The "Desire" of Eve

Desire, in our culture it has so many different connotations. What exactly was the desire (tswqh) of Eve in Genesis 3:16? In its original Hebrew form the word tswqh is only used three times in the Old Testament twice in genesis and once in the Song of Songs. While several of the commentators agree that the desire being referred to here correlates directly to the reference also being made in Genesis 4:7. John MacArthur says it this way, “Sin has turned the harmonious system of God-ordained roles into distasteful struggles of self-will. Lifelong companions, husbands and wives, will need God’s help in getting along as a result. The woman’s desire will be to lord it over her husband, but the husband will rule by divine design (Eph. 5:22-25).” (MacArthur 2005, 18) After reading what John MacArthur had to say as well as several other commentators who share his same view point it made sense. Because, for anyone of us who has been married for any length of time can recognize the struggles that play out in our homes due to our sin natures.

However I would be doing a disservice if I did not share the rest of my findings. John H. Walton in his commentary on Genesis not only compares the two references found in Genesis he also analyzes the reference in Song of Songs. Walton says, “Song of Songs refers to the male sexual drive, a basic instinct. Genesis 4:7 refers to the basic driving instinct of sin, which is to deprave. In 3:16, then, since the context has already addressed the issue of reproduction that can easily be identified as a basic instinct of a woman…The answer is found in the woman’s instinct, her desire is to have children. The text sees that a desire as “for [her] husband” because such a desire cannot be fulfilled without his cooperation.” (Walton 2001, 228)

Both men make extremely valid points; and while I feel they each carry some truth with them. I must admit I lean more towards the view of John MacArthur, because Paul writes to us in Ephesians 5:22 “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.” [1] Reminding wives that since the curse they must be mindful to follow the lead of their husbands, and not fight fro control.

MacArthur, John. The MacArthur Bible Commentary. Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, 2005.

Walton, John H. The NIV Application Commentary on Genesis. Grand Rapids,MI: Zondervan, 2001.



[1] The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Eph 5:22.

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