Biblical Archaeology Review 9:1, January/February 1983

Woman, a Power Equal to Man

Translation of woman as a “fit helpmate” for man is questioned

By R. David Freedman

In the second account of creation recited in Genesisa woman is created not at the same time as man, but only after God has already created man, placed him in the Garden of Eden and commanded him not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. God then concludes that it is not good for man to be alone and decides to make a “helper” or “helpmate” “suitable” for man. At least that is the customary translation.

The verse in this story on which I would like to focus is Genesis 2:18b. The variations in translation are for the most part slight. The woman is to be an assistant, fit or appropriate for the man. Here are a few translations of the verse; in each God is speaking:

“I shall make him a helper fit for him.” (Revised Standard Version)

“I will make him a helpmate.” (Jerusalem Bible)

“I will make a fitting helper for him.” (New Jewish Publication Society)

“I will make him an aid fit for him.” (Anchor Bible—Genesis)

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