“Your DESIRE shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.”
This is God, revealing to Eve a profound consequence of her rebellious decision in the garden. As though being cursed with pain in both giving birth and in the raising of children were not enough (see the first half of this same verse), Eve, who also represents all of womankind, will now desire (tĕshuwqah in the Hebrew): the notion of being in the authoritative role of husband; rather than acquiescing to her husband and fulfilling the submissive role of wife. In other words, this passage is not about desiring Adam due to the curse. It’s about being cursed with the desire to be like Adam. It’s about desiring to be in Adam’s role, rather than in the role God had intended for her.
‘Tĕshuwqah’ is not a coveting desire. Such is illustrated several verses earlier when Eve desired the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The Hebrew word which is used to describe her covetous desire regarding the fruit is ‘chamad’:
“So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be DESIRED to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.”
‘Tĕshuwqah’ is a different type of desire than ‘chamad’ (a covetous desire). The root word is ‘shuwq’, which means to overflow. ‘Tĕshuwqah’ is the craving to overflow or to desire to be “in authority over”, which is proper for a husband with regards to his wife. However, it’s not proper for the wife to have the desire to be in authority over her husband. Marriages are doomed to fail in such a scenario.
I once heard a great piece of advice which Voddie Baucham had shared in a sermon (paraphrasing):
“You want to help your boys find a Godly wife? Tell him to observe how the potential spouse treats her dad. If she does not desire to properly submit to her father, why would you think that she would properly submit to you as her husband?”
There is a second place where ‘Tĕshuwqah’ appears in Genesis:
“The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its DESIRE is for you, but you must rule over it.””
The phrase “he shall rule over you” in Genesis 3:16 and the parallel phrase in Genesis 4:7 “but you must rule over it” (each following ‘tĕshuwqah’), both point to a struggle to dominate. Just as Genesis 3:16 points to the “battle of the sexes” we see in the world (wives battling husbands for authority), Genesis 4:7 points to the internal battle we all face regarding sin and its attempt to have authority over us. ‘Tĕshuwqah’ is the Hebrew word which helps to describe both battles. In both cases, an improper desire is described.
Until Jesus returns, improper desires regarding authority will remain and frustrate our lives. The only solution is repentance (the recognition of such) and trust (acquiescing to Christ).
What is interesting is how ‘tĕshuwqah’ is exclusively used in one other place in scripture, and it fully juxtaposes Genesis 3:16…
Song of Songs 7:10
“I am my beloved’s,
and his DESIRE is for me.”
Notice how the woman views herself in relation to her beloved. She is his. She not only recognizes her Godly role, she embraces it. As for her beloved, his desire is to overflow her. Such describes a proper relational dynamic according to God’s order for marriage. It also describes how we (Christians) should respond to Christ, who is our beloved, who has ‘tĕshuwqah’ for us.
A close friend of mine once said, in describing what a good husband needs to always keep in view, with regards to maintaining his marriage (in light of being a follower of Christ):
“In order to be a good husband, one must first learn to be a good wife.”
May we (Christians) be good wives to our Lord and Savior.
Godspeed, to the brethren!