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

1978). Commentary. 2007). 1942). or having allure.” According to him. Fretheim.” but he provides no explanation for this decision in his notes. S. . ” 9 Driver. . 49. Grand Rapids: Baker. 7 Leupold. 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. Athalya Brenner. 1:172. in the New Interpreter’s Bible.16?” in A Feminist Companion to Genesis (ed. It includes the attraction that woman experiences for man which she cannot root from her nature. Genesis 3:16. The Five Books of Moses: Genesis. New York: Schocken. London: Methuen. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press. 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. A New Translation with Introductions. Exposition of Genesis (2 vols. we might note the idea of Terence E. Adrian Janis Bledstein suggests that hqw#t should be understood not as desire or attraction to something but rather as “attractiveness. . this dependency shows itself as a woman’s need for “cohabitation. . 1993). There he refers to the term in Gen 3:16 simply as a type of longing. suggests that we are here dealing not so much with desire as with “dependency. he continues.”9 Phyllis Trible.. Deuteronomy. but it persists in cropping out . Waltham. 11 Bledstein. WC. . in her book God and the Rhetoric of Sexuality. and hqw#t 229 the term “lust. It is a just penalty. 27. in his classic commentary on Genesis.” This desire for sexual intimacy. Commentary. “The Book of Genesis: Introduction.10 In a rather different reading. calls this an “apparently unbridled sexual desire. Leupold. Exodus. and not all interpreters agree that we are dealing with desire of a sexual kind. 10 Trible. 6 Lerner. 1995). 142–45.11 Carl Friedrich 5 Fox. FCB 2. MA: Brandeis University Press. and Notes (Schocken Bible 1.Lohr: Sexual Desire? Eve. He translates the term hqw#t as “yearning. 128. 23.” That is. The Book of Genesis: With Introduction and Notes (4th ed.8 This is but a small sampling of the literature. Leviticus. which carries the sense of being desirable.. Fox uses the term in both Gen 3:16 and 4:7. R. 8 Fretheim. 112. comes despite the potential for resultant pains of childbirth. . and Reflections.7 To contrast this extreme view. feminists may seek to banish it.” but states: This yearning is morbid. even to the point of nymphomania. She who sought to strive apart from man . finds a continual attraction for him to be her unavoidable lot. Some are not even clear that the term indicates desire. God and the Rhetoric of Sexuality (OBT 2. Driver.”6 Perhaps the most extreme view here comes from the conservative Christian commentator Herbert C. . Numbers. For Trible. 1905).5 Anne Lapidus Lerner. Midrash. a longing for “sexual intimacy. and Modern Jewish Poetry (HBI Series on Jewish Women. It is not merely sexual yearning. in her in-depth and astute Jewish feminist reading of Eve. . the woman will be “powerfully attractive” to her husband yet he can/will rule over her. Philadelphia: Fortress. “Are Women Cursed in Genesis 3. NIB 1:363. Eternally Eve: Images of Eve in the Hebrew Bible. She bases this on a potential semantic link to the Akkadian term kuzbu.

. Indeed. He states that. 2 vols. Versions and Translations The Masoretic Text To begin. is counseled that he can/may/must/shall “master” it. As the parallels between these two passages are clear. not necessarily in the sexual realm. how we translate this term in 3:16 will undoubtedly have implications for our understanding of the enigmatic Gen 4:7. . In Gen 4:7 it is used to describe sin (or perhaps Abel). a verse that Umberto Cassuto probably rightly called “one of the most difficult and obscure” sentences in the Bible.” Though this term is perhaps seemingly close to sexual desire. As is well known. and then in the interpretations of the rabbis and the church fathers. 2 (2011) Keil and Franz Delitzsch also resist the word “desire” and instead opt for the idea of a “violent craving. 1:208. . while discussing various interpretations. however. A Commentary on the Book of Genesis (trans. in Gen 4:7. Does the dominating position of man contradict her position as helper? Naturally the stronger. der Genesis” . German original. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans. ready to pounce on Cain.14 In Canticles. nothing at all has really changed in the Gen 3:16 pronouncement made to Eve. Jerusalem: Magnes. although the woman feels “‘irresistibly’ attracted to man. no. something said to be lying in wait. the same verb (l#m) used of the man concerning the woman in 3:16. Cain. 204–5. James Martin. 2007). Nothing would have changed had she not eaten the fruit. Jacob and Walter Jacob. hqw#t is used in a setting where the female 12 Keil and Delitzsch. The First Book of the Bible: Genesis (trans. things become more complex as we venture further into history. 30. Compare Otto Procksch. augmented ed. II. who calls it “Der dunkelste Vers . to examine how this term has been used in the ancient versions and translations. . 1861–70). 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. 13 Jacob. even in the garden of Eden she would have given birth in pain and would have been subordinate to man.13 From all of the above. the term appears in only three places: here (Gen 3:16). should be the leader. 14 Cassuto. 1973. We turn. Toward Old Testament Ethics (Grand Rapids: Zondervan. then. the protector. 1983). it is worth noting how and where the term hqw#t features in the masoretic tradition. compare Walter C. The Pentateuch (trans. . Ernest I.12 Lastly. it is worth noting the reading of Benno Jacob. they instead specify that it indicates a constant “seeking” of something. and in Cant 7:10 [MT 11]. In fact. 1972)..230 Journal of Biblical Literature 130.20).. Kaiser Jr..” it is nevertheless nothing new. 3 vols. Jersey City: Ktav. 1:103. . He states: It is a mistake to believe that the relation of woman to man is [here] changed (from 2.

18:12. 2003). Oxford: Oxford University Press. Wicked Cain: Genesis 4:1–16 in the Masoretic Text.”17 Interestingly. Lust. 2007). It uses ἐπιστροφή.. 18 Or at times. 31:18. rev. Space does not permit a full discussion of the translation of this verse. 2 vols. where the terms ἀποστροφή and ἐπιστροφή are juxtaposed. 2002]. one indicating a “turning away” (ἀποστροφή) and the other a “return” (ἐπιστροφή). the translator(s) took the word to be not hqw#t but rather hbw#t—or perhaps (Die Genesis übersetzt und erklärt [3rd ed.”18 Given the evidence. 1 Sam 7:17. Greek Genesis might have chosen ὁρµή (“rushing towards. as we might expect. “Righteous Abel. that is. In that passage. 16 The translation is taken from A New English Translation of the Septuagint (ed. KAT 1. I address this question briefly elsewhere (Lohr. 15 Again.. Albert Pietersma and Benjamin G. and K. 47). and hqw#t 231 lover waits for her beloved. in Gen 31:30. Laban questions Jacob after his abrupt departure. [But] why did you steal my gods?”16 Alternatively. 6:19. the LXX interpreter uses ἀποστροφή in both instances of hqw#t in Genesis (3:16 and 4:7).Lohr: Sexual Desire? Eve. Louvain: Peeters. Greek Versions The LXX provides our first example of translational difficulty. 4). 27. “So now you have gone.” a gloss seemingly derived solely from his reading of LXX Gen 3:16. Jer 5:6. 41:22. I do not here have the space to engage questions regarding what the Genesis translator was translating. 33:11. ed. for with longing you longed [ἐπιθυµίᾳ γὰρ ἐπεθύµησας. a term that usually indicates a “turning” or “return. and the New Testament. 8:5. Hauspie. though usually only in later literature. 17 For more on ἀποστροφή as “return” and “turning.” CBQ 71 (2009): 485–96. the translator chose not to use ἐπιθυµία for hqw#t. Contrast Greek-English Lexicon of the Septuagint (ed.. interpreters regularly raise the plausible explanation of graphic confusion. 62).” consult LXX Deut 22:1. E. 220.15 Ἐπιθυµία (from ἐπιθυµέω) carries the sense of “desire” or “craving. which suggests the gloss “inclination” (in 3:16). stating. It is not hard to see why this word is often translated as “desire. a definition that seems more likely influenced by later Hebrew than lexical considerations. a word that also carries the sense of “return. and BDAG.” 486 n. Ezek 16:53. Genesis 3:16.” and Greek Genesis uses this elsewhere. 18:24. 1924]. Mic 2:12. See further my “Righteous Abel. Wicked Cain.” given the highly erotic nature of Canticles and the immediate context of the verse.. who suggests a gloss of “turning to [somebody] for companionship and intimacy. it means “conversion. Instead. 123.” “turning toward. Sir 16:30. Leipzig: Deichert. Muraoka (A Greek-English Lexicon of the Septuagint: Chiefly of the Pentateuch and the Twelve Prophets [rev. the Septuagint. and T.” Note LXX Jer 8:5. J.” or “attention. as well as the definitions in LSJ. a term that Symmachus uses in his translation of Gen 3:16 and 4:7. for example. stating that she belongs to him and that his hqw#t is for her. Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft. When translating Genesis. Hebrew htpskn Pskn-yk) to go off to your father’s house.” “impulse. .” or “inclination”). Wright III. LXX Canticles translates hqw#t in a similar fashion. Eynikel. 1:76. ed.

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. is found in 4QGenb.. CSCO 510–11. 22 4Q10 contains Gen 3:1–2.1.3. and 4Q495 frg. It is interesting to note that. For our purposes I refer only to the Ethiopic version. 20 I discuss this below.” ZAW 79 (1967): 77–79. “Zur Septuagintaübersetzung von Gen 3. 3.3 [reconstruction of 1Q26]. 23. and Jubilees Unfortunately. uses the term megbā' (ምግባእ).” “union. 1993). 4Q446 frg. “Your place of refuge will be 19 See.1 [reconstruction of 1QS]. 2 (2011) hbw#t was the reading of the underlying Vorlage. 21 Pace John William Wevers.16. Though definitions of ὁρµή may seem close to English ones for hqw#t (e. Jubilees.” or “close contact. uses ὁρµή. in agreement with the MT. 168. Theodotion for Gen 3:16 has not survived. as the fragments .” from συνάπτω. 70. 23 There are seven main instances of the term (1QS 11:22. who states that the word is used here “in sexual connotation. or in union with. 4Q416 2 iv. and here we get the impression that the pronouncement entails that Eve will be joined to. though also in the sense of an attack. etc. “to join to together”). her man.24 In Jub. VanderKam. The Samaritan Pentateuch is consistent with the MT in its attestation of hqw#t in both Genesis instances. 1Q1 contains 3:11–14. Atlanta: Scholars Press. they are missing 3:15–4:1. 2.. albeit in fragmented form. The Book of Jubilees (2 vols. though he uses ἀποστροφή in 4:7. Symmachus.22 Canticles 7:11 is likewise missing (4QCanta becomes fragmented and ends at Cant 7:7). 4Q2 contains 4:2–11. 1:19. 45. and Roland Bergmeier.).4) and four reconstructions (4Q256 frg. no. 3:24. 128. The Text of Genesis 1–11: Textual Studies and Critical Edition (New York: Oxford University Press. a translational practice largely carried forward until the production of the first English Bibles. 4Q418 frg. 1998).23 I will discuss these passages below. usage of this sort would be exceptional.232 Journal of Biblical Literature 130.20 The other Greek versions vary to a small degree.g. therefore. 6Q18 frg. Samaritan Pentateuch. Genesis 4:7. it occurs seven times in the nonbiblical manuscripts from Qumran. yet he will rule over her. although the term hqw#t is otherwise rare in extant ancient literature. as we shall see.” similar to the translation we observed above in the LXX.19 I will return to this later in the article. Hendel. “place of refuge” or “place of return. Aquila uses συνάφεια (“conjoining. 126.” Though it is possible that ὁρµή could be employed in this way.10 [reconstruction of 1QS]. 1. the LXX is part of a long-standing tradition that understands Eve’s “curse” to involve a “turning” or “return” to her husband. however. 17:4. desire. Leuven: Peeters. among others. 1989). 4Q264 frg.4 [reconstruction of 1QM]). There the text contains [w]tqw#t. 15:10. in my reading of the literature. Notes on the Greek Text of Genesis (SBLSCS 35. 24 I here depend on James C. 2.” often of the mind. Ronald S. Whatever the case.21 The Dead Sea Scrolls. on the other hand. longing. Eve is told. 1QM 13:12. see also n. as mentioned.

indicating a type of desire. where he uses from Qumran and the citations by Greek writers do not include Jub. Freiburg: Herder. Wintermute translates similarly: “to your husband you will return and he will rule over you” (“Jubilees: A New Translation and Introduction. Of particular interest is Jerome’s decision to render all three biblical instances of hqw#t differently. only vol. which he does not. Oscar Boyd.27 The Old Latin (primarily) uses conversio in all three canonical instances of MT hqw#t. 25 The translation is from VanderKam. Whatever the case. A Latin Dictionary: Founded upon Andrews’ Edition of Freund’s Latin Dictionary (Oxford: Clarendon. It states et sub viri potestate eris. 464. Freiburg: Herder. containing introductory material. we might have expected Jerome to employ it in the sexually charged Canticles passage as well. this dictionary is preferred here.26 Latin Versions We turn now to Latin versions.Lohr: Sexual Desire? Eve. Both Latin terms signify a “turning” or “return” and are therefore good synonyms for the Greek ἀποστροφή. 2:19. however. 8. and hqw#t 233 with your husband.” If appetitus were indeed the closest of the terms to hqw#t. Genesis 3:16. In his annotations. The Old Latin tends to use conversio (or occasionally reversio) in its rendering of MT hqw#t. Glare (Oxford Latin Dictionary [Oxford: Oxford University Press. 69–71. conversio comes to be associated with religious conversion. Lewis and Charles Short.” Orval S. 82–83. 3:24 (the verse related to our study). Despite its age. though it is not in view here. For more on the state of the text of Jubilees. with Variants of Five Other Manuscripts (Bibliotheca Abessinica 3.e. as well as VanderKam. . 2:19. meaning “and under the power of your husband you will be. Genesis (VL 2.” Currents in Biblical Research 6 (2008): 405–31.”25 The same term is used in the Ethiopic version of Genesis in both 3:16 and 4:7.” OTP 2:60). 1879). indicating an “attack. 1951). 1 of the Canticles critical edition has appeared (Eva SchulzFlügel. he will rule over you. G. The Octateuch in Ethiopic: According to the Text of the Paris Codex. in that it is believed to be a translation of the Hebrew. the Vulgate. “Recent Scholarship on the Book of Jubilees. however.”29 In Canticles.” a “longing. Jubilees. 1982]) excludes works written later than 200 c. in Gen 3:16 the matter is further complicated in that Jerome discusses the passage in his later Quaestiones Hebraicae in Genesim. see VanderKam. as P. VanderKam notes that “place of refuge” could also be rendered “place of return. 10. signifying a “turning” or “return. 28 The details may be found in Bonifatius Fischer.” or a “grasping at. See Charlton T.” This then dovetails into his translation of the following line: the man will “have dominion” over the woman (et ipse dominabitur tui). In Gen 4:7.28 More significant for our purposes is Jerome’s Latin translation. Unfortunately. 29 Definitions are taken from Lewis and Short. Jerome uses the term appetitus. 27 In later Latin. 26 See J. Jubilees. W. 1909). In Gen 3:16 he uses phrasing that indicates not “turning” or “desire” but the submission of the woman to the man. Jerome translates the term conversio. 1992]). Canticum canticorum [VL 10/3. Leiden: Brill.

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

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

sich entsetzen. . .” a term said to be Late Jewish Literary Aramaic.” or “more”) with a m prefix. Song 7:11). Leipzig: Engel.-J. 1195–96. esp. accordingly. JSOTSup 166. however. Levy suggests that the term is derived from h@wAt. When one looks up that entry. and some Aramaic dictionaries. .” Kaufman goes on to describe how “order began to emerge from this chaos” through important studies (e. 4:7. meaning “again.g. and Christian Interpretation Before we examine the Hebrew term more fully. Wörterbuch. with a meaning of something like “return.edu/) defines wtm as “urge. the text seems . 1992). Manchester: Manchester University Press. G.39 It is interesting that. J. 15. It uses wtm. craving. it is difficult to conclude definitively.” Given the evidence. Collegeville.41 This would be similar to btm in Neofiti (just discussed). His conclusions (pp. to be a hopeless mess. Gen 3:16. do not contain the term. although Levy’s definitions are similar to Jastrow’s (“Aufregung. 1991). 860.” “heftiges Verlangen. Although it is speculative. Kaufman has rightly characterized Ps.’s Gen 3:16) and in Jacob Levy’s Wörterbuch (which references Gen 3:16. Beattie and M. 40 Levy. bwt in Babylonian Aramaic.” a definition found in a small entry in Jastrow (which references only Ps. with Introduction and Notes (ArBib 1B. though its meaning is not certain. 39 See Maher. Jastrow. Edward M. and Song 7:11) and is similar to that found in the Comprehensive Aramaic Lexicon database. see Sokoloff. and Tg. . 41 For more on wt. . one is baf@. and the challenges involved in the study of Late Jewish Literary Aramaic. erschrecken. sich ängstigen.huc . 124–25. studies that have increasingly established Late Jewish Literary Aramaic as a distinct. bwt. 4:7. MN: Liturgical Press. The Comprehensive Aramaic Lexicon (currently found at http://cal. 1:80.-J. McNamara. 2 (2011) Pseudo-Jonathan is more obscure. 118–41. authentic Aramaic dialect (albeit a literary one) with its own grammar and lexicon. (and by implication Late Jewish Literary Aramaic) in this way: “From a linguistic point of view.-J. Targum Pseudo-Jonathan: Genesis: Translated. hqw#t in Early Jewish. 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. and Jacob Levy. Jewish Babylonian Aramaic. fled to find the definitions “erstarren.” in The Aramaic Bible: Targums in their Historical Context (ed. 2:532. D.”40 wtm occurs in only three places in Late Jewish Literary Aramaic (Ps. 1994). 42 Stephen A. it may be that the term is wt (from Babylonian Aramaic wt. Sheffield: JSOT Press. R. . 1881). 129–30) rightly underline the lexical difficulties involved in the study of Late Jewish Literary Aramaic. no. “Dating the Language of the Palestinian Targums and Their Use in the Study of the First Century CE Texts.. See Kaufman. a word often associated with desire. 28.42 III.236 Journal of Biblical Literature 130.” “leidenschaftliche Aufregung”). Cook’s doctoral dissertation and his own work). Rabbinic. Michael Maher translates this as “desire.. Chaldäisches Wörterbuch über die Targumim und einen grossen Theil des rabbinischen Schriftthums (2 vols.

C. Philo addresses Gen 3:16 through a question (QG 1. Rab. (2) the desire of the evil inclination is for none except Cain and his assoespecially because our texts are biblical ones.45 The Loeb translation of Ralph Marcus brings this out. she is plagued by “domestic ills. 1991). it is probably safe to say that “the primary source for rabbinic interpretation of [this book] is Genesis Rabbah. .”44 For our purposes. but as to a master” (Marcus translation).7) is interesting in that it takes the opportunity to explain the nature of desire as it relates to four spheres of life. 44 Philo. 46 Marcus. by Hanneke Reuling. 43 See n.Lohr: Sexual Desire? Eve. “The Quaestiones: Texts and Translations.” in Both Literal and Allegorical: Studies in Philo of Alexandria’s Questions and Answers on Genesis and Exodus (ed. Our first midrash (Gen. 800–801. not as to a helper. 31 above. though the older translation of C. 223. 28.43 Philo In Quaestiones et solutiones in Genesin. LCL 380. I do so briefly and here build on the excellent study After Eden. Questions and Answers on Genesis (trans.”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. 1993). see Earle Hilgert. David M. Genesis 3:16. For more on the textual difficulties related to Philo’s QG. The Latin version uses conversio. He speaks not of a curse upon the woman but of the “necessary evils” of life. BJS 232. MA: Hendrickson. Questions and Answers on Genesis. Yonge uses the word “desire. “according to the deeper meaning. D.” 48 Reuling. D. 28. Yonge in this instance rightly translates the same term (ἐπιστροφή/conversio) not as “desire” but as “conversion. Philo. MA: Harvard University Press. Peabody. After Eden. stating. Ralph Marcus. 1953). there takes place a turning [ἐπιστροφή/conversio] of sense to the man. 47 This is especially apparent when Philo later gives his answer to the question.” using the term ἐπιστροφή. 28. 20. (1) The desire of the woman is for none but her husband (Gen 3:16). 45 According to the note in Marcus. Atlanta: Scholars Press. Questions and Answers on Genesis (trans. Yonge. 1–15. 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. Cambridge.”48 I briefly highlight a few examples of interaction with Gen 3:16 with special reference to hqw#t. for it is a subject of no worth.47 Genesis Rabbah Although a variety of rabbinic sources provide instances of exegetical engagement with Genesis. based on various portions of Scripture. and hqw#t 237 tion. it is interesting to note that Philo speaks not of the “desire” of the woman but of her “turning. The woman experiences pain and toil. Hay.49). Questions and Answers on Genesis.

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

refuge from her difficulties.53 The woman will turn to her husband for refuge.”52 Ambrose suggests that the origin of sin lies with the woman. thus. care for her.Lohr: Sexual Desire? Eve. of course. In doing so. Schenkl. De Paradiso (ed. 595. and rule over her. Later. see PGL. For a helpful overview. Eve’s sentence is made milder because she confesses. After Eden. 193. CSEL 32/1. After Eden. vol. 1. As Reuling shows. for his part. Peter R. ἀσφάλεια). Chrysostom uses Ephesians 5 to explain things more fully: the woman’s “turning” (or place of refuge) is found in her husband. 2. Sermones in Genesim (PG 54:594). 429. or least acknowledges. Leipzig: Tempsky. 54 See further Chrysostom. After Eden. C. The husband. λιµήν. 87–88. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Chrysostom Chrysostom uses the Greek term ἀποστροφή in Gen 3:16 to explain the relationship between husbands and wives. 541–63. “Augustine has some difficulty defining [Gen 3:16’s] literal meaning . see also the discussion in Reuling. 55 How much Greek Augustine actually read. Symmachus. the extent of his use of the LXX. she is to “turn [conversa] to her husband and serve him [serviret]. the decree is a corrective measure to prevent further harm to the human race. Compare Salvesen. Evans. the original “burden of slavery” implied in Gen 3:16 (“he will rule over you”) is taken away (τὸ φορτικὸν ἀνῄρηται τῆς δουλείας).55 In his earlier writings. 1970). however. therefore. is a matter of debate. and the discussion in Reuling. and hqw#t 239 more pointed in his reading of the pronouncement made to the woman. 15.”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.54 Augustine Lastly. we look at Augustine. for definitions. In his Sermones in Genesim (Sermon 4). From the Beginnings to Jerome (ed. . Man. [because he] deems it incredible that woman should not have been subject to her husband from the beginning. as is also. see Gerald Bonner. Ackroyd and C.29).” in The Cambridge History of the Bible. 53 See John Chrysostom. In his reading (De paradiso 14. her guilt (“the serpent tricked me”). whose readings are often based either on the Septuagint or an Old Latin translation that uses the term conversio. . 56 Reuling. Genesis 3:16. Reluctantly. Augustine decides that Gen 3:16 announces a “changed form of dominance”—the 52 For the text.” “harbor. 1896). the man will protect her. Augustine is reluctant to comment on the “literal meaning” of Gen 3:16 (see Gen. Sermones in Genesim. “Augustine as Biblical Scholar. Chrysostom provides three definitions of ἀποστροφή: “place of refuge. 132–34. .72).” and “protection” (καταφυγή. F. reciprocates by loving his wife (Eph 5:33). see Ambrose of Milan.

Joseph Zycha. he is spat saliva. moulded clay. contain seven new instances of the term hqw#t heretofore unknown. here 1:99.240 Journal of Biblical Literature 130. interestingly. In other words. navigates a large body of literature. 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.” or “return” for hqw#t would be virtually definite. A number of factors make conclusions difficult.” or “return” is best based on context. how did this ancient community understand and use the term? I will treat the texts in cave order.wrwdm hmr Mxlw wlbgm rp(m h)whw . 11. De Genesi ad litteram (ed. 1997). in that. and Reuling. making an important contribution to our discussion. italics added (here and elsewhere) for emphasis. The Dead Sea Scrolls Study Edition (2 vols. is. After Eden. no. 2 (2011) woman will turn to her husband and he will rule over her. however.37. Testing the Interpretive Status Quo through the Dead Sea Scrolls The survey above.57 V. If that were the case. Tigchelaar. CSEL 28/1. The Qumran nonbiblical manuscripts.. from the Rule of the Community.Nyby hm tc(lw dy rcwyw rmx by#y hm . Service once performed in love now takes on a yoke of slavery. or whether a translation of “turning. within the past six decades (in most cases less). maggots’ food shall be his dwelling. a translation of “turning. Prague: Tempsky. 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.wtqw#t rp(lw Crwq rmx As what shall one born of woman be considered in your presence? Shaped from dust has he been. and for dust is his longing. four instances are well preserved. 193–95. the Dead Sea Scrolls. The first text. 1894). An interesting test presents itself. h)whw . though brief. and it is clear that we cannot base our lexical and interpretive decisions purely on the frequency of a particular translation. 371–72. Leiden: Brill. . 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). C. 58 Translations are taken from Florentino García Martínez and Eibert J. as mentioned. pp.hkynpl b#{x}y hm h#) dwlyw qwrycm . Although three of these occurrences are too fragmentary to be of significance. quite straightforward.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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