The meaning. The linchpin pulls meaning into line one of Genesis 3:16 from verse 17 below it and from verse 15 above it. The first Hebrew word in the linchpin is ‘itsabon and can be translated as “sorrowful-toil” or “toil.” The second Hebrew word is heron and can be translated as “conception.” These two words of the linchpin are shown below in bold. The information imported from the linked in context in verses 15 and 17 is shown in italics.
The full meaning of God’s words to the woman in line one of Genesis 3:16:
I will cause you to have sorrowful–toil
(from doing fieldwork, as will the man, after I curse the earth)
but I will cause you to have conception
(the promised victorious Offspring, for I have confirmed you in your warfare against Satan).
Line one summary. The first part of Genesis 3:16 is not talking about the event of childbirth. The first linking word is “sorrowful-toil.” What is unpleasant has to do with something both the woman and the man will have to do – experience sorrowful-toil while working the cursed ground. God made a proleptic prophecy about this to the woman. God announced the results she would experience and the cause was given later when the ground was cursed because of the man’s rebellion. The second linking word, “conception” looks back to the incomplete announcement that was begun with God’s words to the serpent. God’s promise completed the assurance that though mortal, and therefore dying, the woman will live to have “conception” of the promised offspring who will crush her enemy.
Bad results from incorrect translation.
All this important news is lost in translations that are preoccupied with making a statement about childbirth, a statement that serves as a virtual curse on the woman! And if something with the power of a curse had been placed on the woman what should one think of her? What had she done that was so bad that she deserved “pain-in-childbirth?” Especially when the man received no curse on him at all?
To justify God’s supposed curse on the woman people attribute evil acts and intentions to her. They propose that she was man’s temptress. Or they decide that she turned against God in willful rebellion. They suggest she broke from her “proper place” by responding to the serpent-tempter even though God had placed her over all living things at the end of Day Six of creation. None of these ideas is spelled out in Genesis.