A Healthy Understanding of Helpmeet


I hope y'all had a great Christmas last week! I have stored up so much in my "Crone" folder it's not funny. I'll dive in and try to clear out the backlog of things I wanted to bring to your attention.

One of the readers of this blog sent me a link that is well worth examining. The piece was actually posted on a Times of Israel blog, and is called "Aristotle Needed a Jewish Wife to Stand Beside Him," written by Allen S. Maller. I know nothing about Maller except that he is Jewish.

Maller suggests that Aristotle's view of women is deeply at odds with the Genesis view. I found that interesting right off the bat, because most people feel that the Genesis account simply corroborates Aristotle's views, and gives them a divine imprimatur. Maller suggests that, quite to the contrary, Aristotle's views supplanted those of God, to the detriment not only of women, but the whole human family. Indeed, he points out that "we should not be surprised that although the Hebrew Bible, which was written centuries before Aristotle lived, specifically states that Miriam, Deborah and Hulda were female prophets; there were no female rabbis, priests, or imams after his death until the twentieth century."

What is Maller's view of what Genesis really says? It is quite similar to the beliefs we hold in the Church of Jesus Christ:

"Genesis 2:18 says God made for Adam an ezer k’negdo (an phrase which means a helpmate opposite or against him); but the word ezer connotes strength and is usually used in reference to God’s power to help (Psalms 33:20, 70:6, 115:9 and 146:5); so a better understanding of the term is that woman was created to be a parallel helpful force equal to man."

But there is more, and Maller expounds in eloquent fashion:

"The rabbis further taught that the term ezer k’negdo was used to teach that when her husband was right, his wife would be there to support him with her strength…. and when her husband was wrong she would be there with her strength to oppose or restrain him. . . Of course, if a husband does not treat his wife with respect, she may still be his help mate but she will not be his blessing. The Rabbis were cognizant that many husbands disrespected their wives and expounded: “I will make a fitting helper (beside or a restraint] for him”: if he merited, she is a helper; and if not, she should restrain him.”

Now, isn't that interesting? Part of being a support to one's husband is to oppose him when he is wrong. You try to prevent him from stumbling into the ditch. You don't collude with him in evil, or in laziness, or in hypocrisy. That is actually a deep form of love. That is the way God loves us. God supports us in all our righteous endeavors, and God hedges up our way when we begin to walk amiss.

Maller also notes that the word that the King James version translates as "rib" is tsela, which means "side":

"The Hebrew word Tsela that appears twice in these verses is often translated as rib, but in the 40 other places where Tsela appears in the Hebrew Bible, it is translated as side, sides or corners (where sides intersect). and that is how it should be translated here.

"Woman is not made from man’s rib. She is made from his side: so she can stand beside him and they can stand together, side by side.

"This is the meaning of God’s statement: “It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a helper (partner) beside him.” Woman is not a part or an appendage of her husband. A woman is an equal partner standing side by side with her husband."

And of course, so it is with God: with our Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother. And we are asked to emulate them in this.

One of the most beautiful things Maller says is placed in quotation marks--the context seems to suggest Maller wrote it, but since it is in quotation marks, I am not sure, but no source is cited. Here is that beautiful thought:

"To my wife, on no special occasion and for no other reason than; I adore you. It is better to live outside the garden with Eve than inside it without her. Blessed be the One who brought us near together and taught me to know the goodness of her heart and the sweetness of her soul! Wheresoever she is, there be Eden.”

Yes, that is so true . . . when Adam looked at Eve after she offered him the fruit, did he not think to himself, "better to live outside with Eve than inside it without her, for whereever she is, there is Eden. There is Home." I believe he did. God bless him for it, too!

Thanks again to E, who forwarded this link to me . . .