130.2 | Septuagint | Book Of Genesis

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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.


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

10 Trible. .5 Anne Lapidus Lerner. Waltham.Lohr: Sexual Desire? Eve. 1995). Eternally Eve: Images of Eve in the Hebrew Bible. 8 Fretheim. “Are Women Cursed in Genesis 3. She bases this on a potential semantic link to the Akkadian term kuzbu. . The Five Books of Moses: Genesis. a longing for “sexual intimacy. this dependency shows itself as a woman’s need for “cohabitation. and Modern Jewish Poetry (HBI Series on Jewish Women. Deuteronomy.. . Commentary. 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. 142–45. 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. in his classic commentary on Genesis. and Notes (Schocken Bible 1.10 In a rather different reading. FCB 2. Exposition of Genesis (2 vols. 2007). and hqw#t 229 the term “lust. London: Methuen. suggests that we are here dealing not so much with desire as with “dependency. ” 9 Driver. and not all interpreters agree that we are dealing with desire of a sexual kind. “The Book of Genesis: Introduction.” That is. She who sought to strive apart from man . but it persists in cropping out . Exodus. He translates the term hqw#t as “yearning. Leupold.”6 Perhaps the most extreme view here comes from the conservative Christian commentator Herbert C. .” According to him. 112. calls this an “apparently unbridled sexual desire. Fox uses the term in both Gen 3:16 and 4:7. or having allure. in the New Interpreter’s Bible. . 7 Leupold. the woman will be “powerfully attractive” to her husband yet he can/will rule over her. 1993). he continues. A New Translation with Introductions. Leviticus. It is a just penalty. 11 Bledstein. Some are not even clear that the term indicates desire.” but he provides no explanation for this decision in his notes. R. It includes the attraction that woman experiences for man which she cannot root from her nature. even to the point of nymphomania. WC. . 49. Philadelphia: Fortress. Fretheim. There he refers to the term in Gen 3:16 simply as a type of longing. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press. and Reflections. Genesis 3:16. 23. in her book God and the Rhetoric of Sexuality. finds a continual attraction for him to be her unavoidable lot. 1905). Grand Rapids: Baker.8 This is but a small sampling of the literature. NIB 1:363. Athalya Brenner. The Book of Genesis: With Introduction and Notes (4th ed. 1:172.” but states: This yearning is morbid. 1942). . 27. Commentary. . It is not merely sexual yearning. For Trible. feminists may seek to banish it. S. 1978). God and the Rhetoric of Sexuality (OBT 2. comes despite the potential for resultant pains of childbirth. 128.” This desire for sexual intimacy. Numbers. Midrash.16?” in A Feminist Companion to Genesis (ed.11 Carl Friedrich 5 Fox. Adrian Janis Bledstein suggests that hqw#t should be understood not as desire or attraction to something but rather as “attractiveness. MA: Brandeis University Press. in her in-depth and astute Jewish feminist reading of Eve. which carries the sense of being desirable. 6 Lerner..7 To contrast this extreme view.”9 Phyllis Trible. Driver. New York: Schocken. we might note the idea of Terence E.

Kaiser Jr. 1972). is counseled that he can/may/must/shall “master” it. .13 From all of the above. compare Walter C. James Martin. He states: It is a mistake to believe that the relation of woman to man is [here] changed (from 2. German original. to examine how this term has been used in the ancient versions and translations. Jerusalem: Magnes. Compare Otto Procksch. should be the leader. how we translate this term in 3:16 will undoubtedly have implications for our understanding of the enigmatic Gen 4:7. II. things become more complex as we venture further into history.12 Lastly. the same verb (l#m) used of the man concerning the woman in 3:16. 1983). Indeed. We turn.. 3 vols. 1:208.14 In Canticles. 13 Jacob. no.. der Genesis” . while discussing various interpretations. Jacob and Walter Jacob.20). Jersey City: Ktav. Versions and Translations The Masoretic Text To begin. 1861–70). The Pentateuch (trans. the protector. 204–5.230 Journal of Biblical Literature 130. 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. and then in the interpretations of the rabbis and the church fathers. in Gen 4:7. The First Book of the Bible: Genesis (trans. it is worth noting the reading of Benno Jacob. . ... and in Cant 7:10 [MT 11]. Does the dominating position of man contradict her position as helper? Naturally the stronger. augmented ed. 14 Cassuto. then. Ernest I. hqw#t is used in a setting where the female 12 Keil and Delitzsch. not necessarily in the sexual realm. 1:103. 30. even in the garden of Eden she would have given birth in pain and would have been subordinate to man. 1973. Toward Old Testament Ethics (Grand Rapids: Zondervan. although the woman feels “‘irresistibly’ attracted to man. Israel Abrahams. 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. Cain.” Though this term is perhaps seemingly close to sexual desire. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans. As the parallels between these two passages are clear. however. who calls it “Der dunkelste Vers . the term appears in only three places: here (Gen 3:16). a verse that Umberto Cassuto probably rightly called “one of the most difficult and obscure” sentences in the Bible. something said to be lying in wait. ready to pounce on Cain.” it is nevertheless nothing new. In fact. it is worth noting how and where the term hqw#t features in the masoretic tradition. In Gen 4:7 it is used to describe sin (or perhaps Abel). As is well known. 2 vols. 2007). . He states that. . 2 (2011) Keil and Franz Delitzsch also resist the word “desire” and instead opt for the idea of a “violent craving. Nothing would have changed had she not eaten the fruit. A Commentary on the Book of Genesis (trans.

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

they are missing 3:15–4:1. albeit in fragmented form. the LXX is part of a long-standing tradition that understands Eve’s “curse” to involve a “turning” or “return” to her husband. VanderKam. Whatever the case..21 The Dead Sea Scrolls. Jubilees.19 I will return to this later in the article. Leuven: Peeters. 3.” from συνάπτω. see also n.3 [reconstruction of 1Q26]. 3:24. her man. 70. Notes on the Greek Text of Genesis (SBLSCS 35. 1998).).24 In Jub. Symmachus. as we shall see.” Though it is possible that ὁρµή could be employed in this way. 23 There are seven main instances of the term (1QS 11:22. in agreement with the MT.” often of the mind.” “union. no. CSCO 510–11. uses the term megbā' (ምግባእ). though also in the sense of an attack. is found in 4QGenb. Though definitions of ὁρµή may seem close to English ones for hqw#t (e. 4Q264 frg. 128. who states that the word is used here “in sexual connotation. Genesis 4:7.232 Journal of Biblical Literature 130. 4Q418 frg. 6Q18 frg. The Samaritan Pentateuch is consistent with the MT in its attestation of hqw#t in both Genesis instances. the biblical manuscripts from Qumran do not contain Gen 3:16. “Your place of refuge will be 19 See.g. 126. on the other hand. 4Q416 2 iv. among others. etc.4) and four reconstructions (4Q256 frg. 1993). 20 I discuss this below.1. and 4Q495 frg. 168.20 The other Greek versions vary to a small degree. in my reading of the literature. it occurs seven times in the nonbiblical manuscripts from Qumran. 2. 15:10. Hendel. 4Q2 contains 4:2–11. 21 Pace John William Wevers. 1Q1 contains 3:11–14.1 [reconstruction of 1QS]. Samaritan Pentateuch. usage of this sort would be exceptional. uses ὁρµή. therefore. Theodotion for Gen 3:16 has not survived. though he uses ἀποστροφή in 4:7.10 [reconstruction of 1QS]. The Text of Genesis 1–11: Textual Studies and Critical Edition (New York: Oxford University Press.” ZAW 79 (1967): 77–79. Eve is told. It is interesting to note that. The Book of Jubilees (2 vols. Ronald S. however. although the term hqw#t is otherwise rare in extant ancient literature. For our purposes I refer only to the Ethiopic version. longing. the term ὁρµή is never used of a sexual desire but rather signifies a “strong movement toward. 4Q446 frg. Aquila uses συνάφεια (“conjoining.” or “close contact. as the fragments . “to join to together”).3. and Jubilees Unfortunately. 17:4. 1989). “Zur Septuagintaübersetzung von Gen 3.” similar to the translation we observed above in the LXX. 23.. 24 I here depend on James C. desire.23 I will discuss these passages below. yet he will rule over her. There the text contains [w]tqw#t. 2 (2011) hbw#t was the reading of the underlying Vorlage. 1QM 13:12. Atlanta: Scholars Press.16. or in union with. and Roland Bergmeier. 22 4Q10 contains Gen 3:1–2. as mentioned. “place of refuge” or “place of return.4 [reconstruction of 1QM]). 2. 1:19. 45.22 Canticles 7:11 is likewise missing (4QCanta becomes fragmented and ends at Cant 7:7). and here we get the impression that the pronouncement entails that Eve will be joined to. 1. a translational practice largely carried forward until the production of the first English Bibles.

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

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

Jer 4:1. Maori shows that the Peshitta’s use of  for MT hqw#t. For reasons of space. A Dictionary of Jewish Palestinian Aramaic of the Byzantine Period (2nd ed. Etheridge). and Roberts. 3]). Isa 1:6. he argues that we must respect that in many cases translations will reflect a “common Jewish tradition of exegesis” rather than a shared variant. 5. He shows that the LXX and Peshitta’s decision to render all three instances of the MT’s term similarly (as “return” or “turning”) likely indicates not variants in all six separate instances but rather a common Jewish exegetical tradition. I here summarize a potentially lengthy discussion. 4:6. 5:21. Eccl 1:15.35 To be specific for our purposes. Collegeville. the Neophyti Targum. as its meaning is not in doubt and all other uses of the term in Onqelos are best translated as “turning” or “repentance. see Michael Sokoloff. with Apparatus and Notes (ArBib 1A. 16. 34:36. Longman. 32:3. 5..” It is not clear why English translations use the term “desire” (e. For more on hbwyt. 37 See Sokoloff. Song 1:5. 1204. Genesis and Exodus [London: Longman. 12:5. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press. 38 Martin McNamara. Jewish Palestinian Aramaic. Etheridge (The Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan ben Uzziel on the Pentateuch. Onqelos uses hbwyt. which are clearly referring to turning. 2002). 14:5. Job 21:34. Ezek 7:13. Rather. 9:5. Genesis 3:16. Hos 14:5. and the Fragmentary Targums” [p. Symmachus .. The Targumim Though perhaps not versions in the true sense.g. 2:16. or targumic versions). Apparatus.” “repentance. inter alia. Wilmington. 17:11. and idem. 14:7.”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. I return to this methodological principle in the conclusion below. DE: Michael Glazier. 16:28. Amos 5:12. 42. 1862]. and Notes [ArBib 6. with a Critical Introduction. 1988]. 24:6–7. 580. Bernard Grossfeld and J. 9. “turning. 1. the Targums are important for our discussion in that they provide examples—through paraphrase and embellishment—of ancient Jewish interpretation. 61. it covers. 41) translate this as “desire. or repentance: 1 Sam 7:6.”36 Neofiti is also close to the LXX in its use of btm (from bwt).” Compare the use in all other occurrences of the term in Onqelos. I will return to this idea below. however. 5:2. 46) and the older translation of J. 36 Both Bernard Grossfeld (The Targum Onqelos to Genesis: Translated. meaning a “return” or “turning. 3:18–19. 1992). A Dictionary of Jewish Babylonian Aramaic of the Talmudic and Geonic Periods (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press. 31:22. 336. Compare Alison Salvesen. 18. 2:14. Translated. Esth 3:7. does not necessarily reflect a variant in the Vorlage. do not necessarily confirm variants in the Vorlage. (Though the latter might appear to deal only with later literature.”38 35 Here I truncate and simplify a lengthy and nuanced discussion. Lam 1:2. 33:6. W. 6:1. Green. “Fragments of the Palestinian Targums. In place of hqw#t in Gen 3:16. 19. Targum Neofiti 1: Genesis. and hqw#t 235 when shared with the LXX (or with the Samaritan Pentateuch. 2002).” or “response.Lohr: Sexual Desire? Eve. 57:18. MN: Liturgical Press. 7:20. vol. 3:40. even if in direct agreement with the LXX’s ἀποστρφή. W. 5:6.

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

stating. not as to a helper. 28. 44 Philo. MA: Harvard University Press. MA: Hendrickson. it is probably safe to say that “the primary source for rabbinic interpretation of [this book] is Genesis Rabbah. see Earle Hilgert. D. The woman experiences pain and toil. Philo.”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 in this instance rightly translates the same term (ἐπιστροφή/conversio) not as “desire” but as “conversion. Hay. Questions and Answers on Genesis (trans. 43 See n. “The Quaestiones: Texts and Translations. Genesis 3:16. there takes place a turning [ἐπιστροφή/conversio] of sense to the man. He speaks not of a curse upon the woman but of the “necessary evils” of life. Questions and Answers on Genesis. BJS 232.7) is interesting in that it takes the opportunity to explain the nature of desire as it relates to four spheres of life. C. The Latin version uses conversio. by Hanneke Reuling. but as to a master” (Marcus translation). (1) The desire of the woman is for none but her husband (Gen 3:16). based on various portions of Scripture. I do so briefly and here build on the excellent study After Eden. 28. Rab. Ralph Marcus. After Eden. 31 above.Lohr: Sexual Desire? Eve. For more on the textual difficulties related to Philo’s QG. though the older translation of C. 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. Peabody.” 48 Reuling. 1953).” in Both Literal and Allegorical: Studies in Philo of Alexandria’s Questions and Answers on Genesis and Exodus (ed.”48 I briefly highlight a few examples of interaction with Gen 3:16 with special reference to hqw#t. 800–801. 1–15. 223.” using the term ἐπιστροφή. “according to the deeper meaning.47 Genesis Rabbah Although a variety of rabbinic sources provide instances of exegetical engagement with Genesis. . David M.49). for it is a subject of no worth.43 Philo In Quaestiones et solutiones in Genesin. (2) the desire of the evil inclination is for none except Cain and his assoespecially because our texts are biblical ones. 20. it is interesting to note that Philo speaks not of the “desire” of the woman but of her “turning. she is plagued by “domestic ills. 1991). Atlanta: Scholars Press. and hqw#t 237 tion. 45 According to the note in Marcus. Questions and Answers on Genesis. 47 This is especially apparent when Philo later gives his answer to the question. Yonge. D. Philo addresses Gen 3:16 through a question (QG 1.45 The Loeb translation of Ralph Marcus brings this out. 1993). Questions and Answers on Genesis (trans. 46 Marcus. LCL 380. Yonge uses the word “desire. 28. Cambridge.”44 For our purposes. Our first midrash (Gen.

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

29). or least acknowledges. From the Beginnings to Jerome (ed. 87–88. 429. . Chrysostom Chrysostom uses the Greek term ἀποστροφή in Gen 3:16 to explain the relationship between husbands and wives. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Evans.” and “protection” (καταφυγή. After Eden. 56 Reuling. as is also. Sermones in Genesim (PG 54:594).53 The woman will turn to her husband for refuge. see PGL. For a helpful overview. the man will protect her. 1896). Chrysostom provides three definitions of ἀποστροφή: “place of refuge. . “Augustine has some difficulty defining [Gen 3:16’s] literal meaning . 55 How much Greek Augustine actually read. reciprocates by loving his wife (Eph 5:33). Augustine is reluctant to comment on the “literal meaning” of Gen 3:16 (see Gen.”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. 541–63. however. 595. we look at Augustine. 53 See John Chrysostom. Man. Eve’s sentence is made milder because she confesses.” in The Cambridge History of the Bible. CSEL 32/1. vol. the original “burden of slavery” implied in Gen 3:16 (“he will rule over you”) is taken away (τὸ φορτικὸν ἀνῄρηται τῆς δουλείας). refuge from her difficulties. she is to “turn [conversa] to her husband and serve him [serviret]. 193. see Ambrose of Milan. 132–34. Chrysostom uses Ephesians 5 to explain things more fully: the woman’s “turning” (or place of refuge) is found in her husband. is a matter of debate. Ackroyd and C. Sermones in Genesim. therefore. 2. Later.Lohr: Sexual Desire? Eve. whose readings are often based either on the Septuagint or an Old Latin translation that uses the term conversio. her guilt (“the serpent tricked me”). and hqw#t 239 more pointed in his reading of the pronouncement made to the woman. Peter R.” “harbor.”52 Ambrose suggests that the origin of sin lies with the woman. for his part. . and rule over her. for definitions. the extent of his use of the LXX. Compare Salvesen. Augustine decides that Gen 3:16 announces a “changed form of dominance”—the 52 For the text. see Gerald Bonner. Leipzig: Tempsky. λιµήν. the decree is a corrective measure to prevent further harm to the human race.54 Augustine Lastly. 1970). 15. Symmachus. Schenkl. After Eden. In his reading (De paradiso 14. thus. 54 See further Chrysostom. 1.55 In his earlier writings. F. In doing so.72). Genesis 3:16. see also the discussion in Reuling. C. care for her. “Augustine as Biblical Scholar. 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. De Paradiso (ed. The husband. ἀσφάλεια). As Reuling shows. and the discussion in Reuling. Reluctantly. of course.

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). making an important contribution to our discussion. An interesting test presents itself.Nyby hm tc(lw dy rcwyw rmx by#y hm . The Qumran nonbiblical manuscripts. 1997). CSEL 28/1. he is spat saliva.” or “return” for hqw#t would be virtually definite. how did this ancient community understand and use the term? I will treat the texts in cave order. here 1:99. After Eden. 58 Translations are taken from Florentino García Martínez and Eibert J. If that were the case. Joseph Zycha. is. from the Rule of the Community. as mentioned. The Dead Sea Scrolls Study Edition (2 vols. The first text. navigates a large body of literature. h)whw . 11.57 V. A number of factors make conclusions difficult. Although three of these occurrences are too fragmentary to be of significance.37.wrwdm hmr Mxlw wlbgm rp(m h)whw .. within the past six decades (in most cases less). no.wtqw#t rp(lw Crwq rmx As what shall one born of woman be considered in your presence? Shaped from dust has he been. De Genesi ad litteram (ed. quite straightforward.240 Journal of Biblical Literature 130. Prague: Tempsky. interestingly. In other words. 2 (2011) woman will turn to her husband and he will rule over her. 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. in that. or whether a translation of “turning.hkynpl b#{x}y hm h#) dwlyw qwrycm . 371–72. italics added (here and elsewhere) for emphasis. 1894). and for dust is his longing. Testing the Interpretive Status Quo through the Dead Sea Scrolls The survey above. pp. however. maggots’ food shall be his dwelling. Service once performed in love now takes on a yoke of slavery. Tigchelaar.” or “return” is best based on context. contain seven new instances of the term hqw#t heretofore unknown. four instances are well preserved. the Dead Sea Scrolls. moulded clay. and it is clear that we cannot base our lexical and interpretive decisions purely on the frequency of a particular translation. C. Leiden: Brill. a translation of “turning. . 193–95. and Reuling. though brief. 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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