that mean that the woman as the man’s helper was created as the superior party? No, for that would go against God’s design for the man and the woman. Therefore, in this case the term “kenegdo”  has been added to the word “ezer”.
This word “kenegdo” is very important because it describes exactly what kind of helper God had given to the man. It was not God’s intention to give the man a helper who would be superior to him. Neither was it God’s intention to give the man a helper who would be inferior to him. No, this helper was formed to be exactly suitable for him, matching him, fitting him, corresponding to him, a counterpart to him, opposite to him.
This has not always been understood by theologians as we can see from the words of the Protestant Reformer John Calvin:
“God did not create two chiefs of equal power but added to the man an inferior aid.”
Calvin’s view that the woman was added to the man as an inferior aid, made to obey him, was a view that was shared by many other theologians of the past and is still taught today.
A modern day example is Wayne A. Grudem, Research Professor in Bible and Theology at Phoenix Seminary, Arizona, U.S.A. and the author of “Systematic Theology”, a book widely used in Evangelical circles today. He has said the following:
“Whenever someone helps someone else the person who is helping is occupying a subordinate or inferior position with regard to the person being helped.…"
However this is not a Scriptural view for it is a misinterpretation of the term “helper“ since the term means the one who strengthens. We can be certain that what God spoke in Genesis 1:26-28 that both the man and the woman were to rule creation together is confirmed in Genesis 2:18.
The Woman as the Man’s Rib
Having understood from Scripture that the woman as the man’s helper was to be formed as his equal in all respects which means her equality in being as well as in function, we will now look at how God did this, which will only confirm her equality to the man.
We’ll read Genesis 2:21-22
“So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep, and while he was sleeping, He took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh.
Then the Lord God made the woman from the rib He had taken out of the man and brought her to the man.”
Having created the man God went to work once again. This time He created the woman. Interestingly, He did not involve the man in this project. Perhaps He did not want the man to come up with some of his own ideas as to what an ideal woman might look like. Instead, God in His wisdom put the man to sleep. And then what did He do? Did He take another pile of dust, like He had done in the case of the man? No, this time He took a part of the man which has been translated as “rib”.
The Hebrew word for “rib” is “tsela” and has been used in other parts of the Old Testament when it has been translated as side or sides.
Examples are:Exodus 25:12
“Cast four gold rings for it and fasten them to its four feet, with two rings on one side and two rings on the other.”
“Also make crossbars from acacia wood; five for the frames of one side, five for those on the other side.”
In these passages the word “tsela” each time refers to an entire side and not just to a small part of a structure. It is only in Genesis 2:22 that the word “tsela” has been translated as “rib”.
Now we know that the woman was indeed made out of the man’s bones for the man exclaimed in Genesis 2:23a:
“This is now bone of my bones.”
However we know too that there was more to her for the man said as well:
“And flesh of my flesh.”
It is very likely that in the case of Genesis 2:22 the word “tsela” has been translated as “rib” because translators were influenced by Jewish Rabbis as Rabbi Joshua who has written:
“God deliberated from what member He would create woman, and He reasoned within Himself thus:
“I must not create her from Adam’s head for she would be a proud person, and hold her head high.
If I create her from the eye, then she will wish to pry into all things.
If from an ear, then she will wish to hear all things.
If from the mouth she will talk much.
If from the heart she will envy people.
If from the hand she will desire to make all things.
If from the feet she will always be going around.
Therefore I will create her from a member which is hid; that is, the rib, which is not even seen when man is naked.”
However, this points to a very biased view and is not in line with Scripture because in Scripture the term “tsela” clearly indicates that the woman was taken from the man’s side and confirms her equality to the man in every respect.
Furthermore, the man recognised that she was the “female human” and that he was the “male human” as we can see from Genesis 2:23b where we read:
“She shall be called woman for she was taken out of man.”
We see this confirmed in Genesis 5:2
“He created them male and female and blessed them. And when they were created He called them man or human.”
And so God had met the man’s need, the man’s loneliness and the man was very glad indeed. We can be certain that they ruled creation together, in perfect harmony, as a team, on an equal basis as designed by God.
1. Dr Joy Elasky Fleming with J. Robin Maxson. Man and woman in biblical unity. Theology from Genesis 2-3.
(Minneapolis, MN 55404-2451: Christians for biblical equality,1993), pp. 6-9.
2. ibid., pp. 9-10.
3. Source obtained from the Internet: Christian Classics Ethereal Library. Commentary by John Calvin on I
4. Wayne Grudem. Systematic Theology; an Introduction to Biblical Doctrine,(Leicester, Great Britain, Intervarsity
House and Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA, Zondervan Publishing House, 1994) pp. 461 – 462.
5. Charles Trombley. Who said women can’t teach? (South Plainfield, NJ 07080: Bridge Publishing, Inc., 1985),
6. ibid. p. 70
7. ibid. p.71
8. Bruce C.E. Fleming, Familiar “leadership” heresies uncovered by an inside look at the Bible. The Eden
heresies (Gen 2-3, I Tim 1-3). The headship heresies (I Pet 3 Eph 5-6). The legalist heresies (I cor 11 & 14).
(Eugene, OR 97401: Resource Publishings, 2005), p. 71