“Helpful juxtaposer” renders the remarkable Hebrew phrase, ezer k’negdo.’ The elements of the unique idiom: ezer = “help,” k’= “as,” negdo= “opposed to him/opposite him/against him/fitting him.” The King James “help meet,” with “meet” meaning “appropriate,” is a good try, with 17th century dignity. “Help match” would be a modern sounding approximation for that interpretation. In “helpful juxtaposer,” the author defines woman with ironic sexism. She follows, in this story, a series of failed experiments. Yahh has a lot of testing to do before arriving at that pragmatic solution. The author was not quarreling with men as masters in biblical society (with women capable of manipulating.) But this story of the state of nature conceives femininity as that force that confronts a man and moves him to action. What a man needs is a woman to stand up to him, a helpful juxtaposer. Without Chavah, we’d remain infantile in Eden.
Elohim, “God,” is the creator in “The First Week.” Elohim can also be read as generic term for “god,” and so it is used in this story. For the J author, Yahh god–Adonai (YHVH) Elohim–does the forming. Yahh is a shortened form of the Israelites’ name for their god, and for narrative purposes, Yahh god is closer to the original than the reading “Adonai.” In reading Tanach the tetragrammaton names the god whom the Israelites relate to. The author wrote the name by intention and so we should read it. The conventional “Adonai/Lord,” is an epithet, pointing in a different direction. The construction, “Yahh god god,” follows the earlier Akkadian and Sumerian usage in cuneiform: the name is followed by the ideogram for deity. In Hebrew the fact is clarity and emphasis, occurring 19 times in the Garden World story. This is more than the rest of Tanach where the phrase appears most commonly in prayers, and the God part has become proper noun.
Parentheses indicate interpolation, a gloss added by some later hand. Speaking of added narration, I have taken the liberty to insert some in translating this story because I think the narrator’s laconic storytelling here has allowed misunderstanding. I hope to contribute clarity and smoothness without doing violence to the original or resorting to commentary.
6Mist rises from the land and waters the whole face of the adamah/ground. 7From the dust of that adamah Yahh god formed the adam/person. He puffed into its nose the breath of life, and the adam became a living self.
8Yahh god planted a garden eastward, in Eden/Pleasure. There he set the adam he had formed. 9From the adamah he caused to sprout every tree, of desirable appearance and good for food. And in the very middle of the garden, a Tree of Life and one of Knowledge, good and bad.
10(A river goes out from Eden to water the garden, from there splitting into four heads. 11The name of the first is Pishon. It circles Chavilah, land of gold–12the gold of that land is good–and also bdellium resin and bright colored gemstones. 13The name of the second is Gichon. It circles the whole land of Kush. 14The name of the third is Chidekel/Tigris. It flows east of Assyria. The fourth river is Prat/Euphrates.)
15Then Yahh god took the person and placed him in the Garden of Eden/Pleasure to work it and guard it. 16Yahh god commanded the person: “Eat, eat, from any of the garden trees 17except do not eat from the Tree of Knowledge, good and bad. The day you eat from that tree, you drop dead.”
18Yahh god said: “It’s not a good thing for the adam/man to be alone. I’m going to make him a helpful juxtaposer.” 19So, with more clay from the adamah/ground, Yahh god formed every animal of the field and bird of the sky, bringing each to the person to see what he would call it. Whatever he would call the living creature become its name.
20The person gave every beast and bird a name, but the process yielded not one that could stand up to the adam in a helpful way. 21So Yahh god made fall a deep slumber on the adam so that he slept. He then excised one of his ribs, closing flesh in its place. 22From the rib Yahh god had taken from the adam, he constructed a woman and brought her to the adam, 23who said:
This one will be called “ishah/woman” because she is taken from “ish/man”.
25They were both naked, the person and his woman, and not a bit embarrassed.
2“We can eat from the garden trees,” she replied to the snake, “except for the one in the middle. 3For that one God said ‘Don’t eat from it or touch it lest you die.’”
4“You will not drop dead,” said the snake. 5“Because God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened. You’ll become like God, knowers, of good and bad.”
6The woman saw that the tree was good for food, appetizing to the eyes. And the tree could make you smart? Desirable! So she took some of its fruit and ate and gave some to her man, who ate as well.
7In both of them, their eyes were opened. They recognized that they were naked. They sewed together fig leaves for garments to go around their waists.
8And then they heard the sound of Yahh god god going for his stroll in the breeze of the day. The adam and his woman hid from Yahh god, among the garden trees.
9Yahh god called out: “Adam, where are you?”
10The adam replied: “I heard you in the garden and I was afraid because I am naked, and I hid.”
11“Who told you you were naked? Have you eaten from that tree from which I commanded you not to?”
12“The woman you gave me, she gave me from the tree and I ate.”
13Yahh god spoke to the woman: “What is this you have done?”
14To the snake Yahh god said:
Of every beast, of every field animal:
On your underbelly shall you go, and eat dust all your days.
Yet your urge is for your man,
And he will dominate you.”
By pain shall you eat of it all your days.
18It’ll sprout you thorn and thistle though you eat of the grain grass.
19By the sweat of thy brow shalt thou eat bread,
Till you return to the ground from which you were taken,
For, dust you are, and unto dust you return.”
21Yahh god made tunics of leather and clothed the two of them. 22And then he said: “Well, when it comes to knowing, good and bad, the adam/person has become like one of us. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also from the Tree of Life, and, eating, gain immortality…”
23So Yahh god God sent him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. 24He drove the adam/person out. To the east of the Garden of Eden he stationed the k’ruvim/monsters, and the flaming, ever turning, sword, to guard the way to the Tree of Life.
1The adam knew Chavah, his woman. She conceived and bore Kayin, as to say: “With Yahh, I have acquired a man.” 2Additionally she bore Hevel, his brother, (as to say, “for nothing.”) Hevel was a herder of flocks, Kayin, a worker of ground.