Priscilla Speaks Part 3: A Counterpart for the Dirt-Man

Genesis 1 and 2 provide us with two versions of the same story and two variations on a word which, honestly, have me grinning and making jokes every time I teach this. ADAMA and ADAM. The first is from Genesis 1:26 and is translated “mankind”. I’d like to be clear here that the use of “man” in this translation indicates NOTHING whatsoever of gender. This word directly translated means “Dirt Beings”, it is genderless and proof that cleanliness is not as close to Godliness as we thought.
To broaden ADAMA, the dirt beings, let us reference the creation story and reason that it was for the earth, or dirt, that we were made, to be stewards of it and have dominion over it. Also, it was into these Dirt Beings that God placed his precious image (tseleem) and likeness (demuth). Let’s look at Genesis 1:26-27 specifically.

“And God said, Let us make man (adama)
in our image,
after our likeness:
and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God created he him;
male and female created he them”

Look closely at the grammatical break down as I have written it here, with each piece of the verse on it’s own line. The reason I write it this this way is so that you can see clearly the chronology or process of the creation of the Dirt Beings. First, they were made; Second, they were given God’s image and likeness; and LASTLY they were separated into male (zakar) and female (neq-obvah) which is literally maleness and femaleness. So, are we given any insight into what that maleness and femaleness are supposed to be? Is their purpose explained? YES! In the following verses they are both addressed TOGETHER in the first Great Commission,

“Be fruitful and multiply,
Fill the earth
Subdue it
Rule over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the sky, and over every living thing that moves on the earth…
And God saw all that he had made and behold,
It was very good…”
Genesis 1:28 & 31

There is no discussion of the separation of these duties and responsibilities, there is no distinction made about roles of authority or submission upon the male and female beings of human kind. They share it all EQUALLY, both equally made in the image and likeness of God. From this text no other aspect of humanity is known, so let’s go to chapter 2 and see if it is in agreement with Genesis 1 or if it sheds light on some other meaning.

The Genesis 2 narrative approaches the Creation Story and the creation of the Dirt Beings from a different perspective. The writing is not as lyrical, and while it is still highly symbolic of the beauty of creation and the character of the Creator, it tastes more of history than of poetry. In this chapter we see the variation of the Hebrew “adama” shortened into the masculine noun “Adam”, which is literally, Dirt-Man, or rather THE Dirt-Man. God places Adam in the Garden of Eden and charges him both with the knowledge of which trees to eat and which tree NOT to eat. God then observes in his omniscience that it is not good for the Dirt-Man to be alone. Genesis 2, verse 18,

“It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.”

I’d like to be very clear about what is being said here. Adam himself did NOT feel loneliness or emptiness of ANY kind. How could he, living as he was with the presence of the Almighty God? But God has a plan and a purpose. He brings unto Adam all of the animals one by one, and watches to see what Adam will call them. The conclusion of this drama is that the Dirt-Man learns that there is not a single animal in creation that is suited to him as a human being and as a man. Let’s look at the second part of this verse. Please do not mistake the phrase “helper suitable” with that kind of help you might receive from a maid or a footstool. Oh no. This suitable helper is far more than that, it is a counterpart, an Ezer Neged, the likes of which creation has not yet seen, and will only see once again many, many years later.

EZER- To Help

Ezer, translated “helper” means literally “to aid, to surround or to protect”. Hebrew is a very figurative language in which pictures and literal examples bring life to the text, so to make this word/concept even more real to you imagine the EZER as you would think of full armor in battle, particularly the shield. A shield is held out in front of you as the first line of defense against the enemy. Many shields are bent in a curved manner so that it can surround the body more effectively. Ancient Hebrew shields were usually smaller and very versatile, round in shape and heavy but easily swept out in front for defense or pulled back to allow the soldier to strike. (more info on Israelite warfare in the Bible https://www.gci.org/bible/hist/weapons). Ezer is the same word picture used in Exodus 18:4,

“For the God of my father was my help”,

And throughout the Psalms,

“Our soul waits for the LORD: he is our help and our shield” (30:20),

“O Israel, trust thou in the LORD: he is their help and their shield. O house of Aaron, trust in the LORD: he is their help and their shield, Ye that fear the LORD, trust in the LORD: he is their help and their shield” (Psalm 115: 9-11)

“Our help is in the name of the LORD, who made heaven and earth,” (Psalm 124:8). (Other references include Isaiah 30:5 and Hosea 13:9, as well as many other psalms and references in the prophets).

Throughout the Bible ezer is used to describe the help of the LORD. It is not a passive help, nor a meek help, but a STRONG and FORWARD help, which, when coupled with the adjective Suitability, becomes even more powerful.

NEGED- Equally Suited, a Counterpart

Neged means “A FRONT, or COUNTERPART” from the root nawgad which is, “To stand out BOLDLY before.”
Only once in the Old Testament is it ever translated “meet”, which is an old word meaning “suitable, proper and qualified”. While it hints at the meaning and purpose of the neged, “meet” does not quite paint the whole picture. In language studies when we want to truly understand a single word and it’s usage we compare it to how it is used in other places. In over 80 references in the KJV, neged is understood as meaning “before” or “in front of”, as in the phrase “I stand before you.”  Psalm 26:3 uses it kindly,

“For thy loving-kindness is before my eyes, and I have walked in thy truth.”

An additional 30+ references render it as “against” that is, “up against” or “to lean against” in physical relationship. Numbers 25:4,

“And the LORD said unto Moses, “Take all the heads of the people and hang them up before the LORD, against the sun, that the fierce anger of the LORD may be turned away from Israel.”

Additionally, the root nawgad is translated as “to declare” “to show” and “to tell” in over 200 references of the KJV. Like ezer, neged is not a passive word/picture, rather it promotes a strong relationship between two objects or beings that are complementary to each other, even in the same form as the other.  I want to draw you in even further into this picture by looking more closely at the word COUNTERPART in English.

I hit on this word because it is complementary to the translation of neged as “suitable” while not neglecting it’s other key components.

From Webster’s 1828 Dictionary: COUNTERPART, n. [counter and part.]

1. The correspondent part; the part that answers to another, as the two papers of a contract or indentures; a copy; a duplicate. Also, the part which fits another, as the key of a cipher. (emphasis mine).

A counterpart is a being that corresponds to another being that is LIKE it, being which is designed to be equal, suitable and fitting for every purpose the other might require.  Even more, the two, as counterparts of one another must be interchangeable in function and purpose while still retaining individuality and unique characteristics. For example, the two copies of a contract are identical and serve to be equally binding to both parties. Yet, one person’s copy of the contract will have their own name, perhaps the company logo on the letter head while the second copy will display it’s own characteristics. A neged is something which is EQUAL to the task before it and equal to that which it is being paired with, otherwise it cannot be a counterpart.

Together

The simplest way to SHOW you what it means to be an Ezer Neged, a Powerful Equal, is to show you. I’ve collected some phots of what an Ezer Neged of Old Testament times would look like in the 21st Century.

warrior in the midst

warrior comfort

warrior women

A sleep comes upon the man, and from him God takes a rib and fashions the Ezer Neged, the powerful equal, in the shape and being of a woman.

NO other being in creation meets this purpose for Adam. She is suitable for him in every way.  They are interchangeable in a way that only a man and a woman can be, ezer neged’s of one another, fitted, suited, able to surround, aid and protect one another no matter what they face.

“This is now bone of my bones, flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Ish-ah (woman) because she was made from Ish (man).”

And with these words Adam acknowledges the being and purpose of his wife, Ish-ah, the Counterpart of the Dirt-Man.

Newlywed couple holding hands in grassOnly after thousands of years have passed does God make it possible for another ezer neged to come to mankind, sent by His Son to be our Helper.

(stay tuned for part 4 of Priscilla Speaks: Ish-ah)

Married couple photo courtesy of HuffingtonPost

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Priscilla Speaks part 2: A Reason

ReasonPriscilla speaks.  Was she in the right? Or was one of the most influential couples in Paul’s ministry circle also living in sin?

I believe God answers this question in a dynamic way.  How could he not?  His answer and clarity for the purpose of women must battle severe aggression, pagan disdain, and thousands of years of sin corrupting the image of God in men and women as individuals and consequently in marriage as well.  If his message must be this powerful then it cannot be hard to find, and here is where I feel that my reasoning differs so strongly from many evangelical Christians.  The “issue” of women in leadership, women in ministry or equality in marriage cannot be as complicated as it has been made out for God is not the author of confusion.  But if his answer to my question about Priscilla is clear and easy to understand then you might wonder why we have missed it.

Often the simplest answers are the most easily ignored and overlooked.  Augustine wrote volumes on these topics, pastors and theologians have wrestled with it for decades, wives and mothers and daughters have wrestled with it, and what has resulted?  The oppression of women still reigns powerfully all over the world and men continue to struggle with their masculinity in a search for strength without fear and tenderness without being insulted for it.  Recall, that we have an Enemy.  This Enemy’s sole purpose is to corrupt the image of God in humanity and doom us to eternal separation from our Creator and Caregiver. God, however, has given us a powerful weapon, a tool of great depth but also great of simplicity if we can bring ourselves to look at it, to take captive our thoughts and hold them true to the plumbline of scripture.

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In order tofollow my reasoning you must be open to the pure and unadulterated simplicity of Scripture and endeavor not to complicate it by adding ideas which are not present in the context, or by focusing on the theology rather than fact.  The latter of these is all too easy to fall prey to in our thoughts.  Fight against it and ask yourself again and again, “What does it SAY”.  Not what does it mean or what did God intend. STOP, and allow yourself to consider first and foremost just what it says.  From this position we can then reason forward and establish for this and MANY other points what are the commands, intentions and character of God.  With that I’ll lay before you my plumbline from Genesis 1 & 2 on the image of God in humanity.

(Continued this week in Priscilla Speaks part 3: A Counterpart for the Dirt Man.  Read ahead in Genesis 1 & 2 to prepare!).  


(photo’s courtesy of Church Whisperer and Featurepics.com)

About me

I am a Priscilla, a woman of God married to a wonderful partner in ministry with whom I travel, speak, work and raise our beautiful children. I love the Old Testament and it’s message, I love dancing and music, and watching things grow. Our children are 2 1/2 and 12 months. The oldest is a beloved and rambunctious boy through and through, with the most tender heart you’ll find, and the youngest our miracle angel, who born last year a week before Christmas and is coming into her own rapidly. We homeschool our children together in addition to working our humble farm, going to school and serving actively at our church. I sell homemade jams and biscotti, teach voice lessons and go to school and my husband serves on our church board, teaches Sunday school with me, and is pursuing a business degree before applying for a graduate program (he’s still undecided).

In educational background I hold two four year certificates from Aletheia Christian College, located in Southern Idaho, one in Elementary Education and another in Biblical Studies and Ministry. I have recently been accepted to Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary for their 2 year Master of Arts program in Old Testament Studies and begin classes this spring! I’m hoping to develop a thesis about education in the Old Testament and Ancient Near Eastern Cultures that specifically delves into the roles of fathers, mothers and other biblical teachers and makes them into tangible models for 21st century Christian Education. I’ve been serving the Lord for 20 years, converting from Christian Science as a young child and pursing missions and evangelism as a lifestyle ever since. As an active Christian artist and teacher I’ve led worship services and Sunday schools off and on for more than 7 years, written a bit of my own music, ran a successful ballet school for four years and still volunteer regularly for community music and arts events with youth and children.

I’ve spent the last 10 years in active youth ministry, the last five with my husband, been a guest speaker at the Foundation for American Christian Education annual conference on the Principle Approach to Music and the Arts, volunteered for a year as the Administrative Director for my Alma mater, and currently serve with my husband as board members and staff for the same (www.aletheiachristian.org).

This blog is the evidence of divine compulsion to finally put some of my thoughts on paper, as much for myself as for others. I believe that God is preparing our nation for another great revival and that we are tools, prepared and waiting for His hand to guide us. I pray that I can be faithful to His desire for me to write and think in the midst of our otherwise very busy lives. Here’s to trusting the Lord and grabbing a hold of His Shalom!

NathanMe

It’s New Years!

It’s New Years day and it’s time to launch my blog!

I’ve been procrastinating on the launch itself for a while now, convinced that I don’t have the time to write regularly or maintain it, but what I’m discovering is that writing is becoming a wonderful focus of my life in a way it never has before.

I start grad school in a couple of weeks, my dream program in Old Testament Studies at Gordon-Conwell University, and my inner bubble of anticipation is about ready to burst.  I’ve just finished a almost 6 months of teaching Sunday school for our church, a project which I will be passing off to my husband this coming week so that I have more time to put into my writing, grad classes and the youth ministry team we’ve started!  And about which I can’t wait to share more.

I’ll be blogging some the lessons I’ve taught over the years as individuals and series as well as sharing about our lives in ministry, my beautiful children and what it means to me to be their mother.  We, my husband and I, are very open about our lives because we believe that Christians need to live their faith daily, reasonably and passionately and want others to be able to see the Truth in us, whether that Truth is encouragement from the Lord to persevere, conviction of a need to live differently, or simply an overwhelming sense of divine LOVE shown in the smiling faces of children and our beautiful Idaho evergreens.

My challenge on the church/school bulletin was “Welcome to 2015!  What are you going to DO this year?”

(Engage, DO it, Make it so, “buckle up Bones!”, Live long and prosper, second star to the right and straight on till morning…)picard(Image courtesy of andion.com)