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JBL 130, no. 2 (2011): 227–246

Sexual Desire? Eve, Genesis 3:16, and hqw#t
joel n. lohr 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.


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

comes despite the potential for resultant pains of childbirth. God and the Rhetoric of Sexuality (OBT 2. 112. MA: Brandeis University Press.” but he provides no explanation for this decision in his notes. Adrian Janis Bledstein suggests that hqw#t should be understood not as desire or attraction to something but rather as “attractiveness. The Book of Genesis: With Introduction and Notes (4th ed. There he refers to the term in Gen 3:16 simply as a type of longing. Eternally Eve: Images of Eve in the Hebrew Bible. we might note the idea of Terence E. 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.8 This is but a small sampling of the literature. 1942). a longing for “sexual intimacy. 1995). Commentary. but it persists in cropping out . Exodus.10 In a rather different reading. and Reflections. this dependency shows itself as a woman’s need for “cohabitation. 8 Fretheim. “Are Women Cursed in Genesis 3. Leviticus. . Philadelphia: Fortress. the woman will be “powerfully attractive” to her husband yet he can/will rule over her. 23. .Lohr: Sexual Desire? Eve. Numbers. He translates the term hqw#t as “yearning. . and Notes (Schocken Bible 1. It is not merely sexual yearning. “The Book of Genesis: Introduction.” This desire for sexual intimacy. he continues. . 2007). She bases this on a potential semantic link to the Akkadian term kuzbu. London: Methuen. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press. 1993). NIB 1:363. Genesis 3:16. . 27.5 Anne Lapidus Lerner. which carries the sense of being desirable. in her in-depth and astute Jewish feminist reading of Eve. She who sought to strive apart from man . Waltham. in her book God and the Rhetoric of Sexuality. 128. 1:172.7 To contrast this extreme view.16?” in A Feminist Companion to Genesis (ed. 6 Lerner. It includes the attraction that woman experiences for man which she cannot root from her nature.. 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. Grand Rapids: Baker.”6 Perhaps the most extreme view here comes from the conservative Christian commentator Herbert C. feminists may seek to banish it. calls this an “apparently unbridled sexual desire. Commentary. . Fretheim. and Modern Jewish Poetry (HBI Series on Jewish Women.” That is. and not all interpreters agree that we are dealing with desire of a sexual kind. The Five Books of Moses: Genesis. Driver. Some are not even clear that the term indicates desire. Midrash. S. in his classic commentary on Genesis.11 Carl Friedrich 5 Fox. For Trible. Exposition of Genesis (2 vols. in the New Interpreter’s Bible. WC. 7 Leupold. A New Translation with Introductions. 49..” but states: This yearning is morbid. and hqw#t 229 the term “lust. Athalya Brenner. 1978). New York: Schocken.” According to him. 1905). even to the point of nymphomania. It is a just penalty. 11 Bledstein. Deuteronomy. . Fox uses the term in both Gen 3:16 and 4:7. FCB 2. . finds a continual attraction for him to be her unavoidable lot. or having allure.”9 Phyllis Trible. Leupold. R. suggests that we are here dealing not so much with desire as with “dependency. 142–45. 10 Trible.

14 In Canticles. 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. 1972). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans. no. He states that. 3 vols. 1:208. Versions and Translations The Masoretic Text To begin.20). German original. 2 (2011) Keil and Franz Delitzsch also resist the word “desire” and instead opt for the idea of a “violent craving. We turn. how we translate this term in 3:16 will undoubtedly have implications for our understanding of the enigmatic Gen 4:7. who calls it “Der dunkelste Vers . however. 13 Jacob. . Compare Otto Procksch. something said to be lying in wait. in Gen 4:7.230 Journal of Biblical Literature 130. and then in the interpretations of the rabbis and the church fathers. while discussing various interpretations. 2 vols. 1983). James Martin.. augmented ed.12 Lastly. He states: It is a mistake to believe that the relation of woman to man is [here] changed (from 2. compare Walter C. not necessarily in the sexual realm. is counseled that he can/may/must/shall “master” it. the protector. the same verb (l#m) used of the man concerning the woman in 3:16. Israel Abrahams. 1973. they instead specify that it indicates a constant “seeking” of something. 2007). The Pentateuch (trans. Kaiser Jr. and in Cant 7:10 [MT 11]. 204–5. . The First Book of the Bible: Genesis (trans. . even in the garden of Eden she would have given birth in pain and would have been subordinate to man. a verse that Umberto Cassuto probably rightly called “one of the most difficult and obscure” sentences in the Bible. . Cain.. As is well known. then. it is worth noting the reading of Benno Jacob. ready to pounce on Cain.. II. Indeed. 14 Cassuto. Jerusalem: Magnes. it is worth noting how and where the term hqw#t features in the masoretic tradition. things become more complex as we venture further into history. 1:103. Ernest I.” it is nevertheless nothing new. Jersey City: Ktav. should be the leader. der Genesis” . 1861–70). Does the dominating position of man contradict her position as helper? Naturally the stronger. In Gen 4:7 it is used to describe sin (or perhaps Abel). nothing at all has really changed in the Gen 3:16 pronouncement made to Eve. although the woman feels “‘irresistibly’ attracted to man.13 From all of the above. 30. . As the parallels between these two passages are clear.. A Commentary on the Book of Genesis (trans. In fact. Toward Old Testament Ethics (Grand Rapids: Zondervan. Jacob and Walter Jacob. to examine how this term has been used in the ancient versions and translations.” Though this term is perhaps seemingly close to sexual desire. Nothing would have changed had she not eaten the fruit. hqw#t is used in a setting where the female 12 Keil and Delitzsch. the term appears in only three places: here (Gen 3:16).

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

23 There are seven main instances of the term (1QS 11:22. 4Q418 frg. 23.3 [reconstruction of 1Q26]. 22 4Q10 contains Gen 3:1–2.232 Journal of Biblical Literature 130.4) and four reconstructions (4Q256 frg. as mentioned. and Jubilees Unfortunately. as we shall see.22 Canticles 7:11 is likewise missing (4QCanta becomes fragmented and ends at Cant 7:7). they are missing 3:15–4:1. and Roland Bergmeier. 126. VanderKam.4 [reconstruction of 1QM]). therefore. 4Q446 frg. 168. 6Q18 frg.23 I will discuss these passages below. 2. 17:4. 1989). There the text contains [w]tqw#t. her man. The Samaritan Pentateuch is consistent with the MT in its attestation of hqw#t in both Genesis instances. Aquila uses συνάφεια (“conjoining.” Though it is possible that ὁρµή could be employed in this way. 1993). Hendel. in agreement with the MT. 2. uses the term megbā' (ምግባእ). although the term hqw#t is otherwise rare in extant ancient literature. the biblical manuscripts from Qumran do not contain Gen 3:16. see also n. 1Q1 contains 3:11–14..” ZAW 79 (1967): 77–79. 1:19. Samaritan Pentateuch. Symmachus. as the fragments . Ronald S. 2 (2011) hbw#t was the reading of the underlying Vorlage. in my reading of the literature. 4Q416 2 iv. Notes on the Greek Text of Genesis (SBLSCS 35. 128. 24 I here depend on James C. albeit in fragmented form.” often of the mind. etc. and 4Q495 frg.19 I will return to this later in the article.” or “close contact. It is interesting to note that. Atlanta: Scholars Press.20 The other Greek versions vary to a small degree. longing.1 [reconstruction of 1QS]. “Your place of refuge will be 19 See. who states that the word is used here “in sexual connotation. 1QM 13:12. CSCO 510–11. or in union with. usage of this sort would be exceptional. 4Q264 frg.16. Theodotion for Gen 3:16 has not survived. Genesis 4:7.3. 4Q2 contains 4:2–11. Leuven: Peeters. it occurs seven times in the nonbiblical manuscripts from Qumran. a translational practice largely carried forward until the production of the first English Bibles.” from συνάπτω.” “union. 21 Pace John William Wevers.24 In Jub.). 1.10 [reconstruction of 1QS]. on the other hand. the term ὁρµή is never used of a sexual desire but rather signifies a “strong movement toward. 3. The Text of Genesis 1–11: Textual Studies and Critical Edition (New York: Oxford University Press. Eve is told. uses ὁρµή.. Jubilees. yet he will rule over her.g. no. 20 I discuss this below. 70. 3:24. and here we get the impression that the pronouncement entails that Eve will be joined to. For our purposes I refer only to the Ethiopic version. among others. Though definitions of ὁρµή may seem close to English ones for hqw#t (e. desire. though he uses ἀποστροφή in 4:7. “to join to together”). 15:10. though also in the sense of an attack. is found in 4QGenb. however.1.21 The Dead Sea Scrolls. “Zur Septuagintaübersetzung von Gen 3.” similar to the translation we observed above in the LXX. The Book of Jubilees (2 vols. “place of refuge” or “place of return. the LXX is part of a long-standing tradition that understands Eve’s “curse” to involve a “turning” or “return” to her husband. 45. Whatever the case. 1998).

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

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

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

2:532.39 It is interesting that. R. See Kaufman. accordingly. 118–41. sich ängstigen. Sheffield: JSOT Press. no. and Jacob Levy. Edward M. hqw#t in Early Jewish.. with Introduction and Notes (ArBib 1B. 40 Levy. It uses wtm. 1:80. Chaldäisches Wörterbuch über die Targumim und einen grossen Theil des rabbinischen Schriftthums (2 vols. it is difficult to conclude definitively. The Comprehensive Aramaic Lexicon (currently found at http://cal.huc .-J. D. meaning “again. Cook’s doctoral dissertation and his own work). craving.” a definition found in a small entry in Jastrow (which references only Ps. When one looks up that entry. Although it is speculative. Jewish Babylonian Aramaic. Kaufman has rightly characterized Ps.-J. 1992). Jastrow. do not contain the term. Song 7:11). (and by implication Late Jewish Literary Aramaic) in this way: “From a linguistic point of view.” “heftiges Verlangen.’s Gen 3:16) and in Jacob Levy’s Wörterbuch (which references Gen 3:16.” Given the evidence. .. bwt. one is baf@. although Levy’s definitions are similar to Jastrow’s (“Aufregung. and the challenges involved in the study of Late Jewish Literary Aramaic. . 1195–96. authentic Aramaic dialect (albeit a literary one) with its own grammar and lexicon. with a meaning of something like “return.” in The Aramaic Bible: Targums in their Historical Context (ed. and some Aramaic dictionaries. erschrecken.41 This would be similar to btm in Neofiti (just discussed). 39 See Maher. Targum Pseudo-Jonathan: Genesis: Translated. 4:7. studies that have increasingly established Late Jewish Literary Aramaic as a distinct. though its meaning is not certain. it may be that the term is wt (from Babylonian Aramaic wt. Levy suggests that the term is derived from h@wAt. 15. .g. 124–25. Wörterbuch. Gen 3:16. sich entsetzen.-J. . 129–30) rightly underline the lexical difficulties involved in the study of Late Jewish Literary Aramaic. Manchester: Manchester University Press. JSOTSup 166. “Dating the Language of the Palestinian Targums and Their Use in the Study of the First Century CE Texts. 1994). . esp. bwt in Babylonian Aramaic. fled to find the definitions “erstarren. 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. however. to be a hopeless defines wtm as “urge. His conclusions (pp. MN: Liturgical Press.236 Journal of Biblical Literature 130. see Sokoloff.42 III. the text seems . Leipzig: Engel. 860. Rabbinic. and Christian Interpretation Before we examine the Hebrew term more fully. 1991).” Kaufman goes on to describe how “order began to emerge from this chaos” through important studies (e. and Song 7:11) and is similar to that found in the Comprehensive Aramaic Lexicon database.”40 wtm occurs in only three places in Late Jewish Literary Aramaic (Ps. J. Michael Maher translates this as “desire. .” or “more”) with a m prefix. 28. and Tg. McNamara.” a term said to be Late Jewish Literary Aramaic. G. Beattie and M. 2 (2011) Pseudo-Jonathan is more obscure. 1881). 42 Stephen A. Collegeville.” “leidenschaftliche Aufregung”). a word often associated with desire. 41 For more on wt. 4:7.

stating. Genesis 3:16.Lohr: Sexual Desire? Eve. 28. (2) the desire of the evil inclination is for none except Cain and his assoespecially because our texts are biblical ones. she is plagued by “domestic ills.43 Philo In Quaestiones et solutiones in Genesin. I do so briefly and here build on the excellent study After Eden.45 The Loeb translation of Ralph Marcus brings this out. not as to a helper. it is probably safe to say that “the primary source for rabbinic interpretation of [this book] is Genesis Rabbah. 1991). MA: Harvard University Press. for it is a subject of no worth. BJS 232. Atlanta: Scholars Press. “The Quaestiones: Texts and Translations. . Yonge uses the word “desire. 43 See n. but as to a master” (Marcus translation). Hay. C. 44 Philo. 800–801. 1993). Yonge. Philo. Philo addresses Gen 3:16 through a question (QG 1. Peabody. 47 This is especially apparent when Philo later gives his answer to the question. Yonge in this instance rightly translates the same term (ἐπιστροφή/conversio) not as “desire” but as “conversion. Questions and Answers on Genesis. there takes place a turning [ἐπιστροφή/conversio] of sense to the man. Questions and Answers on Genesis. 31 above. 20. D.”44 For our purposes. 28.49).”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. 46 Marcus. 223.7) is interesting in that it takes the opportunity to explain the nature of desire as it relates to four spheres of life. Our first midrash (Gen.”48 I briefly highlight a few examples of interaction with Gen 3:16 with special reference to hqw#t. 28. (1) The desire of the woman is for none but her husband (Gen 3:16).” using the term ἐπιστροφή. based on various portions of Scripture.47 Genesis Rabbah Although a variety of rabbinic sources provide instances of exegetical engagement with Genesis. 1–15. it is interesting to note that Philo speaks not of the “desire” of the woman but of her “turning. MA: Hendrickson. Cambridge. David M. 45 According to the note in Marcus. He speaks not of a curse upon the woman but of the “necessary evils” of life. Ralph Marcus. “according to the deeper meaning.” in Both Literal and Allegorical: Studies in Philo of Alexandria’s Questions and Answers on Genesis and Exodus (ed. 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. Questions and Answers on Genesis (trans. and hqw#t 237 tion. see Earle Hilgert. For more on the textual difficulties related to Philo’s QG. The woman experiences pain and toil.” 48 Reuling. though the older translation of C. The Latin version uses conversio. Questions and Answers on Genesis (trans. 1953). After Eden. D. Rab. LCL 380. by Hanneke Reuling.

the evil inclination.. says to her: “Thou wilt return [ybw#t] to thy desire [Ktqw#tl]. (4) the desire of the Holy One is for none but Israel (Song 7:11). 2 (2011) ciates (Gen 4:7). After Eden. a desire that leads the woman to fulfill her “marital duties”). I briefly provide a sampling of interpretations. Paris: Cerf.49 Though we could explore each of these ideas separately. its meaning being inextricably linked with the idea of returning.. for our purposes I simply note that. and God. or general desire for the man. It is introduced with the common midrashic introduction “Another interpretation is . understands the church to be the woman.” and she has a “turning [τὴν ἀποστροφήν] to her husband”—Christ—who rules over her. as well as the discussion in Reuling. 237.51 Ambrose of Milan is 49 I here loosely quote and paraphrase from H. It is evident that the word by no means implies desire in only strictly sexual terms. .” whereupon the Holy One. Freedman. the term clearly has a wide semantic range here as it has diverse subjects such as rain. 165–66. no. Midrash Rabbah. the church experiences “pain that produces repentance [µετάνοιαν] for salvation. “In Genesim. (3) the desire of the rain is only for the earth (Ps 65:10). IV.”: When a woman sits on the birthstool. hqw#t in the Fathers The fathers use the equivalents of “return” or “turning” (ἀποστροφή and conversio) largely without exception. After Eden.e. Midrash Rabbah: Genesis (3rd ed. though it could relate simply to a desire for intimacy. Immediately following this. It is possible that we are dealing with a sexual desire (i. 165–66. in his allegorical interpretation of 3:16 (In Genesim 102). Compare Reuling. Whatever the case.. 66–67. she declares. 51 See Pierre Nautin and Louis Doutreleau. the midrash makes clear that it we are dealing with something that causes the woman to return to the man. 102. 1976). unless they follow Jerome’s harsher idea of the man’s power and the woman’s submission. Sur la Genèse: ” Texte inédit d’après un papyrus de Toura (SC 233. blessed be He. . It could also be that here we have an ingenious way of explaining what hqw#t is. trans. 50 The translation is from Freedman.238 Journal of Biblical Literature 130. although hqw#t seems to be understood as desire.”50 It is interesting that Genesis Rabbah here includes the idea of returning alongside that of desire. . in Didyme l’Aveugle. London: Soncino. “I will henceforth never fulfill my marital duties. a further midrash is given regarding what the desire might mean in relation to the woman in Gen 3:16. Didymus the Blind and Ambrose of Milan Didymus the Blind. 1983). thou wilt return [ybw#t] to the desire [tqw#tl] for thy husband [K#y)].

” in The Cambridge History of the Bible. From the Beginnings to Jerome (ed. Chrysostom Chrysostom uses the Greek term ἀποστροφή in Gen 3:16 to explain the relationship between husbands and wives. [because he] deems it incredible that woman should not have been subject to her husband from the beginning. . her guilt (“the serpent tricked me”).Lohr: Sexual Desire? Eve. 53 See John Chrysostom. In doing so. ἀσφάλεια). Man. 55 How much Greek Augustine actually read. F. Sermones in Genesim. C.29). see Ambrose of Milan. is a matter of debate. Symmachus. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. For a helpful overview. Leipzig: Tempsky. The husband. 132–34.”52 Ambrose suggests that the origin of sin lies with the woman. CSEL 32/1. Evans. As Reuling shows. see also the discussion in Reuling. Augustine decides that Gen 3:16 announces a “changed form of dominance”—the 52 For the text. for definitions. 541–63.” and “protection” (καταφυγή. Peter R.” “harbor.53 The woman will turn to her husband for refuge. In his Sermones in Genesim (Sermon 4). whose readings are often based either on the Septuagint or an Old Latin translation that uses the term conversio. Augustine is reluctant to comment on the “literal meaning” of Gen 3:16 (see Gen. Chrysostom uses Ephesians 5 to explain things more fully: the woman’s “turning” (or place of refuge) is found in her husband. Eve’s sentence is made milder because she confesses. 1896). 2. she is to “turn [conversa] to her husband and serve him [serviret]. and hqw#t 239 more pointed in his reading of the pronouncement made to the woman. 15.54 Augustine Lastly. 1. of course. however. we look at Augustine. see Gerald Bonner. “Augustine as Biblical Scholar. λιµήν.”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. After Eden. Chrysostom provides three definitions of ἀποστροφή: “place of refuge. for his part. as is also. care for her. 193. and rule over her.55 In his earlier writings. 56 Reuling. refuge from her difficulties. “Augustine has some difficulty defining [Gen 3:16’s] literal meaning . see PGL. and the discussion in Reuling. the original “burden of slavery” implied in Gen 3:16 (“he will rule over you”) is taken away (τὸ φορτικὸν ἀνῄρηται τῆς δουλείας). Genesis 3:16. 1970). Sermones in Genesim (PG 54:594). the decree is a corrective measure to prevent further harm to the human race. the extent of his use of the LXX. the man will protect her. Ackroyd and C. Compare Salvesen. . therefore. or least acknowledges. vol. 595. Schenkl. . 54 See further Chrysostom. 429. After Eden.72). Reluctantly. reciprocates by loving his wife (Eph 5:33). thus. De Paradiso (ed. Later. 87–88. After Eden. In his reading (De paradiso 14.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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