Ezer is the transliterated form of the Hebrew word usually translated as “help” or “helper” in the Bible. You might have heard it more recently used in reference to women. However, the most important ezer in the Bible is God. It is only in understanding how it refers to God that we can glean its beautiful meaning for women.
Woman as an Ezer (Help Meet)
The first use of the word ezer in the Bible, or more formallyʿēzer, is in Genesis.
Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”Genesis 2:18 (ESV)
After God had created Adam, He determined that he wanted to make him “a helper fit for him.” The word translated as “helper” (and help meet in other Bible versions) is the Hebrew word “ʿēzer.” The next use of the word is only two verses later, again in relation to Adam needing a helper.
These are the only two times “ezer” will appear in connection with women. Most of the biblical usage after this is in reference to God.
God as an Ezer
Of the 21 times the word is used in the Bible, 16 uses are attributed to God. If “ezer” means helper, how, in fact, is God helping his people? In most instances of the word, God is attributed as helping Israel defeat its enemies.
Moses’ Blessing to Israel
For example, Moses gives Israel a final blessing before his death which we can find in Deuteronomy 33. The word “ezer” is used three separate times in his blessing and it is translated as help (in bold).
“And this he said of Judah: “Hear, O LORD, the voice of Judah, and bring him in to his people. With your hands contend for him, and be a help against his adversaries.” …Deuteronomy 33:7 (ESV)
26 “There is none like God, O Jeshurun, who rides through the heavens to your help, through the skies in his majesty. 27 The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms. And he thrust out the enemy before you and said, ‘Destroy.’ …Deuteronomy 33:26-27 (ESV)
Happy are you, O Israel! Who is like you, a people saved by the LORD, the shield of your help, and the sword of your triumph! Your enemies shall come fawning to you, and you shall tread upon their backs.”Deuteronomy 33:29 (ESV)
These scriptures are infused with military rhetoric. And of course they are. Israel is about the enter the promised land and contend with opposition from various groups. Joshua leads Israel to many military victories, but only because God was their ezer.
In the Book of Psalms
Ezer is used most times in the book of Psalms. Eleven times to be exact. At least three of those Psalms are attributed to King David. David was a warrior king who spent most of his life fighting wars or managing rebellions. The psalms that he wrote often reflect his hardships as a warrior and/or a military king. See the famous Psalm 70.
1 To the choirmaster. Of David, for the memorial offering. Make haste, O God, to deliver me! O LORD, make haste to help me! 2 Let them be put to shame and confusion who seek my life! Let them be turned back and brought to dishonor who delight in my hurt! 3 Let them turn back because of their shame who say, “Aha, Aha!” 4 May all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you! May those who love your salvation say evermore, “God is great!” 5 But I am poor and needy; hasten to me, O God! You are my help and my deliverer; O LORD, do not delay!Psalm 70 (ESV)
David calls God his help, his ezer. Whether he was running from Saul or engaging his enemies, it is God who he relied on as his helper in times of trouble.
The other Psalms often juxtapose God as an ezer in comparison to others that cannot provide reliable help. For example, Psalm 33 warns the hearer against trusting in their military strength but to instead trust in God, their ezer. Psalm 115 compares God, the ezer, with the gods of other nations that can provide no help. Finally, Psalm 146 says to not put trust in princes (rulers), but to trust in God, an ezer to his people.God is the supreme ezer. We cannot trust in the power of great militaries or nations. Only He is our help in times of trouble. Click To Tweet
Keeping in line with the usage in Psalms, the other uses in the Bible also pertain to allies or helpers who are unable to be ezers at all. In Isaiah 30:5, God uses strong words against Egypt, a significant power at that time in history who Israel would run to for help.
5 everyone comes to shame through a people that cannot profit them, that brings neither help nor profit, but shame and disgrace.” … 7 Egypt’s help is worthless and empty; therefore I have called her “Rahab who sits still.”Isaiah 30:5, 7 (ESV)
In God’s rebuke, He makes it clear that Egypt is not an ezer, and the help that they do provide is worthless. It is interesting that the second word translated as help in verse 7 is actually the Hebrew word ʿāzar, the root word of ezer.
The same theme runs in Ezekiel 12:14. This is a prophecy of the eventual fate of King Zedekiah who the Babylonians blinded and took captive.
And I will scatter toward every wind all who are around him, his helpers and all his troops, and I will unsheathe the sword after them.Ezekiel 12:14 (ESV)
The implication here in Ezekiel 12 is that these “helpers” are military in nature. We learn in II Kings 25, that indeed Zedekiah’s army was not adequate enough to help him flee from the Babylonians. This military strength was not a reliable ezer.
The Message for Women
What lessons can we glean from this word study? Clearly, God is the supreme ezer. We cannot trust in the power of great militaries or nations. Only He is our help in times of trouble. He is who we run to first. He is the one we must seek. That must be our default reaction when difficulties arise. But there is also a beautiful message here for us women.
God does not share his role as an ezer. Other gods cannot be ezers. Rulers cannot be ezers. Strong military allies cannot be ezers. A nation’s own military cannot be an ezer. But there is one individual in the Bible who God calls an ezer and created her for that purpose. Woman. So when the enemy, the culture, or even your loved ones in your life try to demean your role as a wife–remember, you were created to be an ezer, a privilege given to you by the creator of the heavens and the earth.
For further study, here is the list of all the uses of the word “ezer.”
Other articles about womanhood that might be of interest:
The Proverbs 31 Woman: A Woman of Valor
Biblical Womanhood: A New Look at Help-Meet
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