“One of Me” and Genesis 2

There is no “man” or “woman” in the early part of Genesis, even after “the human” is created (twice). The first Torah portion, Breishit (Gen 1:1-6:8), read this week as the cycle begins again for the new year, gives two versions of humanity’s genesis. Neither one includes the word “ish” at the outset:

  • We are introduced to the earthling or the human in 1:26-27, and told ha-adam is in God’s image and male [zachar] and female [nekevah]. (Here are a few additional notes and translations for comparison.)
  • God crafts ha-adam from ha-adamah [“the earth” or maybe “arable land”] in Gen 2:7 (and ha-adam gets singular masculine grammar treatment).

We do not see the word “ish [man]” until after isha [woman] is created and recognized by ha-adam as “bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh” (Gen 2:23). Subsequently, we read of ha-adam and ha-isha or ishto, usually translated as “the man” and “the woman” or “his wife [literally: his woman].”

Just prior to this, God introduces the human to all the other creates that have been created, but —

…no fitting helper was found.

Gen 2:20

There was no helper appropriate, or corresponding or opposite, [k’negdo] to the human — what the King James Version called a “help-meet.”

Not sure the Genesis text actually supports this reading, but this week I am seeing Elton John as “ezer k’negdo” for Lil Nas X.

…There has been a great deal written, ancient and current and in between, about what these verses might imply about gender and about relationships of various kinds. And there are so many layers of gender and sexuality to be explored in discussing Lil Nas X or Elton John or Dolly Parton. But it’s almost Shabbat, and that’s not my area of expertise/primary experience, and this is meant to be just a short thought…

One of Me

Recently Lil Nas X released “One of Me.” It’s an important work on its own (full lyrics), and it’s important that Elton John is featured on the song. In addition, the two of them appear together in a video advertisement. (Usually my inclination is to suspect advertisers of capitalizing on pain, but in this case I applaud Uber Eats for providing this urgently needed creative space, whatever their motives. Video “One of Me” for Uber Eats.)

Watching the elder (b. 1947) stand so publicly with the younger (b. 1999) has an enormous power. (Especially for someone raised in a home where “shush” was the only permitted, and the most polite, thing to say about Elton John’s sexuality, and anyone who remembers when the public was not kind to him.)

Without making any claims as to how the actual individuals involved — Montero Lamar Hill and Reginald Dwight or their public alter egos — feel about this, I see Elton John as ezer k’negdo, that corresponding-helper, for Lil Nas X, an elder appearing “opposite” in a way that allows the younger to appear more clearly as himself…to the world at large, if not to himself. Seems especially poignant in relation to a song about how so many want him to be something else.

Could something like that be meant when ha-adam says —

At last! This time! Bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh”

Gen 2:23

after first seeing ha-isha?

Not sure the text supports this, but also not sure in this instance how much I care about being exact: Is is possible that we all have the power to serve as ezer k’negdo to others? to use our own selves in positive ways to help others see themselves more fully?


Elton John in a Lil Nas X cowboy get up and Lil Nas X in Elton’s feathers. More than that would be very hard to describe. But if requested, I’ll search out a video description.

Full official video from Lil Nas X below

not going to try to provide a video description, but if requested will try to find one

Full album — https://lilnasx.lnk.to/MonteroAlbum

Charity associated with this album — Central Alabama Alliance Resource & Advocacy Center — if you click through from the YouTube link there is a matching grant.

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vspatz

Virginia blogs on general stuff a vspatz.net and more Jewish topics at "A Song Every Day. Manages WeLuvBooks.org. CommunitythruCovid.com is on hiatus.

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