“It is not good for the man to be alone.
I will make an ezer[helper] suitable for him.”
Three A.M., and my life was about to change forever.
I was wide-awake. No, I wasn’t tossing and turning in my bed. Bed was the furthest thing from my mind. Oddly enough, I was pouring over books, smuggling volumes out of my husband’s study, searching for answers. I felt like a detective and I knew I was onto something.
For years I’d been troubled by interpretations of Eve that left me (and a lot of other women) out in the cold. I could relate to what one single woman confided, as she tried to fit in, “I don’t mind being called a helpmeet. I like helping people. But helpmeet doesn’t encompass everything about me.” Little did I realize that the “helpmeet” version of Eve was about to topple and something better—for all of us—would take her place.
Is God’s Blueprint Too Small?
My attention zeroed in on the word God used to describe the woman when he created her. “Ezer” (usually translated “helper”) has historically been defined in terms of marriage, motherhood and domesticity. According to this line of thinking, a woman fulfills her highest calling when she marries, bears children and manages the home.
Wonderful and significant as marriage and motherhood can be, this definition creates serious problems for all women.
When we are little girls, God’s purposes for us are pushed out into the distant future, to the day we don a wedding veil and head for the marriage altar. It intensifies the difficulties of singleness and the heartache of childlessness. Elderly women are troubled by the thought that God’s purpose for them has expired. Like Cinderella’s stepsisters, we end up trying to squeeze ourselves into a creation blueprint that simply doesn’t fit us all.
As I studied through the night, my curiosity was fueled by a deep longing to know if God’s blueprint included me. Is God’s blueprint for us really too small?
A Warrior For God’s Purposes
The word ezer appears in the Old Testament twenty-one times—twice for the woman in Genesis 2:18 and 20, three times for nations Israel turned to for military assistance when they were under attack, and sixteen times for God. This information resulted in upgrading the ezer from “helper” to “strong helper” and led to a divided (and at times heated) discussion over the word strong. How strong is strong, after all?
I decided to look up the references. To my surprise, I discovered powerful military language in every passage. Whenever ezer appeared—for the three nations, obviously, but also for God—it was always within a military context. God is His people’s helper, defender, deliverer, sword and shield. He is better than chariots and horses. He keeps sentry watch over his people and with His strong arm overthrows their foes. Based on the Old Testament’s consistent usage of this term, it only makes sense to conclude that God created the woman to be a warrior.
Further reading uncovered additional evidence of the strength and significance of the ezer. I discovered that the original inventory was off. Ezer shows up more than twenty-one times and in the most unexpected places. You just have to look more closely to find it.
Reading through one of those tedious genealogies (the passages we tend to skim when reading through the Bible) I spotted ezer again—in men’s names. Ezer was one of Judah’s male descendants. Moses named his son Eli-ezer. Abi-ezer belonged to the elite band of David’s mightiest warriors. Samuel raised a monument to God’s glorious deliverance and named it Eben-ezer.
Even today, the name Ezer still carries a lot of weight. Ezer Weizman was an Israeli military hero, a world leader who served as Israel’s seventh president. I doubt if anyone made fun of a man like that because his parents named him Ezer.
Ezer represents the strength and valor of a warrior. God created women to be warriors. “It is not good for the man to be alone.” Our brothers need us, and God calls us to join forces with them in advancing His kingdom wherever we are.
The Perfect Fit
That night, while the rest of the world slept, my identity changed forever. I couldn’t think of a single moment, situation or relationship in my life where my calling as an ezer-warrior for God’s purposes didn’t apply.
My three little nieces are just starting out in life, but they are ezers too. I regularly hear from moms engaged in fierce battles for their kids. A young single is battling for the souls of women in Ghana, as another woman launches a new consulting business on the home front. A friend of mine faces huge challenges in his business and is stronger and wiser in his own battles because of his ezer-warrior wife. A ezer in her nineties ministers actively to lost souls in her extended care facility.
I agree with the single woman who didn’t quite fit the “helpmeet” mold, but found the ezer fit her perfectly. “Warrior covers all of who I am.”