identity

Identity in Creation and Christ (Part 3)

Mimi Haddad - Ezer + Co.

Dr. Mimi Haddad

Guest Post Series

First, a word from April.

This is the last of three articles in the series by Christians for Biblical Equality President, Dr. Mimi Haddad, about who women have been created to be as ezers (originally posted HERE, reposted with Mimi’s permission). May these words bring freedom to women’s identity and purpose.


For the past two weeks, we have considered the biblical basis for identity and purpose, which, for humans, is inseparable from being created in God’s image. What is more, Scripture emphasizes the significance of the male and female union in caring for Eden. A perfect world is one in which Eve provides a strong rescue to Adam, whose solitude was the only “not good” in a perfect world. God created woman as ezer, or strong help, and together they shared dominion and authority as God’s representatives. The first week, we covered the implications of ezer more deeply, and last week we saw specific examples of women in the Old Testament who were ezers—strong rescuers. Now we’ll turn to the New Testament and see how Jesus welcomed women as ezers throughout his life.

Significantly, Christ engaged women theologically, expecting them to respond not as a distinct class, but as people, as disciples, and as heirs of God’s kingdom. In Jesus, the second Adam, women share a spiritual dominion, just as Eve was created for equal authority and dominion with the first Adam in the Garden. In Christ’s kingdom, identity and purpose are notlimited by gender. Therefore, Jesus speaks with women unselfconsciously, drawing them in, in broad daylight in full view of all, despite the disapproval of his disciples (John 4:27). Unlike the rabbis of his day, Jesus allowed women to sit at his feet to study his teachings (Luke 10:38–42), preparing them as disciples, evangelists, and teachers. When a woman called out to Jesus, saying “Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you,” Jesus responded, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it” (Luke 11:27–28). For Jesus, a woman’s value and identity resides not in her cultural role, but in her response to God’s revelation and this becomes the standard for every member of Christ’s New Covenant—male and female. Women are now daughters of Abraham (Luke 13:16), a phrase first used by Jesus to identify women as heirs and full members the New Covenant.

Jesus also holds the longest conversation in Scripture with a woman, a Samaritan at a well mentioned in John chapter 4. Jesus first discloses his messianic mission not to his disciples, but to a woman who was also a member of a hated people, the Samaritans. The disciples are surprised and disappointed to see Jesus talking with a woman (and a Samaritan woman at that!) in broad daylight. What is worse, by revealing his identity as Messiah, Christ enlists her as an evangelist to a despised people. Several verses later, we learn that many Samaritans come to faith because of her (John 4:39). She too is a strong rescue. She too shares in the spiritual dominion of Christ’s kingdom as an evangelist, despite her gender and ethnicity. But there is more.

In Matthew 26:6–13, we meet another woman whom the disciples disparage because she anoints Jesus with expensive oil. Jesus was aware of the significant task this woman performed, and he welcomes her spiritual leadership in preparing him for death. He corrects the disciples for their ignorance and faithlessness. He says, “Why are you bothering her. She has done a beautiful thing to me... When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. Truly, I tell you wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done for me will also be told, in memory of her” (Matt 26:10–13). This woman anointed the greatest king in all of history for a death that constitutes the crowning achievement of all kings. Hers was the greatest priestly anointing in all of Israel's history, a task undertaken not by a Levite, properly circumcised, but by woman whose example reveals the spiritual authority of women in the New Covenant.

Interestingly, it was to a woman that Christ first appeared after his death and burial. While the twelve disciples hid behind locked doors, the women remained vigilant at the tomb. And, Mary Magdalene was the first to meet the risen Lord, who sends her as an evangelist to tell the disciples he has risen. Through these examples, and many more, Jesus does not condone cultural assessments of identity that diminished the agency and spiritual authority of women. Rather, Christ’s ministry reveals that females, like males, are born again as God’s representatives. They are also ezers—called and equipped to advance Christ’s kingdom through their creational purpose as strong rescuer.

Make sure to read Part 1 and Part 2 as well!

Identity in Creation and Christ (Part 2)

Mimi Haddad - Ezer + Co.

Dr. Mimi Haddad

Guest Post Series

First, a word from April.

This is the second of three articles in the series by Christians for Biblical Equality President, Dr. Mimi Haddad, about who women have been created to be as ezers (originally posted HERE, reposted with Mimi’s permission). May these words bring freedom to women’s identity and purpose.


In considering the early chapters of Genesis last week, we observed how human identity is inseparable from being created in God’s image as male and female. What is more, our identity—as created in God’s image—shapes our purpose. For this reason, both Adam and Eve share authority in caring for the world and each otherbecause both are created in God’s image. Yet Eve is not only created in God’s image, God also made her an ezer, or “strong help.” Adam’s aloneness—the only "not good" in Eden—is overcome only with the creation of Eve, which emphasizes her essential contribution in sharing authority and working beside Adam. Despite sin and patriarchy—consequences of the fall—women continue to live out their identity as bearing God’s image and as strong rescuers throughout the Old Testament, particularly as prophets. God uses female prophets to provide moral and spiritual leadership to God’s people and especially to Israel’s leaders. Here are a few examples.

Huldah was a prophet during the reign of King Josiah. When the book of the Law was discovered, King Josiah’s committee turns to Huldah for advice rather than Zephaniah or Jeremiah, both of whom were prominent male prophets during this time (2 Chron 34:14–33, 2 Kings 22). Huldah’s prophetic guidance led to the greatest revival in all of Israel’s history. It was one that endured for generations!

Miriam and Deborah (Ex 15:20, Gen 35:8) offer strong rescue as God’s prophets. Miriam’s status as a leader is emphasized by the fact that Israel refused to travel without her (Num 12:2–16). Like Miriam, the armies of Israel would not go into battle without Deborah’s leadership. Deborah was a prophet, a judge, and she was called the mother of Israel (Jdg 4:4–5, 5:7). A leader of leaders, Deborah was the highest ranking leader in Israel in her day.

Noadiah, mentioned in Nehemiah 6, is perhaps a lesser known female prophet, but she is one of two prophets mentioned by name in the book of Nehemiah. Noadiah’s inclusion in the biblical account shows her influence, and readers may also infer that there were other female prophets in Israel like her.

Because women are created in God’s image, their destiny as strong help is also noted in the leadership of women like Jael who is honored for killing the leader of an army at war with Israel. Her name appears in Judges 5:6–7 between Deborah and Shamgar, both judges of Israel. Jael received Sisera, the army general, as a guest in her tent. Normally, only males received other males as guests. The irony is, Sisera most certainly expected to carry home Jewish women as a trophy of war. He did not expect to become a trophy of war himself under the hand of a woman.

Consider Esther and Ruth, women after whom two Old Testament books are named. While this may seem unremarkable to us today, women’s names were rarely celebrated publically apart from their husbands. When great deeds were accomplished by women, they were often attributed to the male head of their household. To oppose the gender expectations of the ancient world brought shame on the male, and also the tribe or family he represented. Yet, despite the honor-shame culture of Semitic tribes, Scripture praises Esther, even as she publically approached her king and husband uninvited. Though she shamed her husband, Esther obeyed God and rescued Israel, and she is honored for her obedience. In a similar way, Ruth initiated marital overtures, rather than Boaz, and as a result, we remember her as a bold woman of faith.

This brief survey of Old Testament ezers makes clear that God honors courage and initiative motivated by faith in God, which is the privilege and destiny of both women and men created in God’s image. Women who honor and obey God regardless of male rule are not condemned, but celebrated in Scripture as they lived out their authentic identity—created in God’s image, serving as leaders and as strong help beside men.

Identity in Creation and Christ (Part 1)

Mimi Haddad - Ezer + Co.

Dr. Mimi Haddad

Guest Post Series

First, a word from April.

This is the first of three articles in the series by Christians for Biblical Equality President, Dr. Mimi Haddad, about who women have been created to be as ezers (originally posted HERE, reposted with Mimi’s permission). May these words bring freedom to women’s identity and purpose.


If you want to understand gender and identity from a biblical perspective, the early chapters of Genesis are an excellent place to begin. Here, we observe that a perfect world must include male and female; both are needed to serve and lead as God’s representatives. That is why Adam’s aloneness is the only “not good” in a perfect world. It is God who views Adam without Eve as the first and only deficiency of Eden—a world without sin. Addressing this problem, God creates a partner for Adam, a woman whom God introduces as a “strong helper,” or ezer (in Hebrew), a term that means, “to rescue” and “to be strong.” Used 21 times in the Old Testament, ezer is most often used for “God's rescue of Israel.” The most familiar passage where ezer is used for God’s rescue is Psalm 121:1–2, “I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help (my ezer) comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” What stronger help is there apart from God’s rescue?

Yet, woman’s ezer-rescue is often viewed as subordinate, inferior, ancillary. This is not the teaching of Scripture! Remember, Eve is taken from Adam’s side. And, when he awakes, Adam immediately recognizes her, exclaiming: “At last!” he says, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh” (Gen 2:23). Adam celebrates their shared origins with these words, “I will call you woman because you come from my body.” We are of the same stuff! Scripture does not emphasize the differences between Adam and Eve, as many do today. Rather, Scripture points to the unity and oneness of Adam and Eve. They share a physical body, because Eve comes from Adam’s body. And, most significantly, they also share the same spiritual or metaphysical substance because they are both created in God’s image. For this reason they “represent God” on earth. Thus, God gives both Adam and Eve dominion and authority to care for the earth, to rule over it together, and to be fruitful in it (Gen 1:27–31). The only authority Adam and Eve exercise is over the animals and the earth, not each other!

Rank, rule, and hierarchy within the human family is seen only after Adam and Eve break their covenant with God. Male domination, the “he will rule over you” of Genesis 3:16, is a tragic consequence of turning our backs on God. Yet despite human disobedience, in Genesis 3:13–15 we learn that a redeemer will come through the woman’s offspring. Created in God’s image, women’s creational identity is inseparable from her destiny asezer, a strong helper, that continues even after the fall. Genesis foreshadows the birth of Christ from whom we receive redemption and reconciliation with God and one another. In Christ, we also gain power to resist and oppose prejudice and the domination of person over person, of male over female. Genesis 3 tells us the bad news of sin’s consequences, to be opposed by all. But, Genesis 3 also foreshadows the goodness of our recreation in Christ’s image, where sin is ultimately overcome.

Next week we will consider some examples of women who were ezers in the Old Testament.