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What does it mean when the Lord said he would create for Adam “an help meet for him”?

TitleWhat does it mean when the Lord said he would create for Adam “an help meet for him”?
Publication TypeMagazine Article
Year of Publication1994
AuthorsSeely, David Rolph
Issue Number1
Date PublishedJanuary 1994
KeywordsAdam (Prophet); Creation; Eve; Help Meet

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What does it mean when the Lord said he would create for Adam “an help meet for him”? (Gen. 2:18.)

David Rolph Seely, assistant professor of ancient scripture, Brigham Young University. The Lord, after creating Adam, saw that he was alone in the garden, and declared, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.” (Gen. 2:18.) As indicated in a footnote to Genesis 2:18 in the LDS edition of the Bible (note 18b), the Hebrew term for the phrase “help meet for him” (‘ezer kenegdo) literally means “a helper suited to, worthy of, or corresponding to him.” The King James translators rendered this phrase “help meet”—the word meet in sixteenth-century English meaning “fitting” or “proper.” It might be clearer if there were a comma after “help”—“I will make him an help, meet for him.”

The American Heritage Dictionary further explains: “In the 17th century the two words ‘help’ and ‘meet’ in this passage were mistaken for one word, applying to Eve, and thus ‘helpmeet’ came to mean ‘a wife.’ Then in the 18th century, in a misguided attempt to make sense of the word, the spelling ‘helpmate’ was introduced.” (Second college edition, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1982, p. 604.)

Thus the original meaning of the phrase has been obscured. Genesis says God created man; “male and female created he them.” (Gen. 1:27.) President Spencer W. Kimball taught that the term man in the story of the Creation refers to “a complete man, which is husband and wife.” (Ensign, Mar. 1976, p. 71.) The detailed description of the creation of Adam and Eve describes their relationship as “corresponding to each other” and prescribes the ideal of unity between a man and woman. The significance of this phrase “help meet” is that the woman is a creation who is a fitting and proper companion for Adam because she is like him and corresponds to him. This concept is further solidified by the description of the creation of woman as being formed from the rib of Adam—a rib being a metaphor for a person corresponding to Adam. Modern prophets have taught that the creation of woman from the rib of the man is to be taken figuratively. (See Spencer W. Kimball, Ensign, Mar. 1976, p. 71.) The proper role of the man and woman is clarified in the scriptural injunction that they should leave their parents and “cleave” unto each other, and become “one flesh.” (Gen. 2:24.) The oneness of the man and the woman, as described by these two phrases, refers to more than just the act of procreation. They are to each leave their parents who have cared and provided for them both physically and spiritually; and now, “corresponding to each other,” are to help, care for, and nurture each other.

Scripture Reference

Genesis 2:18