Genesis 2:18-25 by Robert Dean
Series:Genesis (2003)
Duration:1 hr 0 mins 47 secs

Responsible Labor


The divine institution of marriage, Genesis 2:18: "And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him." The first thing that we note is that it is Yaweh Elohim speaking here, and to the Jew who is reading this, this is a reminder that this is the same LORD God who has entered into covenant and contract with Israel at Sinai. This God has the best interests of man at heart and He says that it is not good that the male should be alone. The first thing He notes here is that it is not good. This is why this word tob, good, is not a moral good. Some want to argue that "very good" necessarily excludes evil. Their argument is that Satan hasn't fallen yet. But one of the problems is that if good has a moral context to it then it is immoral for man to be single, because God is saying it is not good for man to be alone. So that shows the logical fallacy in treating tob as a word that has an inherent moral connotation. It does not. What God is saying here is that it doesn't fit His plan or purpose, or how He designed man. This is half way through the sixth day, so it is not good, it is not according to plan for man to be alone. He needs to make a helper for him. Then we come to a word that the feminists just grind their teeth over, the Hebrew word etzer, which means to be a helper, an assistant, to be someone who would come alongside the man and help him achieve the goal that God set for him. "Male and female He created them," both are created in the image of God. So together they represent the image of in exercising dominion over the planet. The plan is that the man is the one who has the vocation and it is the female who is to come alongside and be the helper.


Being a helper is an extremely high position. We live in a culture where if you are the number two person then you just aren't as important. The feminist philosophy has picked this up to make women think that if they are a helper then somehow this is a low position, and that they are somehow being devalued as a human being and as an individual, and are nothing more than a slave and a servant. This accusation has theological implications. For example, Psalm 33:20, "Our soul waiteth for the LORD: he is our help and our shield." God is our etzer, so if somehow being an etzer is being in a second class position then you are making a statement about God, that that is a second class thing for God to do. Psalm 70:5, "But I am poor and needy: make haste unto me, O God: thou art my help [etzer] and my deliverer; O LORD, make no tarrying." Psalm 115:9, "O Israel, trust thou in the LORD: he is their help [etzer] and their shield." Then in Exodus 18:4, "And the name of the other was Eliezer; for the God of my father, said he, was mine help, and delivered me from the sword of Pharaoh," where the name Eliezer is from the Hebrew word for God [El]; the "i" is the first person common singular suffix, meaning mine—so "My God"; and then ezer is help: "My God is my help." Again and again God is referred to as a help, so this is a very high view. In fact, when Jesus came at the first advent He said, "I cam not to be served, but to serve, and to give my life as a ransom for many." So the very image of Christ as a redeemer is the image of an ezer, someone coming to give help, to give assistance, so that man can be what God intended him to be. So in the marriage you have a corporation where the man is the one who is the leader. How a woman helps her husband be successful is that they seek to exercise dominion in whatever sphere God has put them in, and this is a function of her creativity where she is reflecting her being in the image of God and her exercising creativity in that arena.


In marriage what we see is a situation today where the man and the woman do not have a real plan as to why they get married. The picture that we se in Scripture is that the man needs to identify his calling before the woman marries him because she needs to discover whether or not help him achieve the calling that God has given him. Furthermore, the man needs to recognize that he has a responsibility to take care of the home and the family. For example, Proverbs 24:27, "Prepare thy work without, and make it fit for thyself in the field; and afterwards build thine house." This is an injunction in Proverbs to men to first establish their work and a financial basis for the family, and then build the home in terms of getting married and having children. What happens today and puts incredible pressure on marriages is that couples get married too soon, the man doesn't know what he wants to do, forces the wife to get out and work full time; they never get themselves established and it ends up often coming back to haunt both of them in the marriage.


We see a pattern developing in Genesis 2:19ff. "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." God has a purpose for this. In v. 18 God recognized that it wasn't good for man to be alone, but this hadn't dawned on Adam yet. So before God creates the woman He is going to cause Adam to recognize that there is a need there for the woman. So the first thing God does is take the beasts of the field, the domesticatable beasts, not the wild beasts and every category of animal that is found in Genesis chapter one. It would seem that the order of creation on that day is first the beasts of the earth, then Adam, then the beasts of the field, then the woman. God brings these animals to Adam "to see what he would call them." This is a function of Adam's creativity as the image of God. He has to do the observation; God is not going to tell him what to call the animals. We don't have divine guidance here. There are many areas in life where we don't have divine guidance. God is not going to tell you, "This is how you cut the grass," or "This is how you pay your bills." God leaves many things open to you to exercise your volition and to function in the realm of creativity. The test isn't so much what you decide to do as how you decide to do it. They are both part of the package. The names Adam gave to each would say something about the nature of that creature. Verses 20, "And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field." Notice it is all the domesticatable kinds that were in the garden, not every single kind of animal on the planet.


" …but for Adam there was not found an help [etzer] corresponding to him." There is no comparable, corresponding pattern, so Adam recognizes that he is alone. All the other animals have pairs. It is at this point that God has prepared Adam for the next act, v. 21, "And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs." The word here for ribs is the Hebrew word tzelah which doesn't really mean rib, it means side. The is the only time in about twenty-five places in the Old Testament that it is translated rib. It has to do with bone and flesh that is taken, which it must be because Adam will say that this is "bone of my bone and flesh of my flash." So it is not just talking out bone, it is taking out flesh, the muscle, everything that went with it, and from that God fashions the woman.


Verse 22, "And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man." Literally, the LORD God built from the rib [side] a woman." The word there is banah, the fourth Hebrew word now for creation—He built the woman, He fashioned her from the rib. Many have noted the symbolic value that He takes the woman from the side of the man. He doesn't take her from the head, indicating superiority, or from the feet, indicating that she would be in a place of servitude, but from his side because she is going to be serving side by side as together they exercise dominion over the plant. They are to be a partnership, a team, and like on any team there is one who is the primary leader and the other who is the follower or the helper. That is the situation with Adam and Isha.


Verse 23, "And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh [Hebrew idiom for the fact that she is one with him]: she shall be called Woman [Ishah], because she was taken out of Man [Ish]."


Verse 24, "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh." Adam doesn't say this, he doesn't have a concept of father and mother yet. This is typical in Genesis where Moses who is writing to Jews makes application. It is an editorial comment by Moses under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, so he is teaching the Jews about the origin of man and the origin of marriage. And notice it is the male who leaves, not the female. Here the Hebrew word which has the idea not simply of sexual union, although that is definitely part of the word, but has the idea of a full union with the woman as they become one together, spiritually, psychologically and physically.


Verse 25 really sets the stage for the next chapter. "And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed." They are naked, they are exposed, they are not ashamed because with no sin or sin nature and therefore do not have a comprehension of all the evil things that can come from perverted sex. So there is no embarrassment over this, no shame. They are open, they are vulnerable, and there is no sense of danger, no sense of being taken advantage of. This is going to be in contrast to what happens in the next chapter, because in 3:1, "Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made." The word for "naked" and the word for "cunning" are words that are very similar and so there is a definite word play in the Hebrew which is set up by this contrast: they are naked, and in contrast to them being unashamed and open we now see the villain work his way on to the scene in chapter three.