Ezer Kenegdo

“I will make him a helper [ezer kenegdo] fit for him” Gen 2:18.

Our Father used a remarkable phrase to describe Woman. Most of our English translations say something like, “I will make him a helper fit for him” Gen 2:18. But the original Hebrew for “helper” here is ezer kenegdoEzer is helper, in this context a helper corresponding to him. But it’s more than that. Ezer is often used to describe God’s gracious action. However, God’s next Hebrew word is kenegdo. The root ngd, a negative, gives us neged. But what can this mean? The Torah tells us, “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good” Gen 1:31.

God made woman in the state of original justice very good. He knew that the primal issue with man would always be whether to live God‘s way or man’s way. He knew too that His first created children would soon fall from original justice. In this passage we may understand neged in terms of sin. Woman would be “God’s help against his propensity to sin,” or more succinctly, “help against him.”

Since the Fall of Adam, a woman who helps the men in her life against their propensity to sin is on the side of the holy angels , a healthy woman. One who tempts the men in her life to sin is on the side of the fallen angels, a damaged woman. This contrast with the Blessed Virgin Mary is important. God foretold a woman who would be at war with Satan until the end of time Gen 3:15Ezer kenegdo completes the New Eve theology. The first Eve could only have failed if God had made her to protect Adam against his propensity to sin.

This is the mission of women, that they help protect us men from our own propensity to sinHoly Mother Church speaks of § 721 “Mary, the all-holy ever-virgin Mother of God, is the masterwork of the mission of the Son and the Spirit in the fullness of time.” Mary protects us from our sinful tendencies more than any other woman. She is the model for all women.

Father Hardon declared, in his homily on Mary Magdalene on April 2, 1991,

The role of women over the centuries in the Church of God is to help men give themselves, as only a woman can, with their whole heart to the God who became man out of love for us. That, that is the real role of women: to inspire us men with selfless, extravagant—we men think it’s excessive—love for Jesus Christ so that we—more cold, more calculating—might be inspired to love our Lord not just with our whole head but with our whole heart.