Ephesians 5, Part 1: vs. 21 & 22

When people talk about submission, Ephesians 5:22-24 comes up quite regularly as a proof text for the idea of the marriage relationship being primarily hierarchical in form. Because everyone covers vs. 22-24 and the standard interpretation of that colors the entire rest of the passage, I am not going to discuss that until the last post. Several other pieces of the passage give a much different but consistent view of what Paul is talking about. This post is just a short preface in which we are going to talk very briefly about Greek.

You know how English has that handy punctuation and capitalization to tell you where thoughts and sentences begin and end? Greek doesn’t have that. It has one option for writing letters (not two, uppercase and lowercase, like we do) and no punctuation at all, so everything runs together and you have to figure out where the thoughts start and end based on the tenses and cases of the words themselves. For the most part, this seems to work ok. Sometimes thought, not so much. Here is the full passage in the NIV. In a minute we’ll look at the first two verses in other translations.

Ephesians 5:21-33 (NIV)

[highlight]21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.[/highlight]

[highlight]22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.[/highlight]

23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.

24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her

26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word,

27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.

28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.

29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church—

30 for we are members of his body.

31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”

32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.

33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

See how that looked like two separate commands? 1) Submit to one another. 2) Wives, submit to your husbands. Now look at the ESV:

Ephesians 5:21-22 (ESV)

21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.

While the NIV puts verse 21 as its own sentence, the ESV places it as the end of the sentence begun in verse 18 like this:

18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,

19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart,

20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,

21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

The KJV puts it back as its own sentence like this:

Ephesians 5:21-22 (KJV)

21 Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.

22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.

But by the time we get to NKJV, it is back as part of the previous sentence (Ephesians 5:18-21 NKJV)

Ephesians 5:21-22 (NKJV)

21 submitting to one another in the fear of God.

22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.

The NASB does the same.

Ephesians 5:21-22 (NASB)

21 and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.

22 Wives, be subject to your own husbands,as to the Lord.

But the RSV has it back as its own sentence again.

Ephesians 5:21-22 (RSV)

21 Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ.

22 Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord.

Is that enough redundancy for today? Who cares which way it is translated and why does it matter? Well, I need to show you one more thing, and then you’ll be able to see very clearly why it matters. If you translate verse 21 as its own sentence, it looks very much like Christians are all to be subject to one another (with no gender distinctions) and that however you translate that as applying to everyone what it also must mean regarding what is required of wives. Since it’s a little on the fuzzy side even between the various English translations, here it is in the Greek interlinear. Remember that Biblical (koine) Greek didn’t use capitalization or punctuation, so wherever you see that, it has been added in.



So, the direct translation of those two verses looks like this:

21 submitting yourselves to one another in reverence of Christ

22 wives to the own husbands as to the lord

Do you notice anything weird about verse 22? Such as… no verb? Where did “submit” go? Well, it’s not there. It’s in verse 21.

Verse 22 about wives is a subordinate clause to verse 21 (which doesn’t really come out in any of the translations) and actually borrows the verb from there. Whatever submit means for Christians submitting to each other is what it means for wives. So, what does it mean? Ahhh, that’s the million dollar question and the one I’m going to get to last (sorry).

Next up: The Head and the Body


A “Virtuous” Wife

 She’s quite the celebrity, that virtuous woman. Countless women’s Bible study books have been written about her and she shows up in conference speeches all the time. But what does that word “virtuous” mean in the Bible? Did you know that it is used 224 times, but only three are translated “virtuous” – the same (and also only) three instances that refer to women. Here they are:

Proverbs 31:10 (NKJV)

Who can find a [highlight]virtuous[/highlight] wife. For her worth is far above rubies.


Proverbs 31:29 (KJV)

Many daughters have done [highlight]virtuously[/highlight], but thou excellest them all.


Ruth 3:11 (KJV)

And now, my daughter, fear not; I will do to thee all that thou requirest: for all the city of my people doth know that thou art a [highlight]virtuous[/highlight] woman.


If only three refer to women and those three are the only instances translated “virtuous,” then what do the other ones say? Almost every other instance implies strength or courage in battle or occasionally wealth. Oddly, this is quite similar to what “helper” means in Genesis 2:18&20. To save space (although it’s still long) I am including here only the 98 occurrences that use the exact form of the word as these passages in Proverbs and Ruth.


Strong’s Concordance definition:

chayil: strength, efficiency, wealth, army
Original Word: חָ֫יִל
Part of Speech: Noun Masculine
Short Definition: army

(From BibleHub)


Here is a list of every other instance of the specific form of the word used in the above verses in Proverbs and Ruth.


Englishman’s Concordance

ḥa·yil — 98 Occurrences


Genesis 47:6 

HEB: בָּם֙ אַנְשֵׁי־ חַ֔יִל וְשַׂמְתָּ֛ם שָׂרֵ֥י
NAS: any capable men
KJV: [any] men of activity among them, then make them
INT: any men capable put charge


Exodus 18:21 

HEB: הָ֠עָם אַנְשֵׁי־ חַ֜יִל יִרְאֵ֧י אֱלֹהִ֛ים
NAS: the people able men
KJV: out of all the people able men,
INT: the people men able fear God


Exodus 18:25 

HEB: מֹשֶׁ֤ה אַנְשֵׁי־ חַ֙יִל֙ מִכָּל־ יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל
NAS: Moses chose able men out of all
KJV: chose able men
INT: Moses men able of all Israel


Numbers 24:18 

HEB: וְיִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל עֹ֥שֶׂה חָֽיִל׃ 
NAS: While Israel performs valiantly.
KJV: and Israel shall do valiantly.
INT: Israel performs valiantly


Deuteronomy 3:18 

HEB: כָּל־ בְּנֵי־ חָֽיִל׃ 
NAS: it; all you valiant men
KJV: all [that are] meet for the war.
INT: all the sons valiant


Deuteronomy 8:18 

HEB: כֹּ֖חַ לַעֲשׂ֣וֹת חָ֑יִל לְמַ֨עַן הָקִ֧ים
NAS: to make wealth, that He may confirm
KJV: to get wealth, that he may establish
INT: power to make wealth because of may confirm


Judges 3:29 

HEB: וְכָל־ אִ֣ישׁ חָ֑יִל וְלֹ֥א נִמְלַ֖ט
NAS: all robust and valiant men; and no
KJV: and all men of valour; and there escaped
INT: all one and valiant and no escaped


Judges 11:1 

HEB: הָיָה֙ גִּבּ֣וֹר חַ֔יִל וְה֖וּא בֶּן־
NAS: the Gileadite was a valiant warrior,
KJV: was a mighty man of valour, and he [was] the son
INT: become warrior was a valiant he was the son


Judges 18:2 

HEB: אֲנָשִׁ֨ים בְּנֵי־ חַ֜יִל מִצָּרְעָ֣ה וּמֵֽאֶשְׁתָּאֹ֗ל
NAS: out of their whole number, valiant men
KJV: men of valour, from Zorah,
INT: men the sons valiant Zorah and Eshtaol


Judges 20:44 

HEB: אֵ֖לֶּה אַנְשֵׁי־ חָֽיִל׃ 
NAS: all these were valiant warriors.
KJV: men; all these [were] men of valour.
INT: these warriors were valiant


Judges 20:46 
HEB: אֵ֖לֶּה אַנְשֵׁי־ חָֽיִל׃ 
NAS: all these were valiant warriors.
KJV: all these [were] men of valour.
INT: these warriors were valiant


Ruth 2:1 

HEB: אִ֚ישׁ גִּבּ֣וֹר חַ֔יִל מִמִּשְׁפַּ֖חַת אֱלִימֶ֑לֶךְ
NAS: of great wealth, of the family
KJV: man of wealth, of the family
INT: A man of great wealth of the family of Elimelech


Ruth 4:11 

HEB: יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל וַעֲשֵׂה־ חַ֣יִל בְּאֶפְרָ֔תָה וּקְרָא־
NAS: and may you achieve wealth in Ephrathah
KJV: and do thou worthily in Ephratah,
INT: of Israel achieve wealth Ephrathah and become


1 Samuel 2:4 

HEB: וְנִכְשָׁלִ֖ים אָ֥זְרוּ חָֽיִל׃ 
NAS: But the feeble gird on strength.
KJV: are girded with strength.
INT: the feeble gird strength


1 Samuel 9:1 

HEB: יְמִינִ֑י גִּבּ֖וֹר חָֽיִל׃ 
NAS: of a Benjamite, a mighty man of valor.
KJV: a mighty man of power.
INT: right A mighty of valor


1 Samuel 14:48 

HEB: וַיַּ֣עַשׂ חַ֔יִל וַיַּ֖ךְ אֶת־
NAS: He acted valiantly and defeated
KJV: And he gathered an host, and smote
INT: acted valiantly and defeated the Amalekites


1 Samuel 14:52 

HEB: וְכָל־ בֶּן־ חַ֔יִל וַיַּאַסְפֵ֖הוּ אֵלָֽיו׃
NAS: man or any valiant man, he attached
KJV: man, or any valiant man,
INT: any man valiant attached about


1 Samuel 16:18 

HEB: נַ֠גֵּן וְגִבּ֨וֹר חַ֜יִל וְאִ֧ישׁ מִלְחָמָ֛ה
NAS: a mighty man of valor, a warrior,
KJV: and a mighty valiant man, and a man
INT: musician A mighty of valor man A warrior


1 Samuel 18:17 

HEB: לִּ֣י לְבֶן־ חַ֔יִל וְהִלָּחֵ֖ם מִלְחֲמ֣וֹת
NAS: only be a valiant man
INT: become man valiant and fight battles


1 Samuel 31:12 

HEB: כָּל־ אִ֣ישׁ חַיִל֮ וַיֵּלְכ֣וּ כָל־
NAS: all the valiant men rose
KJV: All the valiant men arose,
INT: all men the valiant and walked all


2 Samuel 2:7 

HEB: וִֽהְיוּ֙ לִבְנֵי־ חַ֔יִל כִּי־ מֵ֖ת
INT: become afflicted able for is dead


2 Samuel 11:16 

HEB: כִּ֥י אַנְשֵׁי־ חַ֖יִל שָֽׁם׃
NAS: he knew there [were] valiant men.
KJV: where he knew that valiant men
INT: for men there valiant in it


2 Samuel 13:28 

HEB: וִהְי֥וּ לִבְנֵי־ חָֽיִל׃ 
INT: become afflicted able


2 Samuel 17:10 

HEB: גַם־ בֶּן־ חַ֗יִל אֲשֶׁ֥ר לִבּ֛וֹ
KJV: [is] a mighty man, and [they] which [be] with him [are] valiant men.
INT: and even the one are valiant whose heart


2 Samuel 17:10 

HEB: אָבִ֔יךָ וּבְנֵי־ חַ֖יִל אֲשֶׁ֥ר אִתּֽוֹ׃
NAS: and those who are with him are valiant men.
INT: your father man are valiant who for


2 Samuel 22:33 

HEB: הָאֵ֥ל מָעוּזִּ֖י חָ֑יִל וַיַּתֵּ֥ר תָּמִ֖ים
NAS: God is my strong fortress;
KJV: [is] my strength [and] power: and he maketh
INT: God fortress is my strong sets the blameless


2 Samuel 22:40 

HEB: וַתַּזְרֵ֥נִי חַ֖יִל לַמִּלְחָמָ֑ה תַּכְרִ֥יעַ
NAS: For You have girded me with strength for battle;
KJV: For thou hast girded me with strength to battle:
INT: have girded strength battle have subdued


2 Samuel 24:9 

HEB: אֶ֤לֶף אִֽישׁ־ חַ֙יִל֙ שֹׁ֣לֵֽף חֶ֔רֶב
NAS: hundred thousand valiant men who drew
KJV: hundred thousand valiant men that drew
INT: thousand men valiant drew the sword


1 Kings 1:42 

HEB: כִּ֣י אִ֥ישׁ חַ֛יִל אַ֖תָּה וְט֥וֹב
NAS: Come in, for you are a valiant man
KJV: unto him, Come in; for thou [art] a valiant man,
INT: for man valiant you good


1 Kings 1:52 

HEB: יִהְיֶ֣ה לְבֶן־ חַ֔יִל לֹֽא־ יִפֹּ֥ל
NAS: If he is a worthy man,
KJV: said, If he will shew himself a worthy man,
INT: become man worthy not will fall


1 Kings 11:28 

HEB: יָרָבְעָ֖ם גִּבּ֣וֹר חָ֑יִל וַיַּ֨רְא שְׁלֹמֹ֜ה
NAS: Jeroboam was a valiant warrior,
KJV: [was] a mighty man of valour: and Solomon
INT: Jeroboam warrior was a valiant saw Solomon


1 Kings 20:25 

HEB: תִֽמְנֶה־ לְךָ֣ ׀ חַ֡יִל כַּחַיִל֩ הַנֹּפֵ֨ל
NAS: and muster an army like the army
KJV: And number thee an army, like the army
INT: you and muster an army the army you have lost


2 Kings 2:16 

HEB: אֲנָשִׁ֜ים בְּנֵֽי־ חַ֗יִל יֵ֣לְכוּ נָא֮
NAS: fifty strong men,
KJV: fifty strong men;
INT: men afflicted strong go please


2 Kings 5:1 

HEB: הָיָ֛ה גִּבּ֥וֹר חַ֖יִל מְצֹרָֽע׃
NAS: The man was also a valiant warrior,
KJV: man in valour, [but he was] a leper.
INT: become warrior A valiant a leper


2 Kings 6:15 

HEB: וַיֵּצֵ֕א וְהִנֵּה־ חַ֛יִל סוֹבֵ֥ב אֶת־
NAS: out, behold, an army with horses
KJV: and gone forth, behold, an host compassed
INT: and gone behold an army was circling the city


2 Kings 7:6 

HEB: ס֔וּס ק֖וֹל חַ֣יִל גָּד֑וֹל וַיֹּאמְר֞וּ
NAS: of a great army, so that they said
KJV: of a great host: and they said
INT: of horses the sound army of a great said


1 Chronicles 5:18 

HEB: מִן־ בְּנֵי־ חַיִל֒ אֲ֠נָשִׁים נֹשְׂאֵ֨י
NAS: of Manasseh, [consisting] of valiant men,
KJV: of Manasseh, of valiant men, men
INT: at afflicted men men to bear


1 Chronicles 5:24 

HEB: אֲנָשִׁים֙ גִּבּ֣וֹרֵי חַ֔יִל אַנְשֵׁ֣י שֵׁמ֔וֹת
NAS: mighty men of valor, famous men,
KJV: mighty men of valour, famous men,
INT: men mighty of valor men famous


1 Chronicles 7:2 

HEB: לְתוֹלָ֔ע גִּבּ֥וֹרֵי חַ֖יִל לְתֹלְדוֹתָ֑ם מִסְפָּרָם֙
NAS: [were] mighty men of valor in their generations;
KJV: [they were] valiant men of might in their generations;
INT: Tola men of might their generations number


1 Chronicles 7:9 

HEB: אֲבוֹתָ֔ם גִּבּוֹרֵ֖י חָ֑יִל עֶשְׂרִ֥ים אֶ֖לֶף
NAS: 20200mighty men of valor.
KJV: mighty men of valour, [was] twenty
INT: of their fathers mighty of valor twenty thousand


1 Chronicles 8:40 

HEB: אֲנָשִׁ֨ים גִּבֹּרֵי־ חַ֜יִל דֹּ֣רְכֵי קֶ֗שֶׁת
NAS: men of valor, archers,
KJV: men of valour, archers,
INT: men were mighty of valour archer arch


1 Chronicles 10:12 

HEB: כָּל־ אִ֣ישׁ חַיִל֒ וַיִּשְׂא֞וּ אֶת־
NAS: all the valiant men arose
KJV: They arose, all the valiant men,
INT: all men the valiant and took the body


1 Chronicles 11:22 

HEB: בֶּן־ אִֽישׁ־ חַ֛יִל רַב־ פְּעָלִ֖ים
NAS: the son of a valiant man
KJV: the son of a valiant man
INT: the son man of a valiant mighty deeds


1 Chronicles 12:26 

HEB: שִׁמְע֗וֹן גִּבּ֤וֹרֵי חַ֙יִל֙ לַצָּבָ֔א שִׁבְעַ֥ת
INT: Simeon champion able appointed time seven


1 Chronicles 12:29 

HEB: נַ֖עַר גִּבּ֣וֹר חָ֑יִל וּבֵית־ אָבִ֥יו
INT: babe champion able to the house fathers


1 Chronicles 12:31 

HEB: מֵא֑וֹת גִּבּ֣וֹרֵי חַ֔יִל אַנְשֵׁ֥י שֵׁמ֖וֹת
INT: hundred champion able by name


1 Chronicles 26:6 

HEB: כִּֽי־ גִבּ֥וֹרֵי חַ֖יִל הֵֽמָּה׃
NAS: for they were mighty men of valor.
KJV: for they [were] mighty men of valour.
INT: for were mighty of valor like


1 Chronicles 26:7 

HEB: אֶחָ֖יו בְּנֵי־ חָ֑יִל אֱלִיה֖וּ וּסְמַכְיָֽהוּ׃
NAS: Elihu and Semachiah, were valiant men.
KJV: whose brethren [were] strong men,
INT: brothers men were valiant Elihu and Semachiah


1 Chronicles 26:8 

HEB: וַאֲחֵיהֶ֔ם אִֽישׁ־ חַ֥יִל בַּכֹּ֖חַ לַעֲבֹדָ֑ה
NAS: and their relatives [were] able men
KJV: and their brethren, able men
INT: and their brethren men able strength the service


1 Chronicles 26:9 

HEB: וְאַחִ֛ים בְּנֵי־ חָ֖יִל שְׁמוֹנָ֥ה עָשָֽׂר׃
NAS: and relatives, 18valiant men.
KJV: and brethren, strong men,
INT: and brethren men valiant eight teen


1 Chronicles 26:30 

HEB: וְאֶחָ֨יו בְּנֵי־ חַ֜יִל אֶ֣לֶף וּשְׁבַע־
NAS: 1700capable men,
KJV: men of valour, a thousand
INT: and his brethren men capable A thousand and seven


1 Chronicles 26:31 

HEB: בָהֶ֛ם גִּבּ֥וֹרֵי חַ֖יִל בְּיַעְזֵ֥יר גִּלְעָֽד׃
NAS: and men of outstanding capability were found
KJV: among them mighty men of valour at Jazer
INT: were found and men capability Jazer of Gilead


1 Chronicles 26:32 

HEB: וְאֶחָ֣יו בְּנֵי־ חַ֗יִל אַלְפַּ֛יִם וּשְׁבַ֥ע
NAS: and his relatives, capable men,
KJV: men of valour, [were] two thousand
INT: and his brethren men of valour thousand and seven


1 Chronicles 28:1 

HEB: וּֽלְכָל־ גִּבּ֥וֹר חָ֖יִל אֶל־ יְרוּשָׁלִָֽם׃
NAS: men, even all the valiant men.
KJV: and with the mighty men, and with all the valiant men, unto Jerusalem.
INT: all men the valiant at Jerusalem


2 Chronicles 13:3 

HEB: בָּח֖וּר גִּבּ֥וֹר חָֽיִל׃ ס
NAS: men [who were] valiant warriors.
KJV: men, [being] mighty men of valour.
INT: young warriors valiant


2 Chronicles 14:8 

HEB: וַיְהִ֣י לְאָסָ֗א חַיִל֮ נֹשֵׂ֣א צִנָּ֣ה
NAS: had an army of 300,000
KJV: And Asa had an army [of men] that bare
INT: become and Asa were valiant bearing targets


2 Chronicles 14:8 

HEB: אֵ֖לֶּה גִּבּ֥וֹרֵי חָֽיִל׃ 
NAS: all of them were valiant warriors.
KJV: all these [were] mighty men of valour.
INT: another warriors were valiant


2 Chronicles 17:2 

HEB: וַיִּ֨תֶּן־ חַ֔יִל בְּכָל־ עָרֵ֥י
NAS: He placed troops in all the fortified
KJV: And he placed forces in all the fenced
INT: placed troops all cities


2 Chronicles 17:13 

HEB: מִלְחָמָ֛ה גִּבּ֥וֹרֵי חַ֖יִל בִּירוּשָׁלִָֽם׃
NAS: and warriors, valiant men,
KJV: mighty men of valour, [were] in Jerusalem.
INT: and warriors men of valour Jerusalem


2 Chronicles 17:14 

HEB: וְעִמּוֹ֙ גִּבּ֣וֹרֵי חַ֔יִל שְׁלֹ֥שׁ מֵא֖וֹת
NAS: and with him 300,000 valiant warriors;
KJV: and with him mighty men of valour three
INT: with warriors valiant three hundred


2 Chronicles 17:16 

HEB: אֶ֖לֶף גִּבּ֥וֹר חָֽיִל׃ ס
NAS: and with him 200,000 valiant warriors;
KJV: thousand mighty men of valour.
INT: thousand warriors valiant


2 Chronicles 17:17 

HEB: בִּנְיָמִ֔ן גִּבּ֥וֹר חַ֖יִל אֶלְיָדָ֑ע וְעִמּ֛וֹ
NAS: Eliada a valiant warrior,
KJV: a mighty man of valour, and with him armed men
INT: Benjamin man of valour Eliada with


2 Chronicles 24:24 

HEB: נָתַ֨ן בְּיָדָ֥ם חַ֙יִל֙ לָרֹ֣ב מְאֹ֔ד
NAS: Indeed the army of the Arameans came
KJV: For the army of the Syrians came
INT: delivered their hands the army great A very


2 Chronicles 25:6 

HEB: אֶ֛לֶף גִּבּ֥וֹר חָ֖יִל בְּמֵאָ֥ה כִכַּר־
NAS: also 100,000 valiant warriors
KJV: mighty men of valour out of Israel
INT: thousand warriors valiant hundred talents


2 Chronicles 26:11 

HEB: וַיְהִ֣י לְעֻזִּיָּ֡הוּ חַיִל֩ עֹשֵׂ֨ה מִלְחָמָ֜ה
NAS: had an army ready
KJV: Moreover Uzziah had an host of fighting
INT: had Uzziah an army ready battle


2 Chronicles 26:12 

HEB: הָאָבוֹת֙ לְגִבּ֣וֹרֵי חָ֔יִל אַלְפַּ֖יִם וְשֵׁ֥שׁ
NAS: of the households, of valiant warriors,
KJV: of the mighty men of valour [were] two thousand
INT: of the fathers men of valour thousand and six


2 Chronicles 26:13 

HEB: מִלְחָמָ֖ה בְּכֹ֣חַ חָ֑יִל לַעְזֹ֥ר לַמֶּ֖לֶךְ
NAS: their direction was an elite army of 307,500,
KJV: war with mighty power,
INT: war power great to help the king


2 Chronicles 26:17 

HEB: שְׁמוֹנִ֖ים בְּנֵי־ חָֽיִל׃ 
NAS: priests of the LORD, valiant men.
KJV: of the LORD, [that were] valiant men:
INT: eighty men valiant


2 Chronicles 28:6 

HEB: הַכֹּ֣ל בְּנֵי־ חָ֑יִל בְּעָזְבָ֕ם אֶת־
NAS: all valiant men,
KJV: day, [which were] all valiant men;
INT: all men valiant had forsaken the LORD


2 Chronicles 32:21 

HEB: כָּל־ גִּבּ֥וֹר חַ֙יִל֙ וְנָגִ֣יד וְשָׂ֔ר
KJV: all the mighty men of valour, and the leaders
INT: every mighty of valour commander and officer


2 Chronicles 33:14 

HEB: וַיָּ֧שֶׂם שָֽׂרֵי־ חַ֛יִל בְּכָל־ הֶעָרִ֥ים
NAS: Then he put army commanders
KJV: captains of war in all the fenced
INT: put commanders army all cities


Ezra 8:22 

HEB: מִן־ הַמֶּ֙לֶךְ֙ חַ֣יִל וּפָרָשִׁ֔ים לְעָזְרֵ֥נוּ
NAS: from the king troops and horsemen
KJV: of the king a band of soldiers and horsemen
INT: from the king troops and horsemen to protect


Nehemiah 2:9 

HEB: הַמֶּ֔לֶךְ שָׂ֥רֵי חַ֖יִל וּפָרָשִֽׁים׃ פ
NAS: with me officers of the army and horsemen.
KJV: captains of the army and horsemen
INT: now the king officers of the army and horsemen


Nehemiah 11:6 

HEB: וּשְׁמֹנָ֖ה אַנְשֵׁי־ חָֽיִל׃ ס
NAS: in Jerusalem were 468 able men.
KJV: threescore and eight valiant men.
INT: and eight men able


Nehemiah 11:14 

HEB: וַאֲחֵיהֶם֙ גִּבּ֣וֹרֵי חַ֔יִל מֵאָ֖ה עֶשְׂרִ֣ים
NAS: and their brothers, valiant warriors,
KJV: mighty men of valour, an hundred
INT: and their brethren men of valour an hundred twenty


Job 20:15 

HEB: חַ֣יִל בָּ֭לַע וַיְקִאֶ֑נּוּ
NAS: He swallows riches, But will vomit
KJV: He hath swallowed down riches, and he shall vomit them up again:
INT: riches swallows again


Job 21:7 

HEB: גַּם־ גָּ֥בְרוּ חָֽיִל׃ 
NAS: on, also become very powerful?
KJV: become old, yea, are mighty in power?
INT: also become very


Psalm 18:32 

HEB: הָ֭אֵל הַמְאַזְּרֵ֣נִי חָ֑יִל וַיִּתֵּ֖ן תָּמִ֣ים
NAS: who girds me with strength And makes
KJV: that girdeth me with strength, and maketh
INT: the God girds strength and makes perfect


Psalm 18:39 

HEB: וַתְּאַזְּרֵ֣נִי חַ֭יִל לַמִּלְחָמָ֑ה תַּכְרִ֖יעַ
NAS: For You have girded me with strength for battle;
KJV: For thou hast girded me with strength unto the battle:
INT: have girded strength battle have subdued


Psalm 33:16 

HEB: נוֹשָׁ֣ע בְּרָב־ חָ֑יִל גִּ֝בּ֗וֹר לֹֽא־
NAS: by a mighty army; A warrior
KJV: by the multitude of an host: a mighty man
INT: saved A mighty army A warrior is not


Psalm 60:12 

HEB: בֵּֽאלֹהִ֥ים נַעֲשֶׂה־ חָ֑יִל וְ֝ה֗וּא יָב֥וּס
NAS: we shall do valiantly, And it is He who will tread down
KJV: we shall do valiantly: for he [it is that] shall tread down
INT: God shall do valiantly who will tread


Psalm 62:10 

HEB: אַל־ תֶּ֫הְבָּ֥לוּ חַ֤יִל ׀ כִּֽי־ יָנ֑וּב
NAS: If riches increase,
KJV: in robbery: if riches increase,
INT: not vainly riches If increase


Psalm 73:12 

HEB: ע֝וֹלָ֗ם הִשְׂגּוּ־ חָֽיִל׃ 
NAS: they have increased [in] wealth.
KJV: they increase [in] riches.
INT: and always have increased wealth


Psalm 76:5 

HEB: כָל־ אַנְשֵׁי־ חַ֣יִל יְדֵיהֶֽם׃
NAS: And none of the warriors could use
KJV: and none of the men of might have found
INT: and none of the men of the warriors his hands


Psalm 84:7 

HEB: מֵחַ֣יִל אֶל־ חָ֑יִל יֵרָאֶ֖ה אֶל־
NAS: from strength to strength, [Every one of them] appears
KJV: from strength to strength, [every one of them] in Zion
INT: strength before to strength appears before


Psalm 108:13 

HEB: בֵּֽאלֹהִ֥ים נַעֲשֶׂה־ חָ֑יִל וְ֝ה֗וּא יָב֥וּס
NAS: we will do valiantly, And it is He who shall tread down
KJV: we shall do valiantly: for he [it is that] shall tread down
INT: God will do valiantly who shall tread


Psalm 118:15 

HEB: יְ֝הוָה עֹ֣שָׂה חָֽיִל׃ 
NAS: of the LORD does valiantly.
KJV: of the LORD doeth valiantly.
INT: of the LORD does valiantly


Psalm 118:16 

HEB: יְ֝הוָה עֹ֣שָׂה חָֽיִל׃ 
NAS: of the LORD does valiantly.
KJV: of the LORD doeth valiantly.
INT: of the LORD does valiantly


Proverbs 12:4 

HEB: אֵֽשֶׁת־ חַ֭יִל עֲטֶ֣רֶת בַּעְלָ֑הּ
NAS: An excellent wife is the crown
KJV: A virtuous woman [is] a crown
INT: wife an excellent is the crown of her husband


Proverbs 31:10 

HEB: אֵֽשֶׁת־ חַ֭יִל מִ֣י יִמְצָ֑א
NAS: An excellent wife, who
KJV: Who can find a virtuous woman?
INT: wife an excellent who find


Proverbs 31:29 

HEB: בָּ֭נוֹת עָ֣שׂוּ חָ֑יִל וְ֝אַ֗תְּ עָלִ֥ית
NAS: have done nobly, But you excel
KJV: have done virtuously, but thou excellest
INT: daughters have done nobly you excel


Isaiah 5:22 

HEB: יָ֑יִן וְאַנְשֵׁי־ חַ֖יִל לִמְסֹ֥ךְ שֵׁכָֽר׃
NAS: wine And valiant men
KJV: and men of strength to mingle
INT: wine and men and valiant mixing strong


Isaiah 43:17 

HEB: רֶֽכֶב־ וָס֖וּס חַ֣יִל וְעִזּ֑וּז יַחְדָּ֤ו
NAS: and the horse, The army and the mighty man
KJV: and horse, the army and the power;
INT: the chariot and the horse the army and the mighty together


Jeremiah 48:14 

HEB: אֲנָ֑חְנוּ וְאַנְשֵׁי־ חַ֖יִל לַמִּלְחָמָֽה׃
NAS: And men valiant for battle’?
KJV: ye, We [are] mighty and strong men
INT: we men valiant battle


Ezekiel 28:4 

HEB: עָשִׂ֥יתָ לְּךָ֖ חָ֑יִל וַתַּ֛עַשׂ זָהָ֥ב
NAS: You have acquired riches for yourself And have acquired
KJV: thou hast gotten thee riches, and hast gotten
INT: and understanding have acquired riches acquired gold


Ezekiel 37:10 

HEB: עַל־ רַגְלֵיהֶ֔ם חַ֖יִל גָּד֥וֹל מְאֹד־
NAS: an exceedingly great army.
KJV: an exceeding great army.
INT: on their feet army great an exceedingly


Nahum 2:3 

HEB: מְאָדָּ֗ם אַנְשֵׁי־ חַ֙יִל֙ מְתֻלָּעִ֔ים בְּאֵשׁ־
KJV: is made red, the valiant men
INT: are red the warriors the valiant are dressed flashing

(From BibleHub)


So, what does the Hebrew word translated “virtuous” in the three verses that it is used to reference women typically mean? Well, it doesn’t mean “having or showing high moral standards” or “chaste,” which is the English dictionary definition of “virtuous.” This is a term of strength. It is a term denoting valor. King Lemuel’s mother is not telling him to go find a sexually pure woman; she is telling him to go find himself a strong, valiant one.


A Suitable “Helper”

A Suitable Helper | RachelShubin.com

A strong help in time of need indeed! Think Eowyn. (Also, first commissioned drawing from my daughter Trinity!)


What does the Bible mean when it says Eve was created as Adam’s “helper”? Well, to find out, let’s take a look at the passage itself, and then we will look at how the word translated “helper” or sometimes “helpmeet” is used elsewhere.

Genesis 2:18-25 (ESV)
18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a [highlight]helper[/highlight] fit for him.”
19 Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name.
20 The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a [highlight]helper[/highlight] fit for him.
21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh.
22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.
23 Then the man said,
“This at last is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
because she was taken out of Man.”
24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

So, what does “helper” mean? Here is a list of every place this word is used in the Bible. The first two instances are the ones quoted above, so make sure you don’t quit reading before you get to see how the Bible uses the word in almost every other case. Doesn’t really give you the impression God was giving Adam someone to make sure his socks had no holes in them, does it?

◄ 5828. עֵ֫זֶר (ezer) ►
Strong’s Concordance
ezer: a help, helper
Original Word: עֵ֫זֶר
Part of Speech: Noun Masculine
Transliteration: ezer
Phonetic Spelling: (ay’-zer)
Short Definition: help

Strong’s Hebrew: 5828. עֵ֫זֶר (ezer) — 21 Occurrences

Genesis 2:18
HEB: אֶֽעֱשֶׂהּ־ לּ֥וֹ עֵ֖זֶר כְּנֶגְדּֽוֹ׃
NAS: I will make him a helper suitable
KJV: alone; I will make him an help meet for him.
INT: to be alone will make A helper suitable

Genesis 2:20
HEB: לֹֽא־ מָצָ֥א עֵ֖זֶר כְּנֶגְדּֽוֹ׃
NAS: there was not found a helper suitable
KJV: there was not found an help meet for him.
INT: not found A helper suitable

Exodus 18:4
HEB: אֱלֹהֵ֤י אָבִי֙ בְּעֶזְרִ֔י וַיַּצִּלֵ֖נִי מֵחֶ֥רֶב
NAS: of my father was my help, and delivered
KJV: of my father, [said he, was] mine help, and delivered
INT: [highlight]the God of my father was my help and delivered the sword[/highlight]

Deuteronomy 33:7
HEB: רָ֣ב ל֔וֹ וְעֵ֥זֶר מִצָּרָ֖יו תִּהְיֶֽה׃
NAS: he contended for them, And may You be a help against
KJV: be sufficient for him; and [highlight]be thou an help [to him] from his enemies.[/highlight]
INT: his hands be sufficient help his adversaries become

Deuteronomy 33:26
HEB: רֹכֵ֤ב שָׁמַ֙יִם֙ בְעֶזְרֶ֔ךָ וּבְגַאֲוָת֖וֹ שְׁחָקִֽים׃
NAS: [highlight]the heavens to your help, And through the skies[/highlight]
KJV: upon the heaven in thy help, and in his excellency
INT: rides the heavens to your help his majesty the skies

Deuteronomy 33:29
HEB: בַּֽיהוָ֔ה מָגֵ֣ן עֶזְרֶ֔ךָ וַאֲשֶׁר־ חֶ֖רֶב
NAS: Who is the shield of your help And the sword
KJV: the shield of thy help, and who [is] the sword
INT: [highlight]the LORD is the shield of your help and sword[/highlight]

Psalm 20:2
HEB: יִשְׁלַֽח־ עֶזְרְךָ֥ מִקֹּ֑דֶשׁ וּ֝מִצִּיּ֗וֹן
NAS: [highlight]May He send you help from the sanctuary[/highlight]
KJV: Send thee help from the sanctuary,
INT: send help the sanctuary Zion

Psalm 33:20
HEB: חִכְּתָ֣ה לַֽיהוָ֑ה עֶזְרֵ֖נוּ וּמָגִנֵּ֣נוּ הֽוּא׃
NAS: [highlight]for the LORD; He is our help and our shield.[/highlight]
KJV: for the LORD: he [is] our help and our shield.
INT: waits the LORD is our help and our shield Him

Psalm 70:5
HEB: חֽוּשָׁ֫ה־ לִּ֥י עֶזְרִ֣י וּמְפַלְטִ֣י אַ֑תָּה
NAS: to me, O God! You are my help and my deliverer;
KJV: [highlight]unto me, O God: thou [art] my help and my deliverer;[/highlight]
INT: God Hasten are my help and my deliverer O

Psalm 89:19
HEB: וַתֹּ֗אמֶר שִׁוִּ֣יתִי עֵ֭זֶר עַל־ גִּבּ֑וֹר
NAS: [highlight]I have given help to one who is mighty;[/highlight]
KJV: I have laid help upon [one that is] mighty;
INT: and said have given help unto who

Psalm 115:9
HEB: בְּטַ֣ח בַּיהוָ֑ה עֶזְרָ֖ם וּמָגִנָּ֣ם הֽוּא׃
NAS: [highlight]in the LORD; He is their help and their shield.[/highlight]
KJV: thou in the LORD: he [is] their help and their shield.
INT: trust the LORD is their help and their shield O

Psalm 115:10
HEB: בִּטְח֣וּ בַיהוָ֑ה עֶזְרָ֖ם וּמָגִנָּ֣ם הֽוּא׃
NAS: [highlight]in the LORD; He is their help and their shield.[/highlight]
KJV: in the LORD: he [is] their help and their shield.
INT: trust the LORD is their help and their shield that

Psalm 115:11
HEB: בִּטְח֣וּ בַיהוָ֑ה עֶזְרָ֖ם וּמָגִנָּ֣ם הֽוּא׃
NAS: in the LORD; He is their [highlight]help and their shield.[/highlight]
KJV: in the LORD: he [is] their help and their shield.
INT: trust the LORD is their help and their shield he

Psalm 121:1
HEB: מֵ֝אַ֗יִן יָבֹ֥א עֶזְרִֽי׃
NAS: [highlight]From where shall my help come?[/highlight]
KJV: from whence cometh my help.
INT: where cometh shall my help

Psalm 121:2
HEB: עֶ֭זְרִי מֵעִ֣ם יְהוָ֑ה
NAS: [highlight]My help [comes] from the LORD,[/highlight]
KJV: My help [cometh] from the LORD,
INT: my help from the LORD

Psalm 124:8
HEB: עֶ֭זְרֵנוּ בְּשֵׁ֣ם יְהוָ֑ה
NAS: [highlight]Our help is in the name of the LORD,[/highlight]
KJV: Our help [is] in the name of the LORD,
INT: our help the name of the LORD

Psalm 146:5
HEB: שֶׁ֤אֵ֣ל יַעֲקֹ֣ב בְּעֶזְר֑וֹ שִׂ֝בְר֗וֹ עַל־
NAS: is he whose [highlight]help is the God[/highlight]
KJV: of Jacob for his help, whose hope
INT: is the God of Jacob help hope is in

Isaiah 30:5
HEB: לָ֑מוֹ לֹ֤א לְעֵ֙זֶר֙ וְלֹ֣א לְהוֹעִ֔יל
NAS: profit them, [Who are] not for help or profit,
KJV: [highlight][that] could not profit them, nor be an help nor profit,[/highlight]
INT: profit cannot help cannot profit

Ezekiel 12:14
HEB: [עֶזְרֹה כ] (עֶזְרֹ֛ו ק) וְכָל־
NAS: are around him, his helpers and all
KJV: all that [are] about him to help him, and all his bands;
INT: who are around[highlight] help all his troops[/highlight]

Daniel 11:34
HEB: וּבְהִכָּ֣שְׁלָ֔ם יֵעָזְר֖וּ עֵ֣זֶר מְעָ֑ט וְנִלְו֧וּ
NAS: a little help, and many
KJV: with a little help: but many
INT: fall will be granted help A little will join

Hosea 13:9
HEB: כִּֽי־ בִ֥י בְעֶזְרֶֽךָ׃
NAS: [highlight]O Israel, That [you are] against Me, against your help.[/highlight]
KJV: thou hast destroyed thyself; but in me [is] thine help.
INT: Israel for your help

(From BibleHub)

So, what does “helper” mean? This word is used multiple times in the Old Testament, and almost every  instance refers to the kind of help that would fight with or for you in battle, and often it refers to the Lord being the helper. This is not the kind of help that trails behind you polishing your armor and picking up your helmet. This is not the one who helps by saying encouraging things and then staying home while you fight. This is the strength that stands beside you in battle. This is one who toils beside you in the face of a monumental task. This is practical, eminently capable aid. That’s what a “helper” means.