The Parties Arraigned and Sentenced: Page 6 of 9 (series: Lessons on Genesis)
by John Lowe
THE PUNISHMENT GOD PROMISES FOR MANKIND
16 Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.
Unto the woman he said,
The woman must now stand before the Judge and hear her sentence. Her doom is pain, chiefly the pain of child-bearing, and a position of subjection to and dependence on man. There is abundant evidence in human nature of the close connection of sin and suffering, though our Lord warns us against unsympathetically arguing that all suffering is due to previous sin, “As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" "Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life” (John 9:1-3; NIV). Also see Luke 13:1-5, and the whole book of Job . In the case of child-bearing, it is not unreasonable to suppose that the pain and danger connected with it have been increased by the accumulated wrongdoing of mankind. Among the lower animals the process of birth is much easier.
The woman receives her sentence next, after the serpent, and before the man, because she was more deeply involved in the transgression, and was the means of drawing her husband into it. The sentence pronounced on Eve was twofold.
I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception;
The meaning may be clearer if “thy” is changed to “of” so that it reads "thy sorrow of thy conception", or rather "of thy pregnancy." since pleasure not pain is usually felt during conception, and besides, it is a blessing; but the meaning here is all the grief and sorrows, sicknesses and pains, from the time of conception or pregnancy until the birth of a baby; such as nausea, a loathing of food, dizziness, pains in the head, feet and teeth, fainting and collapsing, danger of miscarriage, and a variety miseries; besides the trouble of carrying such a burden, especially when it grows heavy.
God said, “I will greatly increase your pain, sickness, and sorrow during the period of your pregnancy and I will multiply it during the final hours.” And this curse has fallen on women more severely than on any other female. Nothing has been documented to be true more than this or witnessed more often, and yet there is certainly no natural reason why it should this way; it is a part of her punishment, and a part from which even God‘s mercy will not exempt her.
in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children;
In Genesis, producing children is a duty, a privilege and a blessing, but now that duty, privilege and blessing will be accompanied by intense pain. It is only by the mercy of God that, in spite of what she has done, she will still be allowed the blessing of producing children. It is the punishment of God that this will be achieved through much pain.
The meaning here is “Your pain, especially in childbearing” is literally “your pain and your childbearing.” The word which has been translated “pain” (atsab) is not the usual one for pain in childbearing and is used in the next verse for man’s punishment in work. Therefore it refers to the more general misery of life. Life is to become more miserable. That will, however, include discomfort in child-bearing. It is significant that, in theory at least, child-bearing can be without pain. Some even achieve it. Thus prior to this event that would have been true for Eve. But now the stress and tension produced by sin will result in agony in child-birth: sharp pains, which are so very severe, that the pains of child-birth are often used to represent great tribulations and afflictions in Scripture Why do you now cry aloud-- have you no king? Has your counselor perished, that pain seizes you like that of a woman in labor? Writhe in agony, O Daughter of Zion, like a woman in labor, for now you must leave the city to camp in the open field. You will go to Babylon; there you will be rescued. There the LORD will redeem you out of the hand of your enemies” (Micah 4.9, 10; NIV).. These pains are a continual reminder to all men of the fallen nature of the human race. It has been remarked by some naturalists that women bring forth their young with more pain than any other creature.
and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.
The meaning of this part can be seen in the lowly estate of woman in all nations for thousands of years. It is only in those nations where the Lord Jesus
has found a place in men's hearts that her pitiful condition has been alleviated. Today, the degradation of women is alive and well in the Middle East, in the Muslim nations, where women are beaten if any part of their body is visible. What a brutal and terrible thing it was that Satan did to Eve. But she will not be able to avoid it even if she wants to, because God said, “Your desire will be for your husband and he will rule over you”. She will not be able to avoid her punishment, because her craving for her husband will ensure that she seeks him out and his authority over her will guarantee her part in procreation. Today there is a Satan led movement called Women’s Liberation that has as its goal the equality of men and women. It is succeeding and the result is a clear loss of status for men, which has led to men and women living together in lieu of marriage, abortion on demand, and the destruction of the home. And men have lost respect for women; they no longer open doors for them, etc. Whenever a man does exert authority over a woman he is seen as overbearing.
This part of the verse is not merely a prophecy of woman's subjection, but an investiture of man with supremacy over the woman; or rather a confirmation and perpetuation of that authority which had been assigned to the man at the creation. Woman had been given to him as a helpmeet “And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him” (Genesis 2:18; KJV). By help meet is meant one to help him in all the affairs of life, not only for the propagation of his species, but to provide things useful and comfortable for him; to prepare his food, and take care of the affairs of the family; one "like himself,” in nature, and disposition, in form and shape; or one that would be pleasing to his sight, and with whom he might pleasantly converse, and be in all respects agreeable to him, and entirely answerable to him, to his wants and wishes.
, and her relation to the man from the first was represented as one of dependence. It was the reversal of this Divinely-established order that had led to the fall See notes on Genesis 3.17
. From this time forth, therefore, woman was to be relegated to her proper sphere of subordination. On account of her subjection to man's authority a wife is described as the possessed or subjected one of a lord “One night God appeared to him in a dream and said, "You are going to die, because you have taken this woman; she is already married." (Genesis 20:3; GNT). (Also see Deuteronomy 20:1-20 :22)
, and a husband as the lord of a woman “If he came in single, he will leave single. If he came in married, then his wife will leave with him” (Exodus 21:3; CEB).
. Among the Hebrews the condition of the female sex was one of distinct subordination, though not of oppression, and certainly not of slavery, as it too often has been in heathen and Muslim countries. Christianity places woman on the same platform with man in regard to the blessings of the gospel “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28; NKJV), There is no distinction between male and female. Difference of sex makes no difference in Christian privileges. But under the law the male sex had great privileges. Males alone had circumcision, the sign of the covenant (baptism applied to male and female alike); they alone were capable of being kings and priests, whereas all of either sex are now "kings and priests unto God" (Re 1:6); only men had the right to inheritances. In the resurrection the relation of the sexes shall cease (Lu 20:35).Scripture explicitly teaches woman’s subordination to the man in the relationship of marriage (Ephesians 5:22; Colossians 3:18; 1 Peter 3:1).
Some understand “and thy desire shall be to thy husband” to refer to her desire to use the marriage bed; that she is entirely at the will and pleasure of her husband; that whatever she desired should be discussed with him, and whether she will have her desire or not should be determined by her husband and she must submit herself to his will. But subjection to the will of her husband is one only one part of her curse, the other being her sorrows and pains in child bearing. This was her punishment, because she did not ask her husband for advice about eating the fruit, but did it on her own, without his knowledge and consent, and tempted him to do the same.