And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)It is not good . . . —In these words we have the Divine appointment of marriage, and also the declaration that the female is subsequent in order of production to the male, and formed from him. In Genesis 1:27; Genesis 5:2, the creation of male and female is represented as having been simultaneous. She is described as “a help meet for him:” Heb., a help as his front, his reflected image, or, as the Syriac translates it, a helper similar to him. The happiness of marriage is based, not upon the woman being just the same thing as the man, but upon her being one in whom he sees his image and counterpart.Genesis 2:18. God said — Had said on the sixth day, when the woman was made. It is not good that man should be alone — Though there was an upper world of angels and lower world of brutes, yet, there being none of the same rank of beings with himself, he might be truly said to be alone. It is not good: it was neither for man’s comfort, who was formed for society, and not for solitude nor for the accomplishment of God’s purpose in the increase of mankind. A help meet for him — כנגדו, chenegdo, a most significant phrase; one as before him, or correspondent to him, his counterpart, suitable to his nature and his need, one like himself in shape, constitution, and disposition, a second self: one to be at hand, or near to him, to converse familiarly with him, to be always ready to succour and comfort him, and whose care and business it should be to please and help him.
Here man's intellectual faculties proceed from the passive and receptive to the active and communicative stage. This advance is made in the review and designation of the various species of animals that frequent the land and skies.
A new and final need of man is stated in Genesis 2:18. The Creator himself, in whose image he was made, had revealed himself to him in language. This, among many other effects, awakened the social affection. This affection was the index of social capacity. The first step towards communication between kindred spirits was accomplished when Adam heard and understood spoken language. Beyond all this God knew what was in the man whom he had formed. And he expresses this in the words, "It is not good for the man to be alone." He is formed to be social, to hold converse, not only with his superior, but also with his equal. As yet he is but a unit, an individual. He needs a mate, with whom he may take sweet counsel. And the benevolent Creator resolves to supply this want. "I will make him a helpmeet for him" - one who may not only reciprocate his feelings, but take an intelligent and appropriate part in his active pursuits.
18. it is not good for the man to be alone—In the midst of plenty and delights, he was conscious of feelings he could not gratify. To make him sensible of his wants,The Lord God said, or, had said, to wit, upon the sixth day, on which the woman was made, Genesis 1:27-28.
Not good; not convenient either for my purpose of the increase of mankind, or for man’s personal comfort, or for the propagation of his kind.
Meet for him; a most emphatical phrase, signifying thus much, one correspondent to him, suitable both to his nature and necessity, one
altogether like to him in shape and constitution, disposition and affection; a second self; or one to be at hand and near to him, to stand continually before him, familiarly to converse with him, to be always ready to succour, serve, and comfort him; or one whose eye, respect, and care, as well as desire, Genesis 3:16, should be to him, whose business it shall be to please and help him.
it is not good that man should be alone; not pleasant and comfortable to himself, nor agreeable to his nature, being a social creature; nor useful to his species, not being able to propagate it; nor so much for the glory of his Creator:
I will made him an help meet for him; one to help him in all the affairs of life, not only for the propagation of his species, but to provide things useful and comfortable for him; to dress his food, and take care of the affairs of the family; one "like himself" (c), in nature, temper, and disposition, in form and shape; or one "as before him" (d), that would be pleasing to his sight, and with whom he might delightfully converse, and be in all respects agreeable to him, and entirely answerable to his case and circumstances, his wants and wishes.And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
18. It is not good, &c.] Man is created a social animal. His full powers cannot be developed by physical and mental work alone; nor his moral being by self-discipline in solitude. His faculties and his character require to be expanded and beautified by the duties of domestic and social life, as a member of a family, as a friend, as a fellow-worker, as a citizen. To be alone is not “good”; it does not promote his fullest life, or his best service.
an help meet for him] “meet”: or answering to. The word “meet” means “suitable,” or “adapted to.” The Lord God will make for man a “help” corresponding to his moral and intellectual nature, supplying what he needs, the counterpart of his being.
“Help meet,” which has become a recognized English word, fails to give the full sense of this passage from which it is derived. Man will find help from that which is in harmony with his own nature, and, therefore, able adequately to sympathise with him in thought and interests. It is not identity, but harmony, of character which is suggested. The word “help” in the Hebrew is ‘êzer, the same as is found in Ebenezer (1 Samuel 7:12): LXX βοηθόν: Lat. adjutorium.
“Meet for him” is lit. “as over against him.” LXX κατʼ αὐτόν, Vulg. simile sibi.
Observe that the versions have “let us make,” LXX ποιήσωμεν, Lat. faciamus, in imitation of Genesis 1:26, but inaccurately.Verse 18. - In anticipation of the ensuing narrative of the temptation and the fall, the historian, having depicted man's settlement in Eden, advances to complete his dramatis personae by the introduction upon the scene of the animals and woman. In the preliminary creation record (7-27) it is simply stated that God created man, male and female; there is a complete absence of details as to the Divine modus operandi in the execution of these, his last and greatest works. It is one object, among others, of the second portion of the history to supply those details. With regard to man (Adam), an account of his formation, at once minute and exhaustive, has been given in the preceding verses (7-17); now, with like attention to antecedent and concomitant circumstances and events, the sacred penman adds a description of the time, reason, manner, and result of the formation of woman. And the Lord God said, It is not good for man to be alone. While the animals were produced either in swarms (as the fishes) or in pairs (as the birds and beasts), man was created as an individual; his partner, by a subsequent operation of creative power, being produced from himself. With the wild phantasies and gross speculations of some theosophists, as to whether, prior to the creation of Eve, Adam was androgynic (Bohme), or simply vir in potentia, out of which state he passed the moment the woman stood by his side (Ziegler), a devout exegesis is not required to intermeddle. Neither is it needful to wonder how God should pronounce that to be not good which he had previously (Genesis 1:31) affirmed was good. The Divine judgment of which the preceding chapter speaks was expressed at the completion of man's creation; this, while that creation was in progress. For the new-made man to have been left without a partner would, in the estimation of Jehovah Elohim, have been for him a condition of being which, if not necessarily bad in itself, yet, considering his intellectual and social nature, "would eventually have passed over from the negative not good, or a manifest want, into the positive not good, or a hurtful impropriety"' (Lange). "It was not good for man to be alone; not, as certain foolish Rabbis conceited, lest he should imagine himself to be the lord of the world, or as though no man could live without a woman, which is contrary to Scripture; but in respect of
(1) mutual society and comfort,
(2) the propagation of the race,
(3) the increase and generation of the Church of God, and
(4) the promised seed of the woman (Willet).
Accordingly, Jehovah Elohim, for whom (seeing that his nature is to dispense happiness to his creatures) no more than for Adam would it have been good that man, being what he was, should remain alone, said, I will provide a help meet for him; literally, an helper, as over against him, i.e. corresponding to him, βοηθὸν κατ αὐτόν; ver. 20, ὅμοιος αὐτῷ, LXX. The expression indicates that the forthcoming helper was to be of similar nature to the man himself, corresponding by way of supplement to the incompleteness of his lonely being, and in every way adapted to be his co-partner and companion. All that Adam's nature demanded for its completion, physically, intellectually, socially, was to be included in this altera ego who was soon to stand by his side. Thus in man s need, and woman's power to satisfy that need, is laid the foundation for the Divine institution of marriage, which was afterwards prescribed not for the first pair alone, but for all their posterity. Genesis 1:26-27, with a divine decree, so here that of the woman is preceded by the divine declaration, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him כּנגדּו עזר, a help of his like: "i.e., a helping being, in which, as soon as he sees it, he may recognise himself" (Delitzsch). Of such a help the man stood in need, in order that he might fulfil his calling, not only to perpetuate and multiply his race, but to cultivate and govern the earth. To indicate this, the general word כנגדו עזר is chosen, in which there is an allusion to the relation of the sexes. To call out this want, God brought the larger quadrupeds and birds to the man, "to see what he would call them (לו lit., each one); and whatsoever the man might call every living being should be its name." The time when this took place must have been the sixth day, on which, according to Genesis 1:27, the man and woman were created: and there is no difficulty in this, since it would not have required much time to bring the animals to Adam to see what he would call them, as the animals of paradise are all we have to think of; and the deep sleep into which God caused the man to fall, till he had formed the woman from his rib, need not have continued long. In Genesis 1:27 the creation of the woman is linked with that of the man; but here the order of sequence is given, because the creation of the woman formed a chronological incident in the history of the human race, which commences with the creation of Adam. The circumstance that in Genesis 2:19 the formation of the beasts and birds is connected with the creation of Adam by the imperf. c. ו consec., constitutes to objection to the plan of creation given in Genesis 1. The arrangement may be explained on the supposition, that the writer, who was about to describe the relation of man to the beasts, went back to their creation, in the simple method of the early Semitic historians, and placed this first instead of making it subordinate; so that our modern style of expressing the same thought would be simply this: "God brought to Adam the beasts which He had formed."
(Note: A striking example of this style of narrative we find in 1 Kings 7:13. First of all, the building and completion of the temple are noticed several times in 1 Kings 6, and the last time in connection with the year and month (1 Kings 6:9, 1 Kings 6:14, 1 Kings 6:37-38); after that, the fact is stated, that the royal palace was thirteen years in building; and then the writer proceeds thus: "And king Solomon sent and fetched Hiram from Tyre...and he came to king Solomon, and did all his work; and made the two pillars," etc. Now, if we were to understand the historical preterite with consec., here, as giving the order of sequence, Solomon would be made to send for the Tyrian artist, thirteen years after the temple was finished, to come and prepare the pillars for the porch, and all the vessels needed for the temple. But the writer merely expresses in Semitic style the simple thought, that "Hiram, whom Solomon fetched from Tyre, made the vessels," etc. Another instance we find in Judges 2:6.)
Moreover, the allusion is not to the creation of all the beasts, but simply to that of the beasts living in the field (game and tame cattle), and of the fowls of the air-to beasts, therefore, which had been formed like man from the earth, and thus stood in a closer relation to him than water animals or reptiles. For God brought the animals to Adam, to show him the creatures which were formed to serve him, that He might see what he would call them. Calling or naming presupposes acquaintance. Adam is to become acquainted with the creatures, to learn their relation to him, and by giving them names to prove himself their lord. God does not order him to name them; but by bringing the beasts He gives him an opportunity of developing that intellectual capacity which constitutes his superiority to the animal world. "The man sees the animals, and thinks of what they are and how they look; and these thoughts, in themselves already inward words, take the form involuntarily of audible names, which he utters to the beasts, and by which he places the impersonal creatures in the first spiritual relation to himself, the personal being" (Delitzsch). Language, as W. v. Humboldt says, is "the organ of the inner being, or rather the inner being itself as it gradually attains to inward knowledge and expression." It is merely thought cast into articulate sounds or words. The thoughts of Adam with regard to the animals, to which he gave expression in the names that he gave them, we are not to regard as the mere results of reflection, or of abstraction from merely outward peculiarities which affected the senses; but as a deep and direct mental insight into the nature of the animals, which penetrated far deeper than such knowledge as is the simple result of reflecting and abstracting thought. The naming of the animals, therefore, led to this result, that there was not found a help meet for man. Before the creation of the woman we must regard the man (Adam) as being "neither male, in the sense of complete sexual distinction, nor androgynous as though both sexes were combined in the one individual created at the first, but as created in anticipation of the future, with a preponderant tendency, a male in simple potentiality, out of which state he passed, the moment the woman stood by his side, when the mere potentia became an actual antithesis" (Ziegler).
Then God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man (Genesis 2:21). תּרדּמּה, a deep sleep, in which all consciousness of the outer world and of one's own existence vanishes. Sleep is an essential element in the nature of man as ordained by God, and is quite as necessary for man as the interchange of day and night for all nature besides. But this deep sleep was different from natural sleep, and God caused it to fall upon the man by day, that He might create the woman out of him. "Everything out of which something new is to spring, sinks first of all into such a sleep" (Ziegler). צלע means the side, and, as a portion of the human body, the rib. The correctness of this meaning, which is given by all the ancient versions, is evident from the words, "God took one of his צלעות," which show that the man had several of them. "And closed up flesh in the place thereof;" i.e., closed the gap which had been made, with flesh which He put in the place of the rib. The woman was created, not of dust of the earth, but from a rib of Adam, because she was formed for an inseparable unity and fellowship of life with the man, and the mode of her creation was to lay the actual foundation for the moral ordinance of marriage. As the moral idea of the unity of the human race required that man should not be created as a genus or plurality,
(Note: Natural science can only demonstrate the unity of the human race, not the descent of all men from one pair, though many naturalists question and deny even the former, but without any warrant from anthropological facts. For every thorough investigation leads to the conclusion arrived at by the latest inquirer in this department, Th. Waitz, that not only are there no facts in natural history which preclude the unity of the various races of men, and fewer difficulties in the way of this assumption than in that of the opposite theory of specific diversities; but even in mental respects there are no specific differences within the limits of the race. Delitzsch has given an admirable summary of the proofs of unity. "That the races of men," he says, "are not species of one genus, but varieties of one species, is confirmed by the agreement in the physiological and pathological phenomena in them all, by the similarity in the anatomical structure, in the fundamental powers and traits of the mind, in the limits to the duration of life, in the normal temperature of the body and the average rate of pulsation, in the duration of pregnancy, and in the unrestricted fruitfulness of marriages between the various races.")
so the moral relation of the two persons establishing the unity of the race required that man should be created first, and then the woman from the body of the man. By this the priority and superiority of the man, and the dependence of the woman upon the man, are established as an ordinance of divine creation. This ordinance of God forms the root of that tender love with which the man loves the woman as himself, and by which marriage becomes a type of the fellowship of love and life, which exists between the Lord and His Church (Ephesians 5:32). If the fact that the woman was formed from a rib, and not from any other part of the man, is significant; all that we can find in this is, that the woman was made to stand as a helpmate by the side of the man, not that there was any allusion to conjugal love as founded in the heart; for the text does not speak of the rib as one which was next the heart. The word בּנה is worthy of note: from the rib of the man God builds the female, through whom the human race is to be built up by the male (Genesis 16:2; Genesis 30:3).
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