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Genesis 3:16

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  • Genesis 3:16

    May I please have your input on what "your desire shall be for your husband" means in Genesis 3:16? Some have said it means women want to control men, which is a new interpretation to me and I'm not yet convinced.

  • #2
    Originally posted by Violet View Post
    May I please have your input on what "your desire shall be for your husband" means in Genesis 3:16? Some have said it means women want to control men, which is a new interpretation to me and I'm not yet convinced.
    I'd suggest referring to the parallel in Genesis 4: "Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it".

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Paprika View Post
      I'd suggest referring to the parallel in Genesis 4: "Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it".
      Thanks. Are you suggesting that the scripture means that a woman is cursed to desire a man as sin desired Cain? How did sin desire Cain? So one of Eve's curses is to be perpetually sinful in her desire? Cursed by God to sin? Also, are you sure it is wise to use a "parallel" verse that uses the word figuratively (in Gen 4) to help determine its use literally?

      The idea that God cursed woman to perpetually sin is problematic. She has no choice but to sin, not because she naturally wants to but because she is cursed by God to have to. How does this curse to *have to* sin behave in the New Covenant? Or is the new born again heart and spirit promised only to men who receive Christ?
      Last edited by Violet; 10-16-2014, 10:43 AM.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Violet View Post
        Also, are you sure it is wise to use a "parallel" verse
        "Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you"; "Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it".

        Also, are you sure it is wise to use a "parallel" verse that uses the word figuratively (in Gen 4) to help determine its use literally?
        Why are you begging the question that the use in Gen 3 is 'literal'?

        Are you suggesting that the scripture means that a woman is cursed to desire a man as sin desired Cain?
        I am suggesting that 'it means women want to control men', just as sin wanted to control Cain.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Paprika View Post
          Why are you begging the question that the use in Gen 3 is 'literal'?
          Please explain. Why do you not believe it is a literal desire that the woman is supposedly cursed to have? What would it even mean for a woman to figuratively desire anything?


          I am suggesting that 'it means women want to control men', just as sin wanted to control Cain.
          And because this desire to control is part of the curse, she is therefore cursed to always sin, right?
          Last edited by Violet; 10-16-2014, 11:57 AM.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Violet View Post
            May I please have your input on what "your desire shall be for your husband" means in Genesis 3:16? Some have said it means women want to control men, which is a new interpretation to me and I'm not yet convinced.
            It may interest you to know the source of said interpretation, which is provided by Gordon Wenham in his Word Biblical Commentary on Genesis:
            Susan Foh (WTJ 37 [1974/75] 367-83) has, however, argued that the woman's urge is not a craving for her man whatever he demands but an urge for independence, indeed a desire to dominate her husband. Such an interpretation of "urge" is required in the very closely parallel passage in 4:7, where sin's urge is said to be for Cain, but he must master it. Here in 3:16 woman's desire for independence would be contrasted with an injunction to man to master her. There is a logical simplicity to Foh's interpretation that makes it attractive, but given the rarity of the term "urge" (תשׁוקה, apart from Gen 3:16 and 4:7 occurring only in Cant 7:11), certainty is impossible. [In support of Susan Foh's interpretation, see Waltke's certain comment below -JR]

            The usage of the term תשׁוקה in Cant 7:11 is interesting, as noted by Victor P. Hamilton in his NICOT commentary on Genesis:
            The Hebrew word for urge or "desire," tᵉšqāh, occurs only here and in Gen 4:7 and Cant. 7:11 (English 10). In the Canticles reference it has a decidedly romantic and positive nuance, describing a feeling of mutual attraction between two lovers: "I am my beloved's and his desire is for me." In Gen. 4:7 it describes sin's "desire" for man. This desire man is to repulse and dominate.

            ... Here is a case in which the clear meaning of 4:7 illuminates a less clear meaning of 3:16. What 4:7 describes is sin's attempt to control and dominate Cain. Because his offering has been rejected by God he is seething with anger. In such an emotional state he is easy prey for sin which crouches lionlike and wants to jump on him. Cain is to fight back, turn the tables, and dominate sin and its desire.

            Applied to 3:16, the desire of the woman for her husband is akin to the desire of sin the lies poised to leap at Cain. It means a desire to break the relationship of equality and turn it into a relationship of servitude and domination. The sinful husband will try to be a tyrant over his wife. Far from being a reign of co-equals over the remainder of God's creation, the relationship now becomes a fierce dispute, with each party trying to rule the other. The two who once reigned as one attempt to rule each other.

            Waltke in his Commentary on Genesis (Zondervan, 2001) presents the following:
            desire. The chiastic structure of the phrase pairs the terms "desire" and "rule over," suggesting that her desire will be to dominate. This interpretation of an ambiguous passage is validated by the same pairing in the unambiguous context of 4:7.

            rule over. Ironically, man will dominate her. Their alienation from one another is profoundly illustrated by God's description of the power struggles, rather than love and cherishing, that is to come.* Male leadership, not male dominance, had been assumed in the ideal, pre-Fall situation (see 2:18-25).
            *The restoration of a love relationship is to be found in a new life in Christ (see Matt. 20:25-28).
            Last edited by John Reece; 10-16-2014, 01:04 PM.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by John Reece View Post


              It may interest you to know the source of said interpretation, which is provided by Gordon Wenham in his Word Biblical Commentary on Genesis:
              Susan Foh (WTJ 37 [1974/75] 367-83) has, however, argued that the woman's urge is not a craving for her man whatever he demands but an urge for independence, indeed a desire to dominate her husband. Such an interpretation of "urge" is required in the very closely parallel passage in 4:7, where sin's urge is said to be for Cain, but he must master it. Here in 3:16 woman's desire for independence would be contrasted with an injunction to man to master her. There is a logical simplicity to Foh's interpretation that makes it attractive, but given the rarity of the term "urge" (תשׁוקה, apart from Gen 3:16 and 4:7 occurring only in Cant 7:11), certainty is impossible.

              The usage of the term תשׁוקה in Cant 7:11 is interesting, as noted by Victor P. Hamilton in his NICOT commentary on Genesis:
              The Hebrew word for urge or "desire," tᵉšqāh, occurs only here and in Gen 4:7 and Cant. 7:11 (English 10). In the Canticles reference it has a decidedly romantic and positive nuance, describing a feeling of mutual attraction between two lovers: "I am my beloved's and his desire is for me." In Gen. 4:7 it describes sin's "desire" for man. This desire man is to repulse and dominate.

              ... Here is a case in which the clear meaning of 4:7 illuminates a less clear meaning of 3:16. What 4:7 describes is sin's attempt to control and dominate Cain. Because his offering has been rejected by God he is seething with anger. In such an emotional state he is easy prey for sin which crouches lionlike and wants to jump on him. Cain is to fight back, turn the tables, and dominate sin and its desire.

              Applied to 3:16, the desire of the woman for her husband is akin to the desire of sin the lies poised to leap at Cain. It means a desire to break the relationship of equality and turn it into a relationship of servitude and domination. The sinful husband will try to be a tyrant over his wife. Far from being a reign of co-equals over the remainder of God's creation, the relationship now becomes a fierce dispute, with each party trying to rule the other. The two who once reigned as one attempt to rule each other.

              Waltke in his Commentary on Genesis (Zondervan, 2001) presents the following:
              desire. The chiastic structure of the phrase pairs the terms "desire" and "rule over," suggesting that her desire will be to dominate. This interpretation of an ambiguous passage is validated by the same pairing in the unambiguous context of 4:7.

              rule over. Ironically, man will dominate her. Their alienation from one another is profoundly illustrated by God's description of the power struggles, rather than love and cherishing, that is to come.* Male leadership, not male dominance, had been assumed in the ideal, pre-Fall situation (see 2:18-25).
              *The restoration of a love relationship is to be found in a new life in Christ (see Matt. 20:25-28).
              Thank you for taking time to pull out the sources and type that up. It is helpful to see different views. And it is interesting to note that the source of this interpretation is a woman. And only recently...

              Am I comprehending it rightly that Wenhem is saying that Foh's interpretation is "impossible" because of the rarity of the word's usage?

              Also, I do not understand Hamilton. His quoted paragraphs seem to be maybe contradictory? Is the word used in an intimate way as in Cant. 7:11 (the first paragraph in his above quote), or is it used to mean domination (the second and third paragraph)?

              Why must "crouching" necessitate "desire" to mean "dominate"? Can this verse not be two figures instead of only one? Why could it not mean that sin desires to pounce on Cain like a lion as well as to have Cain's heart intimately?
              Last edited by Violet; 10-16-2014, 01:50 PM.

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              • #8
                I don't think the woman's desire for her husband is evil or sinful or the essential part of her punishment or that the woman's desire is to master her husband (my wife told me to say this). I think it is only perceived as punishment insofar as the desire is met with mastery by the man. In other words, I would not exaggerate the interpretive value of the parallel language in Genesis 4. But insofar as this is poietic narrative (poiesis in the classical sense of artistic creativity, not in the modern sense of rhyming poetry), there is room for creative interpretation on the part of the readers. Some might bring ancient or modern misogynistic assumptions to the story and emphasize a stronger sense of identification between the woman being identified with sin and the personification of evil trying to dominate man. A poetic narrative, when well constructed, will not necessarily have one correct interpretation, but will engage the reader to enter into the story and take responsibility for deriving meaning. Ancient Hebrew poetic narratives were continually undergoing midrashic reinterpretation in part because the encounter with God and ultimate meaning in a story or text was perceived as a real and dynamic encounter with God and not just a dry account of past events. Adam was representative of all humanity and Eve is the mother of all the living.
                βλέπομεν γὰρ ἄρτι δι᾿ ἐσόπτρου ἐν αἰνίγματι, τότε δὲ πρόσωπον πρὸς πρόσωπον
                ἄρτι γινώσκω ἐκ μέρους, τότε δὲ ἐπιγνώσομαι καθὼς καὶ ἐπεγνώσθην.

                אָכֵ֕ן אַתָּ֖ה אֵ֣ל מִסְתַּתֵּ֑ר אֱלֹהֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל מוֹשִֽׁיעַ׃

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Violet View Post
                  Please explain. Why do you not believe it is a literal desire that the woman is supposedly cursed to have? What would it even mean for a woman to figuratively desire anything?
                  The desire is clearly to rule over the husband. I'm not sure what is your conception of 'literal' as opposed to figurative; I can rephrase my question as "Why do you say there is a difference in the usage of 'desire' in Gen 3 and Gen 4?

                  And because this desire to control is part of the curse, she is therefore cursed to always sin, right?
                  Desire isn't necessarily a sin.
                  Last edited by Paprika; 10-16-2014, 02:22 PM.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Paprika View Post
                    The desire is clearly to rule over the husband. I'm not sure what is your conception of 'literal' as opposed to figurative; I can rephrase my question as "Why do you say there is a difference in the usage of 'desire' in Gen 3 and Gen 4?
                    Sin cannot literally desire anything, so desire is used figuratively in Gen 4. If the woman is meant to be taken literally in Gen 3, and the curse also, then it makes sense that the cursed desire would be a literal desire.


                    Desire isn't necessarily a sin.
                    Quite so. But if this imposed sinful desire to dominate the man is given to the woman by God as a curse, then God has indeed cursed the woman to sin.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Violet View Post
                      Sin cannot literally desire anything, so desire is used figuratively in Gen 4. If the woman is meant to be taken literally in Gen 3, and the curse also, then it makes sense that the cursed desire would be a literal desire.
                      Okay, we're not in disagreement.

                      Quite so. But if this imposed sinful desire to dominate the man is given to the woman by God as a curse, then God has indeed cursed the woman to sin.
                      She may be given the desire, but it is not necessary that she sins; it is a choice. But in any case, I don't see a problem with God cursing the women to sin; I think of how in Romans "God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another...God gave them over to shameful lusts...God gave them over to a depraved mind".

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Violet View Post
                        Am I comprehending it rightly that Wenhem is saying that Foh's interpretation is "impossible" because of the rarity of the word's usage?
                        Wenham did not say that Foh's interpretation is impossible; rather, he said that certainty re her interpretation is impossible. However, see Waltke's point that the chiastic structure of the phrase pairs the terms "desire" and "rule over," suggesting that her desire will be to dominate.

                        Originally posted by Violet View Post
                        Also, I do not understand Hamilton. His quoted paragraphs seem to be maybe contradictory? Is the word used in an intimate way as in Cant. 7:11 (the first paragraph in his above quote), or is it used to mean domination (the second and third paragraph)?
                        No, Hamilton's paragraphs are not contradictory. In the first of the cited paragraphs of Hamilton's commentary, the usage of the Hebrew term in question in the context of Cant. 7:11(Eng. 10) 'has a decidedly romantic and positive nuance, describing a feeling of mutual attraction between two lovers: "I am my beloved's, and his desire is for me."' At that point Hamilton leaves the context of Cant. 7:11 and goes to the context of Gen. 4:7, wherein there is a different nuance in the usage of the Hebrew word in question.

                        Originally posted by Violet View Post
                        Why must "crouching" necessitate "desire" to mean "dominate"? Can this verse not be two figures instead of only one? Why could it not mean that sin desires to pounce on Cain like a lion as well as to have Cain's heart intimately?
                        Think in terms larger/broader than single words. Think in terms of how words are used in the context of sentences and paragraphs that refer to different subjects ― in which case a given word may bear a different nuance in a different context. A given word does not necessarily carry with it all that it may mean in one context into a different context. I hope that makes sense to you. Your question strains my geriatric brain, so I may not be responding as helpfully as I am trying to.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by robrecht View Post
                          I don't think the woman's desire for her husband is evil or sinful or the essential part of her punishment or that the woman's desire is to master her husband (my wife told me to say this). I think it is only perceived as punishment insofar as the desire is met with mastery by the man. In other words, I would not exaggerate the interpretive value of the parallel language in Genesis 4. But insofar as this is poietic narrative (poiesis in the classical sense of artistic creativity, not in the modern sense of rhyming poetry), there is room for creative interpretation on the part of the readers. Some might bring ancient or modern misogynistic assumptions to the story and emphasize a stronger sense of identification between the woman being identified with sin and the personification of evil trying to dominate man. A poetic narrative, when well constructed, will not necessarily have one correct interpretation, but will engage the reader to enter into the story and take responsibility for deriving meaning. Ancient Hebrew poetic narratives were continually undergoing midrashic reinterpretation in part because the encounter with God and ultimate meaning in a story or text was perceived as a real and dynamic encounter with God and not just a dry account of past events. Adam was representative of all humanity and Eve is the mother of all the living.
                          I personally take the Genesis account in a symbolic way, but that is beside the current point. A certain theological understanding of women flows from the interpretation of Gen. 3:16 meaning that women have been cursed to want to dominate men. I want to examine the reasoning for this interpretation to see if it is required.
                          Last edited by Violet; 10-16-2014, 04:16 PM.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Paprika View Post

                            She may be given the desire, but it is not necessary that she sins; it is a choice.
                            I hope you will re-examine the wording. Does not "your desire shall be " given as a curse sound like a mandated desire? Does not a curse from God make it necessary?

                            But in any case, I don't see a problem with God cursing the women to sin; I think of how in Romans "God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another...God gave them over to shameful lusts...God gave them over to a depraved mind".
                            Please see what you are saying in this, please. Do you not know that it means that I cannot stop sinning in this way if God has cursed me like this? What of Christ, what of the new creation? What of sin no longer being my master? Christ did not redeem man from needing to toil, nor did His redemption keep women from suffering and even dying in childbirth. Do you think that this curse of sinfully wanting to dominate her husband was taken away? Or not?

                            Read again what you wrote. Are you ready to accept that women are handed over to a sinful mind, cursed in their very womanhood to necessarily sin? All women, even redeemed women, have depraved-like minds towards this sin...do you not see your logic?
                            Last edited by Violet; 10-16-2014, 05:36 PM.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by John Reece View Post


                              Wenham did not say that Foh's interpretation is impossible; rather, he said that certainty re her interpretation is impossible. However, see Waltke's point that the chiastic structure of the phrase pairs the terms "desire" and "rule over," suggesting that her desire will be to dominate.


                              Okay, I see now, thank you. But is it proper to use a figurative verse to interpret a literal one? Also, what about the structure of the curses in the verses? God cursed the snake with the promise of a bruised head. He cursed Adam with toiling for bread. He cursed women with suffering in childbirth AND to perpetually sin in her desire? Would the flow of the verses themselves not rather suggest that the desire for her husband is in spite of the suffering she will have in childbirth? Childbirth was not only just suffering, it often meant suffering to death. Even so, that curse would not stop her from desiring her husband. Apart from Gen. 4, does this not make better sense?


                              No, Hamilton's paragraphs are not contradictory. In the first of the cited paragraphs of Hamilton's commentary, the usage of the Hebrew term in question in the context of Cant. 7:11(Eng. 10) 'has a decidedly romantic and positive nuance, describing a feeling of mutual attraction between two lovers: "I am my beloved's, and his desire is for me."' At that point Hamilton leaves the context of Cant. 7:11 and goes to the context of Gen. 4:7, wherein there is a different nuance in the usage of the Hebrew word in question.



                              Think in terms larger/broader than single words. Think in terms of how words are used in the context of sentences and paragraphs that refer to different subjects ― in which case a given word may bear a different nuance in a different context. A given word does not necessarily carry with it all that it may mean in one context into a different context. I hope that makes sense to you. Your question strains my geriatric brain, so I may not be responding as helpfully as I am trying to.
                              No, indeed. Your brain, in its "geriatric" state is far more educated and rational than my middle aged brain by far. Your posts are always helpful, always.

                              So, now I need to ask if the implications make this interpretation invalid, meaning, that if these verses mean that women are cursed to sinfully want to dominate their husbands does this contradict how God has revealed His truth elsewhere.

                              If this interpretation is correct, then God has cursed women with the sin of always wanting to domineer their husbands. As Christ's redemption did not stop man from toiling for bread nor stop women from suffering in childbirth, does it seem logical that Christ's redemption stopped this curse for married women to sin perpetually?

                              The other curses were not mandated sin, only consequences. But are we to rightly believe the woman was cursed to sin? Is this sound theology? I'm really asking here, I'm sincere. This has huge implications for me and I'm trying to be careful, fair, and as accurate as I can.
                              Last edited by Violet; 10-16-2014, 05:17 PM.

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