Eve’s Desire


Genesis 3:16; 4:8


Halfway through the curse pronouncement, Genesis 3:16 says that Eve’s desire will be for her husband. At first read, I rather like that element of the curse. For the consequence of a wife’s desire being “for her husband” does please me.


But somehow I never hear men praising God for the curse because of his wife’s desire for her husband. So either men are swinishly ungrateful, or perhaps we misunderstand what God meant during the curse.


But very soon afterwards, in Genesis 4:8, we see the same Hebrew preposition being used again. Cain rose up against his brother and slew him. It would be unusual for the same Hebrew word to have inconsistent translations from Genesis 3:16 (“for”) to Genesis 4:8 (“against”). It is more likely that the preposition is either “for” in both passages, or “against” in both passages. It makes no sense that Cain would rise up “for” his brother and slay him. So Genesis 4:8 fairly cleanly reads “against.” If over the course of 16 verses, the meaning of the preposition remains the same, then Genesis 3:16 promises that the desire of a woman is “against” her husband.


That would make the inevitability of marital discord to be part of the curse. Read that way, I no longer like that element of the curse.


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