וּלְאָדָם לֹֽא־מָצָא עֵזֶר כְּנֶגְדּֽוֹ
But for Adam, a redeemer complementary to him had not been found
Adam: The vocalization of what heretofore has been translated as “the man” takes the form of a proper name – in other words, written without the definite article. For the first time in the narrative, the man has a name, Adam((Sarna, p. 22. However, it isn’t quite this simple. For further explanation, see here.))
redeemer … complementary: keeping the commentary for verse 18 in mind, this verse reveals that after examining all of the animals in Eden, none were found to be able to fulfill God’s need for mankind to be procreative.
Of course, this was blindingly obvious to the ancient Hebrews, but the author is taking pains to make the point that while animals can certainly provide companionship, sustenance, clothing, and protection – all necessary for life – animals cannot enable human procreativity.
Clearly this verse emphasizes that these functions, so necessary for human flourishing, are simply not in view. Only a human female complements the human male in ways that permit reproduction. The motivation for the next step, the creation of the woman, is now clear and the narrative moves into its next, very significant phase.
My translation conventions can be found here.
But-for-the-man not-did-he-find a-companion((lit. rescuer, saviour, redeemer, etc.)) as-his-complement.
But, for the man not was found a rescuer to complement him.
Commercial Bible Translations
- (nas) … but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him.
- (kjv) … but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.
- (niv) … But for Adam no suitable helper was found.
- (nlt) … But still there was no helper just right for him.