God said something that sounds odd, at least at first glance. There he is creating all creation and announcing that everything is good, and then he looks at the human he has made and says there’s something about the situation that is not good.
The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”(Genesis 2:18.)
In the King James version from 1611, the verse is rendered:
And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.
Either way, the meaning is clear. Something was wrong in paradise. But what is that word “meet” doing in place of “suitable”? It’s an archaic way of saying the same thing:
Meet – adjective: 1. suitable; fitting; proper.
origin: before 1000; Middle English mete …; representing Old English suitable … . (Dictionary.com)
The way to understand the English language phrase “helper suitable” or “help meet” is by looking at the original Hebrew words ezer (help or helper) and kenegdo (suitable, fit, corresponding). (Marg Mowczko, Kenegdo: Is the woman subordinate, suitable, or similar to the man?)
Ezer was used many times in the Old Testament and usually in reference to God rescuing his people or helping them when they were helpless to do anything for themselves. (Id.) This means that when reading the word in Hebrew the context would dictate what type of help or helper is meant, and it would not be surprising if the helper was viewed as much more powerful than the person being helped. The reader would need to examine the context to see if something other than a helper more powerful were meant.
In this passage from Genesis, the adjective kenegdo provides that context. The woman God created to rectify a “not good” situation (the man being alone) was to be ezer to the man, but not one he would then bow down to or be subordinate to. The modifier kenegdo was necessary in light of how often God is said to be our ezer, a powerful help and rescuer when we are powerless to help or rescue ourselves. If Genesis 2 didn’t have kenegdo modifying ezer it would suggest that women are more powerful – perhaps even loftier – than men. But kenegdo shows that women are in the same status as men rather than above them.
Neither would she be subordinate to him. The choice of the word kenegdo shows they would be equal to one another: suitable, meet and corresponding. Kenegdo doesn’t subordinate* women, but rather keeps men from being the ones subordinated so they are considered equal to women.
*Occasionally you’ll read someone who insists that God made Eve as a helpmate because the person doesn’t know the meaning of the word meet and so substitutes in a word they do know. This leads them to then talk about Eve’s role as being Adam’s little helper, created to follow his direction and leadership. That’s not what the Hebrew means, of course, but they don’t know that.
Misreading God’s word out of ignorance is one thing but then teaching something that is unarguably not scriptural is dangerous, elevating men to a position God did not put them in while subordinating women to a position of oppression God never intended them to occupy. What a horrible thing to do to the women and men God created to be alongside each other in his creation.