Genesis 3:16: What is the desire of a woman?

Genesis 3:16 (ESV) “To the woman he said, ‘I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.’”[1] “Desire,” is translated the same throughout all translations and “desire,” is used three times throughout the Bible, in Genesis 3:16, Genesis 4:7, and Solomon 7:11. According to the Dictionary of Biblical languages, “desire, urges, longing, i.e., a very strong emotion or feeling to have or do something, note: this strong desire may refer to sexual urges or desires, or a desire to dominate, or just be independent of the man, other references may also be possible”[2] The Bible Knowledge Commentary makes an interesting observation about Eve’s desire. “Eve’s desire probably refers in this context to her prompting Adam to sin, it is better to translate the verse “Your desire was for your husband.” Having overstepped her bounds in this, she would now be mastered by him.”[3] Whether one agrees with their observation or not, it has to be considered. In Solomon 7:11, desire has a different meaning. A wife is talking about her husband having a desire for her, and this would be considered a sexual urge.

Keeping with the context, God is giving the judgments for Adam and Eve eating of the forbidden fruit. Therefore, desire is not a good thing to have compared to the desire to love someone or being attracted to someone. For Eve to have desire for Adam “before” the fall is fallacy. There was no one else around other than Adam, for Eve to have desire for, therefore, why have that type of desire. Consider desire as meaning sexual urges lacks as a proper definition after considering they were told to multiply the earth. Next, Genesis 4:7, God is talking with Cain after Cain’s offering was rejected. Sin has a desire to engulf Cain and rule him and his actions. Charles Ryrie writes that Eve’s desire would be to have rule over her husband, as sin desired its rule over Cain.”[4] Compare with Ephesians 5:23, (ESV) “For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.”[5]  The only definition that fits would be the desire to dominate or be independent from man.

Bibliography

Ross, Allen P. The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures. Edited by J. F. Walvoord, & R. B. Zuck. Wheaton , IL: Victor Books, 1985.

Ryrie, Charles. The Ryrie Study Bible. Chicago: Moody Publishers, 1995.

Swanson, James. Dictionary of Biblical Languages With Semantic Domains: Hebrew. Oak Harbor: Logos Reasearch Systems, 1997.


[1]  The Holy Bible: English Standard Version, Ge 3:16. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001.

[2] James Swanson, Dictionary of Biblical Languages With Semantic Domains : Hebrew (Old Testament), electronic ed. (Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997).

[3] Allen P. Ross, “Genesis” In , in , vol. 1, The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 33.

[4] Ryrie, Charles. The Ryrie Study Bible. Chicago: Moody Publishers, 1995.

[5]  The Holy Bible: English Standard Version, Eph 5:23. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001.

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