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

. Exodus. It includes the attraction that woman experiences for man which she cannot root from her nature.”6 Perhaps the most extreme view here comes from the conservative Christian commentator Herbert C. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press. 10 Trible. even to the point of nymphomania. 8 Fretheim. 23. WC. 1905). in her in-depth and astute Jewish feminist reading of Eve. 112.16?” in A Feminist Companion to Genesis (ed. 11 Bledstein. 27. Commentary. New York: Schocken. 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. which carries the sense of being desirable. “Are Women Cursed in Genesis 3. he continues. Fox uses the term in both Gen 3:16 and 4:7. in her book God and the Rhetoric of Sexuality. Grand Rapids: Baker. but it persists in cropping out . . She bases this on a potential semantic link to the Akkadian term kuzbu.” This desire for sexual intimacy. 128. Midrash. He translates the term hqw#t as “yearning. a longing for “sexual intimacy. A New Translation with Introductions. or having allure. Fretheim. the woman will be “powerfully attractive” to her husband yet he can/will rule over her. It is a just penalty. 7 Leupold. . .” According to him. She who sought to strive apart from man . .” That is. and not all interpreters agree that we are dealing with desire of a sexual kind. 2007). Exposition of Genesis (2 vols. God and the Rhetoric of Sexuality (OBT 2.”9 Phyllis Trible. in the New Interpreter’s Bible. Leviticus. Commentary. MA: Brandeis University Press.. calls this an “apparently unbridled sexual desire.8 This is but a small sampling of the literature. 49. Philadelphia: Fortress. Waltham.11 Carl Friedrich 5 Fox. Leupold. Driver. FCB 2. S. 142–45. 1942). The Five Books of Moses: Genesis. comes despite the potential for resultant pains of childbirth. in his classic commentary on Genesis. 6 Lerner. and hqw#t 229 the term “lust. The Book of Genesis: With Introduction and Notes (4th ed. 1978). Numbers. 1993). Deuteronomy. It is not merely sexual yearning. suggests that we are here dealing not so much with desire as with “dependency. For Trible. Some are not even clear that the term indicates desire. NIB 1:363. ” 9 Driver. Eternally Eve: Images of Eve in the Hebrew Bible. . Athalya Brenner.5 Anne Lapidus Lerner. There he refers to the term in Gen 3:16 simply as a type of longing.” but states: This yearning is morbid. and Modern Jewish Poetry (HBI Series on Jewish Women. Genesis 3:16. 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. London: Methuen. Adrian Janis Bledstein suggests that hqw#t should be understood not as desire or attraction to something but rather as “attractiveness.Lohr: Sexual Desire? Eve. finds a continual attraction for him to be her unavoidable lot. this dependency shows itself as a woman’s need for “cohabitation.7 To contrast this extreme view. we might note the idea of Terence E. and Reflections.” but he provides no explanation for this decision in his notes.10 In a rather different reading. 1995). .. 1:172. “The Book of Genesis: Introduction. and Notes (Schocken Bible 1. . feminists may seek to banish it. R.

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

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

10 [reconstruction of 1QS]. 1989). in agreement with the MT. 1Q1 contains 3:11–14. who states that the word is used here “in sexual connotation.1 [reconstruction of 1QS]. 3:24. Samaritan Pentateuch. no.” similar to the translation we observed above in the LXX. 23. 4Q264 frg.3 [reconstruction of 1Q26].1. Jubilees.). therefore. the term ὁρµή is never used of a sexual desire but rather signifies a “strong movement toward. Eve is told. uses the term megbā' (ምግባእ). a translational practice largely carried forward until the production of the first English Bibles. For our purposes I refer only to the Ethiopic version.” often of the mind. longing. in my reading of the literature. as the fragments . There the text contains [w]tqw#t. 2.” from συνάπτω..3. 21 Pace John William Wevers. 17:4.19 I will return to this later in the article. Hendel.24 In Jub. though also in the sense of an attack. 3. her man.. 1:19. on the other hand. “to join to together”). 4Q416 2 iv. usage of this sort would be exceptional. and Jubilees Unfortunately. desire. It is interesting to note that. see also n. The Text of Genesis 1–11: Textual Studies and Critical Edition (New York: Oxford University Press. CSCO 510–11. although the term hqw#t is otherwise rare in extant ancient literature. 128. and Roland Bergmeier. is found in 4QGenb.4) and four reconstructions (4Q256 frg. 45. as we shall see. 2 (2011) hbw#t was the reading of the underlying Vorlage. Whatever the case. 70. 168. they are missing 3:15–4:1. the biblical manuscripts from Qumran do not contain Gen 3:16. Genesis 4:7.” ZAW 79 (1967): 77–79.20 The other Greek versions vary to a small degree. yet he will rule over her. Though definitions of ὁρµή may seem close to English ones for hqw#t (e. 126.g. The Samaritan Pentateuch is consistent with the MT in its attestation of hqw#t in both Genesis instances.” or “close contact.23 I will discuss these passages below. as mentioned. 4Q446 frg. or in union with.4 [reconstruction of 1QM]). Notes on the Greek Text of Genesis (SBLSCS 35. The Book of Jubilees (2 vols. 6Q18 frg. 20 I discuss this below. 4Q2 contains 4:2–11. the LXX is part of a long-standing tradition that understands Eve’s “curse” to involve a “turning” or “return” to her husband. 4Q418 frg. and 4Q495 frg. albeit in fragmented form. etc. Symmachus. Ronald S. Atlanta: Scholars Press. among others. 1QM 13:12.232 Journal of Biblical Literature 130. it occurs seven times in the nonbiblical manuscripts from Qumran. VanderKam. 2. however. “place of refuge” or “place of return.” Though it is possible that ὁρµή could be employed in this way. 1993). though he uses ἀποστροφή in 4:7. 23 There are seven main instances of the term (1QS 11:22. “Zur Septuagintaübersetzung von Gen 3. Aquila uses συνάφεια (“conjoining. 24 I here depend on James C. 22 4Q10 contains Gen 3:1–2. 1.22 Canticles 7:11 is likewise missing (4QCanta becomes fragmented and ends at Cant 7:7). 1998). Theodotion for Gen 3:16 has not survived. Leuven: Peeters. 15:10.21 The Dead Sea Scrolls. and here we get the impression that the pronouncement entails that Eve will be joined to.16. “Your place of refuge will be 19 See. uses ὁρµή.” “union.

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

is in agreement with the LXX. the Peshitta translates the term by using the root  (“return”). 103–20. Weitzman. T. 2006). though of course detractors certainly exist. Leiden: Brill. 1995). 31 Barr. 32 This seems to be the consensus in Peshitta studies. which challenges Weitzman. Lund’s study. Yeshayahu Maori uses Gen 3:16 as an important component in building his case. Hayward. 1999). in this case. 121–28) regarding the essay (between Robert P.” in Papers Presented to the Eighth International Conference on Patristic Studies Held at Oxford.32 The long-standing debates regarding the influence of the LXX on the Peshitta will not here be answered but are certainly relevant. and an excellent overview of the relationship between the Vulgate and Quaestiones. 1979 (StPatr 18. Consult also the ensuing discussion (pp.. “Is the Peshitta a Non-Rabbinic Jewish Translation?” JQR 91 (2001): 411–18. Oxford: Pergamon. Peshitta scholars agree that there is some evidence of LXX influence on the translation of the Peshitta. 35. even 30 For more on Jerome’s Quaestiones here. Gordon and Maori).” in The Peshitta as a Translation: Papers Read at the II Peshitta Symposium Held at Leiden 19–21 August 1993 (ed. See Lund. Piet B. though never published. no. argues that Jerome’s otherwise faithful renderings in the Vulgate appear most slanted and inaccurate in matters pertaining to women. has been instrumental in challenging previous and long-held views.234 Journal of Biblical Literature 130. 33 Generally.D. After Eden: Church Fathers and Rabbis on Genesis 3:16–21 (Jewish and Christian Perspectives Series 10. In Gen 3:16 and the other two instances of MT hqw#t. . “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. Monographs of the Peshitta Institute 8. for instance. 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. 1995). Jerome A. Jerome’s Attitude to Women. Oxford: Clarendon. The amount of influence. see C. 1982). 1988). R. 33. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 38 n. as also stated in Hanneke Reuling. Dirksen and Arie van der Kooij. diss. 34 Maori. however. Consult also the review article by Yeshayahu Maori. Saint Jerome’s Hebrew Questions on Genesis (Oxford Early Christian Studies. For an overview of the issues involved. 1–14. see Michael P. is under debate. “The Vulgate Genesis and St. Leiden: Brill. “Methodological Criteria for Distinguishing between Variant Vorlage and Exegesis in the Peshitta Pentateuch. The Syriac Version of the Old Testament: An Introduction (University of Cambridge Oriental Publications 56.33 They are relevant because the Peshitta. 268–73.34 Maori convincingly argues that differences in the Peshitta and the MT. 2 (2011) the term conversio and makes no mention of his translation.30 Coupled with negative comments toward women in Jerome’s other writings. this suggests to some a misogynist tendency in Jerome’s Vulgate (“under the power of your husband you will be”).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. He argues that there was little—perhaps no—direct LXX influence. Jane Barr. Hebrew University. 116–17.

42. I here summarize a potentially lengthy discussion. 61. W. Collegeville. even if in direct agreement with the LXX’s ἀποστρφή. the Targums are important for our discussion in that they provide examples—through paraphrase and embellishment—of ancient Jewish interpretation. 14:7. 46) and the older translation of J. The Targumim Though perhaps not versions in the true sense.” or “response. Isa 1:6. 1988]. Lam 1:2. and Notes [ArBib 6. 1992). as its meaning is not in doubt and all other uses of the term in Onqelos are best translated as “turning” or “repentance. 17:11.”36 Neofiti is also close to the LXX in its use of btm (from bwt). Green. Maori shows that the Peshitta’s use of  for MT hqw#t. 37 See Sokoloff. For more on hbwyt. Symmachus . 3:18–19. 16:28. DE: Michael Glazier. meaning a “return” or “turning. he argues that we must respect that in many cases translations will reflect a “common Jewish tradition of exegesis” rather than a shared variant. Jewish Palestinian Aramaic. I will return to this idea below. Genesis 3:16. 16. 38 Martin McNamara. 4:6.g. Job 21:34. 33:6. 1. and idem. 2002).” “repentance. I return to this methodological principle in the conclusion below. do not necessarily confirm variants in the Vorlage. 3:40. 2:16. 36 Both Bernard Grossfeld (The Targum Onqelos to Genesis: Translated. Onqelos uses hbwyt. Hos 14:5. Esth 3:7. 6:1. 5:6. Etheridge). 12:5. and Roberts. 7:20. or repentance: 1 Sam 7:6.. In place of hqw#t in Gen 3:16. (Though the latter might appear to deal only with later literature.”38 35 Here I truncate and simplify a lengthy and nuanced discussion. 1204. Bernard Grossfeld and J. A Dictionary of Jewish Palestinian Aramaic of the Byzantine Period (2nd ed. Genesis and Exodus [London: Longman. 5:21. 57:18. Rather.” Compare the use in all other occurrences of the term in Onqelos. 9:5. the Neophyti Targum. 2:14. 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. Eccl 1:15. 19. with a Critical Introduction. Ezek 7:13. with Apparatus and Notes (ArBib 1A. Wilmington. Compare Alison Salvesen. inter alia. 336. Longman.Lohr: Sexual Desire? Eve. 34:36. 9. Amos 5:12.”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. 5. Song 1:5. 5.” It is not clear why English translations use the term “desire” (e. Translated. 32:3. “Fragments of the Palestinian Targums. 18. 1862]. MN: Liturgical Press. it covers. does not necessarily reflect a variant in the Vorlage. 580. 24:6–7. Jer 4:1.35 To be specific for our purposes. 3]). 31:22. see Michael Sokoloff. “turning. Targum Neofiti 1: Genesis. and hqw#t 235 when shared with the LXX (or with the Samaritan Pentateuch.. and the Fragmentary Targums” [p. Apparatus. 5:2. or targumic versions). Etheridge (The Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan ben Uzziel on the Pentateuch. W. vol. A Dictionary of Jewish Babylonian Aramaic of the Talmudic and Geonic Periods (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press. 41) translate this as “desire. 2002). however. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press. which are clearly referring to turning. For reasons of space. 14:5.

. it may be that the term is wt (from Babylonian Aramaic wt. and Christian Interpretation Before we examine the Hebrew term more fully.huc . see Sokoloff. although Levy’s definitions are similar to Jastrow’s (“Aufregung.-J. fled to find the definitions “erstarren.. 41 For more on wt. Michael Maher translates this as “desire. craving. 42 Stephen A. bwt in Babylonian Aramaic.” a term said to be Late Jewish Literary Aramaic. 28. with Introduction and Notes (ArBib 1B. Although it is speculative. Leipzig: Engel.” Kaufman goes on to describe how “order began to emerge from this chaos” through important studies (e. 2 (2011) Pseudo-Jonathan is more obscure. 15. 1992). . Gen 3:16. accordingly. Wörterbuch. 1195–96. and Song 7:11) and is similar to that found in the Comprehensive Aramaic Lexicon database. 1881). Beattie and M.” Given the evidence. Jastrow. Cook’s doctoral dissertation and his own work). See Kaufman.” a definition found in a small entry in Jastrow (which references only Ps.’s Gen 3:16) and in Jacob Levy’s Wörterbuch (which references Gen 3:16. it is difficult to conclude definitively. R.edu/) defines wtm as “urge.” “heftiges Verlangen. studies that have increasingly established Late Jewish Literary Aramaic as a distinct. MN: Liturgical Press. Manchester: Manchester University Press. esp. It uses wtm. G.-J. no.236 Journal of Biblical Literature 130. Jewish Babylonian Aramaic. 860. 4:7. one is baf@. 118–41. and the challenges involved in the study of Late Jewish Literary Aramaic.41 This would be similar to btm in Neofiti (just discussed). erschrecken. sich ängstigen. however. 2:532. Kaufman has rightly characterized Ps. The Comprehensive Aramaic Lexicon (currently found at http://cal. to be a hopeless mess. JSOTSup 166. . and some Aramaic dictionaries. . D.-J. though its meaning is not certain. (and by implication Late Jewish Literary Aramaic) in this way: “From a linguistic point of view. Levy suggests that the term is derived from h@wAt. Sheffield: JSOT Press. 39 See Maher.” in The Aramaic Bible: Targums in their Historical Context (ed. Collegeville. sich entsetzen. a word often associated with desire.g. 4:7. the text seems .39 It is interesting that.” or “more”) with a m prefix. “Dating the Language of the Palestinian Targums and Their Use in the Study of the First Century CE Texts. McNamara. Chaldäisches Wörterbuch über die Targumim und einen grossen Theil des rabbinischen Schriftthums (2 vols. Rabbinic. 1:80. 129–30) rightly underline the lexical difficulties involved in the study of Late Jewish Literary Aramaic. . Targum Pseudo-Jonathan: Genesis: Translated.. 40 Levy. His conclusions (pp. authentic Aramaic dialect (albeit a literary one) with its own grammar and lexicon.”40 wtm occurs in only three places in Late Jewish Literary Aramaic (Ps. 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. 124–25.42 III.” “leidenschaftliche Aufregung”). and Tg. do not contain the term. hqw#t in Early Jewish. . 1991). When one looks up that entry. bwt. with a meaning of something like “return. Song 7:11). J. and Jacob Levy. Edward M. meaning “again. 1994).

Lohr: Sexual Desire? Eve. MA: Hendrickson. Genesis 3:16. For more on the textual difficulties related to Philo’s QG. it is interesting to note that Philo speaks not of the “desire” of the woman but of her “turning. 1953). Philo. Questions and Answers on Genesis.43 Philo In Quaestiones et solutiones in Genesin. based on various portions of Scripture. Philo addresses Gen 3:16 through a question (QG 1.” 48 Reuling. it is probably safe to say that “the primary source for rabbinic interpretation of [this book] is Genesis Rabbah. David M. not as to a helper.” in Both Literal and Allegorical: Studies in Philo of Alexandria’s Questions and Answers on Genesis and Exodus (ed.7) is interesting in that it takes the opportunity to explain the nature of desire as it relates to four spheres of life. 28. see Earle Hilgert. by Hanneke Reuling. “The Quaestiones: Texts and Translations. 44 Philo. 1993). 45 According to the note in Marcus. 43 See n. Yonge in this instance rightly translates the same term (ἐπιστροφή/conversio) not as “desire” but as “conversion. 1–15. D.”48 I briefly highlight a few examples of interaction with Gen 3:16 with special reference to hqw#t. and hqw#t 237 tion. I do so briefly and here build on the excellent study After Eden. there takes place a turning [ἐπιστροφή/conversio] of sense to the man. Rab. though the older translation of C. 223. Questions and Answers on Genesis (trans. but as to a master” (Marcus translation). 1991). 47 This is especially apparent when Philo later gives his answer to the question. 28.47 Genesis Rabbah Although a variety of rabbinic sources provide instances of exegetical engagement with Genesis. Hay. After Eden. The woman experiences pain and toil. Yonge uses the word “desire.”44 For our purposes. Cambridge. 46 Marcus.”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. Yonge. 20. Ralph Marcus.49). BJS 232. The Latin version uses conversio.45 The Loeb translation of Ralph Marcus brings this out. for it is a subject of no worth. Peabody. LCL 380.” using the term ἐπιστροφή. He speaks not of a curse upon the woman but of the “necessary evils” of life. “according to the deeper meaning. C. Questions and Answers on Genesis (trans. 28. D. . 800–801. MA: Harvard University Press. Questions and Answers on Genesis. 31 above. Atlanta: Scholars Press. stating. she is plagued by “domestic ills. (2) the desire of the evil inclination is for none except Cain and his assoespecially because our texts are biblical ones. (1) The desire of the woman is for none but her husband (Gen 3:16). Our first midrash (Gen. 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.

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

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

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

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

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

. 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. though still translating hqw#t as “desire. also from the War Scroll.” make this slightly more transparent: “But. [They have established] their refuge [in a lie. and Cook. . . do not panic or be alarmed because of them. . is remarkably clear in that it alludes to the Hebrew creation story with its use of whbw wht. and Cook. as for you. New Translation. ] their name shall not be found.]. and hqw#t 243 a reading the congregation is to stand firm and not be afraid. For they are a wicked congregation. .Mymlw( yyhn lwkb l[ -.][ -.hyhnw hywh lwk l)r#y . may y]our [heart not be faint]. do not turn back. in a sense. the faithful can take courage because the enemy will be powerless and will return to darkness. . . . Given the context of the enemy’s eventual ruin.] in all that will happen eternally.]w .h(#r tl#mm r# lyp#hlw (ynkhl wd(wm Mwyh And you. a translation of return makes good sense. . and their support is without [. . Not [do they know that from the God of] Israel everything is and will be [. 65 García Martínez and Tigchelaar.] Mw)ryt l)w wqzxth Mt)w [l)m )yk w(dy])wlw . Abegg. .] their strength is as smoke that vanishes. . The last passage for discussion. . Wise.[ly]x )wlb . be uncreated in the appointed day of judgment. Today is his appointed time to humiliate and abase the prince of the dominion of evil. . [for] their desire goes toward chaos and emptiness. Genesis 3:16. 1:141. take courage and do not fear them [. or [flee from the]m. Study Edition. all their deeds are in darkness and to it they will return. Every creature of destruction will quickly wither away . not to be a threat again.Lohr: Sexual Desire? Eve. knowing that the ones whose deeds are in darkness will return to darkness: Do not fear or be discoura[ged. Abegg. (1QM 17:4-6)65 It is unfortunate that the translation of García Martínez and Tigchelaar obscures a clear linkage to creation and the idea that the enemy will. and all their vast assembly [is as chaff which blows away . 161.64 In other words. exert yourselves and do not fear them. A better understanding is achieved in reading hqw#t as “return” rather than “desire”: Mtn(#mw Mtqw#t whblw whtl hmh [)yk -.

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

Gen 3:16 and Cant 7:10.” respectively).” “desire. The question of where the English translation “desire” (or German “Verlangen”) originates is beyond the scope of this article. for ancient interpreters and writers.Lohr: Sexual Desire? Eve. do not help matters. the Bishop’s Bible (1568) (which uses “desire. ideas present in some of the earliest—and influential— English Bibles. In recent translations and interpretation (modern and contemporary). However. respectively..70 Alternatively. 71 We might also note that the contexts of two of the MT instances. that which a person walks through). shank). “las” (from Old German/ Sächsische Kanzleisprache.” and “turnyng.” or “attract” (see entries for qw# in BDB and HALOT). Luther’s 1545 version changes these. the evil inclination. Luther’s Bibel (1534) uses “vnterworffen” (similar to the Vulgate). yet future work may show that later rabbinic and targumic traditions contributed to modern and recent understandings. it may be helpful to point out that qw# in Hebrew can mean “leg” or “street” (or thoroughfare or market. or even for destruction or in the sense that the returning is final. and “helt” (from Old German/Sächsische Kanzleisprache. though it is not altogether clear why.” “desir. Tyndale’s Pentateuch (1530) (which uses “lustes” and “subdued” in the Genesis instances. Although such ideas are speculative. and Israel’s God. interpreters have. perhaps for refuge or to one’s origins.” and “turne. We might conclude that. they seem to fit the literature well. since the first is related to pregnancy and the second involves two lovers.” “subdued. altogether plausible. returning someone (or thing) to where he or she (or it) belonged. the Miles Coverdale Bible (1535) (which uses “lust. equivalent to begehren). Interestingly. Genesis 3:16.69 One might suggest that the movement is to an appropriate or natural place. Later rabbinic interpretation gives some credence to this definition. even in that literature desire in one place will cause the woman to return to her husband. though perhaps there was a nuance involved whereby with hqw#t there is a strong movement toward. and hqw#t 245 dition of exegesis” is. and in another place desire can have diverse subjects such as rain. more often than not. equivalent to spalten). but it would be difficult to suggest that a confusion of terms was present or that variants of hbw#t existed. “impel. It seems more likely that ancients understood hqw#t to be close in meaning to hbw#t. and Cant 7:10 in Wycliffe (1395) (which uses “vndur power. respectively). e.g. 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. as I would rather prefer to privilege conclusions drawn from examining the term’s usage than to trace a word’s possible history. though. translated hqw#t as “desire” and have interpreted this to be sexual desire. as we have seen. 70 See.” respectively). the Geneva Bible (1587) (which uses “desire” in all three instances). and the King James Version (1611) (which also uses “desire” in all three instances). 4:7. hqw#t and hbw#t had an overlapping semantic range.” and “turne. the translations of Gen 3:16. “drive” (beast). and some see a connection between qw# and a potential cognate Arabic term also meaning “leg” (esp. and uses “Verlangen” in all three instances. almost as if part of the genetic makeup of the one (or thing) returning. .71 Our study has demonstrated 69 I have purposely avoided discussions on etymology. perhaps of an impelling nature.” respectively). I think.

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

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