As I was doing some work on Genesis 1-3 for an upcoming Bible class, I ran across an interesting group of articles on Genesis 3:16. (Naturally I run across this right after posting an article on the same over at Wineskins)
Not that it should matter, but I’ll mention that these articles happened to be written by women. And they take an interesting view, one which emphasizes context (thereby hitting one of my hot buttons).
One is a journal article by Susan Foh titled “What Is The Woman’s Desire?”
The second is an article by Claire Smith called “A Sidebar Called Desire.” I should point out that this one is linked to a countering view: “Problems With A New Reading Of An Old Verse,” by Wendy Alsup.
The view espoused by Foh and Smith concerns the use of the word desire in Genesis 3:16—
“Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” (Genesis 3:16)
These women note that the Hebrew word translated “desire” is used three times in the Old Testament: here, in Genesis 4, and in the Song of Solomon. In the Song of Solomon, it appears to refer to sexual desire. But in Genesis 4, it means something very different:
“If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” (Genesis 4:7)
I’ll confess, I’d never noticed the amazingly similar language between Genesis 4:7 and Genesis 3:16. Foh summarizes her study in this way:
Contrary to the usual interpretations of commentators, the desire of the woman in Genesis 3:16b does not make the wife (more) submissive to her husband so that he may rule over her. Her desire is to contend with him for leadership in their relationship. This desire is a result of and a just punishment for sin, but it is not God’s decretive will for the woman. Consequently, the man must actively seek to rule his wife.
I’m not completely ready to buy this, but the evidence from the text is powerful. I’m not looking for a debate about gender roles (nor will I participate in one), but I’d love to hear your thoughts on this interpretation of Genesis 3.