I will greatly multiply your pain in conception;The words for "pain" here are not identical, though they derive from the same root. Pain (`itstsabown) in conception; pain (`etseb) in bearing. I am not certain anything can be made of this difference, rather they are synonyms used in a poetic parallelism. Conception is not generally painful so we have a synecdoche for pregnancy, childbirth, and child-rearing. Translators frequently replace conception with childbirth, though it may be preferable to consider the more expansive inclusion suggested here.
in pain you shall bring forth children.
Your desire shall be for your husband,
and he shall rule over you. (Genesis 3)
There is much debate over the meaning of the second half of this curse. Much of the meaning is dependant on the semantics of the word "for." Does it mean "toward" or "against"? The meanings are quite different in themselves and the implication of the last line of the curse is dependant on which meaning is chosen.
- Your desire shall be toward your husband
- Your desire shall be against your husband
Advocates for the first interpretation note that "desire" in Song of Solomon is a positive noun.
I am my beloved's,Thus it is viewed that the woman has a positive, probably sexual, desire toward her husband.
and his desire is for me. (Song of Solomon 7)
There are a couple of difficulties with this view.
Firstly, how is positive desire or sexual desire a curse?
Prior to the Fall the woman would have had both a positive desire toward her husband as well as a sexual desire. So these are neither new phenomena nor curses.
Secondly, the comment that the man will rule over her does not seem to fit this reading.
To maintain this interpretation one must regard the 3rd line as merely descriptive in order to introduce the curse of the last line: the man ruling over the woman.
You will still desire your husband [status quo] but he will now rule over you [curse].Advocates of the alternative interpretation—that "for" means "against"—point to the other use of "desire" in Genesis 4. In its favour is the fact that the 2 phrases share a similar construction. Cain is angry that God doesn't accept his offering. God says to Cain,
Why are you angry,/Here the word "for" clearly has a negative connotation. Sin's desire is not positively toward Cain, rather it is negatively against Cain; sin desires to have or dominate Cain. The command to Cain is that he must rule over sin. This is not a negative command to Cain, it is stating the right response to the problem.
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.
Thus some commentators would see the curse on the woman as a desire to control her husband. The comment that the man will rule over her is not necessarily part of the curse; rather paralleling Genesis 4 it would be the appropriate corrective.
Your desire is against your husband [curse] but he is to lead you [right action].One may suggest that because the word for "rule" can mean "dominate", there may be a tendency for men to dominate as part of this curse.
Your desire will be against your husband [curse] and he will dominate you [curse]A minor quibble with this last interpretation is that the curse is directed at the woman not the man. However one could argue that the curse on the man at the end (death) also applies to the woman, though this is perhaps indirectly thru his federal headship.