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Your desire shall be for your husband: Genesis 3:16

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Question:  Dear Dr. Luginbill, I am reading part 4, Satan's World-System, Past, Present and Future, now. This is very fascinating to me. There is so much information here that I have felt was true. It just seemed right to me in my heart. It is very satisfying to have confirmation of so much of my belief. Our Lord God is so very fabulous. Beyond any words. It has been such a blessing to have this material to use as a witness tool. There are several people that talk to me now to see what I have been reading. We talk and I open scripture and we read scripture together. The early parts of this section (part 4) that deals with the futility of life apart from the grace of God really has some of these people thinking. What do they get up each day for? There are even a few that have started to read the bible. They say they are reading it to try to discredit the Word of God and find places that are contradictory. I encourage them to read. I understand because I once was in their place. I shared Is.29:16 when they questioned why God would make a world like this.

I have a question for you. In Genesis 3:16b it says "Your desire shall be for your husband". Could that mean that the woman will want to be in charge (take the place of the husband), and not just that she would desire to have a husband? I do agree that women give up a lot to be in marriage and raise a family.

Thank you for your work.

May God richly bless you.

Response:  Thanks so much for your encouraging e-mail. I am especially heartened to hear that these studies are aiding you in your personal Christian ministering - keep up the good work in Christ Jesus.

As I say in part 3 of the Satanic Rebellion series, "The Purpose, Creation and Fall of Man", my reading of the woman's "desire" is essentially that as part of her curse God implanted a particularly intense drive to want to have a husband and a family. As with the curse upon men (i.e., having to work for a living), this is both a negative from the standpoint of paradise, but also a blessing inside of a curse from the standpoint of living in this now corrupt world. After all, if men did not have work, life would be miserable and there would be little to take one's mind off of that fact (cf. Eccl.5:18-20). In a similar way, having a husband and a family has historically proved divinely satisfying for women. Not that men can't want and enjoy families or that women can't want and enjoy careers, but it is patently clear from even a shallow perusal of the social history of the world that most people in most cultures at most times have certainly found these twin principles to be true (as they say, res ipsa dicit). Moreover, man's necessity to earn bread by sweat and hard work and woman's desire to have a husband and a family have in tandem preserved the essential social and moral order of human life, guaranteeing for the greater part of human history the possibility of free will decisions for God (even if the vast majority of human beings have refused to avail themselves of that priceless opportunity).

I believe that this interpretation is supported by the context of Genesis chapter three. In Gen.3:16b, the Hebrew word in question (tshuqah) is unusual and not particularly common, but does occur in similar usage two other times in the OT, namely in Gen.4:7 and Song 7:11, where we find sin's desire "for" Cain in the former and the lover's desire "for/over" his beloved in the latter. In all three cases, we have confirmed what an analysis of the other words that come from the word shuq and the related shaqaq would suggest for the meaning, namely, "impulse", "drive", or "desire". As to what this might mean interpretatively, that, I would say, depends upon the specific context in each case. For this to mean that Eve or women in general would have a desire to supplant their husbands' authority, I think one would need to have that notion expressed (i.e., a verb of ruling or the like). Even in the Song 7:11 passage, where the preposition used has that sense (i.e., it is 'al, "over", instead of `el "to" as we have in the two Genesis passages), the notion of domination doesn't seem to be present. This is not to say, of course, that it is not part of the occupational hazard of the female sin nature (or the male sin nature, for that matter) to want to be in charge, anymore than there are not similar typical and predictable qualities of the male sin nature that need not be spelled out here. But in the Genesis chapter three curses, it seems to be the twin issues of degradation of quality of life and of subordination to the new reality that are being addressed: as a result of the fall 1) the serpent eats dust, and will ultimately be subject to being crushed; 2) the woman will have pain in procreation and will be under a more pronounced subjection to her husband; 3) the man will know pain in his labor and will ultimately be subject to death.

In the history of the world, like it or not, women certainly have been under very clear and pronounced societal subordination to their husbands in most cultures at most times. This is clearly the rule rather than the exception (certainly in my own area of specialization, Greece and Rome, that was the case). The fact that in the modern, western world we see gender roles and authority relationships relaxing both generally and specifically hasn't changed the reality of this curse. For one thing, while I believe that it is fair to say that the high incidence of divorce in our own country is not a little connected with the lack of authority in marriage generally today, internally and externally, nevertheless marriages continue to be contracted. Indeed, a woman (or a man, for that matter) can have as many marriages as she can have, and there is no longer any overwhelming societal stigma in being divorced and remarried. The fact that even in the midst of such turmoil and with more than enough freedom to avoid it women in general still persevere in their desire for husbands and families I would argue proves the point.

So while there are scriptures which deal with issue of authority in marriage (cf. Paul's comments on women in the church in 1Cor.14 and 1Tim.2), I believe the desire is for marriage in the first place rather than for dominance in it. In fact, to look at the flip-side of what I find in the language at Genesis 3:16b, if the average woman would rather be in charge or at least not be under anyone's authority, it stands to reason that without the tshuqah of Gen.3:16b which "drives" her to want husband/children, there would be much less incentive for a woman to marry in the first place when that has generally meant that she will indeed have to be subject to such authority in most instances (Q.E.D.).

You might also find these links of interest:

Jeremiah 31:22: "A Woman shall Compass a Man".

Antichrist's 'desire of women' in Daniel 11:37 et al.

Is "helpmeet" a wrong translation in Genesis 2:20?

Thanks again for all your good words,

In Him in whom there is no male or female, the One who died for us all, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Bob L.

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