God lovingly spoke to the womanin the Garden of Eden as recorded in Genesis 3:16. Sadly poor translations hide this and even make it look like God was vindictive and unfair toward her!
There are 4 Lines of loving information in this verse according to Dr. Joy Fleming’s research.
Line 1. God acted in two ways. Even though the translations we have today make it look like God did ONE thing to woman’s body, equivalent to some kind of curse, God actually spoke to her about TWO things.
God said I will certainly do one thing and also another thing. First, God alerted her to the curse that was going to be placed on the ground because of what the man had done. The result for him and for her would be ‘itsabon, or sorrowful-toil, in fieldwork. Second, God confirmed to her personally that she would have conception. That was important because her offspring would crush the tempter’s head.
In Lines 2-4 God did not act. Rather God explained as a gentle teacher of the woman what had happened and would happen.
Line 2. God told the woman she would have ’etsev, or “effort,” when she gave birth to children. She had never given birth before. When she felt the contractions of childbirth she was to know that this did not mean death but only would be part of the strenuous work of expelling her child. God’s promise of “conception” in Line 1 was a word that could mean one or many children to come. By telling her of children to come, God lovingly confirmed that she would take part in God’s plan announced in Genesis 1 that she and the man would be fruitful and fill the earth with children.
Line 3. God looks into her heart and confirms that she still desires her husband. This is a normal and loving desire for newlyweds. Perhaps because some people think she was the temptress of the man they think she had evil desire. This is strange. A simple look at the two other usages of this very rare word reveals nothing of the kind. One use isn’t talking about humans at all. The other is talking about King Solomon’s desire for his lover.
Line 4. The man’s heart is not at all like hers. It is not at all like it should be. The man has rejected God’s command not to eat the forbidden fruit. He has just purposefully eaten it. He has rebelliously decided to follow the advice of the tempter. He has chosen to rule over himself. God warns her that next the man will usurp God’s rule over her too. He will rule over her himself. And he does just that. In verse 20 the man treats her in the same way he ruled over the animals when he gave each one a name. God wasn’t talking to the man in 3:16. God told him to name the animals but didn’t tell him to name her. The man heard God warn the woman that he would rule over but he did so anyway.
In Lines 1-4 God lovingly spoke to his daughter. At no time and in no way did God curse Eve or limit woman in any way. We need to re-educate ourselves and others about Genesis 3:16. That’s why we wrote The Book of Eden, Genesis 2-3. I encourage you to read it right away. You will also benefit from thinking through the questions in the Study Guides that go with each chapter written by former BSF teaching leader Joanne Hagemeyer.
Here’s a link you can use, or simply go to Amazon.
Bruce C. E. Fleming
Founder of the Tru316 Project
Speaker on The Eden Podcast
Author, The Book of Eden, Genesis 2-3