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JBL 130, no. 2 (2011): 227–246

Sexual Desire? Eve, Genesis 3:16, and hqw#t
joel n. lohr Trinity Western University, Langley, BC V2Y 1Y1, Canada

Yhwh Elohim says to the woman, “I shall multiply your suffering and your . . . pregnancies; with pain you shall give birth to sons; and your desire shall be unto your husband, and he shall rule over you” (3.16). Any interpretation of this utterance—as a curse, aetiological statement of fact, blessing or otherwise—is largely dependent on the reader’s gender position and may vary considerably.1

Thus states Athalya Brenner in her important monograph The Intercourse of Knowledge. Those who have spent any time in the literature surrounding the interpretation of this verse will probably only affirm Brenner’s dictum. In fact, some may be inclined to suggest that she is given to understatement. Her words could give the impression that readings of this verse “may vary,” when in fact they regularly do much more—at times they clearly oppose or contradict each other. There is also a risk in saying too little in speaking of one’s “gender position.” Clearly there are a variety of factors in play, not the least of which is one’s religious or theological persuasions, or one’s place in history, society, and culture. All of this, to be sure, contributes to one’s “gender position,” but we need to be clear. The effects of one’s wider presuppositions are truly far-reaching and profound in reading this verse. For some, Gen 3:16 is a problem not only for faith communities that hold the Bible as Scripture but also for the larger world and its social order. Given the Bible’s influence in and on various societies, the potential for this verse to be used for oppressive means should not be underestimated. Many see here the institution of
I am grateful to Dirk Büchner, Joel Kaminsky, Walter Moberly, and Christopher Seitz for their comments on an earlier draft of this article. A shorter version of it was presented at the Canadian Society of Biblical Studies Annual Meeting in Ottawa, Ontario (May 26, 2009). 1 Athalya Brenner, The Intercourse of Knowledge: On Gendering Desire and ‘Sexuality’ in the Hebrew Bible (Biblical Interpretation Series 26; Leiden: Brill, 1997), 53.


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

Deuteronomy. It includes the attraction that woman experiences for man which she cannot root from her nature. London: Methuen. Some are not even clear that the term indicates desire.” This desire for sexual intimacy. ” 9 Driver. Leviticus. 27. Fretheim. 11 Bledstein. suggests that we are here dealing not so much with desire as with “dependency. It is not merely sexual yearning. which carries the sense of being desirable. 112. he continues. WC. Driver. even to the point of nymphomania. 6 Lerner. 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 2.8 This is but a small sampling of the literature. 1:172. 1978). She bases this on a potential semantic link to the Akkadian term kuzbu..” According to him. this dependency shows itself as a woman’s need for “cohabitation. Waltham. in her book God and the Rhetoric of Sexuality.10 In a rather different reading. feminists may seek to banish it. Eternally Eve: Images of Eve in the Hebrew Bible. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press.. . in the New Interpreter’s Bible. comes despite the potential for resultant pains of childbirth. 23.” That is. For Trible. S. Philadelphia: Fortress. 1942). 1905). It is a just penalty. in her in-depth and astute Jewish feminist reading of Eve. Numbers. 49. Commentary. 2007).” but states: This yearning is morbid. “Are Women Cursed in Genesis 3.16?” in A Feminist Companion to Genesis (ed. R. Genesis 3:16. and Notes (Schocken Bible 1. and Reflections. 7 Leupold. . Midrash. . “The Book of Genesis: Introduction. Exposition of Genesis (2 vols. or having allure. 1993). Athalya Brenner.Lohr: Sexual Desire? Eve. Adrian Janis Bledstein suggests that hqw#t should be understood not as desire or attraction to something but rather as “attractiveness. finds a continual attraction for him to be her unavoidable lot.”6 Perhaps the most extreme view here comes from the conservative Christian commentator Herbert C. NIB 1:363. and hqw#t 229 the term “lust. She who sought to strive apart from man . Fox uses the term in both Gen 3:16 and 4:7. Grand Rapids: Baker. 1995). calls this an “apparently unbridled sexual desire. Exodus. and not all interpreters agree that we are dealing with desire of a sexual kind.” but he provides no explanation for this decision in his notes. but it persists in cropping out . we might note the idea of Terence E.”9 Phyllis Trible.11 Carl Friedrich 5 Fox. 8 Fretheim. . MA: Brandeis University Press. . the woman will be “powerfully attractive” to her husband yet he can/will rule over her. 128. God and the Rhetoric of Sexuality (OBT 2. Leupold. He translates the term hqw#t as “yearning. . in his classic commentary on Genesis. 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. The Book of Genesis: With Introduction and Notes (4th ed.5 Anne Lapidus Lerner. a longing for “sexual intimacy. 10 Trible.7 To contrast this extreme view. FCB 2. . There he refers to the term in Gen 3:16 simply as a type of longing. A New Translation with Introductions. and Modern Jewish Poetry (HBI Series on Jewish Women. New York: Schocken. . 142–45. The Five Books of Moses: Genesis.

He states: It is a mistake to believe that the relation of woman to man is [here] changed (from 2. nothing at all has really changed in the Gen 3:16 pronouncement made to Eve. Nothing would have changed had she not eaten the fruit. Israel Abrahams. should be the leader. compare Walter C. In Gen 4:7 it is used to describe sin (or perhaps Abel). 2007). James Martin. ready to pounce on Cain. Ernest I. 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. The First Book of the Bible: Genesis (trans. 14 Cassuto. even in the garden of Eden she would have given birth in pain and would have been subordinate to man. Does the dominating position of man contradict her position as helper? Naturally the stronger. . is counseled that he can/may/must/shall “master” it. the protector. it is worth noting how and where the term hqw#t features in the masoretic tradition. to examine how this term has been used in the ancient versions and translations. . they instead specify that it indicates a constant “seeking” of something.12 Lastly. how we translate this term in 3:16 will undoubtedly have implications for our understanding of the enigmatic Gen 4:7. augmented ed..14 In Canticles. Cain. who calls it “Der dunkelste Vers .. 1:103.20). in Gen 4:7. The Pentateuch (trans. In fact. 13 Jacob. and then in the interpretations of the rabbis and the church fathers.” it is nevertheless nothing new.. He states that. A Commentary on the Book of Genesis (trans. German original. no. We turn. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.” Though this term is perhaps seemingly close to sexual desire.. something said to be lying in wait. hqw#t is used in a setting where the female 12 Keil and Delitzsch. Jerusalem: Magnes. . although the woman feels “‘irresistibly’ attracted to man. Jersey City: Ktav. 2 (2011) Keil and Franz Delitzsch also resist the word “desire” and instead opt for the idea of a “violent craving. 30. the same verb (l#m) used of the man concerning the woman in 3:16. Indeed. not necessarily in the sexual realm. der Genesis” . Compare Otto Procksch. however. . Jacob and Walter Jacob. Toward Old Testament Ethics (Grand Rapids: Zondervan. 1861–70). 1972). 1973. II. . 2 vols. As the parallels between these two passages are clear. and in Cant 7:10 [MT 11]. 3 vols.230 Journal of Biblical Literature 130. the term appears in only three places: here (Gen 3:16). then. Versions and Translations The Masoretic Text To begin. 204–5. 1:208. a verse that Umberto Cassuto probably rightly called “one of the most difficult and obscure” sentences in the Bible. As is well known.13 From all of the above. Kaiser Jr. 1983). things become more complex as we venture further into history. while discussing various interpretations. it is worth noting the reading of Benno Jacob.

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

though he uses ἀποστροφή in 4:7. 126. 23 There are seven main instances of the term (1QS 11:22. Aquila uses συνάφεια (“conjoining.” similar to the translation we observed above in the LXX. though also in the sense of an attack. Whatever the case. and Jubilees Unfortunately. 4Q418 frg. among others. Jubilees.22 Canticles 7:11 is likewise missing (4QCanta becomes fragmented and ends at Cant 7:7). and 4Q495 frg. 24 I here depend on James C. or in union with.19 I will return to this later in the article. “place of refuge” or “place of return. 17:4. 6Q18 frg. “Your place of refuge will be 19 See. a translational practice largely carried forward until the production of the first English Bibles. Leuven: Peeters..g. Theodotion for Gen 3:16 has not survived. “to join to together”). no. Symmachus. 4Q416 2 iv. Eve is told.4 [reconstruction of 1QM]). who states that the word is used here “in sexual connotation.10 [reconstruction of 1QS]. 128. Ronald S. see also n. as we shall see. the LXX is part of a long-standing tradition that understands Eve’s “curse” to involve a “turning” or “return” to her husband. they are missing 3:15–4:1.232 Journal of Biblical Literature 130.20 The other Greek versions vary to a small degree.21 The Dead Sea Scrolls. It is interesting to note that.1. as mentioned. Genesis 4:7. longing. 4Q446 frg. Notes on the Greek Text of Genesis (SBLSCS 35. albeit in fragmented form. The Text of Genesis 1–11: Textual Studies and Critical Edition (New York: Oxford University Press. although the term hqw#t is otherwise rare in extant ancient literature.3 [reconstruction of 1Q26]. Though definitions of ὁρµή may seem close to English ones for hqw#t (e.4) and four reconstructions (4Q256 frg.).” Though it is possible that ὁρµή could be employed in this way. 2 (2011) hbw#t was the reading of the underlying Vorlage.” “union. is found in 4QGenb.” or “close contact. 3:24. on the other hand.23 I will discuss these passages below. usage of this sort would be exceptional. There the text contains [w]tqw#t. 168. 3. Atlanta: Scholars Press.16. 2. however.3. 45. 1QM 13:12. 1Q1 contains 3:11–14. 1. and Roland Bergmeier. yet he will rule over her. desire. 70. the term ὁρµή is never used of a sexual desire but rather signifies a “strong movement toward. The Samaritan Pentateuch is consistent with the MT in its attestation of hqw#t in both Genesis instances. it occurs seven times in the nonbiblical manuscripts from Qumran. Samaritan Pentateuch. 15:10. 20 I discuss this below.” often of the mind. uses ὁρµή.” from συνάπτω. etc. the biblical manuscripts from Qumran do not contain Gen 3:16. in agreement with the MT. uses the term megbā' (ምግባእ). her man. 4Q2 contains 4:2–11. CSCO 510–11. “Zur Septuagintaübersetzung von Gen 3. The Book of Jubilees (2 vols. 1993).1 [reconstruction of 1QS]. 1:19. 21 Pace John William Wevers. and here we get the impression that the pronouncement entails that Eve will be joined to. 1989). VanderKam..” ZAW 79 (1967): 77–79. therefore. Hendel. in my reading of the literature.24 In Jub. 2. For our purposes I refer only to the Ethiopic version. 4Q264 frg. 22 4Q10 contains Gen 3:1–2. as the fragments . 23. 1998).

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

Jerome’s Attitude to Women.” in The Peshitta as a Translation: Papers Read at the II Peshitta Symposium Held at Leiden 19–21 August 1993 (ed. 1988). “Is the Peshitta a Non-Rabbinic Jewish Translation?” JQR 91 (2001): 411–18. Peshitta scholars agree that there is some evidence of LXX influence on the translation of the Peshitta. Gordon and Maori). “Methodological Criteria for Distinguishing between Variant Vorlage and Exegesis in the Peshitta Pentateuch. 32 This seems to be the consensus in Peshitta studies. Hayward. for instance. is in agreement with the LXX. in this case. 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. argues that Jerome’s otherwise faithful renderings in the Vulgate appear most slanted and inaccurate in matters pertaining to women. Saint Jerome’s Hebrew Questions on Genesis (Oxford Early Christian Studies. . In Gen 3:16 and the other two instances of MT hqw#t. 1995).30 Coupled with negative comments toward women in Jerome’s other writings. Oxford: Pergamon. 33 Generally. Consult also the review article by Yeshayahu Maori. He argues that there was little—perhaps no—direct LXX influence. diss. See Lund. Hebrew University. Monographs of the Peshitta Institute 8. Dirksen and Arie van der Kooij. see Michael P.34 Maori convincingly argues that differences in the Peshitta and the MT. 1–14. 2 (2011) the term conversio and makes no mention of his translation. Weitzman. For an overview of the issues involved. Leiden: Brill. Jane Barr. Piet B. which challenges Weitzman. “The Vulgate Genesis and St. though never published. 1995). even 30 For more on Jerome’s Quaestiones here. 1982).. 31 Barr. 34 Maori. The Syriac Version of the Old Testament: An Introduction (University of Cambridge Oriental Publications 56. Oxford: Clarendon. though of course detractors certainly exist. the Peshitta translates the term by using the root  (“return”). Leiden: Brill. 35.32 The long-standing debates regarding the influence of the LXX on the Peshitta will not here be answered but are certainly relevant. R. 121–28) regarding the essay (between Robert P. 2006). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. has been instrumental in challenging previous and long-held views. Lund’s study. After Eden: Church Fathers and Rabbis on Genesis 3:16–21 (Jewish and Christian Perspectives Series 10. however.” in Papers Presented to the Eighth International Conference on Patristic Studies Held at Oxford. as also stated in Hanneke Reuling.234 Journal of Biblical Literature 130. 116–17. 38 n. this suggests to some a misogynist tendency in Jerome’s Vulgate (“under the power of your husband you will be”). 1999).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. 1979 (StPatr 18. Yeshayahu Maori uses Gen 3:16 as an important component in building his case. 103–20.D. The amount of influence. T. 268–73. is under debate. no. see C.33 They are relevant because the Peshitta. Jerome A. and an excellent overview of the relationship between the Vulgate and Quaestiones. “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. Consult also the ensuing discussion (pp. 33.

which are clearly referring to turning. I return to this methodological principle in the conclusion below. and Notes [ArBib 6. “Fragments of the Palestinian Targums.”38 35 Here I truncate and simplify a lengthy and nuanced discussion. Song 1:5. 2002). Maori shows that the Peshitta’s use of  for MT hqw#t. Collegeville. MN: Liturgical Press. 6:1. A Dictionary of Jewish Babylonian Aramaic of the Talmudic and Geonic Periods (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press. I here summarize a potentially lengthy discussion. W. Compare Alison Salvesen. 46) and the older translation of J. 3:18–19.” Compare the use in all other occurrences of the term in Onqelos. 5:21. 38 Martin McNamara. Rather. 14:5. A Dictionary of Jewish Palestinian Aramaic of the Byzantine Period (2nd ed. 5:2. Onqelos uses hbwyt.” “repentance.g. 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. 32:3. 7:20. 336. Jer 4:1. 61. 1988]. For more on hbwyt. W. 3]). 5:6. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press. 2:14. “turning. Translated. the Neophyti Targum. Amos 5:12. or repentance: 1 Sam 7:6. 17:11. 33:6. Ezek 7:13. or targumic versions). 42. 1992). inter alia. Longman. 41) translate this as “desire. meaning a “return” or “turning. with Apparatus and Notes (ArBib 1A. 2002). I will return to this idea below. however. even if in direct agreement with the LXX’s ἀποστρφή. 9. 5. 9:5. 1204. Wilmington.”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. as its meaning is not in doubt and all other uses of the term in Onqelos are best translated as “turning” or “repentance. Isa 1:6. see Michael Sokoloff. Bernard Grossfeld and J.” It is not clear why English translations use the term “desire” (e. The Targumim Though perhaps not versions in the true sense. Esth 3:7. Symmachus . Genesis 3:16. (Though the latter might appear to deal only with later literature. 3:40. 4:6. and the Fragmentary Targums” [p. 34:36.35 To be specific for our purposes. and idem. 2:16. with a Critical Introduction. do not necessarily confirm variants in the Vorlage. For reasons of space. 14:7. he argues that we must respect that in many cases translations will reflect a “common Jewish tradition of exegesis” rather than a shared variant. 37 See Sokoloff. the Targums are important for our discussion in that they provide examples—through paraphrase and embellishment—of ancient Jewish interpretation. 12:5. and Roberts. 16:28. In place of hqw#t in Gen 3:16. 31:22. 5.. it covers. vol. Job 21:34. 580. 1.. Eccl 1:15. 1862]. 57:18. Jewish Palestinian Aramaic. Apparatus. Etheridge). DE: Michael Glazier. 36 Both Bernard Grossfeld (The Targum Onqelos to Genesis: Translated.”36 Neofiti is also close to the LXX in its use of btm (from bwt). Lam 1:2. 24:6–7. Genesis and Exodus [London: Longman. 18. and hqw#t 235 when shared with the LXX (or with the Samaritan Pentateuch. 16. Hos 14:5. does not necessarily reflect a variant in the Vorlage. Green. Etheridge (The Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan ben Uzziel on the Pentateuch.Lohr: Sexual Desire? Eve.” or “response. Targum Neofiti 1: Genesis. 19.

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

D. 43 See n. and hqw#t 237 tion. she is plagued by “domestic ills. BJS 232. . Philo addresses Gen 3:16 through a question (QG 1. Hay. David M. by Hanneke Reuling. After Eden. 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.” using the term ἐπιστροφή. 44 Philo. For more on the textual difficulties related to Philo’s QG. Atlanta: Scholars Press.Lohr: Sexual Desire? Eve. for it is a subject of no worth. 31 above.” in Both Literal and Allegorical: Studies in Philo of Alexandria’s Questions and Answers on Genesis and Exodus (ed. 45 According to the note in Marcus. Cambridge. 46 Marcus. (1) The desire of the woman is for none but her husband (Gen 3:16). based on various portions of Scripture.45 The Loeb translation of Ralph Marcus brings this out.49). MA: Hendrickson. but as to a master” (Marcus translation). Our first midrash (Gen. Questions and Answers on Genesis (trans. 47 This is especially apparent when Philo later gives his answer to the question. MA: Harvard University Press. there takes place a turning [ἐπιστροφή/conversio] of sense to the man. Questions and Answers on Genesis (trans. Questions and Answers on Genesis.47 Genesis Rabbah Although a variety of rabbinic sources provide instances of exegetical engagement with Genesis. 223. C. Yonge in this instance rightly translates the same term (ἐπιστροφή/conversio) not as “desire” but as “conversion.7) is interesting in that it takes the opportunity to explain the nature of desire as it relates to four spheres of life. 1991). He speaks not of a curse upon the woman but of the “necessary evils” of life. 1–15.43 Philo In Quaestiones et solutiones in Genesin. Rab. 20. 28. see Earle Hilgert.” 48 Reuling. D. Yonge uses the word “desire. it is interesting to note that Philo speaks not of the “desire” of the woman but of her “turning. Genesis 3:16. “according to the deeper meaning. though the older translation of C. stating. The Latin version uses conversio. Ralph Marcus. LCL 380. it is probably safe to say that “the primary source for rabbinic interpretation of [this book] is Genesis Rabbah. Philo. Questions and Answers on Genesis. Yonge.”44 For our purposes. 800–801.”48 I briefly highlight a few examples of interaction with Gen 3:16 with special reference to hqw#t. I do so briefly and here build on the excellent study After Eden. (2) the desire of the evil inclination is for none except Cain and his assoespecially because our texts are biblical ones.”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. “The Quaestiones: Texts and Translations. Peabody. 1953). 1993). 28. not as to a helper. The woman experiences pain and toil. 28.

no. It could also be that here we have an ingenious way of explaining what hqw#t is. its meaning being inextricably linked with the idea of returning. It is possible that we are dealing with a sexual desire (i. Immediately following this. . a further midrash is given regarding what the desire might mean in relation to the woman in Gen 3:16. 102. in Didyme l’Aveugle. the term clearly has a wide semantic range here as it has diverse subjects such as rain. blessed be He. Freedman. It is introduced with the common midrashic introduction “Another interpretation is . 165–66.”50 It is interesting that Genesis Rabbah here includes the idea of returning alongside that of desire. as well as the discussion in Reuling. 2 (2011) ciates (Gen 4:7). Midrash Rabbah: Genesis (3rd ed. I briefly provide a sampling of interpretations. 66–67. and God. the midrash makes clear that it we are dealing with something that causes the woman to return to the man.”: When a woman sits on the birthstool..e.238 Journal of Biblical Literature 130. Paris: Cerf. though it could relate simply to a desire for intimacy. After Eden. in his allegorical interpretation of 3:16 (In Genesim 102). says to her: “Thou wilt return [ybw#t] to thy desire [Ktqw#tl]. . thou wilt return [ybw#t] to the desire [tqw#tl] for thy husband [K#y)]. 237.49 Though we could explore each of these ideas separately. 1976). for our purposes I simply note that. (3) the desire of the rain is only for the earth (Ps 65:10). Whatever the case. unless they follow Jerome’s harsher idea of the man’s power and the woman’s submission.” and she has a “turning [τὴν ἀποστροφήν] to her husband”—Christ—who rules over her. Midrash Rabbah. or general desire for the man. London: Soncino. the church experiences “pain that produces repentance [µετάνοιαν] for salvation... Sur la Genèse: ” Texte inédit d’après un papyrus de Toura (SC 233. 50 The translation is from Freedman. understands the church to be the woman. “I will henceforth never fulfill my marital duties. she declares. 1983). . Compare Reuling. hqw#t in the Fathers The fathers use the equivalents of “return” or “turning” (ἀποστροφή and conversio) largely without exception. (4) the desire of the Holy One is for none but Israel (Song 7:11). It is evident that the word by no means implies desire in only strictly sexual terms. trans. After Eden. 165–66. 51 See Pierre Nautin and Louis Doutreleau. IV. the evil inclination. a desire that leads the woman to fulfill her “marital duties”). “In Genesim. although hqw#t seems to be understood as desire.51 Ambrose of Milan is 49 I here loosely quote and paraphrase from H.” whereupon the Holy One. Didymus the Blind and Ambrose of Milan Didymus the Blind.

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

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

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

the translation of García Martínez and Tigchelaar. 139. Abegg. 161. may your hearts not weaken]. Abegg. )cmy )wl hmm[# -. New Translation. do not panic. and Wise. Abegg.” while Wise. angels of destruction. no. García Martínez and Tigchelaar. For they are a wicked congregation and all their deeds are in darkness and to it go [their] desires. but I would suggest that a translation of “return” or “turning. and Cook. it is [their] desire. also makes good sense. makes reasonable sense. walk in the statutes of[kbbl Kry l)w wt]xt l)w w)ryt l) Mhy#(m lwk K#wxbw h(#r td( hmh )yk . and Cook. 160. and Cook. and Cook. those in the lot of your truth. 1:137–39.242 Journal of Biblical Literature 130.61 What happens.” given the context. The translation of 13:11–12 could then be rendered something like the following: And all the spirits of his [Belial’s] lot. . Vermes translates the sentence in question as “for they are a congregation of wickedness and all their works are in Darkness. 2 (2011) In this case.rbw( Cwmk ] Mnwm[h] Do not be afraid or [tremble. a reading of “return” also makes sense. See Vermes. their power disappears like smoke. respectively. Study Edition. and Wise. 141.M]tqw#t wyl)w . All the assembly of their [ho]rdes … […] … will not be found. however. do not turn backwards. New Translation. Abegg. and Cook translate it “all their deeds are in darkness. The third text also is from the War Scroll: l)w Mhynpm wcwr(t l)w wzpxt l)w . . to them is their (continual) return. when we put the passage to our test and exchange the above translation of hqw#t with “return”? It is a matter of debate. 63 62 . or [run away from th]em. again in agreement with Vermes and Wise. But let us.”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. (1QM 15:8–11)62 The translation of García Martínez and Tigchelaar here varies to a small degree from those of Vermes and Wise. they tend towards Darkness. […] their refuge. or be terrified by them.[Mhynpm wswnt] l)w rwx) wbw#t lhq lwkw xlmn N#(k Mtrwbgw Mhysxm[ -. rejoice in your mighty hand and exult in your salvation. Abegg. Scrolls in English. In such 61 Compare Vermes. Scrolls in English.

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

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

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

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