Sometimes our discussions seem to include speculation—something decided that may not be explicitly stated in the text. Speculation is sometimes exactly what God wants us to do when examining his Word. But speculation should not be some wild imagining that fits only one or some aspects of what is going on that we superimpose over everything. What is required is proper connecting and coordination of the sure statements of the text into a formative, sensical, consistent, explanatory narrative. The words of the text must bear the foundational weight of the coalesced understanding and not be mere window dressing to the speculation.
Three standout aspects of our last discussion were (1) that the deception of Eve by Satan and God’s subsequent curse on Satan was the fall of Lucifer from his heavenly majesty to the personification of Evil set against humankind, (2) that although Eve was honest and correct in declaring she was deceived (believing her relationship with God would not be harmed by eating), her unrecorded, yet hinted at conversation with Adam gave her knowledge of the deception and scared her into urging Adam to eat, losing his relationship with God as well, and (3) the sin with which God is concerned with Eve is the second in urging Adam away from God rather than the first—eating the fruit.
Notice that it was really about that action that God was asking her. Adam had said that the woman gave him the fruit. Adam didn’t accuse Eve of eating first. So the action at the forefront is Eve giving Adam the fruit. God asked in verse 13 what she had done—with this idea at the forefront of her giving the fruit. In other words, it appears God was asking, “Why did you give him the fruit to eat? Why were you influencing him in this way against my command?” Eve, however, ignored that question (maybe because she knew she had done something there definitely wrong) and answered rather about what made her eat to start the whole unfortunate series of actions in the first place: the serpent deceived her. However, in actuality, the deception didn’t change the fact that after eating and realizing the wrong, most likely through conversation with Adam, Eve still offered the apple to Adam, probably in fear of being outcast alone. Therefore, already through sin, she made a choice for herself in disregard of benefit for Adam—the exact opposite of what love relationship intends.
I think we need to continue to let this idea gain more distinction in our minds. Males and females are different—physically. Of course, that doesn’t come as a shock to anyone. But let’s define that a bit more. Structurally, males are generally larger (making them stronger—generally). Also physically (for whatever hormonal, chemical influence they carry), they seem—again, generally—to gain more satisfaction (feel more fulfilled) in matters of physical activity, using that structural strength. Females, structurally. are able to bear children. And females, again physically (hormonally, chemically), find more satisfaction in the nurturing aspect of developing life and relationship than males. That, I think, is one reason that, while both men and women bring help to each other—either who has ability bringing to the other who may be more vulnerable that which strengthens relationship as a whole—the woman in Genesis 2 is described as the help—the ezer. Remember that ezer is a word predominantly used to describe God’s interaction with humanity, specifically providing strength to our vulnerability. By this description, it appears that God is highlighting the woman’s nurturing strength for life and relationship. But what did Eve do? When sin entered the door, she abandoned that nurturing strength and actually brought harm to Adam and thus their relationship by influencing him to eat.
God had addressed Satan first. He asked no questions about Satan’s reasoning because those kinds of questions are relational, and God’s relationship with Satan is merely master to servant. God said there hostility would continue not just between Satan himself and Eve, but in a more sweeping sense, between the evil Satan represented (Satan’s seed) and the whole human race (the seed of the woman). And although Satan and his evil would bring harm to humankind (bruise their heel), humankind (through Christ) would ultimately destroy Satan (strike or crush his head).
God next turns his attention to the woman—the nurturer—who failed in her nurturing. He speaks directly to that failure in telling her that those strengths she possessed physically (childbearing and nurturing) would be harmed. First, God says, she will bear children in pain. She would also experience grief as a nurturer because of the sin effect on her children. But nurturing, remember, is not only about children. The nurturing toward life and relationship is about her relationship with her spouse as well.
God begins by telling her that her desire would be for her husband. Many commentators have assumed this to be a desire for control. I think that misses the point. Let’s examine this statement. We’ll do so by comparing it to another statement of the same structure. In Genesis 4:6–7, we read about God warning Cain that sin would always attempt to get him to follow its lead. The word in verse 7—desire—is the same word used of Eve back in 3:16. It is an impulse or longing for something. In chapter 4, we have sin’s desire (longing) for Cain, but Cain must rule over (not allow) sin to influence. The whole structure is the same for the consequence for Eve but with some notable differences we need to keep in mind: Eve (or a wife generally) would desire (long for) her husband, but her husband would rule over (not allow) the woman’s influence. The first question, then, is what is this desire of the woman—this influence? Just because in chapter 4’s case with Sin, it was the desire for control, does not mean the woman’s desire is either evil or for control. It is a desire of the one for the other. Sin is controlling evil, and so sin’s desire would be for control in evil. But who is the woman? Her gift, her strength, as shown in chapter 2, was her nurturing aptitude for life and relationship. So God is saying that this desire, which is her strength and which is a good thing (not evil) would be extended to her husband for benefit, but it would not work as planned because sin, in dominating the attitude of both husband and wife, would turn inward and selfish. Therefore, here we find God’s comment on the harm caused to husband-wife (and actually all human relationship) because of sin. The inward selfishness of humans would fight against the loving, giving, receiving relationship God meant for them to enjoy based on his TGB.