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

Commentary. 23. a longing for “sexual intimacy.”9 Phyllis Trible. R. Adrian Janis Bledstein suggests that hqw#t should be understood not as desire or attraction to something but rather as “attractiveness. Exposition of Genesis (2 vols. NIB 1:363. feminists may seek to banish it. in her book God and the Rhetoric of Sexuality. Waltham. 1978). The Five Books of Moses: Genesis. She who sought to strive apart from man . this dependency shows itself as a woman’s need for “cohabitation..10 In a rather different reading.. He translates the term hqw#t as “yearning.” That is. Exodus. 8 Fretheim.11 Carl Friedrich 5 Fox. 128. 142–45. which carries the sense of being desirable.Lohr: Sexual Desire? Eve. Philadelphia: Fortress. It is a just penalty. Genesis 3:16. There he refers to the term in Gen 3:16 simply as a type of longing. Fretheim. and Modern Jewish Poetry (HBI Series on Jewish Women. FCB 2. It is not merely sexual yearning. and hqw#t 229 the term “lust. . 1942). 7 Leupold. suggests that we are here dealing not so much with desire as with “dependency.” but he provides no explanation for this decision in his notes. . but it persists in cropping out . we might note the idea of Terence E. or having allure. “Are Women Cursed in Genesis 3. . Grand Rapids: Baker. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press.8 This is but a small sampling of the literature. . S. in the New Interpreter’s Bible. Deuteronomy. 1905). Midrash. Leupold. 49. finds a continual attraction for him to be her unavoidable lot. Some are not even clear that the term indicates desire. 112. 1993). Leviticus. in her in-depth and astute Jewish feminist reading of Eve. For Trible. Driver.7 To contrast this extreme view. Numbers. in his classic commentary on Genesis.” According to him.5 Anne Lapidus Lerner. . A New Translation with Introductions.” This desire for sexual intimacy. 1:172.”6 Perhaps the most extreme view here comes from the conservative Christian commentator Herbert C. . 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. and Notes (Schocken Bible 1. and Reflections. even to the point of nymphomania. Fox uses the term in both Gen 3:16 and 4:7. 1995). WC. Athalya Brenner. comes despite the potential for resultant pains of childbirth. . calls this an “apparently unbridled sexual desire. She bases this on a potential semantic link to the Akkadian term kuzbu. “The Book of Genesis: Introduction. God and the Rhetoric of Sexuality (OBT 2. 2007). 6 Lerner. 11 Bledstein. It includes the attraction that woman experiences for man which she cannot root from her nature. Commentary. The Book of Genesis: With Introduction and Notes (4th ed. and not all interpreters agree that we are dealing with desire of a sexual kind. New York: Schocken. . 10 Trible. London: Methuen.” but states: This yearning is morbid. he continues. the woman will be “powerfully attractive” to her husband yet he can/will rule over her. Eternally Eve: Images of Eve in the Hebrew Bible. 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. ” 9 Driver. MA: Brandeis University Press. 27.16?” in A Feminist Companion to Genesis (ed.

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

” “turning toward. it means “conversion.” consult LXX Deut 22:1. 18 Or at times. ed. a term that usually indicates a “turning” or “return. Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft. a word that also carries the sense of “return. Lust. stating. interpreters regularly raise the plausible explanation of graphic confusion. Greek Genesis might have chosen ὁρµή (“rushing towards. and hqw#t 231 lover waits for her beloved.. 1 Sam 7:17.. the Septuagint. as well as the definitions in LSJ. Mic 2:12. 31:18. 47). and K. Laban questions Jacob after his abrupt departure. 2007). who suggests a gloss of “turning to [somebody] for companionship and intimacy.”17 Interestingly. 16 The translation is taken from A New English Translation of the Septuagint (ed. Albert Pietersma and Benjamin G. and T.15 Ἐπιθυµία (from ἐπιθυµέω) carries the sense of “desire” or “craving. Eynikel. “Righteous Abel.. Wright III. the translator chose not to use ἐπιθυµία for hqw#t. 1924].” or “attention.” “impulse. 62).” or “inclination”). In that passage. for with longing you longed [ἐπιθυµίᾳ γὰρ ἐπεθύµησας. “So now you have gone. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 6:19.. I do not here have the space to engage questions regarding what the Genesis translator was translating. Wicked Cain. Space does not permit a full discussion of the translation of this verse. that is. 2 vols.Lohr: Sexual Desire? Eve. 15 Again. 18:24. in Gen 31:30. 123. [But] why did you steal my gods?”16 Alternatively.” CBQ 71 (2009): 485–96. Sir 16:30. LXX Canticles translates hqw#t in a similar fashion.” and Greek Genesis uses this elsewhere. 2002]. Genesis 3:16. Contrast Greek-English Lexicon of the Septuagint (ed.” 486 n. Jer 5:6. 17 For more on ἀποστροφή as “return” and “turning. though usually only in later literature. 4). 1:76. 8:5. I address this question briefly elsewhere (Lohr. the LXX interpreter uses ἀποστροφή in both instances of hqw#t in Genesis (3:16 and 4:7).” Note LXX Jer 8:5. When translating Genesis. a definition that seems more likely influenced by later Hebrew than lexical considerations. Leipzig: Deichert. 33:11. Ezek 16:53. 18:12.”18 Given the evidence. ed. J. one indicating a “turning away” (ἀποστροφή) and the other a “return” (ἐπιστροφή). a term that Symmachus uses in his translation of Gen 3:16 and 4:7. Hebrew htpskn Pskn-yk) to go off to your father’s house. rev. Instead. and BDAG. Hauspie. It is not hard to see why this word is often translated as “desire. Wicked Cain: Genesis 4:1–16 in the Masoretic Text. E. KAT 1. which suggests the gloss “inclination” (in 3:16). as we might expect.” a gloss seemingly derived solely from his reading of LXX Gen 3:16.” given the highly erotic nature of Canticles and the immediate context of the verse. the translator(s) took the word to be not hqw#t but rather hbw#t—or perhaps (Die Genesis übersetzt und erklärt [3rd ed. . See further my “Righteous Abel. for example. 220. and the New Testament. Muraoka (A Greek-English Lexicon of the Septuagint: Chiefly of the Pentateuch and the Twelve Prophets [rev. Greek Versions The LXX provides our first example of translational difficulty. 27. 2003). stating that she belongs to him and that his hqw#t is for her. 41:22. It uses ἐπιστροφή. Louvain: Peeters. where the terms ἀποστροφή and ἐπιστροφή are juxtaposed.

1.4) and four reconstructions (4Q256 frg.16. uses ὁρµή. 3. 126. 22 4Q10 contains Gen 3:1–2. Aquila uses συνάφεια (“conjoining. 6Q18 frg. and Roland Bergmeier. Eve is told.” from συνάπτω. usage of this sort would be exceptional. 15:10. 168. though also in the sense of an attack. the term ὁρµή is never used of a sexual desire but rather signifies a “strong movement toward. 2. 17:4. 1QM 13:12. is found in 4QGenb. therefore.20 The other Greek versions vary to a small degree. and 4Q495 frg. The Text of Genesis 1–11: Textual Studies and Critical Edition (New York: Oxford University Press. 1993). etc. desire. 3:24. 4Q446 frg. albeit in fragmented form. 23. it occurs seven times in the nonbiblical manuscripts from Qumran.3.). 4Q264 frg. in agreement with the MT.” or “close contact. and here we get the impression that the pronouncement entails that Eve will be joined to.19 I will return to this later in the article.21 The Dead Sea Scrolls. they are missing 3:15–4:1.1 [reconstruction of 1QS]. 4Q418 frg. as the fragments . Though definitions of ὁρµή may seem close to English ones for hqw#t (e.g. who states that the word is used here “in sexual connotation. uses the term megbā' (ምግባእ). 1Q1 contains 3:11–14. see also n. Hendel. 1998). Jubilees. 20 I discuss this below. yet he will rule over her.23 I will discuss these passages below.3 [reconstruction of 1Q26]. 24 I here depend on James C. as mentioned. Theodotion for Gen 3:16 has not survived. Leuven: Peeters. 4Q2 contains 4:2–11.” often of the mind. “Your place of refuge will be 19 See. 2. Whatever the case. 70. The Book of Jubilees (2 vols.. though he uses ἀποστροφή in 4:7. however. in my reading of the literature. CSCO 510–11.4 [reconstruction of 1QM]). 4Q416 2 iv. 23 There are seven main instances of the term (1QS 11:22. It is interesting to note that. Atlanta: Scholars Press. 21 Pace John William Wevers. a translational practice largely carried forward until the production of the first English Bibles. her man. 45. or in union with. the biblical manuscripts from Qumran do not contain Gen 3:16. VanderKam.10 [reconstruction of 1QS]. longing.22 Canticles 7:11 is likewise missing (4QCanta becomes fragmented and ends at Cant 7:7). among others. Genesis 4:7.. on the other hand. as we shall see. “place of refuge” or “place of return.24 In Jub. The Samaritan Pentateuch is consistent with the MT in its attestation of hqw#t in both Genesis instances. Samaritan Pentateuch. For our purposes I refer only to the Ethiopic version. and Jubilees Unfortunately.” similar to the translation we observed above in the LXX. “to join to together”). Notes on the Greek Text of Genesis (SBLSCS 35. 1.” ZAW 79 (1967): 77–79.” “union. 128. “Zur Septuagintaübersetzung von Gen 3. although the term hqw#t is otherwise rare in extant ancient literature. the LXX is part of a long-standing tradition that understands Eve’s “curse” to involve a “turning” or “return” to her husband. Symmachus. no. Ronald S.” Though it is possible that ὁρµή could be employed in this way. 2 (2011) hbw#t was the reading of the underlying Vorlage.232 Journal of Biblical Literature 130. There the text contains [w]tqw#t. 1:19. 1989).

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

has been instrumental in challenging previous and long-held views. in this case. Jane Barr. 1982). even 30 For more on Jerome’s Quaestiones here. 38 n. For an overview of the issues involved. 1988). though of course detractors certainly exist. Leiden: Brill. Leiden: Brill. “The Vulgate Genesis and St.34 Maori convincingly argues that differences in the Peshitta and the MT. Yeshayahu Maori uses Gen 3:16 as an important component in building his case. 33 Generally. diss. In Gen 3:16 and the other two instances of MT hqw#t. Consult also the ensuing discussion (pp. Consult also the review article by Yeshayahu Maori. this suggests to some a misogynist tendency in Jerome’s Vulgate (“under the power of your husband you will be”).33 They are relevant because the Peshitta. 35.. 1999). 1979 (StPatr 18. “Is the Peshitta a Non-Rabbinic Jewish Translation?” JQR 91 (2001): 411–18. 34 Maori. R. 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. though never published. T.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.30 Coupled with negative comments toward women in Jerome’s other writings. Monographs of the Peshitta Institute 8. “Methodological Criteria for Distinguishing between Variant Vorlage and Exegesis in the Peshitta Pentateuch. no. 268–73. argues that Jerome’s otherwise faithful renderings in the Vulgate appear most slanted and inaccurate in matters pertaining to women. 31 Barr. Gordon and Maori). Weitzman. Dirksen and Arie van der Kooij. See Lund. 1995). He argues that there was little—perhaps no—direct LXX influence. Jerome’s Attitude to Women. 2 (2011) the term conversio and makes no mention of his translation. After Eden: Church Fathers and Rabbis on Genesis 3:16–21 (Jewish and Christian Perspectives Series 10. Peshitta scholars agree that there is some evidence of LXX influence on the translation of the Peshitta. 33. as also stated in Hanneke Reuling. Hayward. see Michael P. the Peshitta translates the term by using the root  (“return”). 121–28) regarding the essay (between Robert P. Saint Jerome’s Hebrew Questions on Genesis (Oxford Early Christian Studies. is under debate. 32 This seems to be the consensus in Peshitta studies. is in agreement with the LXX. 1–14.234 Journal of Biblical Literature 130. see C. however. The Syriac Version of the Old Testament: An Introduction (University of Cambridge Oriental Publications 56. Oxford: Pergamon. Oxford: Clarendon. which challenges Weitzman.” in Papers Presented to the Eighth International Conference on Patristic Studies Held at Oxford. . Hebrew University. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.” in The Peshitta as a Translation: Papers Read at the II Peshitta Symposium Held at Leiden 19–21 August 1993 (ed. 103–20.32 The long-standing debates regarding the influence of the LXX on the Peshitta will not here be answered but are certainly relevant.D. “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. 1995). Jerome A. 2006). for instance. The amount of influence. and an excellent overview of the relationship between the Vulgate and Quaestiones. 116–17. Lund’s study. Piet B.

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

and some Aramaic dictionaries. Manchester: Manchester University Press. though its meaning is not certain. Beattie and M.” “heftiges Verlangen. . fled to find the definitions “erstarren. .-J. J. authentic Aramaic dialect (albeit a literary one) with its own grammar and lexicon. Gen 3:16. Targum Pseudo-Jonathan: Genesis: Translated. and Tg.” “leidenschaftliche Aufregung”). 118–41. and Song 7:11) and is similar to that found in the Comprehensive Aramaic Lexicon database. 2:532.” a definition found in a small entry in Jastrow (which references only Ps. See Kaufman. 2 (2011) Pseudo-Jonathan is more obscure. Song 7:11).edu/) defines wtm as “urge.” Kaufman goes on to describe how “order began to emerge from this chaos” through important studies (e. 40 Levy. 28. however. meaning “again. 860. . although Levy’s definitions are similar to Jastrow’s (“Aufregung. The Comprehensive Aramaic Lexicon (currently found at http://cal.”40 wtm occurs in only three places in Late Jewish Literary Aramaic (Ps.” Given the evidence.” a term said to be Late Jewish Literary Aramaic.41 This would be similar to btm in Neofiti (just discussed). 41 For more on wt. accordingly. hqw#t in Early Jewish. with Introduction and Notes (ArBib 1B. Cook’s doctoral dissertation and his own work). . Rabbinic. do not contain the term. Wörterbuch. see Sokoloff. 39 See Maher. 42 Stephen A. craving. and Christian Interpretation Before we examine the Hebrew term more fully. 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. Chaldäisches Wörterbuch über die Targumim und einen grossen Theil des rabbinischen Schriftthums (2 vols. MN: Liturgical Press. it is difficult to conclude definitively. McNamara. Although it is speculative. His conclusions (pp. Leipzig: Engel. bwt.236 Journal of Biblical Literature 130. one is baf@.g. sich ängstigen. bwt in Babylonian Aramaic. 4:7. a word often associated with desire. Jewish Babylonian Aramaic. Sheffield: JSOT Press. 1992).42 III. the text seems . Kaufman has rightly characterized Ps.” or “more”) with a m prefix. 1881). Edward M. R.-J.-J. and the challenges involved in the study of Late Jewish Literary Aramaic.. and Jacob Levy. D. to be a hopeless mess. . 1994).. . 1:80. Michael Maher translates this as “desire. G.” in The Aramaic Bible: Targums in their Historical Context (ed. it may be that the term is wt (from Babylonian Aramaic wt.huc . (and by implication Late Jewish Literary Aramaic) in this way: “From a linguistic point of view. Jastrow. 15. with a meaning of something like “return. esp. Levy suggests that the term is derived from h@wAt.’s Gen 3:16) and in Jacob Levy’s Wörterbuch (which references Gen 3:16. “Dating the Language of the Palestinian Targums and Their Use in the Study of the First Century CE Texts. 4:7. sich entsetzen. It uses wtm. 1991). 129–30) rightly underline the lexical difficulties involved in the study of Late Jewish Literary Aramaic. When one looks up that entry. JSOTSup 166. Collegeville. 124–25. studies that have increasingly established Late Jewish Literary Aramaic as a distinct. erschrecken. no. 1195–96.39 It is interesting that.

After Eden. (2) the desire of the evil inclination is for none except Cain and his assoespecially because our texts are biblical ones. 223.”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. Questions and Answers on Genesis. see Earle Hilgert. (1) The desire of the woman is for none but her husband (Gen 3:16). there takes place a turning [ἐπιστροφή/conversio] of sense to the man. Rab.” using the term ἐπιστροφή.43 Philo In Quaestiones et solutiones in Genesin. Yonge. based on various portions of Scripture.Lohr: Sexual Desire? Eve. she is plagued by “domestic ills. and hqw#t 237 tion. D. Questions and Answers on Genesis (trans. 28. 46 Marcus. 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. BJS 232. MA: Harvard University Press.” 48 Reuling. for it is a subject of no worth. He speaks not of a curse upon the woman but of the “necessary evils” of life. The woman experiences pain and toil. 1953). D. Genesis 3:16. 800–801. LCL 380. Philo addresses Gen 3:16 through a question (QG 1. 20.7) is interesting in that it takes the opportunity to explain the nature of desire as it relates to four spheres of life. The Latin version uses conversio. Hay. Yonge uses the word “desire.47 Genesis Rabbah Although a variety of rabbinic sources provide instances of exegetical engagement with Genesis. Our first midrash (Gen. not as to a helper.”48 I briefly highlight a few examples of interaction with Gen 3:16 with special reference to hqw#t. Cambridge. David M. Questions and Answers on Genesis (trans. MA: Hendrickson. For more on the textual difficulties related to Philo’s QG. though the older translation of C. Yonge in this instance rightly translates the same term (ἐπιστροφή/conversio) not as “desire” but as “conversion. it is probably safe to say that “the primary source for rabbinic interpretation of [this book] is Genesis Rabbah. 43 See n. stating. Questions and Answers on Genesis. Philo. 47 This is especially apparent when Philo later gives his answer to the question. C. Atlanta: Scholars Press. I do so briefly and here build on the excellent study After Eden.” in Both Literal and Allegorical: Studies in Philo of Alexandria’s Questions and Answers on Genesis and Exodus (ed. 28. “according to the deeper meaning. but as to a master” (Marcus translation). 28. “The Quaestiones: Texts and Translations.49). by Hanneke Reuling.”44 For our purposes. 1–15. 44 Philo. Peabody. Ralph Marcus. 1991). 31 above. it is interesting to note that Philo speaks not of the “desire” of the woman but of her “turning.45 The Loeb translation of Ralph Marcus brings this out. 1993). . 45 According to the note in Marcus.

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

care for her. Chrysostom Chrysostom uses the Greek term ἀποστροφή in Gen 3:16 to explain the relationship between husbands and wives. 2.” “harbor.” and “protection” (καταφυγή. As Reuling shows. for his part. The husband. see Gerald Bonner. for definitions. refuge from her difficulties. Peter R. In doing so. the original “burden of slavery” implied in Gen 3:16 (“he will rule over you”) is taken away (τὸ φορτικὸν ἀνῄρηται τῆς δουλείας). 53 See John Chrysostom. Ackroyd and C. C. see also the discussion in Reuling. Reluctantly. therefore. After Eden. the man will protect her.” in The Cambridge History of the Bible. Leipzig: Tempsky. 193. and the discussion in Reuling. Augustine is reluctant to comment on the “literal meaning” of Gen 3:16 (see Gen. the decree is a corrective measure to prevent further harm to the human race. Genesis 3:16. F. . . the extent of his use of the LXX. In his reading (De paradiso 14. “Augustine as Biblical Scholar. and rule over her. 54 See further Chrysostom. Eve’s sentence is made milder because she confesses. [because he] deems it incredible that woman should not have been subject to her husband from the beginning. 1896). ἀσφάλεια). 1. λιµήν. vol. From the Beginnings to Jerome (ed. Later. see Ambrose of Milan. Sermones in Genesim. 541–63. De Paradiso (ed. as is also. CSEL 32/1.”52 Ambrose suggests that the origin of sin lies with the woman. 55 How much Greek Augustine actually read. Chrysostom provides three definitions of ἀποστροφή: “place of refuge. Evans. 1970). For a helpful overview. 429.53 The woman will turn to her husband for refuge. Schenkl. Symmachus. whose readings are often based either on the Septuagint or an Old Latin translation that uses the term conversio.29). “Augustine has some difficulty defining [Gen 3:16’s] literal meaning . of course. 15. however.55 In his earlier writings. After Eden. see PGL. Augustine decides that Gen 3:16 announces a “changed form of dominance”—the 52 For the text. she is to “turn [conversa] to her husband and serve him [serviret].54 Augustine Lastly. reciprocates by loving his wife (Eph 5:33). is a matter of debate. 132–34. and hqw#t 239 more pointed in his reading of the pronouncement made to the woman. Sermones in Genesim (PG 54:594). 87–88.Lohr: Sexual Desire? Eve.72). Man. Chrysostom uses Ephesians 5 to explain things more fully: the woman’s “turning” (or place of refuge) is found in her husband. After Eden. thus. we look at Augustine. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. her guilt (“the serpent tricked me”). . 595. 56 Reuling. or least acknowledges.”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. Compare Salvesen. In his Sermones in Genesim (Sermon 4).

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

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

rejoice in your mighty hand and exult in your salvation. Abegg. Scrolls in English. makes reasonable sense. and Cook. Abegg. when we put the passage to our test and exchange the above translation of hqw#t with “return”? It is a matter of debate. angels of destruction. 160. New Translation. (1QM 15:8–11)62 The translation of García Martínez and Tigchelaar here varies to a small degree from those of Vermes and Wise. walk in the statutes of darkness. . Abegg. however. and Cook. 161. but I would suggest that a translation of “return” or “turning. those in the lot of your truth. 63 62 . Abegg. or [run away from th]em. their power disappears like smoke.61 What happens.hm[kbbl Kry l)w wt]xt l)w w)ryt l) Mhy#(m lwk K#wxbw h(#r td( hmh )yk . The translation of 13:11–12 could then be rendered something like the following: And all the spirits of his [Belial’s] lot. again in agreement with Vermes and Wise. and Wise. Vermes translates the sentence in question as “for they are a congregation of wickedness and all their works are in Darkness. 141. 2 (2011) In this case. also makes good sense. Abegg. a reading of “return” also makes sense.242 Journal of Biblical Literature 130. Study Edition. they tend towards Darkness. )cmy )wl hmm[# -.” given the context. 139. New Translation. All the assembly of their [ho]rdes … […] … will not be found. respectively. The third text also is from the War Scroll: l)w Mhynpm wcwr(t l)w wzpxt l)w . it is [their] desire. or be terrified by them. may your hearts not weaken]. For they are a wicked congregation and all their deeds are in darkness and to it go [their] desires. the translation of García Martínez and Tigchelaar. See Vermes.rbw( Cwmk ] Mnwm[h] Do not be afraid or [tremble.[Mhynpm wswnt] l)w rwx) wbw#t lhq lwkw xlmn N#(k Mtrwbgw Mhysxm[ -.” while Wise. and Wise.M]tqw#t wyl)w . . But let us. no. 1:137–39. and Cook translate it “all their deeds are in darkness. In such 61 Compare Vermes. […] their refuge. do not turn backwards.”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. do not panic. to them is their (continual) return. and Cook. García Martínez and Tigchelaar. and Cook. Scrolls in English.

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

Today is his appointed time to subdue and humiliate the prince of the dominion of evil. A New (Old?) Translation? Our history of translation and interpretation reveals that ancient Jewish and Christian interpreters regularly. or they are translating the terms similarly. 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. but texts at Qumran seem to use the term quite straightforwardly when a nuanced meaning of “return” is wanted. to indicate a return. to read hqw#t as “return. He [. and Cook. 163.244 Journal of Biblical Literature 130. particularly in this instance. 23 above for details. understood hqw#t as an action involving the return of the subject or thing. Abegg.” signifying that the enemies will return to chaos and emptiness. Based on our examination. in the above instances where translators use a definition of “turning” or “return.] in all that exists for all time. however. . That is. Not only is bw# in some cases used alongside hqw#t. or rule over. return to where they originated: But you. It is more plausible that the Qumran community used hqw#t. 67 66 . 68 See n. to suggest that the enemies desire whbw wht. often in the context of final destruction or a return to origins. Eve would actively return to the man. I again freely use the reconstructions and translation of Wise. it. and Cook. . if not always. especially in the light of the history of interpretation presented here. no. [For] they will return to chaos and emptiness [whblw whtl]. An obvious question comes to mind in that it is plausible that we are dealing not with hqw#t but with hbw#t. take courage and do not fear them. Cain was warned that sin (or perhaps Abel) would return to him. New Translation.”66 In the context of the faithful being encouraged that their enemies will be defeated on the appointed day. Maori’s idea that we are dealing with a “common Jewish traWise.68 V.” they are basing this on a Vorlage of hbw#t. New Translation. 163. but he could master. Abegg. it is altogether plausible. if not necessary.67 It is less natural. Their support is without strength and they do not [know that from the God] of Israel is all that is and will be. The woman who waited for her absent lover in Canticles was certain that her lover would return to her. 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. Despite increased pain in childbearing. 2 (2011) void.

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

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

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