She Shall Be Called Woman
Part One Session Seven
In many parts of the Christian church today it is still taught that God punished Eve by making her subordinate to her husband Adam for all time.
From this core traditional teaching other varied teachings on the subject have also sprung up. For instance, some teach that because Eve was subjected to Adam’s authority by God, then it follows that all women are to be continually subjected to male authority. Others teach that female ‘submission’ to male authority is only relevant to married couples. We will be doing some exciting work on this subject later in Part Two when we look closely at relevant New Testament passages that relate to submission. For now, let’s take a much closer look at the second half of Genesis 3:16 which has been a source of much confusion to women and men alike throughout Christian history.
Myth Eight: The belief that God punished Eve by making women subordinate to men.
In the second half of Genesis 3:16 it says "your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you." (NKJV). Here are some other popular translations of the passage:
And thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. (KJV)
And though your desire will be for your husband, he will be your master. (TLB)
Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you. (NIV)
Yet your desire and craving will be for your husband, and he will rule over you. (AMP)
You'll want to please your husband, but he'll lord it over you." (The Message Bible)
Your desire will be for your husband, yet he will dominate you. (Holman Christian Standard Bible)
Yet your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you."(NASB)
Now we will do a brief word study on the Hebrew word teshuqa which has been translated "desire" in Genesis 3:16. The translation of teshuqa as “desire” has traditionally been understood to mean there will be lust on the part of the woman towards her husband. Another traditional teaching on this passage has also been that women will desire to rule over men.
For centuries, therefore, this passage has been used as proof that men are in danger from women because women either wish to sexually seduce them or totally dominate them. Furthermore, it has also been taught that Eve’s subjection to Adam was part of ‘the curse’ God placed upon her as punishment for listening to the Serpent. (In Session Five we saw that God did not curse Eve).
Because of this erroneous teaching, countless multitudes of women have suffered untold oppression, and countless men have felt justified in subjugating them. Traditional Christianity has and still does use the improper understanding of this passage to deny leadership to anointed and gifted women simply based on their gender, thus robbing the Christian church of much needed resources.
However, if we look more deeply into the word "teshuqa" we find that all of the most reliable ancient versions of the Old Testament, including the Septuagint, a very old Greek translation, render this word with the idea of
"turning". There is no implication of ‘desire’ or ‘lust’ in the word whatsoever.
The Septuagint is a Greek translation that dates to around 300B.C and is widely considered the best translation of the Old Testament as it is taken from an older and purer form of Hebrew than later translations. It uses the word "apostrophe" as a synonym for the Hebrew word "teshuqa”. In Greek “apostrophe” means turning towards something and away from something else, changing direction.
Again, the distortion of the meaning of this passage arose through the influence of the Talmud, an ancient compilation of the traditions of the Jews. The traditional teaching that God cursed Eve, and through her, all women, comes not from the original Hebrew version of Genesis 3:16, but from the Babylonian Talmud, which, in fact, teaches 10 curses of womanhood. The 5th curse is, "Thy desire shall be toward thy husband." This distortion was first introduced to the church by Jerome through the Latin Vulgate translation of the Bible in A.D. 382.
If God is not punishing Eve, then what is He doing? We believe the original Hebrew gives us a picture of God prophesying to Eve exactly what would be the result of her turning away from Him and towards her husband. The Fall not only corrupted Adam and Eve’s relationship with God, it also corrupted their relationship with one another. God is here prophesying to Eve that as she turned towards her husband, either placing him between herself and God or choosing him rather than God, there would be a consequence. This was not God punishing or cursing Eve; it was God stating to her what would be the natural outcome of her own choice to turn towards her husband in God’s place.
When any of us turn from giving God alone pre-eminence in our lives, yielding to someone or something other than Him as sovereign, we bring ourselves into bondage to the thing we have turned to (see Galatians 4:9). “For by whom a person is overcome by him also he is brought into bondage.” (2 Peter 2:19). In turning from God to Adam, Eve gave the male power to rule over her and in fact enslave her. The history of male/female relationship has proven this out.
Let us understand clearly that when Eve’s expectation turned away from God and towards her husband to meet all her physical, emotional and spiritual needs, this was idolatry. The New Testament is clear that there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, (Greek anthropos, male or female), the Man Christ Jesus (1 Tim. 2:5). Some of you may have been subjected to the false teaching that ‘the male is the priest of the home’ and as such ‘covers’ his wife and family, which has been popular in some Christian denominations. Much can be said about this, but it is enough here to say that the New Testament gives no such teaching. Rather it emphasises the priesthood of ALL believers, (men women and children) (1 Peter 2:5, 9). To place anyone at all as a mediator between ourselves and God, other than Christ Himself, is idolatry pure and simple.
Furthermore, it is through the shed Blood of Christ that we have been reconciled first to God and then to one another. Let us not dishonour that precious Blood by placing ourselves under bondage of any kind at all.
We hope this Session has helped you to understand that women were not placed under subjection to men by God and through the Blood of our Saviour and Great High Priest we are called to walk in equal partnership with our male brothers as a royal priesthood. God’s intention and purpose is to heal and redeem the relationship between male and female that Satan sought to destroy in the Garden. Let’s realise we have an enemy, and it is not each other. Let’s also realise that both men and women have been redeemed from the results of the Fall, and come together in mutual respect seeking together to be the kings and priests we have been called to be, for His glory and His Kingdom.
1. The source of many false traditions comes from a document called the Ten Curses of Eve. You may read it in the Resources Section here.
2. Cheryl McGrath has an excellent article on Husbands as Priests in the Home. To accss click here
Questions and Discussion
1) Has this session helped you in your understanding of yourself as a woman of God? If so, in what ways?