Posts Tagged With: ezer kenegdo

The Biblical Role of Women Part V

Role of Women Main Page

Please view Part I, II, III, and IV for context.

Proverbs 31

In Judaism, the Proverbs 31 woman is often taught as an allegory for the Holy Spirit (Ruach HaKodesh), Wisdom, Torah, Shekinah (Divine Presence), Shabbat, and the Soul. At first glance this may seem odd, but we must remember that most Jewish rabbis, teachers, and sages can read, write, and speak Hebrew fluently. This knowledge allows them to see many things in the original text that isn’t obvious in English. We will focus on two of these allegories in particular: Wisdom and the Holy Spirit.



“Wisdom” is the primary character in the Book of Proverbs, and is personified as a woman. If this is a foreign concept to you, I suggest stopping right now to read through this wisdom book. It will become apparent that Proverbs often depicts two women, one righteous and one wicked, to contrast two types of people. These are the good and evil inclinations[1] that every person possesses. King Solomon personifies good and evil in order to teach his son (and us) discernment. YHWH and Solomon instruct us to choose to follow our good inclination (or our spirit, rather than the flesh).

In Hebrew, the Spirit of God and other spirits are written in the feminine form.[2] At first, it may seem strange or even blasphemous to refer to God in the feminine. But your Bible does so over and over again in reference to His Spirit in the original language. This is not goddess worship; rather, this is simply how the language works. God is neither a man nor a woman, yet He has attributes of both genders. This is why it takes a male and a female to properly display His image.[3]

menorah-7-branches-12-cm-tribus-design-orThe Holy Spirit displays the feminine attributes of YHWH. And the Bible tells us these attributes are manifested in seven characteristics. This is not to be confused with the fruit of the Spirit. The fruit is the result of this seven branched tree, not the foundation. We can use a biblical motif to describe these seven facets. In the Tabernacle in the wilderness, YHWH told Moses to construct a menorah (lampstand) with seven branches. The menorah was to be made of ONE piece of beaten gold.[4] The menorah would illuminate the Holy Place that leads into the Holy of Holies. There is only ONE central branch with three branches on either side. The six outer branches are the out workings of the main central branch. The Bible often uses the symbolism of this magnificent menorah to describe God’s Holy Spirit (Ruach HaKodesh).

Like the seven branches on the ONE golden Menorah, Isaiah, Zechariah, Yeshua (Jesus), and John all write about the Holy Spirit having seven attributes (branches). If you wish to learn about the seven spirits of God in depth, I suggest finding a Creation Gospel[5] trainer and exploring this fascinating topic. Here are some of the verses that attest to the seven.

The Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him, The spirit of wisdom and understanding, The spirit of counsel and strength, The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. (Is. 11:2)

He said to me, “What do you see?” And I said, “I see, and behold, a lampstand all of gold with its bowl on the top of it, and its seven lamps on it with seven spouts belonging to each of the lamps which are on the top of it…Then he said to me, “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel saying, ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the LORD of hosts…”For who has despised the day of small things? But these seven will be glad when they see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel–these are the eyes of the LORD which range to and fro throughout the earth.” (Zec. 4:2, 6, 10)

Out from the throne come flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder. And there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God; (Rev 4:5 see also Rev. 1:4; 3:1; 5:6)

While there is much more to learn about these “seven” spirits, we must stay on topic. Wisdom is not only the first of the seven manifestations of God’s Spirit, but is also personified as a woman in the Bible. It is for this reason that the Jewish Sages reading the Proverbs 31 text see the eshet chayil (Woman of Valor, Strength, Might) as a metaphor for the Holy Spirit. This may come as a relief to many women. Thank goodness! I was feeling pretty inadequate compared to this “perfect” woman.

Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit shows one the way of wisdom which leads into the fullness of all seven Spirits of God (Is. 11:2). It teaches one not only the proper role of women, but also the strength (chayil) of her role. If we allow God’s Spirit to have reign in our hearts and lives, we will naturally produce the fruit of the Spirit mentioned in Galatians 5:22. Do you remember how the woman is designed to be an ezer, a helper? Do you know of another “helper” in scripture?

Behold, God is my helper; The Lord is the sustainer of my soul. (Ps. 54:4)

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you. (Jn. 14:26)

spiritofwisdomThe Holy Spirit operates as a type of helper in the life of a believer. Sometimes He is our aid, but sometimes He opposes us in order to turn us in a different direction. This is the same function the woman plays (on a much smaller scale) in the life of her husband. Think about the following roles that the Holy Spirit plays in our lives and compare them to the role of woman.


  • The Holy Spirit comforts and nurtures; so does a woman.
  • He teaches and instructs; so does woman.
  • He displays mercy and grace; so does a woman.
  • He encourages; so does a woman.
  • He leads and speaks; so does a woman.
  • He’s the unseen One; so often this is also true of the woman (she’s behind the scenes working).
  • He prepares and empowers; so does a woman.
  • He intercedes, testifies, and reproofs; so does a woman.

If you want to know what your duties are as a woman and/or mother, all you have to do is find out the duties of the Holy Spirit; for you are a type or metaphor for the Holy Spirit. This is no different than our counterpart, the man. The metaphor is similar; a righteous man should represent or display the image of our Heavenly Father. A man can look at the actions and roles of YHWH to determine his proper course in life. YHWH is his role model, and the Holy Spirit is woman’s role model.

BUT wait! We are not talking about two different gods here. They are ONE and the same. It’s ludicrous to think of YHWH having a control battle with His Spirit. Therefore, men and women should work together in harmony, each displaying a facet of the image of our perfect Elohim (God). One does not dominate the other. There is no power struggle. Male and female He created them in His image.

Hence, in the image of the son, the epitome of the Father and the Ruach, come together. Yeshua displayed the oneness of Adonai perfectly. And daily, we (male and female) are being conformed into His image. (Rom. 8:29, 2 Cor. 3:18)

Atmosphere & Eshet Chayil

Like the Ruach HaKodesh, women set the tone for the atmosphere of the home, fellowship, workplace, school, etc. As women, when we are ruled by our emotions or mood, it affects all those around us. We are a true warrior of God, an eshet chayil, when we choose to crucify our flesh and walk according to the Holy Spirit instead of how we feel. Any time a woman is present, she will determine the spiritual climate of the “room” far more than a man will.

I was raised as the eldest daughter of four girls. I had no brothers growing up. As YHWH would have it, I now have two sons with no daughters. However, I have been blessed to have many nieces. When the whole family gets together, I am always fascinated by the dynamics between the boys and girls. The girls, younger and older, never fail to try and “control” what the boys do and don’t do when they play together. They really are bossy. While this bothers the boys and they sometimes refuse to play, they usually relent just to get the girls to shut-up. Moreover, they are far outnumbered when the family is together and I think they just want to keep the peace.

This little microcosm has taught me much. The sinful nature of females causes us to “force” situations to get our way. We can become bossy tyrants or voices of rage when we feel like we are not being heard. Even though we often see a side of issues that men fail to consider, our method of “pushing” them is all wrong. Women must be very careful how they conduct themselves in these situations. Being “right” does not entitle one to produce rotten fruit.

Like with childbirth, women often fail in their delivery (of a message). If frustrated, inflamed, and offended flesh speaks, the result will be destruction.

Pro 12:23 (NASB) A prudent man conceals knowledge, But the heart of fools proclaims folly.

Pro 10:11-14 (NASB) The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, But the mouth of the wicked conceals violence. 12 Hatred stirs up strife, But love covers all transgressions. 13  On the lips of the discerning, wisdom is found, But a rod is for the back of him who lacks understanding. 14 Wise men store up knowledge, But with the mouth of the foolish, ruin is at hand.

Pro 11:9-12 (NASB) With his mouth the godless man destroys his neighbor, but through knowledge the righteous will be delivered. 10 When it goes well with the righteous, the city rejoices, and when the wicked perish, there is joyful shouting. 11 By the blessing of the upright a city is exalted, but by the mouth of the wicked it is torn down. 12 He who despises his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding keeps silent.

Far too often, women try to counsel their husbands from a fleshed ruled place. This is not godly wisdom, even if the Holy Spirit revealed an error of the man to the woman. When nephesh is in control, selfish ambition is the goal. (James 3:13-18) If the matter cannot be discussed with the gentleness of wisdom, then prayer and silence are far more prudent at that moment.

James 3:13-18 (NASB) Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. 15  This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing.  17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. 18 And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

A woman’s power lies mostly in her influence. If women really understood the impact that their words and behavior have upon their husbands, children, homes, assemblies, and workplaces, they would cringe at the destruction they cause when acting in the flesh. If you find that your home, assembly, or workplace is peaceful, consider the attitudes and fruit of the women present. They are usually directly responsible. Conversely, if you find that your home, assembly, or workplace is stressful and chaotic, look first at the women. They (or you) might be the culprit! Remember the two women mentioned in Proverbs? Women are fully capable of reflecting a false image: one of rebellion, like the harlot. Women’s strength (chayil) can be used for good or evil. Choose Life!

Think about these things the next time you are compelled to guide your husband (or children). How would the Holy Spirit treat them? It wouldn’t be with degrading words, strife, or manipulation. The Spirit definitely brings correction, but it is done with gentleness, a feminine trait. How much better do people respond with a kind word instead of anger?

Your everyday walk requires you to be a warrior. And your battle is most often with yourself! Women have a lot of obstacles to overcome. They deal with hormones that often seem uncontrollable, and a world that often sees them as less valuable than men. Moreover, many struggle to function in their God given role as their man’s ezer kenegdo.  What is the answer to these dilemmas?

I hope that as we continue to peel back the layers of true biblical womanhood you will find great freedom and gratitude in the fact that the Creator chose you to be one of His ezer(s). Nobody said that being an eshet chayil was easy, but it is where you will find your greatest fulfillment. In later segments, we will also speak more on how both a man and a woman can walk out their redeemed roles.

In the meantime, when you find yourself feeling like the whole universe is against you, know that YHWH has a unique role and destiny just for you. If your battle is in functioning as your husband’s ezer and he continues to resist you, know that in the end you will be restored and laughing like the Proverbs 31 woman. If your battle is with tradition and dogma within the church, and they refuse to recognize your God given gifts as applicable to women, relax. YHWH is bringing things full circle, restoration is forth coming. If your battle is with complete oppression or subjugation, take heart for though this life is like a vapor, the world to come is everlasting. In the Kingdom, nobody will be able to prevent you from being who God created you to be.

An excellent wife (eshet chayil) is the crown of her husband, But she who shames him is like rottenness in his bones. (Pr. 12:4)

Many daughters have done virtuously (chayil, valiantly, mightily), but thou excellest them all. (Pr. 31:29)

Still more to come on Ruth as an eshet chayil in Part VI.

[1] Christians might refer to this as the battle between the spirit and the flesh.

[2] In Hebrew, all things have either a masculine or feminine gender. There is no neuter or neutral gender like there is in English.

[3] Gen 1:27,  God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

[4] Read Exodus 25

[5] Please refer to Dr. Hollisa Alewine’s website:

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The Biblical Role of Women Part IV

Role of Women Main Page 

Woman of Valor

Please refer to Part I, II, and III of this series for the best context.

On Mother’s Day one the most quoted passages during Sunday morning services is Proverbs 31. Each mother is commended for her role as a virtuous woman. Images of Mother Theresa and other conservative humanitarian women come to mind. Most women and especially men, envision the Proverbs 31 woman to be plain, prudish, and quite frankly — boring. Yet, both genders believe that this (boring) image of women is what God truly desires. So, we all sit in the pews extolling something that women believe they can never measure up to, and men only wish they found attractive. But no one dares to verbalize these inward thoughts. Instead, we all smile and nod and pray to God that He change our dreadful hearts.

I have some great news if you identify with my sentiments. Though the Proverbs 31 woman is often translated as the “Virtuous Woman,” that is not what the text says in Hebrew. In fact, as we investigate the original language about this “ideal” woman, you will find that she is anything but boring! Women will sigh in relief and gasp with delight in the fact that YHWH truly knows their heart. Men will rediscover that the woman YHWH made just for him is not only attractive, but exciting!


The Eshet Chayil


Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. (Pr. 31:10 KJV)

WOV2The Hebrew terms for virtuous woman are “eshet chayil.” While eshet does mean woman, chayil is often translated as virtuous, excellent, good, vigorous, worthy, capable, or valorous (valor) in this verse. Strong’s Bible definitions defines it this way: a force, whether of men, means or other resources; an army, power, might, host, wealth, virtue, valor, strength, and worth.

In nearly every one of its uses, chayil is coupled with men, particularly strong men of war. There is no room in this Hebrew term for plainness, meekness, or weakness. So why, when chayil is joined with women, do the translator’s choose to “soften the blow” with English words that hide the “strong force” of the Hebrew? What happened to all the power and might of chayil?

I submit to you that part of the reason is based in the fallen nature of Adam. Subtle (and not so subtle) misogyny has plagued the Body for far too long. The truth is that the word chayil empowers women beyond the status quo of many men’s comfort zones. I will admit however, that most of these men mean well and really believe they are in God’s will by mastering or ruling over women. They (and women) have been told and trained that this is their God given right for a very long time. My hope is to peel back the English language and centuries of church tradition to reveal the freeing reality of what YHWH and the Hebrew text really says about women.


A chayil, in its simplest translation, is a warrior. The introduction of the Proverbs 31 woman is more accurate to the Hebrew text when it uses words like this: “Who can find a powerful, mighty, valiant woman?” This is the true “ideal” woman; but just in case you think I’m reaching, the succeeding verses (in Hebrew) reveal the same message.

Here are some examples of this courageous woman that are obscured by the English translation. In verse eleven, her husband “has no lack of gain,” the word for gain is “shalal,” which usually means booty, spoil or plunder. This is the type of gain that a warrior brings back from a successful military battle. The valorous woman knows how to prosper her family spiritually and physically. Thus, she blesses her husband and children.

In verse fifteen, “she rises while it is still night and provides food for her household,” the word translated food is “teref,” the normal word for prey. Like a lioness hunting in the night, bringing back prey for her cubs, a woman provides for her family. The suggestion of fierceness or violence adds to the woman’s portrayal as a chayil. Verse seventeen declares that “she girds herself with strength, and makes her arms strong.” The Hebrew word for strong (arms) is “amatz,” meaning courage. Can you see the warrior imagery in each instance?

WOVVerse twenty-five is of special import to our study. The woman says, “strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.” The last phrase is yom acharon. This literally says, “She laughs in the latter days.” This is another prophetic text about the role restorations we have been exploring. This warrior woman is prepared both physically and spiritually for the last days. For as we’ve seen in the previous articles, she is most likely laughing for joy at her complete restoration in her role as ezer.

The fact that the Proverbs 31 woman is brave, mighty, valorous, and powerful cannot be denied. Think of this the next time you read this passage or are subjected to another teaching about the meek, weak, and quiet woman. God designed woman to be an ezer. Do you recall what an ezer actually is? An ezer is a help, rescuer, savior, and protector. This sounds an awful lot like an eshet chayil, does it not? What does a warrior do but fight for and protect what is theirs? This is real biblical womanhood.

Real Roles

But lest you think that all these terms are some how condoning the emasculation of men or usurping their vital role, I must explain this further. Men and women were created equal, but different. Each gender has specific roles to play in God’s design. What I have been putting forth to you is a return to God’s original plan. What must be removed are tradition, dogma, and most importantly our fallen nature if we desire to live and walk out this restoration. Our Messiah, Yeshua (Jesus), has already paved the way for us to overcome our nephesh (flesh). He has freed us from this slavery. But too often, we are still wearing shackles in the form of tradition[1] and doctrine.[2] We must choose to break free from these manmade chains.

The man is created to work and serve the creation. His domain of work or service is primarily outside of the home. He is like the man in Proverbs 31 that sits at the city gates. He is there to guard the city, give counsel, and do business. But the woman is built with the same fierceness and power as the man. Her domain or service is primarily inside the home. Her service benefits her man and her children. But what she does and how she does it is identical to the man. The difference is in the object of their service. No one gender rules or exercises dominion over the other. They are equal and equally capable both inside and outside of the home.

Deep down every woman knows she was designed to bless her husband. While he may accuse her of being a control freak or a micro manager, the truth is that she can’t help her herself. She is an ezer; and as such, she is his counselor, protector, and guide. The problem for what seems like forever is that neither the woman nor the man have known WHY she’s the way she is. I hope that by now you can answer that age old question.

In Part V, we will look at the Proverbs 31 woman on a deeper spiritual level.




[1] Mar 7:13 thus invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down; and you do many things such as that.”

[2] Mar 7:6-8 And He said to them, “Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS, BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME. (7) ‘BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME, TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.’ (8) “Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.”

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The Biblical Role of Women Part III

Role of Women Main Page 

In order to properly follow my thoughts in this section, please first read Part I and Part II. I’m sure the last section elicited some pretty strong emotions in most readers. If my conclusions made you angry or perhaps even fearful, I suggest you prayerfully study the Genesis text yourself with a good Bible program. (There are free ones online!) Even if you don’t understand a lick of Hebrew, these tools will enable you to investigate the original language. It is amazing what a little effort lends to proper interpretation and understanding. I fully believe that YHWH made each of us with the ability to question. While questioning tradition and the Biblical text may feel like an irreverent act, I assure you that it is not. How else does one arrive with an answer unless one first asks a question? As any good teacher will tell you, there are no stupid questions, only stupid answers.

Modern Christianity and her many denominations usually frown at questions that challenge her set doctrines, creeds, and traditions. Don’t rock the boat; we don’t handle storms very well. But our Adonai (Lord) has no fear of storms; He is fully capable of calming the raging winds and rains with a simple Word. Moreover, it is in the midst of these strong winds that He invites us to join Him to walk on the water[1]. And, we are fully capable as long as our focus remains on Him and not the swirling circumstances around us. I invite you to challenge your current doctrine and tradition. Our thoughts are not YHWH’s thoughts;[2] He is infinitely greater than we can possibly imagine. Only pride could cause us to think we have cornered Him with our theology and tradition. Did Paul not say that we currently only see in the mirror dimly?[3] We must always be willing to let the Word mold and change us (and our doctrine, beliefs, and traditions).

Teshukah Revisited

We discussed teshukah in the last section, but I thought we would all benefit from a little Hebrew word study of this unique term before exploring its third and final use in scripture. Below I have listed Strong’s definitions for teshukah and its root, shook. Then, below that is the entry from the Ancient Hebrew Lexicon of the Bible.

H8669    תּשׁוּקה tesh-oo-kaw’ From H7783 in the original sense of stretching out after; a longing: – desire.

H7783     שׁוּק shook A primitive root; to run after or over, that is, overflow: – overflow, water.

AHLB#: 1479-J (V) ac: Drink co: River The pictograph “shin” is a picture of the two front teeth representing the idea of two, the “Quf” is a picture of the sun at the horizon that cycles around the earth. Combined these mean “repeat a cycle”. During the rainy season, repeated each year, the riverbeds become full of water. The surrounding land is soaked with water allowing for the planting of crops. Rushing: From the rushing of a river. [freq. 1] |kjv: running| {str: 4944} Drink The life giving water from the rivers. Overflow: The overflowing of the banks of a river. [freq. 3] (vf: Hiphil) |kjv: overflow| {str: 7783} Desire: As a course. [freq. 3] |kjv: desire| {str: 8669}

In Hebrew, teshukah is rooted in the action of running and overflowing. It is also related to repeating a cycle, which is like a habit or in our case, a habitual or seasonal overflowing. It can also denote a habitual running toward something (or someone). While often translated as desire, the sense is more akin to a powerful turning toward. The imagery of water flowing powerfully in a flood depicts the destruction that teshukah can take if one’s focus or affection is set on the wrong thing.

Teshukah is powerful – for good or for ill. If this type of running toward and overflowing is set on serving the Creator, the result can be amazing! The converse, however, can be catastrophic.  Teshuvah is what God’s Word says that Chavah has for Adam and sin has for Cain. Whatever does this mean?

Thus, the English word and understanding of “desire” is confusing to say to the least. We associate desire with a need, but that’s not what teshukah actually is. Rabbi David Fohrman describes teshukah as a desire born not of lack but of fullness.[4] Teshukah has no need for its object. In other words, teshukah or desire is not associated with lust.

There are two possible expressions of Chavah’s teshukah for Adam. While each comes from a place of fullness, one is ravenous despite the abundance. On the one hand, anything that overflows shares its abundance. We often use a similar analogy in reference to being full of God’s Spirit, anointing, or fresh insight. We have no lack; we are full (in fact, overly full). This fullness compels one to SHARE. It just flows forth from one’s being, causing one to “flood” others with the abundance. By the way, this is the same “desire” that YHWH has for His people. He doesn’t “need” or “lust” after us as the English word implies, rather His fullness (blessings; good) overflows upon His people.

On the other hand, one’s lower nature (evil inclination) has this same powerful teshukah for you and me. Think about that for a moment. It has no “need” or “lack” that it desires us. Instead, it has a forceful overflow (drive) toward us because of its abundance! So what is the difference between Chavah’s desire and sin’s desire?

In the account with Cain, YHWH explicitly tells Cain to rule or master this mighty impulse. One’s evil inclination can only be overcome by keeping the door to the house (YHWH’s covenant) closed. Step out to the left or to the right and POW!, sin has pounced on your back. We all must learn to rule over or master our flesh. While the flesh isn’t evil; it can lead to sin if it rules or controls a person.

Sadly, many men think that they must control a woman’s teshukah in the same way that one is to master sin. Keep her pinned in the house, quiet, uneducated, and controlled. This tactic creates an illusion of safety for men. Chavah will not misguide Adam ever again. This approach usually results with nagging, overbearing, controlling, and manipulative women. Or conversely, after years of subjugation they can become depressed, apathetic, fearful, overly needy, and severely insecure.

The reason why this happens is because the woman is denied to live out her God ordained purpose: to be the man’s ezer kenegdo. As we have discovered, her desire to function in her purpose is an unrelenting force. If she is denied this desire, she will (wrongly) resort to manipulation and control to “guard” and guide her mate covertly. Worse, she may turn her desire to be an ezer toward her children,[5] a role she was never intended to play.

In Chavah’s case, YHWH neither told her nor Adam to rule or master her teshukah. Instead, YHWH simply states the consequence of her sin. Though her desire to be her husband’s ezer is unrelenting, Adam will now resist her just as the ground resists him. Chavah’s role was to guard Adam. She is perfectly created to fulfill this role. But Adam will refuse her and will rule or master her instead. This is not what YHWH commanded.

Eve’s desire wasn’t the problem or the curse. Men that rule their women in the ways mentioned above are actually living out the fallen nature whether they realize it or not. By controlling and reigning over women, men become testimonies of fallen Adam. A careful read of the Genesis text attests to this fact as we have already seen. Without true restoration, men and women are doomed to relive this vicious cycle again and again. So, how do we bring godly balance and renewal back into these strained relationships?

Song of Songs

The Song of Songs, which is Solomon’s. (Song of Songs 1:1)

Song-of-Songs-flowers-deer-500x334I believe the answer to our restoration is prophetically pictured in the most passionate of all the books of Holy Writ. Therefore, I’m going to devote some space to the background of this book. The Song of Songs or the Song of Solomon has an interesting name in Hebrew. I believe it is worth pointing out here because of its allusion to redemption. This insinuation is why this book is typically read during the feast of Pesach (Passover) and Matzah (Unleavened Bread). These connected feasts are the first of the seven Feasts of YHWH and occur in the spring, the same season for the setting of the Song of Songs. The theme of redemption and unmerited favor flows through these feast days and in a profound way, and the Song of Songs reflects this focus.

Shir Ha-Shirim or the Song of Songs is a Hebrew grammatical construction denoting the superlative; that is, the title attests to the greatness of the song, similar to “the Lord of lords,” “King of Kings,” or “Holy of Holies.” Jewish sages explain the title (and first verse) of this book with the phrase, “Which is leShlomo.”  Shlomo means “The King of Peace,” and also “The King Who is Whole.”[6]

Since Solomon comes from the Hebrew word shalom (peace), and Biblical peace denotes completeness and wholeness with no lack, the image that the title invokes is striking. The male figure in this poem is complete or whole. This is amplified by the fact that the word Shulamite (the woman character in the story) is the Hebrew feminine form of Solomon! A spectacular picture emerges; one of a whole and complete MAN and WOMAN. This is real unity and marriage at its best. This truly is the Song of all Songs; it is a return to Eden!

The authorship of this book is generally attributed to King Solomon. However, there are several factors as to why a growing number of scholars are rejecting this antiquated view. First, if Solomon authored the Song of Songs, he wrote it in the voice of the Shulamite woman.[7] This would be an odd thing for any male to do in the Biblical era. Rev. Dr. Renita J. Weems has a great point about this: “It’s the only book in the Bible where a woman’s voice predominates and is in the first person. The imagery, the language, and the emotions that are expressed are ones that one would expect and associate with a woman.” Secondly, there is a debate about the dating of the book. Many modern Christian[8] and Jewish[9] scholars think the evidence clearly points to a postexilic work from the Persian period.

Regardless of who penned the Song of Songs, it still remains the only book of the Bible written from the perspective of a woman. And, it is within its pages that we find the third and final use of the Hebrew word, teshukah.

“I am my beloved’s, And his desire is for me.” (SOS 7:10)

Immediately one’s attention should be drawn to the obvious reversal of the edict against Chavah (Eve) in Genesis 3:16. In the fallen nature, Chavah’s desire is for Adam. Here, his desire (teshukah) is for her! What kind of desire from fullness does the man have for a woman? I think the closest thing that we could compare this to is Messiah’s sacrificial love for us. Therefore, this language is pointing us back to the Garden, the place of complete redemption and restoration.

There are many interpretations given for this unique book of scripture. Most often it is regulated to an allegory about God and His people by both Jews and Christians. But, there is a minority literal view that the book is exactly what it seems to be: a sensual love poem written by a woman. In fact, some of its verses are so erotic that its pages are banned by Judaism until reaching the age of thirteen.

For those of you that have been studying the difference between the Hebrew and Greek mindset, an obvious thought should come to mind. Identifying who is right or wrong on the proper interpretation of the Song of Songs is a moot point. Since Hebrew uses block logic rather than linear Greek logic, this book can be an allegory about God and His people, a literal love poem, and prophecy all rolled into one dynamic book.

Since the first level of Hebraic Bible interpretation is literal, I suggest reading the Songs of Songs in this way first, ignoring the allegorical flashes and hints of prophecy. Only after one has discovered the richness of the physical love between man and woman, can one properly appreciate the spiritual significance of the book. They are both equally important to the Hebrew mindset.

The Woman

Interestingly, the Shulamite woman in this little book[10] of scripture challenges most ancient and modern characterizations of the ideal woman. She is not quiet, meek, passive, or reserved. In fact, she shamelessly describes her uninhibited desire for her lover and seeks after him. Her voice is vigorous, and filled with passion and determination. The text doesn’t demonize or criticize her suggestive behavior. Dr. Weems says, “There’s no kind of moral voice, third-person voice that inserts itself into the story that suggests that women like this come to a bad end. That they’re punished, that they are killed.”[11]

The Shulamite’s directness cannot be understated. Her proclamation in 7:10, is extended by another apparent role reversal from cultural norms in chapter 8:

“Put me like a seal over your heart, Like a seal on your arm. For love is as strong as death, jealousy is as severe as Sheol; Its flashes are flashes of fire, The very flame of the LORD. “Many waters cannot quench love, Nor will rivers overflow it; If a man were to give all the riches of his house for love, It would be utterly despised.” (SOS 8:6-7)

signet seal

Seal of Baruch

A signet ring bears the image of its owner’s seal. Anything with the seal’s image pressed upon it becomes property of or a decree of the owner. The ancient seal that the Shulamite woman refers to, is most often associated with royalty. Can you see the imagery of ownership in the “seal”? In our case, the reversal is that it is a woman that requests this of her man. She, as true ezer kenegdo, is assuming responsibility for her man. A man leaves his father and mother (his original guardians) to be joined with his wife (his new guardian). This is a return to God’s original design. In reality, the man and woman take possession of one another, because they are one flesh.

This concept is further solidified by the woman comparing love with jealousy. The Hebrew word for jealousy, kinah, implies possession and right of property.[12] Since the fall, men have had no issue with seeing their wives as property or possessions to do with as they please. The problem has been that women have been denied the same right. Paul even reminds them:

1 Cor. 7:4 (NASB)  The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise, also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.

The man in the Song of Songs has relinquished his fallen nature of domination, and restores the woman to the role of ezer kenegdo. Both the man and the woman are functioning in their purpose. No longer does the ground resist Adam; no longer does Adam resist Chavah. They are one. They are equal. This reunion can have only one result: an erotic love affair. Do you find it as intriguing as I do that this prophetic glimpse of restoration is in the midst of the most explicit book of love in all of Scripture?

What does all this mean for the ezer kenegdo or the woman? What does her role actually entail compared to man’s? Biblically, how are men and women meant to function in the believing community? What does redeemed marriage look like? There is still more to come on this captivating topic. We will start with the Proverbs 31 woman in Part IV.

[1] Mt. 14:23-33

[2] Is. 55

[3] 1 Cor. 13:12

[4] Fohrman, Rabbi David, The Beast that Crouches at the Door. Baltimore: HFBS Publishing, 2011. Kindle file.

[5] Dr. Moen fully explores this concept in Guardian Angel.

[7] Patsy Rae Dawson, a Christian marriage and sex counselor, agrees with my sentiments:

[8] Coogan, Michael. A Brief Introduction to the Old Testament. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009, p. 394

[10] It’s only 117 verses long.

[12] See the Ancient Hebrew Lexicon of the Bible under the entry: Strong’s #7068: AHLB#: 1428-E (N1).

Categories: Women | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

The Biblical Role of Women Part II

Role of Women Main Page

Adam, Chavah, and the Serpent

We have already established the pre-sin creation roles of man and woman in Part I. Here is a quick summary:

  • Man (Adam) as a male (zakar) is specifically designed to remember who YHWH is, what He requires, and then act upon that knowledge. These traits enable him to guard, protect, and work the earth.
  • Woman as a female (neqevah) is designed to be a protector/guardian of boundaries. God calls her an ezer kenegdo, a helper that opposes Adam. She is a natural intercessor for Adam and supports him when he embraces God’s direction and opposes him when he does not. God Himself says it is not good for Adam to be without an ezer kenegdo.

When YHWH formed Adam, He used the dust of the ground (adamah). Do you see Adam in adamah? Adam is not only the proper name of the first man, but is also a generic term for man and mankind. Man comes from the adamah. All the beasts of the field and the birds of the sky also are formed from the ground or adamah. (Gen. 2:19) Interestingly, Adam’s responsibility is to take care of the very substance from which he, the beasts, and the birds were formed. Adam is created from the ground to take care of the ground and all that it produces (plant and animal).

What about Chavah (Eve)? Adam was composed of both male and female before Adonai removed Chavah from his side. Together as one, they are Adam, mankind. Thus, Chavah has duties related to the adamah, just as Adam does, but she has a uniqueness too. She is built (banah) from the side of Adam. If her role follows the pattern of Adam, then her responsibility will be to guard, protect, and serve the thing from which she is fashioned.

As we discovered in Part I, that is exactly her God ordained role. She is built from Adam, and one of her duties is to guard him. Can you see the vast similarities and the subtle differences in their roles? They are co-rulers in the creation. Each is an image bearer of the Creator, expressing a unique aspect of the Holy One.

In the Hebrew text, Adam is formed (yatzar); that is, he was molded or shaped from the dust or clay of adamah (ground). But, Chavah was built (banah) from the side of Adam. The difference implies that Chavah wasn’t a “new” creation; rather she was a “modified” adam. She is still the exact substance. This is why Adam exclaimed, “this is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.” What we tend to forget is why Adam needed Chavah, his ezer kenegdo:

For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. (Gen 2:24)

The clause “for this reason” refers back to verse twenty-three. BECAUSE woman was taken FROM man,[1] it is necessary that he one day leave his father and mother and be joined with his wife or ezer kenegdo. Think about this for a moment. In our culture and most of the world, men have historically held a hierarchical position over women. So the obvious question is: Why then, does the man leave his father and mother to be joined to his wife? Would it not make more sense for the woman to leave the “covering” of her father and mother and then be joined to her husband?

In actuality, both the man and the woman leave the covering of their parents to join together to create a new “house” or creation. The man covers the woman in one way and she covers him in another. We will build on this concept throughout the series.

It is at this point that the serpent approaches Chavah (Eve). But WHY does he approach Chavah and not Adam? If Adam is Chavah’s protector, wouldn’t the serpent first approach Adam? That is if Adam was indeed functioning in the role of “gatekeeper” in their relationship. Most commentators throughout the centuries assume that the serpent’s choice in approaching Chavah was due to her propensity toward deception. She was weak. But nowhere does the Genesis text imply such notions. We must adjust our preconceived ideas about Chavah and the garden. Remember Chavah was specifically designed by the Creator of the Universe to guard and protect Adam. She is his helper opposite him. Is it possible that the reason the serpent approached Chavah is precisely because she IS the “gatekeeper” and protector of the relationship? Adam was allowing Chavah to function in her God given role and the serpent knew if he could beguile Chavah (the guard), he also had Adam.

I realize this rubs against the grain of many theological boxes and makes some people very uncomfortable. Therefore, before I continue, I must state right here that what I’m submitting is NOT a feminine hierarchy. Chavah’s role was not a higher status than Adam’s, it was simply different. As a matter of fact, none of my articles support hierarchy roles for either gender. Instead, they bring balance and equality back into relationships and fellowships, if the parties involved seek out Biblical restoration. Restoration doesn’t mean going back to Genesis three and the fall; it means going back to Genesis one and two to the Garden.

The Boundary Setter

The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.'” (Gen. 3:2-3 NASB)

Chavah seems to be the first person to initiate a “fence-law” around God’s Word. Some would say that she added to the Word of God. Others would suggest that Adam was the one that added to the Word, since he would have taught her the commandment in the first place.

The Hebrew text implies that the male and female were one and together as Adam on the the day THEY were created:

Gen. 5:2 (LITV) He created them male and female, and blessed them, and called their name Adam in the day when they were created.

Both the man and the woman, the Adam, heard the commandment of God to not eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. If this was the only thing the Creator of the Universe asked you to do, would you take any precautions to help yourself and other loved ones be obedient? If you did, would this be “adding to the law or Word”?

In (Gentile) Torah communities, fence laws are almost a curse word. It’s as if the function of a fence has been lost altogether. What do fences do? They protect what inside from harm or theft. On the contrary, a fence can wrongly imprison. Whether the fence serves a good, holy purpose or the lusts of demented soul, depends on how it is used.

For example, parents use “fence” methods to train up their children. They initiate boundaries and rules for children to follow so that they are safe and protected. As they mature, the fences might change or expand, but the principle still remains. A literal fence around one’s backyard protects children from wandering off and keeps predators out. A “spiritual” fence does the same thing.

Chavah, acting as a guardian and protector of Adam’s obedience to God, likely used this precautionary measure to protect her and Adam’s obedience. Sometimes a fence protects, but sometimes it becomes a cage that prevents growth. We must use discernment to discover which case applies in our particular situation and with this example in Genesis with Chavah (Eve).

The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! “For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. (Gen. 3:4-6)

Understanding the Biblical role of the woman, why do you suppose that Chavah was tempted by the idea of knowing good and evil and gaining wisdom? Is it possible that these things were desirable because she felt they would enable her to better fulfill her role in serving and protecting Adam? Maybe.

Regardless of Chavah’s motivation, she stepped outside of the will of God and disobeyed the Commandment fence and all. Adam listened to his ezer kenegdo even though he was not deceived. The Hebrew preposition in verse six, eem (H5973), translated as “with,” implies that Adam was right there accompanying Eve. He was present and beside his wife as the serpent brought temptation. Is it possible that the reason he didn’t prevent or correct Eve’s mistake is because he was allowing her to function as the ezer kenegdo? Again, maybe. But, I believe there is more to the story.

Chavah was deceived by the serpent. He played to her desires and she took the bait, but Adam was not deceived. So, why did he eat the fruit? Adam made the tragic mistake of placing someone else before YHWH. Instead of choosing to do what he knew was right, he willingly chose to follow his wife. Maybe he thought he couldn’t live without her, his ezer kenegdo. In other words, Adam was ALSO tempted by his desire… the desire for his wife. Chavah acted in ignorance and Adam acted in rebellion. Neither action is profitable.

I wonder how different this story would have unfolded if they had stepped back from the situation and came together as ONE to prayerfully seek Adonai on how to move forward?

The Curses

And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” The man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate.” (Gen. 3:11-12)

Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” And the woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” (Gen. 3:13)

After Adam and Eve sinned, YHWH asks Adam a rhetorical question. Adam responds by placing all the blame on the woman. His tone is actually accusatory toward YHWH! Notice he says, “the woman you gave to be with me.” Adam is angry; not only with Chavah, but with YHWH. Chavah blames the serpent and admits to her deception. But, the serpent is not even questioned. YHWH begins the judgments with the deceiver.

adam eve serpent

Adam, Eve, and the serpent, Notre Dame (Paris)

Serpent: The LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, Cursed are you more than all cattle, And more than every beast of . field; On your belly you will go, And dust you will eat All the days of your life; And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel.” (Gen. 3:14-15)

Chavah: To the woman He said, “I will greatly multiply Your pain in childbirth (conception), In pain you will bring forth children; and your desire will be for your husband, And he will rule over you.” (Gen. 3:16)

Adam: Then to Adam He said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat from it’; Cursed is the ground because of you; In toil you will eat of it All the days of your life. “Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; And you will eat the plants of the field; By the sweat of your face You will eat bread, Till you return to the ground, Because from it you were taken; For you are dust, And to dust you shall return.” (Gen. 3:17-19)

Notice that Adam and Chavah are not cursed. Instead, what is cursed, as a consequence of their sin, is their “roles” or “purpose.” Adam comes from the adamah (the ground) and it is the adamah that is cursed. What would normally be almost effortless will now come about through great toil and sweat for Adam. Therefore, we would expect similar consequences in Chavah’s account.

If Chavah comes from Adam, what was once natural will now prove to be difficult and painful. And, that is exactly what we see. Chavah will conceive and bear children in pain, the Hebrew term also implies “great worry.” What mother doesn’t have deep concern and worry over her children not only during pregnancy and birth, but throughout their child’s life?

It is the second statement to Chavah that has caused much controversy throughout history. Chavah’s desire will be for Adam. Many misogynistic commentators have suggested this is an unquenchable sexual desire. Any honest man can tell you this is certainly NOT the case, lol. (And if they’re super honest, they wish it were!) The Hebrew term is teshukah. This unique Hebrew word is only used in three passages in the entire Bible: Genesis 3:16; 4:7, and Song of Solomon 7:10. Let’s look at the other Genesis text first.

Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? “If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.” (Gen. 4:6-7)

Unlike English, Hebrew indefinite pronouns must always refer to a correctly gendered noun. The pronouns “its and it” of verse seven read as if they are replacing the noun “sin.” But, sin is feminine and “its and it” refer to a masculine noun. To find the masculine noun these pronouns are replacing, one must look back to verse 6. The phrase “your countenance fallen” is literally “your face has fallen.” Face is a masculine noun. This is an idiom for intense anger.

It wasn’t “sin” that had teshukah or desire for Cain, but something that was within him: his anger! Emotions are part of the lower, beast nature of man. God told Cain to master or rule over this powerful force. If not, the emotion of anger would master him. It was close at hand, at the door, ready to take the reins. Cain did not heed the warning of the LORD.

The Hebrew structure of the phrase “its desire is for you, but you must master it” is nearly identical to the judgment placed on Chavah after she sinned. Chavah had teshukah for Adam just as Cain’s anger had teshukah for him. It is voracious and powerful. So, what does this phrase imply in reference to Chavah: “and your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you”?

Is YHWH telling Adam that he must rule or master Chavah’s desire for him, like Cain is to master his emotions? After all, this is the way this verse has been traditionally interpreted. Men control your women. But YHWH wasn’t talking to Adam. He was speaking to Chavah. Read that last statement again. God wasn’t giving Adam a directive, commandment, or a precedent. He clearly was speaking to Chavah alone.

This is the result of her SIN, not God’s original design. The consequence for Chavah’s sin is on her function, her God ordained role. She was designed to be Adam’s ezer kenegdo, remember? Her desire is to fulfill that role, just as Adam’s desire is to guard, protect, and tend to the ground (earth) and all its creatures. There is no sin or punishment in her teshukah. Just as the ground will fail to willingly release its abundance to Adam without much toil, so Adam will not easily relent to Chavah’s design to be his ezer.

Chavah failed Adam in her role as ezer kenegdo. He no longer trusted her to be his guard, protector, and help. In the fallen nature, Adam decides that he must take the reins and rule or master Chavah. This is not YHWH’s design. This is the result or consequence of sin! Where the two once ruled together (each with their perfectly designed roles), there is now a hierarchy, and Adam sits in the seat of power.

This revelation has many implications and consequences that can be traced throughout the Biblical text and recorded history. But, we still serve the God of Restoration. As redeemed followers of the God of Israel, we want to return to the Garden. And that, I believe, is what the third verse in scripture with the word teshukah is all about. Read all about it in Part III.

[1] We see this idea repeated in 1 Cor. 11:19 . Woman was created FOR man, not the other way around. A man apparently needs a woman. It truly is not good for a man to be alone. I find this strikingly similar to the edict that man was not made for Shabbat (Mark 2:27), but Shabbat was made for man. Mankind (men and women) NEED a Shabbat rest according to the Creator.

Categories: Women | Tags: , , , , | 13 Comments

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