(Genesis 2:20, Masoretic) וַיִּקְרָ֨א הָֽאָדָ֜ם שֵׁמֹ֗ות לְכָל־הַבְּהֵמָה֙ וּלְעֹ֣וף הַשָּׁמַ֔יִם וּלְכֹ֖ל חַיַּ֣ת הַשָּׂדֶ֑ה וּלְאָדָ֕ם לֹֽא־מָצָ֥א עֵ֖זֶר כְּנֶגְדֹּֽו׃

(DRB) And Adam called all the beasts by their names, and all the fowls of the air, and all the cattle of the field: but for Adam there was not found a helper like himself.

Virtually all of the English, Greek, and Latin translations translate מצא in this verse as "was found" (passive voice). I find this very surprising, because מצא is in the Qal 3ms form, and the Qal corresponds to the active voice. Normally the Niphal is used for passive voice, so one would expect to see נמצא in Genesis 2:20. What is going on?

Would a more literal translation be, "for Adam he did not find a helper like himself."?

For your answers, please do not just copy and paste long lexicon entries or parallel bible versions unless they are relevant to your argument. I have already referenced the BDB and Gesenius's Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon, as well as the numerous parallel translations on Biblehub.

  • 1
    Are any of the answers sufficient to select? Commented Jun 19 at 0:30
  • What exactly is your problem with the translation? Is it confusion whether or not it was God’s responsibility or Adam’s responsibility to find Adam a helper? Commented yesterday
  • How can Adam find himself a helper if Eve or other human females did not exist yet? Commented yesterday
  • Was Adam to choose one of the the oxen to be his helper? But the ox nor any other creature was suitable to be a helper? Maybe a dove could be a helper, or a fish, or a monkey, or a dinosaur? Commented yesterday
  • It was the responsibility of YWHY to find Adam a helper. This is where the legal justification of arranged marriages began. The creators of the male or person were required to find a mate for them. Commented yesterday

4 Answers 4


Reviewing the context of the passage might help us ascertain what's going on, and therefore what the 'literal' translation ought to be. As such, I think a review of the immediate context is in order. My translation follows.

And the Lord God said: It is not good for the man to be alone: I will make him a helper for a counterpart. And the Lord God, forming from the earth every kind of beast of the field, and every kind of bird of the air, brought them to the man to see what he would call them: that whatever he called them might be their name. And the man gave names to every animal, and every bird of the air, and every beast of the field. But he found no helper for the man, that was his counterpart. So the Lord God caused a deep slumber to fall upon the man: and he slept. And he took one of his ribs, and closed the place up with flesh. And the Lord God made the rib which he took from the man into a woman, and brought her to the man. And the man said: At last, bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh! Let her be called Woman, since she was taken from Man. Which is why a man leaves his father and mother, and cleaves to his wife: and the two become one flesh.

The portions I have italicized, I think, are best understood as parenthetical, or 'commentary,' to the main narrative.

The active "he found" follows from "the Lord God said ... I will make him a helpmate..." and not from "And the man gave names..." therefore, the making passive of the active "he found" must be stylistic in nature (i.e. due to the distance between the governing noun agent ("the Lord God") and what continues after the 'parenthetical' section.

If the passive was meant, it would, as you have suggested, have used the word namisa; and if "Adam/the man found no..." was meant, it would have said, presumably, "w'lo misa ha'adam..."

This is my humble assessment.


According to Joüon and Muraoka,1

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Likewise, Nordheimer wrote,2

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וּלְאָדָם לֹא מָצָא עֵזֶר כְּנֶגְדּוֹ

Therefore, the active voice “and for Adam one did not find a help meet like him” may be understood as the passive voice “And for Adam a help meet was not found like him.”


        1 Joüon; Muraoka, p. 543, § 155b
        2 Nordheimer, Book 3, p. 46, § 763


Joüon, Paul; Muraoka, Tamitsu. Grammar of Biblical Hebrew. 3rd Reprint. 2nd ed. Rome: Gregorian & Biblical Press, 2011.

Nordheimer, Isaac. A Critical Grammar of the Hebrew Language. New York: Wiley, 1842.


This is a Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 correlation of context question.

Timeline in Genesis 1, we see the birds of the air being created on day 5, and the beasts of the field on day 6. We read in Genesis 2 that Adam names both birds and field animals, however a suitable helper "was not found".

This is to indicate the "search" for a helper ends after Adam names the animals, but before God creates mankind on Earth in his image, male and female, as is stated in Genesis 1. Hence there were no humans that could have been considered to be Adam's helper.

Therefore the "intent" to create Eve can be considered to occur before God creates male and female in his image on day 6 of creation. However, the scriptures strongly suggest that Eve was created earliest on day 8, since Adam was put into a "deep sleep" to indicate he went to sleep on day 6 afternoon and also slept through when God was taking his day of rest, only to wake on day 8. It would also indicate that God made the rib into Eve on day 8 also.

This could be the reason why Jewish boys are circumcised 8 days after they are born.

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    – agarza
    Commented yesterday

What is going on in Genesis 1 and 2 relevant to Genesis 2:20?

I consider it obvious that Genesis 1 was the original story the tribes of Israel knew within their pagan practices. Genesis 2 was later added when Yahwehism began to be the more dominate practice against Baal and Asherah. 1 Kings 18 clearly records that the Israelites were worshipping in greater numbers the Baals and Asherah. The story of Elijah and the fire contest event.

Why? Because Genesis 1 strictly uses the word Elohim. In Genesis 2 Yahweh then emerges as Elohim Yahweh (LORD GOD) beginning at Genesis 2:4.

(Note: the LXX uses the title “the” before every reference to Theos. O Theos. The God) hence the LXX and Masoretic texts are not between themselves a pure translation.

Genesis 2:20 interprets as that Yahweh alone created Adam and placed only Adam in the Garden of Eden for the purpose of creating Eve.

Genesis 1 interprets that the Elohim created mankind. Adam and Eve were not the only man (male and female) created on the sixth day.

What Genesis 2:20 means is that Adam, unlike everybody else that was created on the sixth day, Adam though could not find a sexual partner (a helper) because Adam was only in contact with the animals. Helper is a sexual innuendo used to not disclose the facts of life to the children just yet. It’s not that other human females did not already exist, but that Adam for whatever reason didn’t have a human female helper. I speculate it’s because YWHY alone created Adam. The Elohim who created the rest of mankind kept themselves away from Adam. Segregation so to say.

“was not found” does not mean “does not exist”

I use this website to look at Hebrew translations. https://biblehub.com/text/genesis/2-20.htm From this website you can see for yourself that YWHY is not mentioned until chapter 2.

  • If you want to disagree, then accept that your theology allows for incest. That God demanded incest for mankind to be fruitful and multiply to fill the earth. Commented yesterday

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