Guest post by Kate Kenaston
Pt II: THE DEFINITION
The Hebrew word for “help suitable” is pronounced, Ezer Kenegdo
Ezer is the word God chose to use when defining woman’s role. It’s a very difficult word to translate into English, as the word “Help” has a very broad usage, everything from acting as someone’s assistant to rescuing someone. Generally ezer and related words are used in a military context where someone is actively receiving help against an enemy. When this word is read in it’s Biblical context, there is a strong sense of coming to someone’s defense. Proactively coming to help someone in their need. Some people had said that “rescue” would have been a better word, but though the context of the word is often used in rescue situations, Hebrew had a word specifically for “rescue”….and God could have used it if He had wanted to.
In the Old Testament the word Ezer is used 21 times. Only two of those times does it apply to the woman. Three of those times Ezer is used for nations to whom Israel appealed for military aid and sixteen times God uses the word Ezer to apply to Himself when God is talked about at Israel’s helper.
And because we know that God does all things perfectly, let’s explore those verses:
Ezer used for God as Israel’s helper.
““O Lord, …give (Judah) strength to defend their cause; help them against their enemies.”
Deuteronomy 33:7 ESV
““There is none like God, who rides through the heavens to your help, through the skies in his majesty.”
Deuteronomy 33:26 ESV
“May he send you help from the sanctuary and give you support from Zion!” Psalm 20:2 ESV
“Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and our shield.”
Psalm 33:20 ESV
“But I am poor and needy; hasten to me, O God! You are my help and my deliverer; O Lord, do not delay!”
Psalm 70:5 ESV
“O Israel, trust in the Lord! He is their help and their shield.”
Psalm 115:9 ESV
“I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.”
Psalm 1211-:2 ESV
“He destroys you, O Israel, for you are against me, against your helper.” Hosea 13:9 ESV
What these verses have in common is that Ezer is used consistently in military context.
The Ezer is undoubtedly a warrior.
Kenegdu. This is sort of a mix of three words. The ke part means “according to” and the negd part means “in front” or “opposite” and the u part means “of him.” If you stick these together in English and translate them literally, it doesn’t really make any sense, which is why translations vary a fair amount. The central idea seems to be that God is making someone a helper that is the “opposite of Adam” in some way. In English “opposite” sounds more negative, which is why it isn’t translated that way. This probably means that she is “opposite” like “corresponding to.” A very loose (and more interpretive) translation might read that God made Eve to be the mirror image of Adam, that they aren’t the same, they aren’t copies of each other, but they do fit each other. Expounding the idea a bit, I think it would be implying that their differences are made to be complementary. She is strong where he is weak and he is strong where she is weak, and that would be why she could be such a necessary help to him.
We’ve all heard the comparison that mens’ brains are waffles and womens are spaghetti.
Men in general like to compartmentalize things and for a woman, everything is connected to EVERYTHING!
God never does anything on a whim.
Neither is He like us and makes a decision and then has to make another to compensate for missing a vital piece of information.
That means that men, with their common thought patterns, traits, instincts and tendencies are just as they should be.
- That means men are SUPPOSED to be less communicative than women.
- They are naturally less emotionally driven.
- They are driven to conquer.
- They were created to fix things.
- They also were created with a co-partner in mind! (That means they are SUPPOSED TO need your help at remembering and finding things. Women, don’t complain about something that is our JOB.)
- They were made to doggedly put one foot in front of the other. Day after day, shouldering responsibility and persistently doing life.
Their life is a life of doggedly doing.That is one of their greatest strengths as well as being one of their greatest weaknesses.
And that means that women, with their common thought patterns, traits, instincts and tendencies are just as they should be.
- That means we are suppose to need to use words.
- We are created to be emotionally driven.
- We were designed to desire to love and be loved.
- We were designed to be ATMOSPHERE CREATORS.
- It’s our job to help him find the mayonnaise, the words, and the strength to keep going.
- We were created to have a desire to be seen and heard.
- We were created to be valued, honored and cherished.
It is said that every man is born with a question on his tongue and it haunts him the rest of his life: “Do I have what it takes?”
Remember the “opposite, mirror image” male and females are to each other? Satan wants to answer that question, but I believe our differences were created to answer it. (And in case you are wondering, women were also created with a question…but we will get to that later.)
Instead of our differences working together, satan has everything geared towards division. Movies, media are classic for this. Emotional damage is sustained by both genders and both men and women’s coping patterns of avoidance and protection are being used to divide and isolate.
- Women stuff their emotional tendencies and try to toughen up. They feel like they need to prove that they don’t need or desire the security a healthy man brings.
- Men are mocked for not seeing the ketchup in the fridge and pretend they don’t care.They feel inadequate, so they have a constant sense of needing to prove something. A lot of domination we see today comes as a result of being threatened and insecure.
Now, God has a sense of humor absolutely, so while it’s okay to laugh at jokes, take a moment to search your heart. Do you secretly despise him for something he was created with?
Satan’s tactics are two-fold.
- Keep women from recognizing what Ezer is, and by default, men are isolated.
- And to keep people threatened, shamed and insecure to ensure that humans will try to dominate humans.
God gave man dominion over the earth and the things in it, but He never gave humans permission to control humans.
We were created to be different. We process things differently. But we are designed and equipped to fulfill our role well.
I get the mental image of two warriors trekking down a jungle trail.
The man keeps to the trail.
He goes at a steady pace.
His determination and desire to conquer keeps him focused.
He keeps his head and bearings.
He has the physical strength to overcome obstacles.
He is focused on reaching the destination.
The woman is right in step next to him.
She is intune to the surroundings.
Alert to danger, the sound of water or sensitive to approaching enemies.
She veers in and out of the jungle around them.
She is a keen strategizer.
BOTH are equipped in weaponry.
Both are secure in the other’s knowledge and skills.
Both cover for each other in an attack. They have learned to work with each other, covering for each other’s weaknesses, and trusting each other’s strengths. They aren’t threatened by the other’s gifts, instead they are thankful for them and they count on using them. There is nothing to prove. They are one unit with one mission.Because survival depends on BOTH being strong.
Now, with this in mind, let’s read over the verses where Ezer is used for the woman…
“Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” Genesis 2:18 ESV
And to give a picture of what God was envisioning when He said that…
“Happy are you, O Israel! Who is like you, a people saved by the Lord, the shield of your help, and the sword of your triumph! Your enemies shall come fawning to you, and you shall tread upon their backs.””Deuteronomy 33:29 ESV
What do people call when being attacked by a dog?
What about if a person is drowning?
At that moment, they are not asking for an indecisive person offering them tea on a tray.
They are begging for active relief and assistance!
That, my friends, is what we are.
We are “Help.”
We are the answer to that cry.
We are a partner to work as a team.
We know our spouse’s weaknesses and they know ours and we cover for eachother.
We are a co-strategizer to defeat the odds.
We are perfectly fitted together so our differences lock together to make a formidable force.
We are Ezer.
God never does something on a whim. He is intentional. There is a reason God chose the military term “ezer” instead of a cozy and comfortable word that would translate as “companion or encourager.” Lack of good company wasn’t the reason why man shouldn’t be alone.
Pt. III: WORKING IT OUT
I don’t believe that “Ezer” only applies only to married men and women. “Ezer Kenegdo” explains the reason why women are in the world. It applies to your relation to all men you come in contact with. Why? Because Jesus was single and totally and completely fulfilled His mission. It was HE that coined the phrase “life abundantly”. In Matthew 19 He gives logical reasons for remaining single. Paul defended and even encouraged singlehood.
- Marriage is a physical representation of what Jesus did for His Church
- Singlehood is a physical representation of Jesus WAITING for His church.
Jesus is still human, He is still single and He is still waiting.
Marriage is a lot like having kids. Complicated. Worth it? ABSOLUTELY!
But it can complicate healing in the individuals involved. Soul ties and dependence are created, and though absolutely God-ordained within the confines of marriage, satan has come in with sin and wrecked havoc. Remember that whatever God states as “good” satan singles out to destroy.
This next part may seem like I am speaking to wives, but I’m not. If you are single, listen with an open mind and evaluate what you have been taught in the past, your reactions, your preconceived notions, and your relationships with the men in your life. And who knows…you might someday need this. 🙂
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
2nd Corinthians 2:11
“So that Satan will not outsmart us. For we are familiar with his evil schemes.”
Whatever God wants, we know that the devil works towards the opposite end. But the cool thing is that we can recognize the devil’s tactics.
If God says, “It isn’t good for a man to be alone,” we can be assured that the devils goal is to isolate men. Like every road we have ever seen, there are two ditches. And both were created to isolate the man.
The Ditch of Feminism
Because satan plays two sides of the coin, you can be sure that he is trying to raise up controlling, domineering men. It is a definite spirit with an agenda of control in an unhealthy manner. I do believe though, that the most domineering men are the most insecure as they are trying to prove their competence by domination. But I’m not speaking to men. I’m speaking to women.
We have a job, regardless of what is going on on the other side.
But nevertheless, there is also a Spirit of Feminism. Jezebel, we sometimes call her. One of her goals is to persistently show men that they are inconsequential. Movies are classic for this. Men are portrayed as the oafs who can’t find their shoes, can’t find the mayonnaise and who can’t manage the kids. Men are no longer heroes, instead we are led to wonder how they manage without women. Again, Satan turns what was a God-ordained, intentional gift of needing women into a shame which incites a negative reaction.
“If a man can do it, women can do it too…if not better.”
When we are in this ditch, we feel like we have something to prove.
We fight for the man’s place.
We want their titles.
We use our influence to silence their opinion.
We feel threatened.
We secretly despise him for who he is.
The end goal of feminism is to show men they aren’t needed. That they aren’t leaders.
It makes sure that a man knows that he is incapable, and never gives him a chance to prove otherwise.
And I ask you, is this not the very spirit that makes men want to dominate? It doesn’t matter which gender this spirit lives in, it’s wrong. What is in us that compels us to prove our worth?
When a woman allows feminism to live out of her heart, men are alone.
This ditch shouldn’t surprise us, because though feminism wasn’t created by God, it is a direct result of the fall.
“And you will desire to control your husband, but he will rule over you.” Genesis 3:16
So the power struggle was born.
God is holy and good. He doesn’t create evil to punish us. Yet He is omniscient, so He knows all things. And just like we know that a room gets dark when we turn off the light, He knew the result when sin entered the world, and so He did what He could. He warned us.
But it’s good for us to remember again, that Ezer was created before the fall.
Our place is not a punishment.
The Ditch of Deadly Compliance
This stance of wordless obedience is actually a form of passive control. It is intentionally blinding yourself and accepting decisions regardless of the consequences. It is exactly what Adam did to Eve. He stood with her, received the fruit and (seemingly) unquestioningly ate it. THEN, when God called him out, he did what? He blamed Eve, washing his hands of all guilt and playing the victim. And ever since then, we women like to play the same game right back.
The heart of it is so ugly. Deep down in the center of it is, “It’s his decision. If he wants to do this, the outcome is his fault.” We wash our hands and submit. And it’s so sneaky because it looks so good.
It even looks “Biblical”.
BOTH of those ditches gives the devil what he wants. Neither empower the man to fulfill his God-given role because in both of them he is isolated.
Jezebel either smashes masculine worth or incites male dominance.
Deadly Compliance never questions. It mindlessly and mechanically goes about seemingly doing the right things, but with no purpose and power.
And satan has a hayday. He can feed men lies all day long. A man can live out and rule over his family, all the while completely isolated in himself and out of line of the partnership God intended. All the while never being questioned.
And he is exactly where satan wants him.
Let’s explore a situation where a woman walked in this ditch…
Ananias and Sapphira
NKJV: “But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession. And he kept back part of the proceeds, his wife also being aware of it, and brought a certain part and laid it at the apostles’ feet.”
NLT: “But there was a certain man named Ananias who, with his wife, Sapphira, sold some property. He brought part of the money to the apostles, claiming it was the full amount.
With his wife’s consent, he kept the rest.”
Amplified: “Now a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, and with his wife’s full knowledge [and complicity] he kept back some of the proceeds, bringing only a portion of it, and set it at the apostles’ feet.”
ESV: “But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, and with his wife’s knowledge he kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only a part of it and laid it at the apostles’ feet.”
I’m going to start reading between the lines here…
We don’t know the full conversation between them, but we know that historically at this time, men didn’t normally ask for their wives opinions when conducting business matters. It’s very unlikely that Ananias would have thought to ask Sapphira’s opinion before deciding. Also take note of the word usage: “Aware of it. Consent. Full knowledge.” It’s not like the scene painted in Esther when Haman’s wife actively planned the gallows that was to hang Mordecai. It does not say, “Plan with. Decide together. Conspired to.”
Ananias made a decision and Sapphira knew what he had decided. And she chose to go along with it rather than risk conflict. She remained silent.
She wasn’t willing to be Ezer.
She left Ananias alone.
Before we are too hard on her, let’s just think for a moment. She probably also was used to not sharing opinions. Just the fact that Ananias felt like he had to pretend to gain acceptance shows that he was a deeply insecure man…and insecure men often take even suggestions as a threat, let alone an outright question. There’s a good chance he had anger issues, rejection issues or perhaps he had a silver tongue that made her feel stupid.
When Peter called her and asked her if they had sold the piece of property for the amount stated, she didn’t know her husband was dead. She couldn’t hide behind his decision and play the victim. But she stood there and was afraid. I am certain she had a flashback of what would happen if she spoke the truth and Ananais found out. So she chose her husband over what she knew was right. And she paid the price.
What should she have done? Let’s explore it.
1 Peter 3:4-6
“But let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord.
… And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.”
And this is the catch.
Women were created to want to be desirable to men.
We crave their admiration.
We crave their approval.
We crave acceptance.
We want to make them proud of us.
To stand up and speak up risks all of that.
But I believed that God instilled in us the gift of foresight and He gave it to us for a reason.
There is a REASON why “everything is connected to everything.”
We know when our husband is losing his children’s hearts.
We know when he is coping with childhood wounds.
We see when he is driven by insecurities or threatened by authority.
We can list the lies he believes.
We often understand his motives better than he does.
We see the future and where it is leading.
All these are part of our calling! We were designed to see all these things!
For many of us, the “submit and respect” commands have gone so deep we feel guilty for seeing our husbands weaknesses. .It feels easier to just ignore and agree than to engage our concerns. Or, we allow our panic to force us into nagging him prematurely.
You might see rejection ruining your husband’s relationships.
You might see how fear makes him control his family.
You might recognize how he uses humor as a protection against vulnerability.
You might recognize how hurts make him harsh with the children.
Or you may see how insecurity keeps him from living his potential.
We were created to see past the outward, and into the reason behind the action.
But so often, we are afraid.
- We are afraid to acknowledge our husband’s weakness because we haven’t experienced healing ourselves so we aren’t sure there is healing for him.
- We don’t know what it’s like to experience unconditional acceptance, so we don’t know how to give it.
- We feel like recognizing his failings is somehow disrespectful.
- We don’t trust ourselves to respond rightly to them.
- There is hurt inside of us that will be exposed by being honest with how we feel, and so it’s easier to just ignore it than risk vulnerability.
- We don’t know how to be okay in imperfection.
- We aren’t patient enough to prepare a safe place.
And this is the main reason why Peter tells us, “do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.
Remember how we talked about how men’s instinctive responses are God-given? Men are destination oriented. They don’t see the mayonnaise in the fridge because their eyes were created to see the big picture. They are well aware the fridge is full…it’s the mayonnaise they can’t find.
Men don’t like being told what to do.
In a healthy man, it makes them decisive, level headed and confident.
In a healthy man, we women admire those traits. They make us feel safe and protected.
But remember, just as God created men with their characteristic tendencies,
God also created US women “Kenegdo.” We are “opposite: as pertaining to.”
EVERY strength has a weakness.
Men are do-ers. They find it easier to “do” than to analyze uncomfortable feelings.
Women tend to be feelers. We know everything has a reason behind it.
Men are leaders.
They doggedly stick to the trail.
They were created to be competent, and can be threatened by too many suggestions, because suggestions can sound like they aren’t perceived as being capable.
All these things make them the leaders God sees them to be. These characteristics are not our enemy. I find it remarkable that our perfect God is so okay with imperfection that he created human beings with strengths and thus weaknesses on PURPOSE.
So if men don’t like receiving directions, how can we help them?
Do you remember how every boy is born with an unanswered question burning on his heart.“Do I have what it takes?”
Satan’s goal is to make sure that question destroys him. And though it is said that a little boy’s father should be the one to answer that question, I believe that women’s job is to answer it again and again and again.
Respect and honor is meant to do just that.
Inside you is the map to help guide your husband into wholeness into the places in his life that he will never go on his own. Holy Spirit is there to help to navigate it–all without him knowing. This is where “respecting and submitting” comes in.
But first, we have to know a few things ourselves, because this next part is what makes respect and honor powerful….