I wonder how many girls have grown up in Christian homes and Christian churches who’ve never quite known what being a “help meet” means.
I say that, because when I found out what it meant it gave me quite a shock, having grown up with the traditional, rather soppy Christian view of “help meet” in Genesis 2:20. In Hebrew, however, the words for “help meet” are ezer kenegdo, that make it very clear why a wife’s role is so crucial to God. Because ezer means a wife is a lifesaver to her husband, and kenegdo means she is totally his equal.
The example in scripture that jumped out at me of such an ezer kenegdo wife was Zipporah (Zee-porah), the Midianite wife of Moses. And if anyone should have been the typical meek, submissive “little wifey back home” of Christian tradition, it was Zipporah. She was the wife of a mighty Egyptian prince, a man brought up in the high society of Pharaoh’s palace and now the top man in Israel, the one nation on the planet that God had personally chosen to work his plan through. And Zipporah wasn’t even an Israelite either, so she could be excused for staying in the shadows and not saying a peep.
But when God threatened to take her husband’s life, out came the ezer in Zipporah. Here was God himself in the room with them, but when she saw her husband in conversation with God, and she knew her man was in deep trouble, she came out flying to save him.
She knew Moses deserved a jolly good slap, because he’d been shirking his duties toward their son, by putting off having him circumcised, a total no-no for the leader of Israel when the sign of God’s personal dealings with Israel was circumcision. But no cowering in the corner and whimpering from her. Right there and then she grabbed their son and sliced off his foreskin and deposited it at Moses’ feet. “You’re a husband of blood to me,” she cried, referring to the circumcision (Exodus 4:24-26). But in standing up to him she also saved his life (ezer means saviour, rescuer, protector). But what a shocker that must be to Christian tradition that God didn’t correct her or “put her in her place.” Instead, he, the mighty God himself, let go of Moses and did not go through with killing him.
Why? Because Zipporah was being the powerhouse ezer kenegdo God had created wives to be. She stepped in when her husband was totally out of line, she did what he was supposed to have done, and while Moses stood there like a wet mop, she saved his life. And I wonder how many other husbands would readily and thankfully admit that’s what their wives have done for them too. Just as God meant it to be.