The Bible appears to indicate that there was a specific purpose in the creation of Eve, from Adam, to be a helper fit for him. It seems, then, that the design of Adam and Eve may be distinct, while they both bear the image of God.

Then the LORD God said, "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him..." But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, "This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man." Genesis 2:18, 20b-23 ESV

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27

So, what specifically is the significance of Eve's being created as "a helper fit for [Adam]" in the doctrines of Young-Earth Creationists, or those who take a literal interpretation of Genesis? What does that mean about her specifically or the inner being of a woman?

I understand there can be some pretty emotional responses to this question, but I'm concerned with specific exegetical interpretations of this rather than reactionary or biased opinions.

  • For exegetical questions, please specify a doctrinal tradition. If you don't specify one, it leaves this open to all doctrines (including one that I just now made up that is very inflammatory).
    – Richard
    Commented Oct 19, 2011 at 18:52
  • So, the Protestant position? Catholic? Biblical Literalist?
    – Narnian
    Commented Oct 19, 2011 at 18:56
  • That's the idea. However, we've never nailed down (or even brought up) how fine this distinction must be. Keep in mind that "Protestant" includes Mormons, Jehovahs Witness, and Quakers. "Mainstream Protestant" might be what you're looking for to separate yourself from the other small groups (although Mormonism is almost mainstream).
    – Richard
    Commented Oct 19, 2011 at 18:58
  • 1
    I certainly disagree about Mormons being mainstream Christianity in their doctrinal positions. But I did update the question.
    – Narnian
    Commented Oct 19, 2011 at 19:03
  • 1
    @Richard: For the record, those 14 million Mormons do not actually consider themselves Protestants. Protestant denominations are churches that broke away from other churches in protest of corrupted doctrines (hence the name) and attempted to establish a reformed theology, whereas Mormonism is not a reformed offshoot of any previously-existing church, but a restoration of Christianity through revelation from God.
    – Mason Wheeler
    Commented Oct 19, 2011 at 22:05

3 Answers 3


The following is taken from a wonderful book called Our Father Abraham: Jewish Roots of the Christian Faith by Marvin R. Wilson. It explains that an understanding of early Jewish culture helps to understand how they understood scripture. With this understanding, some scripture takes on a different meaning than we would expect today. Just as some phrases we understand to mean certain things during our time, like “I can dig it,” “That’s groovy,” “That’s fly,” etc. may not be recognized, or translated, to have the same meaning they had in the ‘70s, 2,000 years from now.

“Genesis 2:18, 20 state that the woman is created to be ezer kenegdo. Rabbi David Freedman has pointed out that the word ezer, often translated “helper,” actually means “power” (or “strength”), as demonstrated by its use elsewhere in the Hebrew Bible. Furthermore, he takes kenegdo, an expression rendered “suitable for him” (NIV), as meaning one “equal to him,” a rendering based on later Mishnaic Hebrew. Thus, when God says he will make a “helper suitable for him (i.e., the man),” he likely means that woman is a power equal to a man; she is his match; she corresponds to him in every way. Indeed, “woman was not intended to be merely man’s helper. She was to be instead his partner.” Man and woman are symbolically matched to one another in a mutually dependent relationship — hence the expression “one flesh” (Genesis 2:24).”

I am not sure what you mean by significance of Eve being created “as a helper…” However, with an understanding of the original Hebrew text, the role of “helper” is significantly deeper than it seems on the surface. It appears, using the Hebrew text, that Eve was created to lift Adam up during times of weakness, or need, bringing him strength (or power), as an equal partner rather than taking the role of a servant as many interpret this passage today.

If “by the inner being of a woman” you are asking about her receiving the “breath of life”, or the ability to receive the Holy Spirit, I would have to respond that if she were not able to have full understanding, or receive these, then God would not have bothered to throw her out of the garden with Adam. She would have been treated like any other animal in creation. (You know, hit her with a rolled up newspaper, or something.)

I do accept literal interpretation (correct interpretation). I believe Eve was made a “power (or strength) equal to him” (ezer kenegdo).

  • 2
    Beautiful answer
    – Swati
    Commented Apr 11, 2012 at 15:36

Catholics are not bound to not take a literal view of Genesis so I think I can reasonably take a stab at this one.

And personally, I do believe this part to be oh so very true since it explains humanity so well.

In Bl. Pope John Paul II's addresses known as the Theology of the Body (TOB), he elaborates on this part of Genesis in light of what Our Lord says about marriage and the meaning of the sexes.

From a TOB standpoint, regardless of how literal or allegorical you take Genesis 2:23, the fact the Eve was taken from Adam means that:

  1. They're made of the same stuff.
  2. But, man, through God's plan creates, by giving of himself.

    Each man is the first man (the adam) of his progeny

  3. Woman is the receiver, through God's plan for her life.

    Each woman is mother of all the living (the eve) of her progeny.

The TOB in a nutshell is that man (or the masculine) is the giver and woman (the feminine) is the receiver. And if that relationship is to be good, as God created it, it is to be a loving relationship. It doesn't mean subjugation for women.

In light of Genesis 2:18, you may be led to believe the Eve is the perfect helper of Adam. But, if God had created woman first, she would have been in a similar predicament in the company of all the beasts.

This “man” refers to the human person, and not just to the male.



Shes definitely subservient. It also appears elsewhere in the bible stating that man is the image of god, and women are the image of man. And that man should have authority over women.

  • Actually, the Bible says man is the "image and glory" of God and the woman is the "glory" of man--not the "image". (1 Corinthians 11:7)
    – Narnian
    Commented May 20, 2014 at 20:44
  • "...subservient"? No. "...image of man"? No. Man has authority over the home as a priest, not dictatorial ownership.
    – IAbstract
    Commented May 12, 2015 at 18:00
  • I'm pretty sure it's dictatorial. Women OBEY your husbands. Husbands LOVE your wives. Of course vice versa but there's emphasis put here. Lets not be liberals shall we not? All of this must be done in a context of love and trust like we love and trust God, in fact this relationship is compared to that of God with us. I am Roman Catholic btw. Commented Dec 3, 2017 at 1:31

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