The thesis of Eden’s Bridge: The Marketplace in Creation and Mission (Copyright © 2011 David B. Doty) is “The marketplace is an institution of God to facilitate (by way of material provision) an enduring relationship between humankind and the godhead, to foster holiness within human experience and relationships, and to advance the plan of redemption of all creation.”
The following essay, one of a series of word studies, is adapted from Eden’s Bridge (release pending, January, 2012).
To Help (`ezer): Mutual Interests and Community (Genesis 2:18)—Strong’s 5828
“Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper (`ezer) suitable for him.” The Triune God recognized the benefits of human community. Eve is designated as `ezer neged before being called wife (Genesis 2:22–24, ‘ishash, as the opposite of man and his mate).(i) This first reference says a great deal about God’s intention for the relationship. An `ezer is a helper, a partner, one who aids and helps protect. The modifier, neged (Strong’s 5048), is translated as suitable only in Genesis 2. Literally, it means in front of (before), conspicuous, in the presence of, or opposite (as in, facing). The opposite aspect may be most clear with Eve as Adam’s sexual counterpart.
Wives share the joys and burdens of life with husbands and vice versa. God expresses concern that it was not good (towb, meaning beneficial—Strong’s 2896b) for Adam to be alone (bad, not bad as in evil—Strong’s 0905). The Hebrew word bad means solitary, separated. It is the term used several times in Exodus for the poles (staves) designed to carry the Ark of the Covenant, as they were individual branches separated (bad) from trees. Allegorically, the lifelessness of a cut branch is not dissimilar to the lonely man cut off from the benefits of being in community. Fellowship in common cause is vital to sustaining human life and increasing the ease with which life is made more tolerable and enjoyable. The deeply intimate social and co-creative aspects of the Trinity were endued to God’s human family in the male and female likeness.
Elijah bemoaned his solitude (bad) in the lonely cave and feared for his life without the company of fellow believers (I Kings 19:9). In Hebrews 3:3, Christians are exhorted to come alongside one another daily to battle falling back into sin. The birth of the church occurred on the day of Pentecost as the 120 were gathered in the Upper Room, likely in deep fear, to encourage one another in light of the recent Crucifixion of Christ and their dismay as to the uncertainty of the future despite Jesus’ already revealed resurrection. Fellowship encourages us, whether in the home, at work, or at leisure with friends, and helps hold us accountable for ungodly behavior. The division of labor, and cooperation and collaboration in the marketplace enhance our quality of life.
The marketplace is where the majority of our social interactions occur. The practice of worship, as trusting and obeying God, was not institutionalized in Genesis 1–2 before the Fall but was experienced in direct fellowship with God. Worship, like marriage and the marketplace, was established in the Garden and was contingent upon the appropriate, submitted relationship of Adam and Eve to God. The earliest form of worship was no more than walking in obedient fellowship with God.
God’s intent for Adam and Eve to work, steward, and procreate (multiply—Genesis 1:28) imply the sacred nature of these activities.(ii) As created and ordered systems, marriage and family, along with business,(iii) were instituted simultaneously with the introduction of Eve as a suitable partner. The ‘ezer neged (suitable helper) facilitated productive partnership. That partnership promoted the expansion of the human family by procreation and of weal,(iv) as the quality of life was improved through increased efficiency making their work more productive.
Worship, marriage (and by extension, family), and business are the original and intended institutions of God in creation. Similarly, theocratic governance, to maintain social order in communal living, is instituted as obedient response to God’s ownership (lordship) and the generous provision of the Garden in the single “rule” (to not eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil) of the pre-Fall Edenic covenant.
The `ezer neged, Eve with Adam, was an echo of the equality and fellowship within the Trinitarian Godhead, completing an acute communal reality of being made in the image of God, male and female. Communalism is a spiritually and temporally (economically) unified reality, hence our mutual human interdependence as emulating and in harmony with God.(v)
i. On humankind created male and female, Genesis 1:27 uses the Hebrew neqabah (female) to note the genitalic sexual distinction.
ii. This is discussed in Eden’s Bridge, 5.2 Sacrament: Sacred versus Secular.
iii. This is discussed in Eden’s Bridge, 4.2 Redefining Business—as mutually beneficial exchange between cooperative laborers to facilitate and enhance relationship.
iv. Weal, welfare or well-being, is defined as prosperity, happiness, the general good, and welfare of the community. In effect, true weal is shalom. In the modern sense, wealth (abundant material provision) provides for creature comfort so can be easily understood in the sense of its root, though it can lose its communal character to individualistic greed and material insecurity.
v. Such that communalism not be misunderstood outside the context of the whole of Eden’s Bridge, godly communalism is an uncoerced social construct, that is, living with the regard for all willingly out of the character of one’s spiritual nature rather than as a legal condition created by governmental edict.