What is a Helpmeet?

Question

I've been told that Eve was a helpmeet to Adam and that wives are to be helpmeets to their husbands. What is a helpmeet?

Answer

The word "helpmeet" comes from the King James Version (KJV) of Genesis 2:18, in which God tells why He created woman.

"And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him." (Gen 2:18)

While there are clearly two words in the KJV translation of this verse, many Christians have joined the words together into one word and they use "helpmeet" as a noun and as a title for Eve. But is that correct to do?

In Genesis 2:18 the Hebrew word translated "help" is ‘ezer or ay’-zer. It means "aid or help." Many other Bibles translate this word as "helper" to describe both the person and the purpose of Eve.

The next word in Genesis 2:18, in the King James Bible, is "meet." This is the 1611 English translation of the Hebrew word "neged" (or neh’-ghed). Strong's Dictionary defines it as "a front, i.e. part opposite; spec. a counterpart, or mate; usually (adv., espec. with prep.) over against or before:–about, (over) against, aloof, far (off), from, over, presence, other side, sight, to view." Many Bible translations translate this word as "suitable" and the New American Standard Bible footnotes this word with, "Lit. corresponding to."

"Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him." (Gen 2:18, NASB)

So why did the King James translators, in 1611, select the word "meet" in their translation of the Hebrew word "need?" The 1828 Webster's Dictionary provides the answer. Many words in 1828 (and therefore previously in 1611) had a different meaning than they do in our day. In 1828 the word "meet" was commonly used as an adjective to imply suitable.

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