Saturday, January 16, 2010

Paleo Hebrew: Ezer Kenegdo - Paleo Hebrew of Ezer - Roots as Strength, Power, Protection.

Ezer Kenegdo
Ozr k ngd o

Genesis Papers

Was Eve made to be a caddy?

Or was she made to be protector, rescuer, helper, in front of, guide: 
 If so, How Was Eve Caged

Eve's role. The woman. What was she made to do.

With two Creation stories in Genesis, what does each say.  Go back to basics.  Put away your own translation from your own chosen institution and go back to transliteration of the word symbols from the Hebrew, and go back to the roots of those Hebrew words into the Paleo-Hebrew as best we can.

  • First story, the one with the Days.  There, both male and female were created at once, simultaneously - and, as Elohim says, "in image of us." Hold sway over the earth and its creatures, be fruitful and multiply etc.  And both are blessed. And both are to subdue the earth. See ://  The name for the "human" created was "eadm" - male and female he created them "athm".  
  • Second story, beginning Genesis 2:4, see, the one without the creation in Days, where we know it is a second story because the narrator says there was no human ("u adm") to till the ground, and if this were the same story, that would not be so - the two were indeed created.  The first story was over and done, set aside, and another alternative offered.  The human ("u adm") is then created from the ground; and suddenly zoom there is a garden, with the tree of lives in the midst of the garden; and - somewhere unspecified - the tree of knowledge of good and evil.  It gets rather breathless. Was the tree of knowledge also in the midst?  Who knows. No directions. Yahweh Elohim just tells "u adm" (sometimes "e adm") not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.  Then, it was not good to leave "eadm" alone. Says Yahweh Elohim, "I shall make for him helper as in front of him", ("ozr k ngd u") see Genesis 2:18 at that site.  The animals and birds are created, and u adm is to name them, and u adm does. Then, the animals and birds do not meet the criteria of a "helper as in front of him" so Yahweh Elohim seeks again to make an ozr k ngd u, and
"he is causing to fall Yahweh Elohim stupor on the human and he is sleeping and he is taking one from angular organs of him and he is closing flesh under her and he is building Yahweh Elohim the angular organ which he took from the human to wome ("l ashe") and  he is bringing her to the human and he is saying the human this one the once bone from bones of me and flesh from flesh of me to this one he shall be called woman that from man she was taken this one on so he is leaving he is leaving man father of him and and mother of him and clings in woman of him and they become to flesh one ****"
That is what we have. Read the rest.  There are ambiguities, inconsistencies, but it is what we have and what all the religions of the Book use as a springboard for picking some things to emphasize, and ignore others in their dogma.

Back to the role of the helper, and is that word sufficient to translate the term.

Roots of the Hebrew (here phonetically) words 'yZUr KNGDV suggest that the usual "Helpmeet" and mere Helper translations are inadequate, even wrong; unless carefully parsed into their roots. What did "help" mean, in what context is it used in the Bible; and what does "meet" mean - this meets that, is equal, comparable; or is it from "mate".  Keep the spellings in mind:   Ozr as Ezer; Kngdv as Kenegdo.  Saint Jerome first translated it into Latin from Hebrew, the Latin Vulgate.

The Latin Vulgate of Saint Jerome translates the phrase  'yZUr KNGDV [do your own translating at ://]   as
  • "faciamus ei adiutorium similem sui". (traditional translation - I will make him a helper similar to him)
  • "Adiutorium", athe word chosen by Saint Jerome to translate  'yZUr KNGDV. does mean generally "help".
  • But "help" put into Latin as a cross-check comes out far broader than just "help":  Out come succurro, subvenio, subsidium, obviam ire, solacium, salus, faveo, proficio, opem.  
  • Whiz those into English now, and see all that "help" can mean - there is a choice that the translator makes
"to run up under , to come to the aid , reserve troops , to go to meet , help , safety , be favorable to , to go on , help "

The Quest. For a competent-sounding overview and analysis, see Phroneothinking, by a Bruce Harkins, no other credentials given, at ://

People also just chat about the issue of the meaning of 'yZUr KNGDV.. See  ://  This is not just for experts any more.

Day 2.  Paleo Hebrew

Concerned about the Vulgate, and was it accurate - so many other versions relied on it - we are finding sites that analyze earlier linguistics, from Paleo-Hebrew, to see if the translations of ezer kenegdo as mere "helper" are wrong. We are looking at a fuller view of Eve's role, as given in the very earliest texts we can find, not the later institutional and cultural versions.
  • Our Day 1 posted here:  There are our efforts that focused on the Hebrew: but those those sites do not look deeper into the past linguistic roots, the paleo-Hebrew, and even Mandean or Aramaic. Today we backtrack into the prior Paleo Hebrew, and do not just assumed the later Hebrew was accurate.
Ezer does not seem to be such a complex concept. 

We understand that the paleo-Hebrew first recorded the oral tradition of the Books of Moses, including, of course, Creation.

Find the contrast between Hebrew and Paleo Hebrew at Navigate to Genesis 2:18, 20. See ://

Finding roots of ezer kenegdo mean finding various spellings.  This one reads, as does Hebrew, right to left.

:wdgnk rzu

See Genesis in the Paleo Hebrew at  ://

Read it from right to left, and you get urz kngdw. 

That spelling is very close to's ozr kngdu. Scripture4all does a mechanical transliteration from Hebrew, however, not the paleo-Hebrew.

Other sites we find:  See FN 1.


FN 1.  Looking up sites to define
1.  From ://

This must be a feminist or women's support group site, from its URL, God's Word to Women, but read anyway and see if an agenda taints the scholarship. We will look for supports at other sites to see if what they say is accepted.  Having an agenda does not mean taint.  It can mean more concentrated scholarship, but good scholarship. Is that so?
First is a surprise. 

1.1  Ezer is a word used to describe what kind of help God provides to people - an ezer. 
Ezer:  Its roots mean power and strength; rescue; save; even military value (given the context in which ezer is used); not a tag-along.  Strength and power corresponding to man.
  • The word has two roots, in gutteral sounds that meant either strength or power.  Then the sounds merged, and the meaning remained the same.  Both concepts survived. See these roots, z-r (help, or "requite someone for something" in other instances) and g-z-r (as an active verb form, "come together as a group"), at this Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament, Volume I,  ://
  • -z-r is one root, and the site refers to R. David Freedman,* meaning "to rescue" or "to save".  
  • g-z-r is another root (still Freedman), meaning "to be strong".  That first letter is silent in Hebrew now.
  • g-z-r as ghayin was pronounced differently, however from something called "ayin". We get the point. Ayin and ghayin, as signs: some linguistic groups distinguished, others did not. Ugaritic (?) did, Hebrew did not, for example. SeeLetters Missing from the Hebrew Alphabet at ://
Full identification as to the source of much information on the roots is given as R. David Freedman, "Woman, a Power Equal to a Man," Biblical Archaeology  Review 9 [1983]: 56-58).
  • Then the two signs merged in the Phoenician, says the site - two phonemes (separate units of sound in a language) merge into one grapheme (a single unit of writing in a language). Read about them at ://  

  • How often is ezer used in the Old Testament? 21 times.  Two for the woman in Genesis, and the others where God is the "ezer" for someone in distress, including David.  God is my helper, etc. See the long list of all the places that ezer is used, all connoting strength or power in the helper coming to help the afflicted one.  And that ezer as meaning strength was indeed known in Hebrew, that took the old Paleo Hebrew and rewrote it.
Freedman's conclusion as to ezer kenegdo:  "I will make a power [or strength] corresponding to man."

1.2.  Ezer kenegdo   

a.  Helper against the man.  The Torah Study for Reformed Jews site says ezer kenegdo means a helper against him.  That suggests an adversarial relationship. 

Then, a commentator, Rashi (?) says that help is conditional:  If Adam is worthy, she will be with him.  If he is not, she will be against him.  See the references there to Paul and others also, surprisingly, for similar idea of power.

Dr. Susan Hyatt at that site elaborates on the meaning. Her book apparently is "In the Spirit We're Equal". Same site as #1 here, but a click away at ://   She points out that "helpmeet" does not occur in Genesis 2:18.  This is what the ezer does: the list from the site
  • surround
  • aid
  • protect
  • help
  • support
Most important to us:  ezer is used as to the woman twice, and as to the deity 14 times.  David said that the Lord was his helper and used the word ezer.  Similar theme: the partnership idea, at ://

So:  those who study words disagree with the traditional use of ezer just as a helper or help meet.  Will vet  this some more. This is just one site so far. There must be more.

b.  Root ngd - See also Day 4

1.  Aramaic.  There, the root of ngd is to pull, to draw, stretch, drive.  There he is, stuck, and somebody in front goes in to help.  To pull, to draw.  See Vetting Roots, Aramaic, kngdv.

2.  Mandean.  Similarly, see the words in Mandean. See Vetting Roots, Mandean, kngdv. Mandeans are gender-equal, it appears, women are free to go about, and they are vegetarians.  Need to learn more.

 3.  Essenes.  These identified with Adam and Eve, not with later accretions - and not through Jesus.  See :// at the footnote.   But they appear to affirm (later ones) John the Baptist and Mohammed.What was the Essene meaning for ngd?

 c.  Meet, equal to

From ://

Here is a study of roots coming to similar conclusions as the Word to Women  and Reese -
  • it finds the main root to be "azar" and
  •  "kenegdo" means the "corresponding to, counterpart to, equal to or matching".  
And the one who is doing the helping is superior to the one receiving in these contexts, were it not for the modifier "kenegdo".  That brings the helper down from the God-type level to the Adam level.

At ://, find that "kenegdo" does mean "meet" but that is a qualifier, and means equal to, and modifies the otherwise superior status that God holds in helping. Ezer - the strong help. Kenegdo - equal to that of man. Interesting.
Military allies?  Pentagon! Listen up!

So, except in Genesis where the modifier is added as to the woman as ezer, Ezer is used to refer to God or military allies in the Old Testament.  The site goes on to quote each time the "ezer" is used. Read the list:  it appears they are right. God or military references.
  • If all these sites agree, why do the Jewish Bereshit sites not describe ezer kenegdo this way?  Backtrack here.  This Just a Berean site refers back to the Gods Word to Women, so is not original scholarship on its own.  That reduces our number of different sites coming to that conclusion.
Still, the conclusion at the Berean site is that she is a helper comparable to him. That is consistent.

And none of these use the scripture4all transliteration as the woman a helper "in front of" him. However, that is the position of the protector, the shield, so it echoes the strength of the Paleo Hebrew concept - the point person. That could refer to the protection part.

Why has it been defined so narrowly, restricting the role of the woman, if its roots are far broader. Is that politics.Was that in the original? We do not see it so. See the differences even in appearance:  translations cannot be simple.  See the Paleo Hebrew alphabet at ://

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