Why Were Women Created?

 

The Torah uses very few words, which can leave the casual reader confused or even misinformed about what any given verse means. Careful study links the uses of words together, which will invariably help open up new – and sometimes clearly more correct – ways of understanding the text.

Take, for example, the creation of woman. The Torah says, “G-d said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make a fitting counterpart for him.” Or, if you prefer the King James: “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.”

The problem is that the Hebrew words for “a counterpart/comparable” do not neatly translate into either of those meanings. The key word is neged, which is commonly translated – but only in this verse — as “comparable” or “opposed.” Everywhere else in the text, neged means something else.  There are a few places where this word refers to being close to someone, in physical proximity (Ex. 19:2) or in someone’s presence (Ex. 34:10, Deut. 31:11), so it is reasonable to suggest that woman should be physically close to man. But that hardly tells us anything!

However, if we look at its dominant use in the text, we find another meaning entirely: neged means “to tell someone something,” something that they did not know beforehand.

So, for example:

Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father’s nakedness and told (neged) his two brothers outside. (Gen. 9:22)

Pharaoh sent for Abram and said, “What is this you have done to me! Why did you not tell (neged) me that she was your wife? (Gen. 12:18)

A fugitive came and told (neged) Avram the Hebrew [that Lot was captured] (Gen. 14:13)

In all of these cases, information is shared – information that was not known previously, and which changes how the hearer acts. It changes how the recipient of the information sees his world.

The key is that the very first use of this word comes from a pivotal episode in the Garden. Adam and Eve have eaten the fruit, and they realized that they were naked. G-d comes to them and asks, “Who told (neged) you that you were naked?”

At first, this seems like sarcasm – which it certainly is, at least in part. After all, G-d surely knows the answer before He asks it.

But there is another element here as well: by using neged, G-d is asking a real question, “who gave you a different perspective?” Adam and Eve now see the world differently than they did before – even though the world itself had not changed at all! All that happened was that they became able to view themsleves and their world in a completely changed way than they had before! The world neged is about gaining a new vantage point from which to understand things, understanding something that we did not know before. In the text, this happens more often than not through speech, imparting of information through communication.

This perspective explodes the simple translation of the purposes of a woman as being a “helper comparable to him.” What we see is far richer, and much more interesting: a woman helps a man to see things from a different perspective. And she usually does it through speech, neged.

This explains why Adam needed a wife: a single man is too set in his view of the world, too inflexible in thought (with a belief in his own correctness), to be able to properly grow, change and develop. Women, as any married man can testify, undermines that perspective, forcing a man to change, to listen, to adapt. Women force men to grow.

The consequences of this understanding change a great deal of our comprehension of the world: if the purpose of marriage is (as the Torah repeatedly alludes) to prepare us for a more complete relationship with G-d, then it makes sense that learning to see the world through someone else’s eyes would be a necessary precondition for trying to understand G-d Himself!

Notes: Here are a few of the questions that the above understanding answers:

Adam’s response to G-d.

Remember that G-d made woman to help Adam see things from a different perspective. When he replies to G-d’s accusation, he suggests that it all must have been G-d’s doing!

Adam said, “The woman You put at my side—she gave me of the tree, and I ate.”

In other words: Eve did precisely what she was created to do! Thanks to you giving me Eve, I now see things differently. I now see the world differently, thanks to your gift of the woman. She was a neged. She did her job.

Hagar’s Thoughts

When Hagar is evicted from Avram and Sarai’s home, she goes to the wilderness, and decides she is going to die. The verse is quite striking – as well as being odd.

And she went and sat down at a distance, a bowshot away; for she thought, “Let me not look on as the child dies.” And sitting from neged, she raised her voice and cried.

That “from neged” is seemingly extra; it adds nothing to the plain meaning of the text. But if we see neged as being able to connect, to see something from someone else’s perspective, then the meaning is unveiled: Hagar is disassociating herself from her crying son’s perspective. She is keeping herself away from her son, where she cannot see things his way.  That way she can wallow in her own loss, without turning into a mother who puts her son first. Hagar has chosen to block her maternal instincts, a mother’s ability to have empathy with her child. (I write on why a bowshot here.)

[an @iwe, @blessedblacksmith and @susanquinn work]

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  1. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Why Were Women Created?

    Sammiches.

    • #1
  2. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    They evolved from female hominids alongside the males. 

    • #2
  3. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    Percival (View Comment):

    Why Were Women Created?

    Sammiches.

    That is a man’s perspective…

    • #3
  4. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    This is an interesting post for me. Another word that I think of for why God created woman to join man is “to complement”. I, of course, have no idea if that fits with you word “neged”.

    I wrote a post a while back covering some unusual aspects of my marriage story which has gone on now for over 56 years.

    Insight into the Concept of EpiphanyEdit

     

    After being married for about fifteen years we both took the Myers-Briggs Personality Assessment and, lo and behold, we are complete opposites. I’m INTP and she is ESFJ. No surprise there for me. But she did change my life. I even have told my children that she saved my life by giving me a wonderful family and teaching me how to deal with that.

    Maybe there is a connection to what happened in the Garden.

    • #4
  5. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    Stina (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    Why Were Women Created?

    Sammiches.

    That is a man’s perspective…

    What’s your perspective?

    • #5
  6. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    This is an interesting post for me. Another word that I think of for why God created woman to join man is “to complement”. I, of course, have no idea if that fits with you word “neged”.

    I wrote a post a while back covering some unusual aspects of my marriage story which has gone on now for over 56 years.

    Insight into the Concept of EpiphanyEdit

     

    After being married for about fifteen years we both took the Myers-Briggs Personality Assessment and, lo and behold, we are complete opposites. I’m INTP and she is ESFJ. No surprise there for me. But she did change my life. I even have told my children that she saved my life by giving me a wonderful family and teaching me how to deal with that.

    Maybe there is a connection to what happened in the Garden.

    Maybe neged means to vis-a-vis, to relate (to), or to interface (with).

    • #6
  7. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    Flicker (View Comment):

    Stina (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    Why Were Women Created?

    Sammiches.

    That is a man’s perspective…

    What’s your perspective?

    Let you know you’re doing the man thing right.

    • #7
  8. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot) Member
    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot)
    @ArizonaPatriot

    iWe, I’m confused about this.  What is your source for the use of the word “neged” in this part of Genesis 2?

    When I check the Hebrew text at BibleHub for Genesis 2:18 (here), the word translated “helper” is “ezer.”  Likewise, when I check Genesis 2:20 (here), the word translated “helper” is “ezer.”

    The word “neged” is used, as you indicate, in Exodus 19:2 to mean something like “before,” in relation to the mountain (BibleHub says that “neged” means “in front of, in sight of, opposite to.)

    BibleHub shows a different word, “nagad,” meaning “told,” being used in the other passages you reference from Genesis.  (At least, “nagad” is the root word per BibleHub.”)  In Genesis 3:11, when God asks “who told you you were naked,” BibleHub reports the word used is “hig-gid,” but this links to the definition of “nagad.”  In Genesis 9:22, the word used when Ham told his brothers about Noah’s nakedness is “way-yag-ged,” but this links to the definition of “nagad.”  In Genesis 12:18, when Pharaoh asks Abraham why he didn’t “tell” him that Sarah was Abraham’s wife, the word is “hig-gad-ta,” but this also links to the definition of “nagad.”  

     

    • #8
  9. Phil Turmel Coolidge
    Phil Turmel
    @PhilTurmel

    Percival (View Comment):

    Why Were Women Created?

    Sammiches.

    I’m not so sure about that.  That operation requires divine (or some might say supernatural) authority:

    https://xkcd.com/149/

    • #9
  10. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    Stina (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    Why Were Women Created?

    Sammiches.

    That is a man’s perspective…

    As if wimmin don’t need no sammiches…

    • #10
  11. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    Flicker (View Comment):

    Stina (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    Why Were Women Created?

    Sammiches.

    That is a man’s perspective…

    What’s your perspective?

    She’ll know when she’s given one.

    • #11
  12. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    Flicker (View Comment):

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    This is an interesting post for me. Another word that I think of for why God created woman to join man is “to complement”. I, of course, have no idea if that fits with you word “neged”.

    I wrote a post a while back covering some unusual aspects of my marriage story which has gone on now for over 56 years.

    Insight into the Concept of EpiphanyEdit

     

    After being married for about fifteen years we both took the Myers-Briggs Personality Assessment and, lo and behold, we are complete opposites. I’m INTP and she is ESFJ. No surprise there for me. But she did change my life. I even have told my children that she saved my life by giving me a wonderful family and teaching me how to deal with that.

    Maybe there is a connection to what happened in the Garden.

    Maybe neged means to vis-a-vis, to relate (to), or to interface (with).

    And this explains why men want to get neged with wimmin.

    • #12
  13. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    Stina (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):

    Stina (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    Why Were Women Created?

    Sammiches.

    That is a man’s perspective…

    What’s your perspective?

    Let you know you’re doing the man thing right.

    Seriously, this is what evo bio says as well :-)  Do the man thing wrong — fail to convince even ONE wimmin to procreate with you, and a man dies without offspring — genetic death.  Insert Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear here.

    • #13
  14. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    BDB (View Comment):

    Stina (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    Why Were Women Created?

    Sammiches.

    That is a man’s perspective…

    As if wimmin don’t need no sammiches…

    This is a major difference between me and my woman. She won’t make me a sandwich because she doesn’t know how and has no interest in learning. She doesn’t think sandwiches are proper food so she won’t indulge. If we get a burger, hot dog, or fish sandwich, she discards the bread. OTOH, I grew up eating sandwiches so it is in my blood, so to speak. 

    • #14
  15. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    iWe, I’m confused about this. What is your source for the use of the word “neged” in this part of Genesis 2?

    When I check the Hebrew text at BibleHub for Genesis 2:18 (here), the word translated “helper” is “ezer.” Likewise, when I check Genesis 2:20 (here), the word translated “helper” is “ezer.”

    The word “neged” is used, as you indicate, in Exodus 19:2 to mean something like “before,” in relation to the mountain (BibleHub says that “neged” means “in front of, in sight of, opposite to.)

    BibleHub shows a different word, “nagad,” meaning “told,” being used in the other passages you reference from Genesis. (At least, “nagad” is the root word per BibleHub.”) In Genesis 3:11, when God asks “who told you you were naked,” BibleHub reports the word used is “hig-gid,” but this links to the definition of “nagad.” In Genesis 9:22, the word used when Ham told his brothers about Noah’s nakedness is “way-yag-ged,” but this links to the definition of “nagad.” In Genesis 12:18, when Pharaoh asks Abraham why he didn’t “tell” him that Sarah was Abraham’s wife, the word is “hig-gad-ta,” but this also links to the definition of “nagad.”

     

    Uh-oh.  Prophets and lawyers co-habitating, mass hysteria!

    • #15
  16. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    Phil Turmel (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    Why Were Women Created?

    Sammiches.

    I’m not so sure about that. That operation requires divine (or some might say supernatural) authority:

    https://xkcd.com/149/

    Unix needs a facility sac.

    • #16
  17. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    BDB (View Comment):

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    iWe, I’m confused about this. What is your source for the use of the word “neged” in this part of Genesis 2?

    When I check the Hebrew text at BibleHub for Genesis 2:18 (here), the word translated “helper” is “ezer.” Likewise, when I check Genesis 2:20 (here), the word translated “helper” is “ezer.”

    The word “neged” is used, as you indicate, in Exodus 19:2 to mean something like “before,” in relation to the mountain (BibleHub says that “neged” means “in front of, in sight of, opposite to.)

    BibleHub shows a different word, “nagad,” meaning “told,” being used in the other passages you reference from Genesis. (At least, “nagad” is the root word per BibleHub.”) In Genesis 3:11, when God asks “who told you you were naked,” BibleHub reports the word used is “hig-gid,” but this links to the definition of “nagad.” In Genesis 9:22, the word used when Ham told his brothers about Noah’s nakedness is “way-yag-ged,” but this links to the definition of “nagad.” In Genesis 12:18, when Pharaoh asks Abraham why he didn’t “tell” him that Sarah was Abraham’s wife, the word is “hig-gad-ta,” but this also links to the definition of “nagad.”

     

    Uh-oh. Prophets and lawyers co-habitating, mass hysteria!

    That doesn’t turn into mass formation, I hope.

    • #17
  18. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    BDB (View Comment):

    Stina (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    Why Were Women Created?

    Sammiches.

    That is a man’s perspective…

    As if wimmin don’t need no sammiches…

    This is a major difference between me and my woman. She won’t make me a sandwich because she doesn’t know how and has no interest in learning. She doesn’t think sandwiches are proper food so she won’t indulge. If we get a burger, hot dog, or fish sandwich, she discards the bread. OTOH, I grew up eating sandwiches so it is in my blood, so to speak.

    You poor man.  Making do all these years with *healthy* food, prepared by a loving wife who will outlive and mourn you due to your surreptitious consumption of sammiches.  Sophoclean.

    • #18
  19. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    BDB (View Comment):

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    iWe, I’m confused about this. What is your source for the use of the word “neged” in this part of Genesis 2?

    When I check the Hebrew text at BibleHub for Genesis 2:18 (here), the word translated “helper” is “ezer.” Likewise, when I check Genesis 2:20 (here), the word translated “helper” is “ezer.”

    The word “neged” is used, as you indicate, in Exodus 19:2 to mean something like “before,” in relation to the mountain (BibleHub says that “neged” means “in front of, in sight of, opposite to.)

    BibleHub shows a different word, “nagad,” meaning “told,” being used in the other passages you reference from Genesis. (At least, “nagad” is the root word per BibleHub.”) In Genesis 3:11, when God asks “who told you you were naked,” BibleHub reports the word used is “hig-gid,” but this links to the definition of “nagad.” In Genesis 9:22, the word used when Ham told his brothers about Noah’s nakedness is “way-yag-ged,” but this links to the definition of “nagad.” In Genesis 12:18, when Pharaoh asks Abraham why he didn’t “tell” him that Sarah was Abraham’s wife, the word is “hig-gad-ta,” but this also links to the definition of “nagad.”

     

    Uh-oh. Prophets and lawyers co-habitating, mass hysteria!

    That doesn’t turn into mass formation, I hope.

    If two is a “mass” we’ll shortly be doomed.

    • #19
  20. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    BDB (View Comment):

    Stina (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    Why Were Women Created?

    Sammiches.

    That is a man’s perspective…

    As if wimmin don’t need no sammiches…

    This is a major difference between me and my woman. She won’t make me a sandwich because she doesn’t know how and has no interest in learning. She doesn’t think sandwiches are proper food so she won’t indulge. If we get a burger, hot dog, or fish sandwich, she discards the bread. OTOH, I grew up eating sandwiches so it is in my blood, so to speak.

    I love sandwiches. They make me very happy. But I can’t eat that much bread, so I don’t eat them. And since I don’t eat them, I don’t make them for the hubby.

    If he asks or answers affirmative on the rare occasions I put one together, I’ll make him one, but that’s been rare for most of our marriage.

    • #20
  21. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    iWe, I’m confused about this. What is your source for the use of the word “neged” in this part of Genesis 2?

    Context where the word is found, both in root form and this specific form, elsewhere in the text. Note that this use neged has a prefix of “k” – which is unique to the description of the need for woman. “k” refers to approximation, a kind of fuzzy linkage. I wrote about that here.

    When I check the Hebrew text at BibleHub for Genesis 2:18 (here), the word translated “helper” is “ezer.” Likewise, when I check Genesis 2:20 (here), the word translated “helper” is “ezer.”

    The word “neged” is used, as you indicate, in Exodus 19:2 to mean something like “before,” in relation to the mountain (BibleHub says that “neged” means “in front of, in sight of, opposite to.)

    BibleHub shows a different word, “nagad,” meaning “told,” being used in the other passages you reference from Genesis. (At least, “nagad” is the root word per BibleHub.”) In Genesis 3:11, when God asks “who told you you were naked,” BibleHub reports the word used is “hig-gid,” but this links to the definition of “nagad.” In Genesis 9:22, the word used when Ham told his brothers about Noah’s nakedness is “way-yag-ged,” but this links to the definition of “nagad.” In Genesis 12:18, when Pharaoh asks Abraham why he didn’t “tell” him that Sarah was Abraham’s wife, the word is “hig-gad-ta,” but this also links to the definition of “nagad.”

     

    Ezer indeed means “helper.”

    As I wrote, neged refers to physical proximity. But the root word is the same as “nagad”, “yagid”, etc. You have it right. The other bits you identify are prefixes and suffixes to the root word.

    • #21
  22. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    BDB (View Comment):

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    BDB (View Comment):

    Stina (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    Why Were Women Created?

    Sammiches.

    That is a man’s perspective…

    As if wimmin don’t need no sammiches…

    This is a major difference between me and my woman. She won’t make me a sandwich because she doesn’t know how and has no interest in learning. She doesn’t think sandwiches are proper food so she won’t indulge. If we get a burger, hot dog, or fish sandwich, she discards the bread. OTOH, I grew up eating sandwiches so it is in my blood, so to speak.

    You poor man. Making do all these years with *healthy* food, prepared by a loving wife who will outlive and mourn you due to your surreptitious consumption of sammiches. Sophoclean.

    My wife uses Sophoclean for the laundry.  And for the floors.

    And for mayonnaise.

    • #22
  23. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    Flicker (View Comment):

    BDB (View Comment):

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    BDB (View Comment):

    Stina (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    Why Were Women Created?

    Sammiches.

    That is a man’s perspective…

    As if wimmin don’t need no sammiches…

    This is a major difference between me and my woman. She won’t make me a sandwich because she doesn’t know how and has no interest in learning. She doesn’t think sandwiches are proper food so she won’t indulge. If we get a burger, hot dog, or fish sandwich, she discards the bread. OTOH, I grew up eating sandwiches so it is in my blood, so to speak.

    You poor man. Making do all these years with *healthy* food, prepared by a loving wife who will outlive and mourn you due to your surreptitious consumption of sammiches. Sophoclean.

    My wife uses Sophoclean for the laundry. And for the floors.

    And for mayonnaise.

    For the same reason I have standardized on 5.56.

    • #23
  24. Clavius Thatcher
    Clavius
    @Clavius

    BDB (View Comment):

    Stina (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):

    Stina (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    Why Were Women Created?

    Sammiches.

    That is a man’s perspective…

    What’s your perspective?

    Let you know you’re doing the man thing right.

    Seriously, this is what evo bio says as well :-) Do the man thing wrong — fail to convince even ONE wimmin to procreate with you, and a man dies without offspring — genetic death. Insert Bene Gesserit Litany of Fear here.

    Ah, the Litany Against Fear.

    “I must not fear.

    Fear is the mind-killer.

    Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.

    I will face my fear.

    I will permit it to pass over me and through me.

    And when it has gone past, I will turn the inner eye to see its path.

    Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”

    • #24
  25. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    Clavius (View Comment):

    BDB (View Comment):

    Stina (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):

    Stina (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    Why Were Women Created?

    Sammiches.

    That is a man’s perspective…

    What’s your perspective?

    Let you know you’re doing the man thing right.

    Seriously, this is what evo bio says as well :-) Do the man thing wrong — fail to convince even ONE wimmin to procreate with you, and a man dies without offspring — genetic death. Insert Bene Gesserit Litany of Fear here.

    Ah, the Litany Against Fear.

    “I must not fear.

    Fear is the mind-killer.

    Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.

    I will face my fear.

    I will permit it to pass over me and through me.

    And when it has gone past, I will turn the inner eye to see its path.

    Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”

    Obrigado.  I shall correct my comment above.

    • #25
  26. Clavius Thatcher
    Clavius
    @Clavius

    There is a no doubt apocryphal story about Albert Einstein and his wife.  

    Albert was asked about how he and his wife made decisions as a couple.  Albert answered, “We agreed early on that she could make the routine decisions and they would discuss the major ones.”

    Asked how it has worked, he replied, “Well, there haven’t been any major decisions yet.”

    • #26
  27. navyjag Coolidge
    navyjag
    @navyjag

    Good timing iWe. 52nd anniversary today.  Thinking about this a lot. So after procreating, and we had 3 healthy and happy ones although no grandkids yet, best guess is:  “What did you forget to do today” Groceries, laundry, driving her to the doctor don’t count. At least she stays quiet on football Saturdays. 

    • #27
  28. Mad Gerald Coolidge
    Mad Gerald
    @Jose

    iWe: However, if we look at its dominant use in the text, we find another meaning entirely: neged means “to tell someone something,” something that they did not know beforehand.

    Yup.  I think that sums it up nicely.

    But seriously, a very good post.

    • #28
  29. navyjag Coolidge
    navyjag
    @navyjag

    Mad Gerald (View Comment):

    iWe: However, if we look at its dominant use in the text, we find another meaning entirely: neged means “to tell someone something,” something that they did not know beforehand.

    Yup. I think that sums it up nicely.

    But seriously, a very good post.

    But what if you knew beforehand? And did not agree? Forget it. Think I know the answer.  Seen it on Babylon Bee a few times. 

    • #29
  30. Clavius Thatcher
    Clavius
    @Clavius

    navyjag (View Comment):

    Good timing iWe. 52nd anniversary today. Thinking about this a lot. So after procreating, and we had 3 healthy and happy ones although no grandkids yet, best guess is: “What did you forget to do today” Groceries, laundry, driving her to the doctor don’t count. At least she stays quiet on football Saturdays.

    Congratulations on your anniversary!

    • #30
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