Woman’s Desire for Man: Genesis 3:16 Reconsidered -- By: Irvin A. Busenitz

Journal: Grace Theological Journal
Volume: GTJ 007:2 (Fall 1986)
Article: Woman’s Desire for Man: Genesis 3:16 Reconsidered
Author: Irvin A. Busenitz

Woman’s Desire for Man:
Genesis 3:16 Reconsidered

Irvin A. Busenitz

Lexical and etymological studies of the words of Gen 3:16b yield little help for interpreting the meaning of the womans desire for man. Contextual evidence, however, indicates that the womans desire for the man and his rule over her are not the punishment but the conditions in which the woman will suffer punishment. Although there are linguistic and thematic parallels between Gen 3:16b and Gen 4:7, contextual differences and interpretive problems indicate that Gen 4:7 cannot be used to interpret the meaning ofdesirein Gen 3:16. Cant 7:10[ll] provides a better context for understanding the word. It may be concluded that, in spite of the Fall, the woman will have a longing for intimacy with man involving more than sexual intimacy.

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Although in the past few decades there has been a proliferation of books and articles discussing biblical norms for the role of women both in society and in the church, a consensus of interpretation has not emerged. The complexity of the issue, coupled with the exegetical difficulty of relevant Scripture, has made general agreement elusive. Part of the discussion has focused upon the last phrase of Gen 3:16: “yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.”1

Various interpretations have been propounded for the meaning of this phrase, centering primarily around the definition of “desire.” One prominent interpretation suggests that, as a punishment for the Fall, a woman’s desire will be subject to her husband’s. “Her desire, whatever it may be, will not be her own. She cannot do what she wishes, for her husband rules over her like a despot and whatever she wishes is subject

to his will.”2 Another viewpoint contends that the woman will have an immense longing, yearning, and psychological dependence.3 More recently a third view has surfaced. It suggests that, based on the usage of “desire” in Gen 4:7, the woman will desire to dominate the relationship with her husband. “The woman’s desire is to control her husband (to usurp his divinely appointed heads...

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