And Then the Fall …

January 11, 2013

Life in the garden was just starting to take shape when along came Satan in a serpent costume.

He put his spin on God’s word and gave Eve a reason to doubt Him. Silly girl, she listened to this enemy, considered the fruit and then took a bite. To make matters worse, she handed fruit to Adam and encouraged him to eat too.

I need to point out that Genesis is an historical narrative. What I mean by that is that the events are reported in story form. There is little to no explanation or commentary, we’re just reading about events that happened. With this in mind, we need to be careful about what conclusions we draw. If we can find support from other parts of the Bible and other types of literature in the Bible that would be helpful. 

Back to our story …

Later Eve would say she was deceived by the serpent. 2 Corinthians 11:3 and 1 Timothy 2:14 support this.1

Some folks suggest that women are more easily deceived than men. Certainly Eve was deceived and Adam wasn’t. However, I don’t think you can draw a blanket statement like that from our story line. Certainly the rest of history does not bear this out. Men and women throughout history have been the deceiver and the deceived. You might be able to make the case that women and men are more easily deceived in differing ways by gender, but overall it seems to be a weakness of humankind. All NT believers (male and female) are warned against deception and a part of the Holy Spirit’s work is to lead us into all truth.

Even though Eve was deceived, she still did something that God didn’t want her to do and there were consequences.

God speaks in turn to the serpent/Satan, to Eve and to Adam. He tells them each about a specific consequence and what that will mean for them. 

Let’s take a closer look at what he said to Eve.

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.”  Genesis 3:16  ESV

The consequence was greater `itstsabown  (pain, labor, hardship, sorrow, toil) in childbirth.

There is some discussion about this being about more than just pain in birthing (general pain and sorrow in the role of parent). I won’t argue it, but I am more comfortable with a straightforward rendering of pain in childbirth (still doing some research on this).

God said He would do something (multiply her pain in childbearing), but the rest of what He says does not seem to be a reflection of what He would do. He doesn’t say He would cause her to desire her husband or that He would cause her husband to rule over her. He just states it as what would happen. “Your desire shall be for your husband and he shall rule over you.”

My opinion, at this point, is that He is simply foretelling what would happen to Eve in this newly fallen world.

Let’s look a bit closer.

The word “desire” is teshuqah and means … well, desire. The problem is that the word is used in a couple of other places and people are divided over how that might effect the understanding of the word “desire” in Genesis 3:16.

(said to Cain) … And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door ; and its desire is for you, but you must master it. Genesis 4:7  ESV

Here sin is personified and “desires” Cain. The implication is that he will master it or be mastered by it.

I am my beloved’s, And his desire is for me.  Song of Songs 7:10  ESV

Here is is very clearly about a man’s “desire” for a woman.

So in looking back at Genesis 3:16, does Eve desire Adam (perhaps to master him) or does she desire him in relationship (sexual undertones)? She clearly wants him for something.

I’m going with the “relationship” position. Genesis 4:7 is more figurative language, while the Genesis 3:16 and SofS 7:10 verses are about male/female relationships. And given that we are talking about pain that comes from bearing the fruit of that relationship, I think it’s a better choice (there are also some language reasons, cases and tenses and such, that I will not bore you with now, perhaps in future article).

The other interesting thing about this statement is that it denotes change. Something was, but now it’s different. The question is what?

We didn’t get a clear picture of how Adam and Eve related before the fall, but we know it will be different now. Surely Eve desired her husband before the fall (I can’t imagine God creating a gal for Adam that wouldn’t like Adam), so what is going on here? 

It is possible that mentioning her desire is about the pain in childbearing. “Childbirth is really going to hurt, but you will still desire your husband.”

Or it is possible that God sees that women will unduly desire their husbands. As fallen human beings we tend to look to other people and things when we need to look to God.

Or it may be that desiring her husband (to whatever degree) puts her in a position to be ruled by her (now fallen) husband.

My personal opinion is that there is a bit of truth to all of these. The things that are closest to her heart and dominate her biology are now the sources of difficulty and pain. The consequence of sin is weighty.

(Let’s save the “he will rule over you” part for the next article …)



So what do we know:

Sin entered the world with serious consequences.

Women would now bring new life into the world in great pain.

Women would still desire their husbands (even though husbands would rule and pregnancy meant pain).


Next Article: The Ruling Class 


 Images courtesy of duron123 and stockimages /

1  But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.  2 Cor 11:3 ESV  and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. 1 Timothy 2:14 ESV

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