No story is more famous than the Garden of Eden. Many Christians regard the Garden of Eden as a story about sin, division, and the fall. These aspects do exist, yet they are secondary. The Garden of Eden, in my interpretation, beautifully unfolds as a poignant love story. It portrays God not as an aloof entity but as a loving father tenderly caring for his cherished children. He wants the best for them, even as they fall and sin against him. Likewise, the whole Bible is the most extraordinary novel ever written, one long love story featuring a God who courts and sustains a relationship with our forefathers and foremothers. These were people who, just like you and me, were soaked in sin up to their necks. However, it’s intriguing how perspectives can differ. While I (as well as most Jews) perceive a narrative brimming with love and parental concern, others interpret the Genesis account as showcasing a God who appears annoyed and furious.
The perspective one adopts when approaching the Bible has a profound impact on the understanding and interpretation of the text. A prime example of this can be found in Genesis 2:18:
The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a EZER (helper) suitable for him.”
This verse offers two distinct interpretations. A fundamentalist perspective suggests that women were created in order to be servants:
The woman was created to serve man…The scriptures state that God created woman to serve man.1
However, an alternative interpretation is worth considering. Notably, God refers to the woman as a “helper” instead of a “servant.” This distinction prompts an important question: which party typically requires help, the weaker or the stronger? It is natural for the weaker party to seek assistance. And who should the weaker party look to for help? Not someone even less capable, but rather someone with greater strength or ability. This highlights the significance of the term “helper.”
In the Old Testament, “EZER” is used to describe God as a helper to Israel, implying a role of strength and support, not subordination. Psalm 70:5 states:
“But as for me, I am poor and needy; come quickly to me, O God. You are my help and my deliverer; Lord, do not delay.”
The word “help” in this verse is “EZER” in Hebrew, which is the same as in Genesis. Clearly, God helping Israel does not imply that God is subordinate or inferior to human beings.
It is essential to recognize that physical strength should not be viewed as the sole determining factor in this context. While men may generally possess greater physical strength than women, women can excel in other areas, especially in emotional quality abilities, creating a balanced and complementary dynamic. This is particularly evident in many marriages, where men often seek guidance from their wives when facing challenges.
This complementary aspect of the male-female dynamic is further emphasized when examining various cultures and historical contexts. Throughout history, societies have assigned different roles to men and women based on their strengths and weaknesses. In some cultures, women have held positions of power, while in others, they have taken on more supportive roles. Despite these variations, the underlying principle of complementarity between the sexes remains constant.
The role of a servant is to obey and follow orders, while a helper’s role is to provide what is lacking. Help is sought when one lacks the necessary skills or knowledge to complete a task independently, which is why we rely on experts such as mechanics, lawyers, and physicians. This concept of a helper extends beyond the realm of professional expertise, as it also applies to emotional, mental, and spiritual support. In the context of marriage, this type of support is invaluable, as it allows both partners to grow and flourish in their respective roles.
Furthermore, biblical submission addresses structure and order rather than wisdom, value, or worth. While it is true that most groups and structures have a single leader, Jesus demonstrated that true leadership entails serving one’s followers (John 13). That’s what EZER is all about. This notion of servant leadership is crucial to understanding the dynamics within a marriage or any relationship. A leader who serves their followers is more likely to inspire loyalty, respect, obedience and trust from those they lead. Likewise, we are not obedient to God because we are scared of Him but because He proved is an EZER to us by being willing to give up His life for us:
“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13)
In addition to servant leadership, mutual submission is a vital component of a healthy relationship. Ephesians 5:21 states, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” This verse emphasizes the importance of reciprocity and mutual respect in relationships. It is not just about one partner submitting to the other, but both partners submitting to each other out of love and respect. This establishes a model for relationships that are based on equality, respect, and partnership without demolishing the need for a leader. In this context, the role of a helper becomes even more significant, as it highlights the importance of collaboration and cooperation between partners who help and serve one another out of mutual love and respect.
Just as Eve was a crucial counterpart to Adam, filling the spaces he couldn’t, so too does God operate as our “EZER” in times of need. This word reminds us that true help doesn’t belittle or subordinate; it elevates and completes. Let us remember to seek God, our ultimate “EZER,” in our moments of need, and to value the unique strengths and perspectives of those who complement our lives.
“You are my help and my deliverer; you are my God, do not delay.” (Psalm 40:17)
This article was an extract from my new small book,
“Lost in Translation: 15 Hebrew Words to Transform Your Christian Faith.“
 Ivory Simion, “The War Between Men and Women”, Xlibris, 2009. Pg 20.