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An Help Meet

Last week I discontinued the Monday Malcontent posts on the grounds that I don’t have enough to complain about. It’s true, I don’t. So what I am writing today should not be construed as backsliding. I just want to correct an error that has annoyed me for a long time.

I have mostly just let it go because it is not a heresy, it does not affect any doctrine in the least, and I had only heard it from people whom I would rather encourage than criticize. But lately I have heard it from more than one person who really should know better.

“The Lord made me to be a help meet (or helpmeet) for my husband,” a lady at Wednesday Bible study says. That’s alright. She has the words wrong, but the right idea. When the pastor, an educated man, says it, he has no excuse.

The passage they are referring to is Genesis 2:18-20 – “And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.”

In this usage, help is a noun, and meet is an adjective modifying help. The NKJV renders it comparable, and the NASB says suitable, and I don’t think either of them fully encompass the meaning of the word. It is the idea of a complimentary opposite.

But the technical meaning is not my point. The part of speech in English is my point. The woman was created to be a help to the man, and one that was “meet for him.”

2005-11-21 at 8:00 AM MT | |

Blogger Kyle sayth,

I dunno. It could be construed that usage has been such that the noun has taken on special meaning when combined with the adjective, so as to form a new compound noun. Same as "handyman."

11/21/2005 9:01 AM  
Blogger Loki Odinsson sayth,

There is no such word as "helpmeet" in the dictionary or in common usage. There never has been. The only time it is used is when people think they are quoting Genesis 2, and in Genesis 2 "meet" is an adjective. It was an adjective 3500 years ago when Moses wrote it (נגד [neged] in Hebrew), so it is an adjective today.

11/21/2005 9:54 AM  
Blogger Carla sayth,

That's interesting, I've never heard it defined that way before. See why I come here all the time?

Always new stuff to learn...


11/22/2005 8:47 PM