In 1 Samuel 7:12, Samuel erects a stone to commemorate the “help” God has given them in their victory over the daunting Philistines. In Hebrew, “stone” is eben and “help” is ezer, hence the stone is called Eben-ezer. This is a nice thought, a sort of ancient plaque to help remember the “help” that God gave you in a battle with your enemies.
However, if we look at the story a little closer, we see that it is a little more than “ordinary”help that God has given. I would define “ordinary” help as maybe God strengthening you to be at the top of your game when fighting your battle against your enemies. But this is quite a bit more than just strengthening you to fight your best fight.
If we back up a couple of verses and look at verse 10, we find this: “And as Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to battle against Israel: but the LORD thundered with a great thunder on that day upon the Philistines, and discomfited them; and they were smitten before Israel.” After dedicating the battle to the Lord, the armies of Israel sat back and watched as the Philistines were given a huge dose of divine “special effects.”
During the battle itself, the Lord demonstrated that he was fighting for Israel as he called the elements of nature into service. The thundering from heaven threw the enemy into confusion, striking a “holy terror” into them. I think I would use the term “rescue” or “deliverance” rather than the rather anemic “help” as it is translated in 1 Samuel.
However, I must admit that at times, the word “help” is anything but anemic. When the house is burning down, or you fall down a well unseen, or are hanging on by your fingernails to the edge of a cliff, what is the one word that you scream at the top of your lungs? H-E-L-L-L-P! Then you want all the strength, power, and deliverance you can muster!
God, knowing that Adam couldn’t fight the battles of earth life alone, created a companion for him who would fulfill both of these meanings of ezer. Woman would be a “strength” to him in helping meet all the challenges that earth-life would launch at them — pain, toil, discouragement, rebellion, burnout, and faltering faith. And at times she might even “rescue” him with precious insights into the meaning of their trials, or “save” him from discouragement or despair.
As Carolyn Custis James has asserted, God created the woman to be an ezer to man. To strengthen and to save. She is his greatest ally. This is Eve’s legacy for all women, not just within the bonds of marriage, but wherever she touches the lives of others in the world at large.
Recently my niece was married in Arizona, and all my siblings gathered at my sister’s house to attend. It was fun to be together under one roof, and we enjoyed the camaraderie. We got up early and had a great time just cooking and eating and talking.
One morning my sister-in-law came down after nine o’clock and my brother was giving her a hard time. “Oh, up at the crack of nine, huh? What have you been doing?” She answered coolly, “Oh, I’ve just been saving the world. All my kids called and needed me to solve their problems.” Everybody laughed at her supposedly sarcastic remark. But as I thought about it, she wasn’t far from the truth. She was saving the world — at least her little corner of it anyway. She was fulfilling her divine calling as an ezer, a rescuer. She was indispensable to her children.
All of our lives have been touched by women such as this, women who have dedicated their lives to saving their little corner of the world. This is Eve’s legacy for all women. We just need to open our eyes and realize we are her daughters — created to be powerful and strong.
. See Carolyn Custis James, Lost Women of the Bible, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2005), 18.
. Ibid., 20.
. Ibid., 21.
. See Gordon J. Wentham, Word
. Samuel Terrien, Till the Heart sings: A Biblical Theology of Manhood and Womanhood (Philadelphia:Fortress Press, 1985), 9.
. See R. David Freedman, “Woman, a Power Equal to Man,” Biblical Archaeology Review 09:01 Jan/Feb 1983). Ed. Herschel Shanks, editor, 56.
. Terrien, 10.
. Donna B. Nielsen, Beloved Bridegroom (Provo, Utah: Onyx Press, 1999) 8.
. See Freedman, 58.
. Frances Brown, The New Brown - Driver - Briggs - Genesius Hebrew and English Lexicon (Peabody, assachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, 1979), 617.
. The Mishnah is a major work of Rabbinic Judaism, and the first major redaction into written form of Jewish oral traditions, called the Oral Torah. In the study of literature, redaction is a form of editing in which multiple source texts are combined together (redacted) and subjected to minor alteration to make hem into a single work. Often this is a method of collecting together a series of writings on a similar theme and creating a definitive and coherent work.