Woman, Sustainer Beside Him

Stephen Agnew Men & Women, Theology Leave a Comment

“And the LORD God said, “It is not good for the human to be alone, I shall make him a sustainer beside him.”

I’ve always loved Robert Alter’s translation of “woman” in Genesis as being a “sustainer beside him”, a critical partner in the oneness of man and woman—one who sustains and actively intervenes for the other. A true partnership, not “help meet” as in other translations that seem to convey an indentured servitude for a woman.

“sustainer beside him. The Hebrew ‘ezer kenegdo (King James Version “help meet”) is notoriously difficult to translate. The second term means “alongside him,” “opposite him,” “a counterpart to him.” “Help” is too weak because it suggests a merely auxiliary function, whereas ‘ezer elsewhere connotes active intervention on behalf of someone, especially in military contexts, as often in Psalms.” ~ Robert Alter, The Five Books of Moses: A Translation with Commentary

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