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JBL 130, no. 2 (2011): 227–246

Sexual Desire? Eve, Genesis 3:16, and hqw#t
joel n. lohr
joel.lohr@twu.ca Trinity Western University, Langley, BC V2Y 1Y1, Canada

Yhwh Elohim says to the woman, “I shall multiply your suffering and your . . . pregnancies; with pain you shall give birth to sons; and your desire shall be unto your husband, and he shall rule over you” (3.16). Any interpretation of this utterance—as a curse, aetiological statement of fact, blessing or otherwise—is largely dependent on the reader’s gender position and may vary considerably.1

Thus states Athalya Brenner in her important monograph The Intercourse of Knowledge. Those who have spent any time in the literature surrounding the interpretation of this verse will probably only affirm Brenner’s dictum. In fact, some may be inclined to suggest that she is given to understatement. Her words could give the impression that readings of this verse “may vary,” when in fact they regularly do much more—at times they clearly oppose or contradict each other. There is also a risk in saying too little in speaking of one’s “gender position.” Clearly there are a variety of factors in play, not the least of which is one’s religious or theological persuasions, or one’s place in history, society, and culture. All of this, to be sure, contributes to one’s “gender position,” but we need to be clear. The effects of one’s wider presuppositions are truly far-reaching and profound in reading this verse. For some, Gen 3:16 is a problem not only for faith communities that hold the Bible as Scripture but also for the larger world and its social order. Given the Bible’s influence in and on various societies, the potential for this verse to be used for oppressive means should not be underestimated. Many see here the institution of
I am grateful to Dirk Büchner, Joel Kaminsky, Walter Moberly, and Christopher Seitz for their comments on an earlier draft of this article. A shorter version of it was presented at the Canadian Society of Biblical Studies Annual Meeting in Ottawa, Ontario (May 26, 2009). 1 Athalya Brenner, The Intercourse of Knowledge: On Gendering Desire and ‘Sexuality’ in the Hebrew Bible (Biblical Interpretation Series 26; Leiden: Brill, 1997), 53.

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Mutuality is replaced by rule. is the Bible’s first statement of hierarchy within the species. at times. The rule of man over the woman. trans. Mark E. Genesis 1–15 (WBC 1. I examine instances of the term in the Dead Sea Scrolls and then make suggestions on how we might best translate and understand the term in the light of ancient practice. I briefly survey some of the different readings this verse has brought about in the recent past. however. it instead introduces the clause that makes this clear. Patriarchy is inaugurated. Wenham. Genesis (1901. 82–83. however. often translated as “desire. 1987). Gordon J. GA: Mercer University Press. 1930). as announced in Genesis 3:16. 4 Gunkel. Skinner. Prior to this overview.228 Journal of Biblical Literature 130. “and he will rule over you. especially regarding the term hqw#t. All of this is with a view toward understanding the meaning of hqw#t for both translation and interpretational purposes. “Bone of My Bone and Flesh of My Flesh. all four lines of this verse are important and should be understood together. Edinburgh: T&T Clark. Mercer Library of Biblical Studies. the rabbis.”4 Everett Fox. no. Wenham.” is really the crux. Biddle. though he agrees that the verse refers to a sexual desire. I. and the fathers. 81..”2 But perhaps the term hqw#t in Gen 3:16. Macon. . 2 (2011) patriarchy.” is not the primary issue regarding the institution of patriarchy. the immediately following line. it is also clear that this verse cannot be properly understood outside of the larger context of the Eden story and especially the deity’s other pronouncements upon the man and the serpent. calls this a “sexual appetite. desire. That is. 1997). . In this article. the existence of profoundly opposed readings regarding it. 3 2 . that the two ideas are intricately related. 21.” something he claims will “sometimes make [women] submit to quite unreasonable male demands. uses Bird. refers to the woman here as having “a stronger libido than the man. in his commentary on the verse. I do this first to highlight the remarkable confusion there is surrounding the term and. .” ThTo 50 (1994): 527. I am principally concerned to provide an overview of how this verse—particularly the third line and the term hqw#t—has been translated and interpreted in antiquity. or sexual. ICC.” an idea with which John Skinner does not concur. Phyllis Bird’s words might be taken as representative: “A hierarchy of order is introduced into the relationship of the primal pair. Survey of Recent Interpretations: hqw#t Perhaps the most common way of understanding the term hqw#t is simply through the word “desire”—often taken as sensual. A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on Genesis (2nd ed. in his translation of the Torah. Following my survey of the history of reception.”3 Hermann Gunkel. It is clear. For example. something he calls an “ardent desire. Waco: Word. in his Genesis commentary. In fact.

Leviticus. Some are not even clear that the term indicates desire. but it persists in cropping out . we might note the idea of Terence E.11 Carl Friedrich 5 Fox. S. 10 Trible. She bases this on a potential semantic link to the Akkadian term kuzbu. suggests that hqw#t must be understood in the larger context of the man and the woman losing the original union and equal bond found in the creation stories of Genesis 1 and 2. comes despite the potential for resultant pains of childbirth. Midrash.5 Anne Lapidus Lerner. Commentary. calls this an “apparently unbridled sexual desire. Exodus.” This desire for sexual intimacy. Fretheim. even to the point of nymphomania. New York: Schocken. in the New Interpreter’s Bible.Lohr: Sexual Desire? Eve. Eternally Eve: Images of Eve in the Hebrew Bible. 6 Lerner. which carries the sense of being desirable. he continues. . “The Book of Genesis: Introduction. WC.” but he provides no explanation for this decision in his notes. finds a continual attraction for him to be her unavoidable lot. Waltham. 1993). Leupold.” but states: This yearning is morbid. NIB 1:363. . . Athalya Brenner. . 1905). or having allure. in her book God and the Rhetoric of Sexuality. “Are Women Cursed in Genesis 3. . and not all interpreters agree that we are dealing with desire of a sexual kind. in his classic commentary on Genesis.7 To contrast this extreme view. 8 Fretheim. R. Fox uses the term in both Gen 3:16 and 4:7. Exposition of Genesis (2 vols. Grand Rapids: Baker. Numbers.. . 1978). 142–45.. feminists may seek to banish it. It includes the attraction that woman experiences for man which she cannot root from her nature.8 This is but a small sampling of the literature. FCB 2.16?” in A Feminist Companion to Genesis (ed. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press. The Five Books of Moses: Genesis. It is a just penalty. 27. For Trible. . London: Methuen. There he refers to the term in Gen 3:16 simply as a type of longing. Deuteronomy.”9 Phyllis Trible. Commentary. 128. and hqw#t 229 the term “lust. MA: Brandeis University Press. 1995). suggests that we are here dealing not so much with desire as with “dependency. 2007). God and the Rhetoric of Sexuality (OBT 2.”6 Perhaps the most extreme view here comes from the conservative Christian commentator Herbert C. A New Translation with Introductions. He translates the term hqw#t as “yearning. 49. The Book of Genesis: With Introduction and Notes (4th ed. It is not merely sexual yearning. Adrian Janis Bledstein suggests that hqw#t should be understood not as desire or attraction to something but rather as “attractiveness. Driver. in her in-depth and astute Jewish feminist reading of Eve. and Notes (Schocken Bible 1.” According to him. the woman will be “powerfully attractive” to her husband yet he can/will rule over her. a longing for “sexual intimacy. hqw#t comes to symbolize that for which the woman longs but which is now lost: the original unity and equality of male and female. She who sought to strive apart from man . 112.10 In a rather different reading. Genesis 3:16. Philadelphia: Fortress.” That is. this dependency shows itself as a woman’s need for “cohabitation. 7 Leupold. and Reflections. 11 Bledstein. 23. 1:172. . and Modern Jewish Poetry (HBI Series on Jewish Women. 1942). ” 9 Driver.

compare Walter C. Jacob and Walter Jacob. Cain. Compare Otto Procksch. and in Cant 7:10 [MT 11].. Indeed. Versions and Translations The Masoretic Text To begin.. is counseled that he can/may/must/shall “master” it. German original. We turn. the same verb (l#m) used of the man concerning the woman in 3:16. Israel Abrahams. we can see that a plethora of interpretations surrounds this term and the sampling offered here is just a smattering of more recent commentaries and studies. 30. 204–5. Kaiser Jr. . a verse that Umberto Cassuto probably rightly called “one of the most difficult and obscure” sentences in the Bible. 3 vols. 2 (2011) Keil and Franz Delitzsch also resist the word “desire” and instead opt for the idea of a “violent craving. Ernest I. Jersey City: Ktav. The Pentateuch (trans. James Martin.. something said to be lying in wait. der Genesis” . 1861–70). A Commentary on the Book of Genesis (trans. although the woman feels “‘irresistibly’ attracted to man. Does the dominating position of man contradict her position as helper? Naturally the stronger..14 In Canticles.” Though this term is perhaps seemingly close to sexual desire. ready to pounce on Cain. . nothing at all has really changed in the Gen 3:16 pronouncement made to Eve. As the parallels between these two passages are clear. As is well known. the term appears in only three places: here (Gen 3:16). 2 vols. Toward Old Testament Ethics (Grand Rapids: Zondervan. to examine how this term has been used in the ancient versions and translations.13 From all of the above. 14 Cassuto. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans. 2007).12 Lastly. hqw#t is used in a setting where the female 12 Keil and Delitzsch. . however. II.” it is nevertheless nothing new. no. He states: It is a mistake to believe that the relation of woman to man is [here] changed (from 2. 1973. He states that. In fact. how we translate this term in 3:16 will undoubtedly have implications for our understanding of the enigmatic Gen 4:7. and then in the interpretations of the rabbis and the church fathers. In Gen 4:7 it is used to describe sin (or perhaps Abel). 1983). then. . Nothing would have changed had she not eaten the fruit. Jerusalem: Magnes. the protector. augmented ed. who calls it “Der dunkelste Vers . it is worth noting how and where the term hqw#t features in the masoretic tradition. it is worth noting the reading of Benno Jacob. in Gen 4:7. . 13 Jacob. should be the leader. while discussing various interpretations. 1972). even in the garden of Eden she would have given birth in pain and would have been subordinate to man. they instead specify that it indicates a constant “seeking” of something.20). The First Book of the Bible: Genesis (trans. 1:103. not necessarily in the sexual realm.230 Journal of Biblical Literature 130. things become more complex as we venture further into history. 1:208.

J. that is. Sir 16:30. and T. it means “conversion. . Genesis 3:16. Wicked Cain: Genesis 4:1–16 in the Masoretic Text. It is not hard to see why this word is often translated as “desire..” or “inclination”). though usually only in later literature. ed.Lohr: Sexual Desire? Eve. the translator(s) took the word to be not hqw#t but rather hbw#t—or perhaps (Die Genesis übersetzt und erklärt [3rd ed. interpreters regularly raise the plausible explanation of graphic confusion. [But] why did you steal my gods?”16 Alternatively. Eynikel. Lust. which suggests the gloss “inclination” (in 3:16). “So now you have gone. Muraoka (A Greek-English Lexicon of the Septuagint: Chiefly of the Pentateuch and the Twelve Prophets [rev. 1924]. 15 Again. Contrast Greek-English Lexicon of the Septuagint (ed. Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft. the Septuagint. KAT 1.” and Greek Genesis uses this elsewhere. 2 vols. Albert Pietersma and Benjamin G. Greek Versions The LXX provides our first example of translational difficulty.”18 Given the evidence. Laban questions Jacob after his abrupt departure. as we might expect. for example.” Note LXX Jer 8:5. I address this question briefly elsewhere (Lohr. Oxford: Oxford University Press. who suggests a gloss of “turning to [somebody] for companionship and intimacy. 33:11.” given the highly erotic nature of Canticles and the immediate context of the verse. and BDAG.” 486 n. one indicating a “turning away” (ἀποστροφή) and the other a “return” (ἐπιστροφή). LXX Canticles translates hqw#t in a similar fashion.” consult LXX Deut 22:1. Jer 5:6. 2002].” CBQ 71 (2009): 485–96. 41:22. a term that usually indicates a “turning” or “return. 4). for with longing you longed [ἐπιθυµίᾳ γὰρ ἐπεθύµησας.” or “attention... E. 47). a term that Symmachus uses in his translation of Gen 3:16 and 4:7.” a gloss seemingly derived solely from his reading of LXX Gen 3:16. Wicked Cain. 27.”17 Interestingly. Instead. 8:5. 220. 18:24.. “Righteous Abel. the LXX interpreter uses ἀποστροφή in both instances of hqw#t in Genesis (3:16 and 4:7). 2003). rev. Wright III. Louvain: Peeters. Ezek 16:53. 1:76. 62). a word that also carries the sense of “return. 123.15 Ἐπιθυµία (from ἐπιθυµέω) carries the sense of “desire” or “craving. and K. It uses ἐπιστροφή. 18:12. 6:19. I do not here have the space to engage questions regarding what the Genesis translator was translating. Leipzig: Deichert. stating that she belongs to him and that his hqw#t is for her. See further my “Righteous Abel. a definition that seems more likely influenced by later Hebrew than lexical considerations. 1 Sam 7:17. 31:18. ed. Hebrew htpskn Pskn-yk) to go off to your father’s house. 2007). where the terms ἀποστροφή and ἐπιστροφή are juxtaposed. Space does not permit a full discussion of the translation of this verse.” “impulse. 17 For more on ἀποστροφή as “return” and “turning. 18 Or at times. as well as the definitions in LSJ. Greek Genesis might have chosen ὁρµή (“rushing towards. In that passage. stating. in Gen 31:30. Hauspie. the translator chose not to use ἐπιθυµία for hqw#t. and hqw#t 231 lover waits for her beloved. and the New Testament. Mic 2:12. When translating Genesis.” “turning toward. 16 The translation is taken from A New English Translation of the Septuagint (ed.

on the other hand.232 Journal of Biblical Literature 130. however.” often of the mind. 126.g.1. 1Q1 contains 3:11–14.. in agreement with the MT. 3:24. For our purposes I refer only to the Ethiopic version. 24 I here depend on James C. yet he will rule over her. “place of refuge” or “place of return. uses ὁρµή.1 [reconstruction of 1QS]. is found in 4QGenb.4) and four reconstructions (4Q256 frg.22 Canticles 7:11 is likewise missing (4QCanta becomes fragmented and ends at Cant 7:7). The Book of Jubilees (2 vols.” from συνάπτω. It is interesting to note that. 4Q446 frg. 70.” Though it is possible that ὁρµή could be employed in this way. Jubilees. There the text contains [w]tqw#t. who states that the word is used here “in sexual connotation. though also in the sense of an attack. “to join to together”). it occurs seven times in the nonbiblical manuscripts from Qumran.” ZAW 79 (1967): 77–79. among others.” “union. 1:19. 128. 15:10.20 The other Greek versions vary to a small degree.3 [reconstruction of 1Q26]. 3. see also n. Leuven: Peeters. 4Q416 2 iv. no. the LXX is part of a long-standing tradition that understands Eve’s “curse” to involve a “turning” or “return” to her husband. 23.16. desire. as the fragments .24 In Jub. albeit in fragmented form. 1. and Jubilees Unfortunately. uses the term megbā' (ምግባእ). 1993). and 4Q495 frg. 168.” or “close contact.. or in union with. Atlanta: Scholars Press. Theodotion for Gen 3:16 has not survived. 1998). etc. Notes on the Greek Text of Genesis (SBLSCS 35. The Text of Genesis 1–11: Textual Studies and Critical Edition (New York: Oxford University Press. 23 There are seven main instances of the term (1QS 11:22. Hendel.4 [reconstruction of 1QM]). although the term hqw#t is otherwise rare in extant ancient literature. her man. VanderKam. 20 I discuss this below. 1989). usage of this sort would be exceptional. CSCO 510–11. Ronald S.” similar to the translation we observed above in the LXX. Samaritan Pentateuch. 4Q2 contains 4:2–11. The Samaritan Pentateuch is consistent with the MT in its attestation of hqw#t in both Genesis instances. 2. 6Q18 frg.10 [reconstruction of 1QS].). in my reading of the literature. longing. though he uses ἀποστροφή in 4:7.21 The Dead Sea Scrolls.19 I will return to this later in the article. 21 Pace John William Wevers. the term ὁρµή is never used of a sexual desire but rather signifies a “strong movement toward. the biblical manuscripts from Qumran do not contain Gen 3:16. 4Q264 frg. and here we get the impression that the pronouncement entails that Eve will be joined to. as we shall see. Symmachus. 17:4.3.23 I will discuss these passages below. “Zur Septuagintaübersetzung von Gen 3. therefore. 22 4Q10 contains Gen 3:1–2. as mentioned. a translational practice largely carried forward until the production of the first English Bibles. 2 (2011) hbw#t was the reading of the underlying Vorlage. and Roland Bergmeier. Aquila uses συνάφεια (“conjoining. 1QM 13:12. 2. Genesis 4:7. 45. they are missing 3:15–4:1. Eve is told. 4Q418 frg. “Your place of refuge will be 19 See. Though definitions of ὁρµή may seem close to English ones for hqw#t (e. Whatever the case.

W. Wintermute translates similarly: “to your husband you will return and he will rule over you” (“Jubilees: A New Translation and Introduction. 464. Lewis and Charles Short. 8. 1982]) excludes works written later than 200 c. Despite its age. Oscar Boyd. where he uses from Qumran and the citations by Greek writers do not include Jub. the Vulgate. which he does not. 10. Jubilees. “Recent Scholarship on the Book of Jubilees. Genesis (VL 2. Whatever the case. however. 82–83. In Gen 3:16 he uses phrasing that indicates not “turning” or “desire” but the submission of the woman to the man. Freiburg: Herder. Of particular interest is Jerome’s decision to render all three biblical instances of hqw#t differently. Glare (Oxford Latin Dictionary [Oxford: Oxford University Press.e. Jerome uses the term appetitus. though it is not in view here. as well as VanderKam. he will rule over you. 69–71. 26 See J. 1879).” This then dovetails into his translation of the following line: the man will “have dominion” over the woman (et ipse dominabitur tui).” If appetitus were indeed the closest of the terms to hqw#t. 25 The translation is from VanderKam. we might have expected Jerome to employ it in the sexually charged Canticles passage as well. containing introductory material. Unfortunately. The Octateuch in Ethiopic: According to the Text of the Paris Codex. see VanderKam. signifying a “turning” or “return. meaning “and under the power of your husband you will be. 1951). Leiden: Brill. 1 of the Canticles critical edition has appeared (Eva SchulzFlügel.”25 The same term is used in the Ethiopic version of Genesis in both 3:16 and 4:7. this dictionary is preferred here. and hqw#t 233 with your husband. 29 Definitions are taken from Lewis and Short. indicating a type of desire.” a “longing. In Gen 4:7. indicating an “attack. Both Latin terms signify a “turning” or “return” and are therefore good synonyms for the Greek ἀποστροφή.28 More significant for our purposes is Jerome’s Latin translation. In his annotations.” or a “grasping at.Lohr: Sexual Desire? Eve. A Latin Dictionary: Founded upon Andrews’ Edition of Freund’s Latin Dictionary (Oxford: Clarendon. however. 27 In later Latin.” Currents in Biblical Research 6 (2008): 405–31. Freiburg: Herder.”29 In Canticles. . The Old Latin tends to use conversio (or occasionally reversio) in its rendering of MT hqw#t. conversio comes to be associated with religious conversion. See Charlton T. Canticum canticorum [VL 10/3. It states et sub viri potestate eris. as P. 1909). 28 The details may be found in Bonifatius Fischer.26 Latin Versions We turn now to Latin versions. 1992]). Genesis 3:16. G. For more on the state of the text of Jubilees.” Orval S. only vol. in that it is believed to be a translation of the Hebrew. 3:24 (the verse related to our study). Jubilees. 2:19. in Gen 3:16 the matter is further complicated in that Jerome discusses the passage in his later Quaestiones Hebraicae in Genesim. VanderKam notes that “place of refuge” could also be rendered “place of return.” OTP 2:60). with Variants of Five Other Manuscripts (Bibliotheca Abessinica 3.27 The Old Latin (primarily) uses conversio in all three canonical instances of MT hqw#t. Jerome translates the term conversio. 2:19.

for instance. as also stated in Hanneke Reuling.34 Maori convincingly argues that differences in the Peshitta and the MT. Gordon and Maori). Peshitta scholars agree that there is some evidence of LXX influence on the translation of the Peshitta. and an excellent overview of the relationship between the Vulgate and Quaestiones. The amount of influence. in this case. 1999). though never published. 32 This seems to be the consensus in Peshitta studies. 1995). Jane Barr. Jerome’s Attitude to Women. . no. In an article that seeks to establish criteria for determining when the Peshitta Vorlage contained a variant or when the translator engaged in translational exegesis. argues that Jerome’s otherwise faithful renderings in the Vulgate appear most slanted and inaccurate in matters pertaining to women. Hayward. this suggests to some a misogynist tendency in Jerome’s Vulgate (“under the power of your husband you will be”). 268–73. 33 Generally.” in The Peshitta as a Translation: Papers Read at the II Peshitta Symposium Held at Leiden 19–21 August 1993 (ed. 116–17. Saint Jerome’s Hebrew Questions on Genesis (Oxford Early Christian Studies. which challenges Weitzman. 1995). 34 Maori.33 They are relevant because the Peshitta. Oxford: Pergamon..30 Coupled with negative comments toward women in Jerome’s other writings. 2 (2011) the term conversio and makes no mention of his translation. T. diss. Consult also the ensuing discussion (pp. Dirksen and Arie van der Kooij. however. see C. Hebrew University. 31 Barr. 33. 1988). “The Influence of the Septuagint on the Peshitta: A Re-Evaluation of Criteria in Light of Comparative Study of the Versions in Genesis and Psalms” (Ph. “Is the Peshitta a Non-Rabbinic Jewish Translation?” JQR 91 (2001): 411–18. Oxford: Clarendon. has been instrumental in challenging previous and long-held views. He argues that there was little—perhaps no—direct LXX influence.D. Monographs of the Peshitta Institute 8. 1–14. is under debate. The Syriac Version of the Old Testament: An Introduction (University of Cambridge Oriental Publications 56. see Michael P. Yeshayahu Maori uses Gen 3:16 as an important component in building his case. R. Lund’s study. “Methodological Criteria for Distinguishing between Variant Vorlage and Exegesis in the Peshitta Pentateuch. 2006). 1982). Jerome A. even 30 For more on Jerome’s Quaestiones here. In Gen 3:16 and the other two instances of MT hqw#t.234 Journal of Biblical Literature 130. 103–20. Consult also the review article by Yeshayahu Maori. is in agreement with the LXX.31 The Peshitta The manuscripts of the Old Testament Peshitta are also important in that they are generally believed to be a translation of a Hebrew original that was very close (though not necessarily identical) to the MT. Weitzman. the Peshitta translates the term by using the root  (“return”). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.32 The long-standing debates regarding the influence of the LXX on the Peshitta will not here be answered but are certainly relevant. 121–28) regarding the essay (between Robert P. See Lund.” in Papers Presented to the Eighth International Conference on Patristic Studies Held at Oxford. After Eden: Church Fathers and Rabbis on Genesis 3:16–21 (Jewish and Christian Perspectives Series 10. Piet B. 38 n. though of course detractors certainly exist. For an overview of the issues involved. “The Vulgate Genesis and St. 35. Leiden: Brill. 1979 (StPatr 18. Leiden: Brill.

W. Genesis and Exodus [London: Longman. Bernard Grossfeld and J. Genesis 3:16. 16. MN: Liturgical Press. or targumic versions). Lam 1:2. 46) and the older translation of J. 41) translate this as “desire. Esth 3:7. Hos 14:5. and idem. and Notes [ArBib 6. I here summarize a potentially lengthy discussion. 1204. see Michael Sokoloff. 33:6. Ezek 7:13. Song 1:5. Eccl 1:15. (Though the latter might appear to deal only with later literature. with Apparatus and Notes (ArBib 1A. 14:5.g. A Dictionary of Jewish Babylonian Aramaic of the Talmudic and Geonic Periods (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press. 7:20. 12:5. 37 See Sokoloff. “Fragments of the Palestinian Targums. Onqelos uses hbwyt. 5.”38 35 Here I truncate and simplify a lengthy and nuanced discussion. Jer 4:1. Longman. which are clearly referring to turning. 1988].. 1992). “turning. the Targums are important for our discussion in that they provide examples—through paraphrase and embellishment—of ancient Jewish interpretation. Job 21:34. 16:28. Wilmington. does not necessarily reflect a variant in the Vorlage. 580. 14:7. 1862]. I return to this methodological principle in the conclusion below. 3:18–19.” or “response. or repentance: 1 Sam 7:6. and Roberts. Apparatus. Isa 1:6. 18.” It is not clear why English translations use the term “desire” (e. DE: Michael Glazier. Etheridge). 9:5. Green. 19. 36 Both Bernard Grossfeld (The Targum Onqelos to Genesis: Translated. even if in direct agreement with the LXX’s ἀποστρφή. 31:22. 32:3.” “repentance. 2:16. In place of hqw#t in Gen 3:16. 5:2. Compare Alison Salvesen. meaning a “return” or “turning. 38 Martin McNamara. 2:14.”36 Neofiti is also close to the LXX in its use of btm (from bwt). 42. 5:6.. 9. as its meaning is not in doubt and all other uses of the term in Onqelos are best translated as “turning” or “repentance. For reasons of space. 336. For more on hbwyt. and the Fragmentary Targums” [p. 24:6–7. inter alia. W.35 To be specific for our purposes. Targum Neofiti 1: Genesis. 4:6. I will return to this idea below. 2002). 5. Maori shows that the Peshitta’s use of  for MT hqw#t. 5:21. he argues that we must respect that in many cases translations will reflect a “common Jewish tradition of exegesis” rather than a shared variant. vol. Rather.Lohr: Sexual Desire? Eve. and hqw#t 235 when shared with the LXX (or with the Samaritan Pentateuch. Amos 5:12. 1. 2002). with a Critical Introduction. however. Etheridge (The Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan ben Uzziel on the Pentateuch. A Dictionary of Jewish Palestinian Aramaic of the Byzantine Period (2nd ed. 61. 3:40. it covers. Jewish Palestinian Aramaic. Symmachus . 34:36. 3]). He shows that the LXX and Peshitta’s decision to render all three instances of the MT’s term similarly (as “return” or “turning”) likely indicates not variants in all six separate instances but rather a common Jewish exegetical tradition. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press. do not necessarily confirm variants in the Vorlage. 17:11.”37 It is interesting that Neofiti then includes a marginal note explaining what the “turning” means more specifically: this is “your safety and he will rule over you. Collegeville. Translated.” Compare the use in all other occurrences of the term in Onqelos. 6:1. The Targumim Though perhaps not versions in the true sense. 57:18. the Neophyti Targum.

124–25..-J. . His conclusions (pp.” in The Aramaic Bible: Targums in their Historical Context (ed. 42 Stephen A. J. 1991). and some Aramaic dictionaries. Rabbinic. and Jacob Levy.edu/) defines wtm as “urge. Jastrow. 39 See Maher. Targum Pseudo-Jonathan: Genesis: Translated. erschrecken.” Given the evidence. . see Sokoloff.g. 41 For more on wt.-J. Wörterbuch.’s Gen 3:16) and in Jacob Levy’s Wörterbuch (which references Gen 3:16. Kaufman has rightly characterized Ps. 129–30) rightly underline the lexical difficulties involved in the study of Late Jewish Literary Aramaic. 28. 4:7. 1881).. .-J. Chaldäisches Wörterbuch über die Targumim und einen grossen Theil des rabbinischen Schriftthums (2 vols. sich ängstigen. and the challenges involved in the study of Late Jewish Literary Aramaic. D.” “heftiges Verlangen. . and Song 7:11) and is similar to that found in the Comprehensive Aramaic Lexicon database. 1195–96. craving. hqw#t in Early Jewish. to be a hopeless mess. 40 Levy. it is difficult to conclude definitively. studies that have increasingly established Late Jewish Literary Aramaic as a distinct.” a definition found in a small entry in Jastrow (which references only Ps. one is baf@. Beattie and M. Leipzig: Engel. See Kaufman. 860. bwt in Babylonian Aramaic. . do not contain the term.” or “more”) with a m prefix. though its meaning is not certain. Collegeville. Cook’s doctoral dissertation and his own work). with a meaning of something like “return. . MN: Liturgical Press. G. It uses wtm.42 III. and Christian Interpretation Before we examine the Hebrew term more fully.” a term said to be Late Jewish Literary Aramaic. esp. meaning “again. “Dating the Language of the Palestinian Targums and Their Use in the Study of the First Century CE Texts.39 It is interesting that. 15. a word often associated with desire. Although it is speculative. Song 7:11). 1:80. accordingly.236 Journal of Biblical Literature 130.”40 wtm occurs in only three places in Late Jewish Literary Aramaic (Ps.” “leidenschaftliche Aufregung”). Levy suggests that the term is derived from h@wAt. 1992). bwt. authentic Aramaic dialect (albeit a literary one) with its own grammar and lexicon. no. the text seems . and Tg. with Introduction and Notes (ArBib 1B. I highlight a few significant examples of interpretation of Gen 3:16 in early Jewish and Christian interpreta- in the Pentateuch (Journal of Semitic Studies Monograph 15. Gen 3:16. The Comprehensive Aramaic Lexicon (currently found at http://cal. however.” Kaufman goes on to describe how “order began to emerge from this chaos” through important studies (e. McNamara. Sheffield: JSOT Press. Edward M.huc .41 This would be similar to btm in Neofiti (just discussed). 2:532. When one looks up that entry. Manchester: Manchester University Press. (and by implication Late Jewish Literary Aramaic) in this way: “From a linguistic point of view. JSOTSup 166. 2 (2011) Pseudo-Jonathan is more obscure. although Levy’s definitions are similar to Jastrow’s (“Aufregung. fled to find the definitions “erstarren. 4:7. 1994). it may be that the term is wt (from Babylonian Aramaic wt. Michael Maher translates this as “desire. R. 118–41. Jewish Babylonian Aramaic. sich entsetzen.

43 Philo In Quaestiones et solutiones in Genesin. Hay. there takes place a turning [ἐπιστροφή/conversio] of sense to the man.47 Genesis Rabbah Although a variety of rabbinic sources provide instances of exegetical engagement with Genesis. not as to a helper. by Hanneke Reuling. Our first midrash (Gen. she is plagued by “domestic ills. LCL 380.”46 Yonge’s translation seems to be more a reflection of the King James Version of Gen 3:16 than a product of lexical considerations. Genesis 3:16. Philo addresses Gen 3:16 through a question (QG 1. Questions and Answers on Genesis (trans. MA: Hendrickson. it is probably safe to say that “the primary source for rabbinic interpretation of [this book] is Genesis Rabbah.”44 For our purposes. 1953). Atlanta: Scholars Press. 28. 800–801. D. 47 This is especially apparent when Philo later gives his answer to the question. “according to the deeper meaning. 20. and hqw#t 237 tion. D. stating. BJS 232.”48 I briefly highlight a few examples of interaction with Gen 3:16 with special reference to hqw#t. The woman experiences pain and toil. 1993). 223. (1) The desire of the woman is for none but her husband (Gen 3:16). Rab. Yonge in this instance rightly translates the same term (ἐπιστροφή/conversio) not as “desire” but as “conversion. it is interesting to note that Philo speaks not of the “desire” of the woman but of her “turning. . 28. I would suggest that in this case we should resist reading a meaning of “desire” into wtm simply because the term apparently translates hqw#t and we have no other attestations of the Late Jewish Literary Aramaic term.45 The Loeb translation of Ralph Marcus brings this out. Questions and Answers on Genesis (trans. Philo. “The Quaestiones: Texts and Translations. Questions and Answers on Genesis. see Earle Hilgert.7) is interesting in that it takes the opportunity to explain the nature of desire as it relates to four spheres of life.49). Questions and Answers on Genesis. For more on the textual difficulties related to Philo’s QG. though the older translation of C. Yonge. Cambridge. Peabody.” in Both Literal and Allegorical: Studies in Philo of Alexandria’s Questions and Answers on Genesis and Exodus (ed. 46 Marcus. David M. Yonge uses the word “desire. 28. but as to a master” (Marcus translation).” 48 Reuling. (2) the desire of the evil inclination is for none except Cain and his assoespecially because our texts are biblical ones. Ralph Marcus.Lohr: Sexual Desire? Eve. 1991). MA: Harvard University Press. 43 See n. for it is a subject of no worth. 1–15. The Latin version uses conversio. After Eden. 44 Philo. 31 above. based on various portions of Scripture.” using the term ἐπιστροφή. C. He speaks not of a curse upon the woman but of the “necessary evils” of life. 45 According to the note in Marcus. I do so briefly and here build on the excellent study After Eden.

Compare Reuling. After Eden. 1983). Freedman. the church experiences “pain that produces repentance [µετάνοιαν] for salvation. trans. 51 See Pierre Nautin and Louis Doutreleau. Midrash Rabbah: Genesis (3rd ed.”: When a woman sits on the birthstool. 165–66.51 Ambrose of Milan is 49 I here loosely quote and paraphrase from H. Didymus the Blind and Ambrose of Milan Didymus the Blind. and God. Paris: Cerf. 1976). 50 The translation is from Freedman.49 Though we could explore each of these ideas separately. 66–67. I briefly provide a sampling of interpretations. 237.. or general desire for the man. Sur la Genèse: ” Texte inédit d’après un papyrus de Toura (SC 233. It could also be that here we have an ingenious way of explaining what hqw#t is. the midrash makes clear that it we are dealing with something that causes the woman to return to the man. “I will henceforth never fulfill my marital duties. in Didyme l’Aveugle. says to her: “Thou wilt return [ybw#t] to thy desire [Ktqw#tl]. no. “In Genesim. a further midrash is given regarding what the desire might mean in relation to the woman in Gen 3:16. though it could relate simply to a desire for intimacy. in his allegorical interpretation of 3:16 (In Genesim 102). as well as the discussion in Reuling.”50 It is interesting that Genesis Rabbah here includes the idea of returning alongside that of desire. its meaning being inextricably linked with the idea of returning. After Eden. . a desire that leads the woman to fulfill her “marital duties”). understands the church to be the woman. thou wilt return [ybw#t] to the desire [tqw#tl] for thy husband [K#y)]. although hqw#t seems to be understood as desire. Midrash Rabbah. . . the term clearly has a wide semantic range here as it has diverse subjects such as rain. It is introduced with the common midrashic introduction “Another interpretation is .. 165–66..” whereupon the Holy One. for our purposes I simply note that. blessed be He. Immediately following this. (4) the desire of the Holy One is for none but Israel (Song 7:11). 102. the evil inclination. she declares. unless they follow Jerome’s harsher idea of the man’s power and the woman’s submission. hqw#t in the Fathers The fathers use the equivalents of “return” or “turning” (ἀποστροφή and conversio) largely without exception. IV. Whatever the case. 2 (2011) ciates (Gen 4:7). It is possible that we are dealing with a sexual desire (i. It is evident that the word by no means implies desire in only strictly sexual terms. London: Soncino. (3) the desire of the rain is only for the earth (Ps 65:10).e.238 Journal of Biblical Literature 130.” and she has a “turning [τὴν ἀποστροφήν] to her husband”—Christ—who rules over her.

whose readings are often based either on the Septuagint or an Old Latin translation that uses the term conversio. . Compare Salvesen. Later. 1. Chrysostom provides three definitions of ἀποστροφή: “place of refuge. Leipzig: Tempsky. Schenkl.55 In his earlier writings. In doing so. the extent of his use of the LXX. λιµήν. Sermones in Genesim (PG 54:594). 56 Reuling. F. for his part.54 Augustine Lastly. 2. C.”52 Ambrose suggests that the origin of sin lies with the woman. In his reading (De paradiso 14. 1970). as is also. From the Beginnings to Jerome (ed. 541–63.29). 53 See John Chrysostom. Chrysostom Chrysostom uses the Greek term ἀποστροφή in Gen 3:16 to explain the relationship between husbands and wives. . Evans. therefore. After Eden. see PGL.” “harbor. is a matter of debate. De Paradiso (ed. see Ambrose of Milan.” in The Cambridge History of the Bible.”56 Following Paul’s understanding in 1 Cor 11:7–9—that only the man was made in God’s image—Augustine argues that the woman’s role has always been subordinate. her guilt (“the serpent tricked me”). Peter R. for definitions. and the discussion in Reuling.72). The husband. As Reuling shows. Man. Augustine is reluctant to comment on the “literal meaning” of Gen 3:16 (see Gen. of course. CSEL 32/1. 429. 595. the man will protect her. Chrysostom uses Ephesians 5 to explain things more fully: the woman’s “turning” (or place of refuge) is found in her husband. Symmachus. the decree is a corrective measure to prevent further harm to the human race. she is to “turn [conversa] to her husband and serve him [serviret]. 1896). however. see also the discussion in Reuling. Augustine decides that Gen 3:16 announces a “changed form of dominance”—the 52 For the text. “Augustine has some difficulty defining [Gen 3:16’s] literal meaning . reciprocates by loving his wife (Eph 5:33). see Gerald Bonner. the original “burden of slavery” implied in Gen 3:16 (“he will rule over you”) is taken away (τὸ φορτικὸν ἀνῄρηται τῆς δουλείας). 55 How much Greek Augustine actually read. Sermones in Genesim.53 The woman will turn to her husband for refuge. After Eden. vol. Genesis 3:16. Reluctantly. [because he] deems it incredible that woman should not have been subject to her husband from the beginning. 87–88. For a helpful overview. thus. care for her. 54 See further Chrysostom. ἀσφάλεια). refuge from her difficulties. 15. After Eden. . “Augustine as Biblical Scholar. In his Sermones in Genesim (Sermon 4). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. and hqw#t 239 more pointed in his reading of the pronouncement made to the woman.Lohr: Sexual Desire? Eve. 132–34. we look at Augustine. and rule over her. 193. Ackroyd and C.” and “protection” (καταφυγή. Eve’s sentence is made milder because she confesses. or least acknowledges.

193–95. After Eden. in that.wtqw#t rp(lw Crwq rmx As what shall one born of woman be considered in your presence? Shaped from dust has he been. h)whw . The first text. Leiden: Brill. no. Joseph Zycha. If that were the case.wrwdm hmr Mxlw wlbgm rp(m h)whw . Tigchelaar.” or “return” for hqw#t would be virtually definite. A number of factors make conclusions difficult. An interesting test presents itself. 1894). italics added (here and elsewhere) for emphasis.Nyby hm tc(lw dy rcwyw rmx by#y hm . a new body of ancient literature has become available that is both Jewish and essentially contemporary with our earliest extant translations of the Hebrew Bible. 1997). 371–72. quite straightforward. navigates a large body of literature. contain seven new instances of the term hqw#t heretofore unknown. In other words. or whether a translation of “turning. is. and for dust is his longing. four instances are well preserved. 11. CSEL 28/1. from the Rule of the Community.57 V. however. . within the past six decades (in most cases less). pp. The Qumran nonbiblical manuscripts. 58 Translations are taken from Florentino García Martínez and Eibert J. The test for our discussion is to see how well a translation as “desire” fits in these instances (thus agreeing with recent translations of the scrolls). Testing the Interpretive Status Quo through the Dead Sea Scrolls The survey above..240 Journal of Biblical Literature 130. Although three of these occurrences are too fragmentary to be of significance. and it is clear that we cannot base our lexical and interpretive decisions purely on the frequency of a particular translation. a translation of “turning. the Dead Sea Scrolls. 2 (2011) woman will turn to her husband and he will rule over her. Service once performed in love now takes on a yoke of slavery. maggots’ food shall be his dwelling. What will the clay reply and the one shaped by hand? And what advice will he be able to understand? (1QS 11:21–22)58 57 See Augustine. here 1:99. he is spat saliva. moulded clay.hkynpl b#{x}y hm h#) dwlyw qwrycm . Prague: Tempsky. making an important contribution to our discussion. interestingly. C.37. how did this ancient community understand and use the term? I will treat the texts in cave order. though brief. The Dead Sea Scrolls Study Edition (2 vols. De Genesi ad litteram (ed. as mentioned. and Reuling.” or “return” is best based on context.

Abegg.. The Dead Sea Scrolls in English (rev. much less) sense contextually. Dust as the mortal’s “longing. Cook (who translate the term as “longing”). towards it goes their only [de]sire.” “inclination. angel of enmity. they walk in the laws of darkness. and extended 4th ed. 135. his counsel is to bring about wickedness and guilt. Martin G. be considered before you? He has been shaped from dust. in the lot of your truth. the one born of a woman. moulded clay. he is spat saliva. . We. C.59 Yet. What will a heap reply [by#y]. In other words. taken from clay. and Cook.” or “return”? The results are remarkable in that the passage makes much more sense: As what can he. ed.hm+#m K)lm tx#l l(ylb hty#( yxwr lwkw . the one shaped by hand? And what counsel can he understand? The mortal. 1:135. The Dead Sea Scrolls: A New Translation (rev. 2005)... shall eventually be the food of worms. instead. the human is nothing compared to the one who shaped him. Tigchelaar is consistent with that of Geza Vermes (who translates hqw#t as “inclines”) and that of Michael O. 88–89. and hqw#t 241 The above translation of Florentino García Martínez and Eibert J. 1995). 60 García Martínez and Tigchelaar. and to dust is his return. rejoice [or ‘let us rejoice’] in your mighty hand.My#)hlw lrwgb wn)w . The one molded from saliva and clay will return to it.Lohr: Sexual Desire? Eve. New York: HarperCollins.dxy hmtq[w#t] wyl)w wklhty K#wx yqwxb lbx yk)lm wlrwg dyb hxm#n hktm) . in view of the history of translation and interpretation sketched above.hkmwl[#bw hktr]z(b hlygnw hkt(w#yb h#y#nw hktrwbg You made Belial for the pit. . The second text is from the War Scroll: (y#rhl wtc(bw wt[l#mm K]#wxbw . and his body shall be the food of maggots. and Edward M. . Abegg Jr. 59 . we revel in [your] aid [and in] your peace. what happens if we translate this with the more frequently used term “turning. the one made of clay is but dust and will return to it. Study Edition. Wise. Genesis 3:16. in dark[ness] is his [dom]ain. All the spirits of his lot are angels of destruction. and Wise. (1QM 13:11–13)60 Vermes. we exult in your salvation. London: Penguin.” or “desire” makes little (or minimally.

See Vermes. New Translation. a reading of “return” also makes sense. 141. 161.61 What happens. and Wise. Vermes translates the sentence in question as “for they are a congregation of wickedness and all their works are in Darkness.” while Wise. New Translation. . or be terrified by them.rbw( Cwmk ] Mnwm[h] Do not be afraid or [tremble. Abegg.[Mhynpm wswnt] l)w rwx) wbw#t lhq lwkw xlmn N#(k Mtrwbgw Mhysxm[ -. 1:137–39. . and Cook translate it “all their deeds are in darkness. […] their refuge. and Cook.242 Journal of Biblical Literature 130. Scrolls in English.hm[kbbl Kry l)w wt]xt l)w w)ryt l) Mhy#(m lwk K#wxbw h(#r td( hmh )yk . respectively. 2 (2011) In this case. do not turn backwards. The translation of 13:11–12 could then be rendered something like the following: And all the spirits of his [Belial’s] lot. All the assembly of their [ho]rdes … […] … will not be found. and Cook. however. no. also makes good sense. may your hearts not weaken]. the translation of García Martínez and Tigchelaar. it is [their] desire. In such 61 Compare Vermes. again in agreement with Vermes and Wise. 160. and Wise. makes reasonable sense. but I would suggest that a translation of “return” or “turning. do not panic. Scrolls in English. (1QM 15:8–11)62 The translation of García Martínez and Tigchelaar here varies to a small degree from those of Vermes and Wise. Abegg.” given the context. and Cook. when we put the passage to our test and exchange the above translation of hqw#t with “return”? It is a matter of debate. But let us. rejoice in your mighty hand and exult in your salvation. 139. walk in the statutes of darkness. García Martínez and Tigchelaar. and Cook. those in the lot of your truth. they tend towards Darkness.”63 In the context of the speaker giving instruction to the faithful not to fear but to stand firm against the army of Belial which will come to nothing. 63 62 . Abegg. Abegg. their power disappears like smoke. angels of destruction. For they are a wicked congregation and all their deeds are in darkness and to it go [their] desires. to them is their (continual) return. The third text also is from the War Scroll: l)w Mhynpm wcwr(t l)w wzpxt l)w . Abegg. or [run away from th]em. )cmy )wl hmm[# -.M]tqw#t wyl)w . Study Edition.

Abegg. and their support is without [. . may y]our [heart not be faint]. . .hyhnw hywh lwk l)r#y . . all their deeds are in darkness and to it they will return. Given the context of the enemy’s eventual ruin. as for you. 65 García Martínez and Tigchelaar. knowing that the ones whose deeds are in darkness will return to darkness: Do not fear or be discoura[ged.] their strength is as smoke that vanishes. . and all their vast assembly [is as chaff which blows away .[ly]x )wlb . and hqw#t 243 a reading the congregation is to stand firm and not be afraid. . the faithful can take courage because the enemy will be powerless and will return to darkness. . not to be a threat again. . For they are a wicked congregation. [They have established] their refuge [in a lie. . [for] their desire goes toward chaos and emptiness. New Translation. Study Edition.” make this slightly more transparent: “But.][ -.]w . .] Mw)ryt l)w wqzxth Mt)w [l)m )yk w(dy])wlw .] in all that will happen eternally. though still translating hqw#t as “desire. 1:141. . also from the War Scroll. for] their end is emptiness and their desire is for the 64 I make use here of the reconstructions (and aspects of the translation) of Wise. do not turn back. Wise. a translation of return makes good sense. The last passage for discussion. Genesis 3:16.]. ] their name shall not be found. . exert yourselves and do not fear them. . A better understanding is achieved in reading hqw#t as “return” rather than “desire”: Mtn(#mw Mtqw#t whblw whtl hmh [)yk -. Today is his appointed time to humiliate and abase the prince of the dominion of evil. 161. Not [do they know that from the God of] Israel everything is and will be [.h(#r tl#mm r# lyp#hlw (ynkhl wd(wm Mwyh And you.64 In other words. and Cook. take courage and do not fear them [. (1QM 17:4-6)65 It is unfortunate that the translation of García Martínez and Tigchelaar obscures a clear linkage to creation and the idea that the enemy will. Every creature of destruction will quickly wither away .Lohr: Sexual Desire? Eve. in a sense.Mymlw( yyhn lwkb l[ -. Abegg. . do not panic or be alarmed because of them. or [flee from the]m. is remarkably clear in that it alludes to the Hebrew creation story with its use of whbw wht. be uncreated in the appointed day of judgment. and Cook.

or rule over. and Cook. I again freely use the reconstructions and translation of Wise. The woman who waited for her absent lover in Canticles was certain that her lover would return to her.67 It is less natural. to indicate a return. or they are translating the terms similarly.] in all that exists for all time. however. return to where they originated: But you. in the above instances where translators use a definition of “turning” or “return. New Translation. if not always. 163. especially in the light of the history of interpretation presented here. Today is his appointed time to subdue and humiliate the prince of the dominion of evil. it seems unlikely that the overwhelming number of translational instances of “return” or “turning”—coupled with our findings in the nonbiblical manuscripts of the Dead Sea Scrolls—allow for such a conclusion. 23 above for details. He [. but he could master. The remaining instances of hqw#t in the manuscripts at Qumran are either reconstructions of the above or are too fragmentary to be of significance for our purposes. 67 66 .”66 In the context of the faithful being encouraged that their enemies will be defeated on the appointed day.” signifying that the enemies will return to chaos and emptiness. it is altogether plausible. [For] they will return to chaos and emptiness [whblw whtl]. no. if not necessary. Abegg. Cain was warned that sin (or perhaps Abel) would return to him. . to read hqw#t as “return. take courage and do not fear them. Despite increased pain in childbearing. but texts at Qumran seem to use the term quite straightforwardly when a nuanced meaning of “return” is wanted. Abegg. It is more plausible that the Qumran community used hqw#t.244 Journal of Biblical Literature 130. That is. A New (Old?) Translation? Our history of translation and interpretation reveals that ancient Jewish and Christian interpreters regularly. understood hqw#t as an action involving the return of the subject or thing. 163. Not only is bw# in some cases used alongside hqw#t. it. Eve would actively return to the man. Based on our examination. particularly in this instance. 68 See n.68 V. 2 (2011) void. New Translation. and Cook. Maori’s idea that we are dealing with a “common Jewish traWise. . An obvious question comes to mind in that it is plausible that we are dealing not with hqw#t but with hbw#t. often in the context of final destruction or a return to origins.” they are basing this on a Vorlage of hbw#t. to suggest that the enemies desire whbw wht. Their support is without strength and they do not [know that from the God] of Israel is all that is and will be.

” respectively). for ancient interpreters and writers. 4:7. Gen 3:16 and Cant 7:10. . though. Interestingly. as I would rather prefer to privilege conclusions drawn from examining the term’s usage than to trace a word’s possible history. and some see a connection between qw# and a potential cognate Arabic term also meaning “leg” (esp.71 Our study has demonstrated 69 I have purposely avoided discussions on etymology. respectively).. The question of where the English translation “desire” (or German “Verlangen”) originates is beyond the scope of this article. and in another place desire can have diverse subjects such as rain.g. In recent translations and interpretation (modern and contemporary). Although such ideas are speculative. ideas present in some of the earliest—and influential— English Bibles. perhaps for refuge or to one’s origins. However.70 Alternatively. yet future work may show that later rabbinic and targumic traditions contributed to modern and recent understandings. and “helt” (from Old German/Sächsische Kanzleisprache. and the King James Version (1611) (which also uses “desire” in all three instances). almost as if part of the genetic makeup of the one (or thing) returning.” or “attract” (see entries for qw# in BDB and HALOT). interpreters have. equivalent to spalten).” “desire. and uses “Verlangen” in all three instances. more often than not. Luther’s 1545 version changes these. perhaps of an impelling nature. and Israel’s God. the Miles Coverdale Bible (1535) (which uses “lust.” respectively). 71 We might also note that the contexts of two of the MT instances. “las” (from Old German/ Sächsische Kanzleisprache. returning someone (or thing) to where he or she (or it) belonged. Luther’s Bibel (1534) uses “vnterworffen” (similar to the Vulgate). they seem to fit the literature well. respectively. e. the Geneva Bible (1587) (which uses “desire” in all three instances). do not help matters. and hqw#t 245 dition of exegesis” is. It seems more likely that ancients understood hqw#t to be close in meaning to hbw#t. We might conclude that. though perhaps there was a nuance involved whereby with hqw#t there is a strong movement toward. translated hqw#t as “desire” and have interpreted this to be sexual desire. I think.” and “turnyng. the translations of Gen 3:16. since the first is related to pregnancy and the second involves two lovers.69 One might suggest that the movement is to an appropriate or natural place. Later rabbinic interpretation gives some credence to this definition. the Bishop’s Bible (1568) (which uses “desire. 70 See. equivalent to begehren). and Cant 7:10 in Wycliffe (1395) (which uses “vndur power. hqw#t and hbw#t had an overlapping semantic range. shank). Tyndale’s Pentateuch (1530) (which uses “lustes” and “subdued” in the Genesis instances. altogether plausible. or even for destruction or in the sense that the returning is final. though it is not altogether clear why.” respectively).” and “turne. as we have seen. even in that literature desire in one place will cause the woman to return to her husband.Lohr: Sexual Desire? Eve.” and “turne. it may be helpful to point out that qw# in Hebrew can mean “leg” or “street” (or thoroughfare or market. but it would be difficult to suggest that a confusion of terms was present or that variants of hbw#t existed. Genesis 3:16. that which a person walks through). “drive” (beast). “impel.” “subdued. it may simply be that conceptually the term “desire” (in the sense of being naturally driven toward or back to something) was useful in older English but has since become problematic on account of its usage and connotations in a highly sexualized Western society. the evil inclination.” “desir.

however. the story explains. not only is open to question but cannot be held uncritically any longer. and history of interpretation of the term and has the potential to skew our reading of a foundational text. the situation would likely be quite different. The content of these statements is open to question. in his “curse. albeit briefly. or be driven to return) to the 'îš from which she was taken. . Because we began our study by looking at interpretations of Gen 3:16. 45. why life. quite simply.” The text would also like to explain.” “nymphomania. Notes on the Greek Text of Genesis. as a story designed to explain why human existence is what it is. at least as that term is commonly understood today. so too is the 'iššâ. it would seem that hqw#t (in Gen 3:16) is operating in conjunction with bw#t (in Gen 3:19) to form a type of inclusio. I think our nuanced understanding of the term has the potential to shed light on how ancient Israel understood the Eden tale to function etiologically—that is. At a minimum. Just as the 'ādām is said. Had our only known instances of hqw#t been Gen 4:7 and the four Dead Sea Scrolls examples examined above.” “sexual appetite.” “unbridled sexual desire. suffering.” and so on.” said to return (hqw#t. and in the light of similar examples in extant ancient literature. As is commonly noticed. on how our findings might contribute to an interpretation of that passage.246 Journal of Biblical Literature 130. that the man and woman will return to their places of origin. one that has had—and likely will continue to have—a tremendous influence on religion and society. and daily difficulties are experienced as they are. The artistry of the language here is rich and impossible to reduplicate adequately in an English translation. 2 (2011) that a definition of “desire” for ancient instances of hqw#t. no. “[t]he Hebrew word refers to sexual desire” should be qualified or avoided. perhaps it is appropriate to comment.” to return (bw#t) to the 'ădāmâ from which he was taken.72 We certainly need to question definitions that relate the term to a “strong libido. but the parallelism now apparent should not be overlooked. 72 Wevers. in her “curse. why the daily lives of ancient man and woman are difficult: “by the sweat of your brow you will eat food” and “in pain you will bring forth children. death. interpreters and lexicons have an obligation to point out ancient perceptions of the term and statements such as Wevers’s that. through divine pronouncements. Conclusion Reading the term hqw#t as sexual desire (or similar) ignores the early usage. reception. VII. definitions attested earlier. In view of the discussion above.

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