“To the woman He said, I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception, In pain you will bring forth children; Yet your desire will be for your husband, And he will rule over you.”
What is the word here that is usually translated as “desire”?
What does “Your desire will be for your husband” mean?
This word translated as “desire” in Hebrew is “teshuqah”. “Teshuqa” is an interesting word because it is only used 3 times in the entire Old Testament, and in 3 very different contexts. These instances are not without conflict. The first instance is as “desire” in Gen 3:16 above. The second instance is in Gen 4:7.
“If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.”
The third and final instance is in Song of Solomon 7:10.
“I am my beloved’s, And his desire is for me.
There is a word in Hebrew which means “desire” in the normal sense of the word in English. It is used to mean “desire, incline, covet, wait longingly, wish, sigh, want, be greedy, prefer”. That word is “avah” (0183). There are other words translated as desire sometimes as well. But “teshuqa” is translated desire all 3 times and is only used those 3 times in the entire Hebrew Old Testament. There is no further context from which to use to define it from.
On the surface, there doesn’t seem to be much of interest here to study. But lately Bible translations have started to translate “teshuqa” as a “desire to control” or a “desire to devour”. It is easy to argue against this position by pointing out that in Song of Solomon 7:10 both of those negative meanings of “teshuqa” would be so out of place that it becomes obvious those cannot be the meaning. What enamored young woman in a love song would be glad that her beloved’s “desire to control” or “desire to devour” is for her? It makes no sense. Yet it still is becoming more popular in some circles to say “teshuqa” means a “desire to control” or “desire to devour”.
So I went to try to figure out what the word means, and it turns out there is alot more to know about this word “teshuqa” then I originally thought. The inconsistent interpretations of these 3 instances were nothing but the tip of the iceburg.
Since the time of the apostles, the Greek Christians have kept for us the Septuagint, the Greek Old Testament. It was a primary translation directly from the Hebrew, which was done about 285-500 BC. It was also the first translation of the Hebrew Old Testament into any other language, and is thus the oldest translation available. In the Greek Septuagint, Gen 3:16 reads:
καὶ τῇ γυναικὶ εἶπεν πληθύνων πληθυνῶ τὰς λύπας σου καὶ τὸν στεναγμόν σου ἐν λύπαις τέξῃ τέκνα καὶ πρὸς τὸν ἄνδρα σου ἡ ἀποστροφή σου καὶ αὐτός σου κυριεύσει
I can’t read that much better than you can. But I have broken it apart enough to be able to tell you that the word that is the translation of “teshuqa” is “ἀποστροφή”. This is the word apostrophe in Greek, (654). It means “to return, or to turn back, or to turn away” here in Gen 3:16. The same word is used of Hagar returning to Sarai in Gen 16:9, where the word is translated into English as “return”. “Then the angel of the LORD said to her, “Return to your mistress, and submit yourself to her authority.”
In the Greek, Genesis 4:7 reads, “οὐκ ἐὰν ὀρθῶς προσενέγκῃς ὀρθῶς δὲ μὴ διέλῃς ἥμαρτες ἡσύχασον πρὸς σὲ ἡ ἀποστροφὴ αὐτοῦ καὶ σὺ ἄρξεις αὐτοῦ”.
Again “teshuqa” is translated into the word “ἀποστροφὴ”, or apostrophe. In the Greek translation this part reads “Be still, its return is to you and you shall rule over it”. In this case “it” is the sin offering, Cain’s sacrifice of vegetables, which will return to Cain and he must master it, or begin again on it. His sacrifice will return to him, and he must try again to get it right, as his first attempt of what he gave as a sacrifice wasn’t acceptable.
What the Greek says in Gen 4:7 is rather different from how the Hebrew is usually translated, which usually reads “sin is waiting at the door and it’s desire is for you”. But, I want to make the Greek of 4:7 clear to you. Sin here is seen as a sin offering, as a basket of vegetables and grains, not as an entity. This also matches the Hebrew meaning of the word used here for sin, which is often used to mean a “sin offering”. Looking at it that way, it would be difficult to read in the Hebrew “Your sin offering is desiring you”. Surely that would be quite the case of personification, like your car desires you, or your shoes. Later, after covering more, coming back to this you may see that the Hebrew could line up with the Greek much more closely in its translation into English, that the sin offering would return to him until it was mastered, done right and made acceptable.
In Song of Solomon 7:10 the Greek reads, “ἐγὼ τῷ ἀδελφιδῷ μου καὶ ἐπ᾽ ἐμὲ ἡ ἐπιστροφὴ αὐτοῦ”.
The word “apostrophe” means to “turn away” while the word “ἐπιστροφὴ” or “epistrophe” means to “turn towards”. Despite this slight variance, it is still very clear that “teshuqa” was translated as some sort of turning all three times it is used, as per the Septuagint.
I have heard, though not seen for myself, that the Ethiopic secondary translation from the Septuagint made in 400-600 AD also says “turn” of some sort, in all three verses as well. This would serve to verify the Greek OT did in fact used to say “turning” in the past, as well as still saying it now. I cannot verify this as I don’t have a copy of the Ethiopic or a concordance for Ethiopic. Nonetheless, the Greek Orthodox Bible used by the Greek Orthodox Christians of today says “return”. The number of Greek Orthodox Christians who use the Septuagint worldwide is estimated to be at least 300 million people. So hundreds of millions of Christians located all over the world today do not read Genesis 3:16 as “desire” at all, but read it as “return”. It is a thought worth spending some time contemplating.
Besides the Greek, I have seen a second primary translation which was made directly from the Hebrew which also uses “turn”. The Syriac Peshitto was translated directly from the Hebrew about 200-485 AD by Palestinian Jews. It is said to be a very literal translation. In Gen 3:16, and 4:7 the word used in Syriac means “turn” or “return”. I could not find Song of Solomon 7:10. Still, 2 out of 3 verified is pretty good.
You can verify this yourself online.
From here http://cal1.cn.huc.edu/ search the textual databases, then text browse, pick Syriac and submit, then scroll down to 62001 P GN for Genesis. Find chapter 3, verse 16 and click on the link for the lexiconed words, and the same for chapter 4 verse 7. Or directly, go here,http://cal1.cn.huc.edu/cgi-bin/analysis.cgi?voffset=62001%2029822 and http://cal1.cn.huc.edu/cgi-bin/analysis.cgi?voffset=62001%2036052 the same for Gen 4:7. Then scroll down to “pny V” which is defined as “to turn” in Gen 3:16. Compare “pny V” here http://cal1.cn.huc.edu/concord.php?text=62001 and the verses of Gen 3:16 and 4:7 which are listed if you follow the link for “pny V” to here http://cal1.cn.huc.edu/cgi-bin/kwictest.cgi?lemma=pny&pos=V<h=10&charset=S&texts=62001.
Between the Septuagint translated in 285-500BC, and the Syriac Peshitto translated from 200-485 AD, this means that at least for a length of time somewhere between about 485 and 985 years, the Hebrew was translated as “turn, return, or turning”. This is starting from the beginning of the time of any translations at all, because the Greek Septuagint was the first translation, at least it is the oldest I know of. At the very least from 285 BC to 200 AD and at most from 500 BC to 485 AD, “teshuqa” was being translated as “turning” of some sort when the Hebrew was translated. At a minimum this is 485 years, and at maximum this is 985 years, almost a millennium, in which translations from the Hebrew rendered “teshuqa” to mean “returning”. That is quite a long-term precedent to be set on the meaning of the word “teshuqa”.
Another interesting primary translation is the Latin Vulgate, which renders 3:16 as “power”, 4:7 as “appetite” and 7:10 as “turn”. It was written about 380 AD, under noted rabbinical influence, and still has one instance of “turn” in it. (And of course this was after the Christian faith already had gained much popularity and growth.)
It seems likely to me that the Syriac Peshitto was an earlier translation than the Latin Vulgate, though their estimated datings overlap, on the basis that the Syriac holds to a translation that matches the earlier primary translation to the Greek. The point of mentioning the later translation above, is that “teshuqa” did not start to be translated as “desire” nor “lust”, or anything except “returning” until at least 380 AD. (This is important, because it indicates that at the time of Jesus, the apostles, and the early church, the word in Gen 3:16 was read in Greek as a “return” or “turning”.)
Also I want to note that in the Latin Vulgate translation, the same Hebrew word is translated as “power”, “appetite”, and “turn”. Does that sound to you like the translators had a firm grasp on what this singular word “teshuqa” meant? Do you think it’s possible that personal interpretations of the meanings of the passage as a whole, were getting pushed into the translation, so that the words were not being translated very precisely? It sure seems to me like that is possibly the case in this instance.
Some people argue about the same problems in translations today. Some translations are known to be focused on translating each word with precision, while other translations are more focused on a culturally understandable reading of the passage as a whole. While some translations may do this well, others may not, completely mistranslating words or even corrupting the meaning of a passage in the process. Take for instance the translation reviewed in this article:
“Since it professes to be in contemporary language, The Message abounds in modern expressions: “stuck up” (Pro. 30:13), “clean house” (1 Pet. 2:1), “get lost” (Gen. 19:9), “moonlighting” (1 Thes. 2:10), “said our piece” (1 Thes. 2:2), “slept with” (Gen. 4:1), “have sex with” (Lev. 18:6), “hanging out” (Pro. 7:12), “lock, stock, and barrel” (Mat. 4:9), “sponging” (1 Thes. 4:12), and “six feet under” (Isa. 38:18). Although such language is to be expected from a Bible that makes such a profession, the result is a Bible that does not read like a Bible at all.”
I find the idea that a Bible uses the phrase “lock, stock, and barrel” to be particularly outrageous, funny if it wasn’t so sad, because the muskets this phrase refers to were not invented until about 1400 years after the last of the Bible was written! So you can see, some translations are more accurate than others. To me it seems possible that the Latin Vulgate was, for whatever reason, not the most accurate translation, because the same 1 word is translated into 3 very different words with different meanings.
Jumping from the Latin Vulgate in 380 AD to almost 1300 years later; in 1610 AD the Douay translation was made, which was mainly based off of the Latin Vulgate, as well as the Hebrew. And it reads for Gen 3:16, “under husband’s power”, for 4:7 “lust thereof under thee”, and once again for Song of Solomon 7:10 “turn”. Here again, there is no real consistency, and the meaning of “turn” still remains.
Around the same time the Geneva Bible came out. It was based off of the Hebrew and Greek, reading “desire” for 3:16, “sin’s desire” for 4:7 and “desire” for 7:10. This marked the first time ever that a Bible translation consistently read “desire” for all instances of usage for the word “teshuqa”. So it was not until 1610, over one thousand five hundred years since the end of the writing of the Bible, before a translation was made which consistently read “desire” in all 3 instances of the usage of the word “teshuqa”.
A little later came the original KJV, of much longer lasting popularity, which also read “desire” in all 3 instances, which was taken to mean a sexual desire at the time in Gen 3 and Song of Solomon 7. And thus began a snowball effect, by which every modern translation that I know of renders “teshuqa” as “desire”, a trend which has been going on only for the last 400 years.
By merit of precedent, and of longevity, the rendering of “returning” for “teshuqa” not only dates back to at least 285 BC with consistency in all 3 instances, but also had a longstanding run of being the proper translation for 485-985 years. This is not counting that the rendering of “return” did survive in part until at least 1610 in the Douay Bible, preserved in Song of Solomon 7:10, and that the Greek Septuagint still renders the word “teshuqa” as “return” to this day in the still active Orthodox church…. but if one were to count Douay, it gives 1895 years of precedent for translating “teshuqa” as “return”.
Not counting the Douay, this compares (at worst) 285 BC to 1610 AD, and 85 years more precedent, to (at best) 500 BC to 1610AD, and 585 years more precedent for “returning” rather than “desire” as the champion contender for accurate translation of the original that God intended and did originally write. Based on this historical evidence over the millennias, it seems that there is more weight that “returning” is how “teshuqa” should still be translated today, rather than “desire”.
teshuqa or teshuba?
If one looks at “teshuqa”, the Hebrew word in question, the Strong’s says that it is derived from the word “shuwq” (7783) which means “to overflow”. Strong’s says “teshuqa” means “from 7783 in the original sense of stretching out after, a longing, desire”.
The Browns-Drivers-Briggs has a very different reading. To put in longhand,
“longing in all 3 cases (In the Greek OT its apostrophe in Genesis and epistrophe in SOS, whence E. Nestle Id. Marginalien u. Materialien 6 proposed “teshuba” in Gen 3:16, which Ball(?), Paul Haupt (possibly in Scared Books of the OT or the Polychrome Bible) reads in all instances; but how explain the unusual and striking word in Masotoric text?)”
This basically notes the conflict, and explains that at least 2 biblical scholars by the names of Paul Haupt and E. Nestle use the Hebrew word “teshuba” instead of the word “teshuqa”. Why would they use a different Hebrew word? What is the word “teshuba”?
In my own studies I have spent some time looking at the Strong’s, and I noticed “teshuba” sitting nearby to teshuqa in the Strong’s. There is only 1 letter different between the 2 words. So what does the Hebrew word “teshuba” mean?
Browns-Drivers_Briggs says this (longhand):
“return, answer 1. 1 S 7:17 and his return was to (= he returned) to Rama 2. at the return of the year, i.e . of spring, 2 S 11:1, 1 K20:22,26, 2 Ch 36:10, 1 Ch 20 :1, 2 S 11:1 3. answer Jb 34:36, 21:34.)”
The Hebrew word “teshuba” can mean a “return”, or an “answer”. It has both a literal action meaning, and a more figurative verbal meaning. What a remarkable thing it is that this word “teshuba”, only one letter different than “teshuqa”, means a “returning”! In light of all we covered above, do you think this is just a coincidence?
When teshuba means an actual literal physical return, the word itself replies a repetitive returning, like the seasons coming back every year, or a person repetitively going back home. Here are some examples of this:
1 Sam 7:17 (NIV)
But he always went back to Ramah, where his home was, and there he also judged Israel. And he built an altar there to the LORD.
1 Sam 7:17 (NASB)
Then his return was to Ramah, for his house was there, and there he judged Israel; and he built there an altar to the LORD.
1 Kings 20:22 (NASB)
Then the prophet came near to the king of Israel and said to him, “Go, strengthen yourself and observe and see what you have to do; for at the turn of the year the king of Aram will come up against you.”
When teshuba means figuratively “an answer”, how it would literally read is “a returning”, in a verbal sense. For instance, you talk to me, and my “returning” to you is my “answer”; a verbal returning. Figuratively “teshuba” is used in the long heated dialog between Job and his friends to means “answering”.
Job 34:36 (NIV)
Oh, that Job might be tested to the utmost for answering like a wicked man!
Job 21:34 (NIV)
“So how can you console me with your nonsense? Nothing is left of your answers but falsehood!”
Teshuba is only used 2 times to mean “answers”, and is only used 8 times total in the OT. The other 6 times “teshuba” refers to a repetitive physical returning. I find it to be easy to understand the development of the word “teshuba”. It’s root word, the verb “shuwb” is the primary word used in Hebrew for a “return” or turning back, etc., and it is used 1066 times in the OT. It is the word “shuwb” that is a more common word for a simple “return”, whereas in “teshuba” the emphasis in meaning is on the repetitive nature of the leaving and returning. The word “teshuba” is a noun formation of the verb “shuwb”. Like in English, I can say “I will return” and I can say “I will have a returning”. Return and returning are 2 different words, return is a verb, and “a returning” would be a noun formation of the verb “return”. The distinction in the meaning of the word “teshuba” is the repetitive or cycling qualities of the returnings, like seasons returning every year. They are repetitive, like repetitive verbal replies in a long discussion or argument, which is how the additional figurative meaning of verbal “returnings” or “answers” must have developed.
Now let’s take a closer look at this word “teshuqa”. I do not find the development of the word “teshuqa” to be as clear-cut as the word “teshuba”. “Teshuqa” is a noun that comes from the verb form of “shuwq” (7783) which is only used 3 times in the OT, and is translated in all 3 instances as “overflow”, or “water it”.
The threshing floors will be filled with grain; the vats will overflow with new wine and oil.
Swing the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, trample the grapes,
for the winepress is full and the vats overflow— so great is their wickedness!”
(NASB) You visit the earth and cause it to overflow;
(NIV) You care for the land and water it; you enrich it abundantly.
The streams of God are filled with water to provide the people with grain, for so you have ordained it.
The meaning of “shuwq” is well-established to mean “overflow” or “running over” in the sense of liquid overfilling a space. How does a verb, “shuwq” which means “overflow” develop into a noun “teshuqa” which means “desire”? I can understand a verb “shuwb” which means “return”, developing into a noun “teshuba” which means a “returning”. But how a verb that means “overflow” develops into a noun that means “desire” is harder for me to understand. My point is I think the word “teshuba” has a stronger establishment of meaning relating to its root word than “teshuqa” does. As to what that might imply, it is hard to have any definite answers. I can only echo the question of the scholars Browns, Drivers, and Briggs: how to explain the unusual and striking word “teshuqa” in the Masotoric text?
This is how I think things are supposed to work. A word in Hebrew gets translated to a word with the same meaning, or a phrase with similar meaning, in another language.
Unfortunately, this is not the case for “teshuqa”. As I have pointed out, in the Greek OT “teshuqa” 3 times is translated as a turning, either a return or a turning towards. Also in the Syriac translation, in 2 instances I can verify, “teshuqa” was also translated as a returning. Both the Greek Septuagint and the Old Syriac Peshitto were translations directly from the Hebrew, fresh primary translations. They were made at least 485 to at most 985 years apart.
Yet the meaning of “teshuqa” today is not return, turning to, or any sort of turn. The meaning of “teshuqa” today is “desire” which has been said to mean: lustful desire, hungry desire, destructive desire, a desire to control; all sorts of different desires. The same meaning just doesn’t seem to hold still for more than a few hundred years.
The word “teshuqa” should in some way have a meaning that fits the word “turning”, somehow, but it doesn’t. Yet the word “teshuba” does fit this meaning, and is only 1 letter away from being “teshuqa”. Which makes me wonder, which word best fits the context of the three instances in which teshuqa is used in the OT?
So I’m going to go through them for you, one at a time.
Teshuba can mean a repetitive returning, or a verbal answering.
Teshuqa can/has meant a lustful desire, a desire to destroy, and a desire to control.
3:16 And you will have lustful desire for your husband, and he will rule over you.
4:7 And the sin offering will have a lustful desire for you, but you must master it.
7:10 (enamored young woman saying of her man in joy) His lustful desire is for me!
This doesn’t make sense because a sin offering of grains and vegetables cannot have lustful desire.
3:16 And you will desire to destroy your husband, and he will rule over you.
4:7 And the sin offering will desire to destroy you, but you must master it.
7:10 (enamored young woman saying of her man in joy) His desire is to destroy me!
This doesn’t make sense because a young woman in love is Not going to rejoice that her man wants to destroy her, nor would the young man in these verses want to destroy his beloved in the first place. Nor do I think women want to destroy their husbands, though there are some men out there that claim so. And women who claim their husbands want to destroy them also. But in any case, this doesn’t make sense.
3:16 And you will desire to control your husband, and he will rule over you.
4:7 And the sin offering will desire to control you, but you must master it.
7:10 (enamored young woman saying of her man in joy) He desires to control me!
This doesn’t make sense because Solomon was already king, and at that time and culture, already had control, because he was the king, it makes no sense. He wouldn’t be desiring a control he already has. And that is the least wrong with it. What enamored young woman is joyous about that? Nor could an offering of vegetables and grains actually desire to control you.
All of these translations do not match the Greek OT, and 2/3 do not match the Syriac. There is no reconciling them that I can see.
Now for Teshuba:
3:16 And your repetitive returning will be to your husband, and he will rule over you.
4:7 And the sin offering will repetitively return to you [as is], and you must master it [till you get it right].
7:10 (enamored young woman saying of her man in joy) He is repetitively returning to me!
3:16 And your answering will be to your husband, and he will rule over you.
4:7 And your sin/sin offering’s answering will be to you, and you must master it.
7:10 (enamored young woman saying of her man in joy) He is answering to me!
This doesn’t seem right, in that sin and sin offerings don’t give verbal answers, and the young woman likely wouldn’t be glad to have her man answering to her, especially if “answering” is considered negative arguing.
This I feel is the best cut for Teshuba:
3:16 And your answering will be to your husband, and he will rule over you.
4:7 And your sin offering will repetitively return to you, and you must master it.
7:10 (enamored young woman saying of her man in joy) He is repetitively returning to me!
In this translation, 4:7 matches the Greek OT, and 7:10 has an intriguing new meaning that I think better fits something a woman would find praiseworthy and enamoring about her man- that he always keeps returning to her.
And so there you have what I think Genesis 3:16 may mean:
A woman will have answers to, have repetitive verbal returnings to, her husband. This can also include that she will have verbal “comebacks” to him, “answering” in arguments or discussions, as the word “teshuba” is used in Job. And that she may be prone to repetitively come back to him, if she leaves.
Now, can I prove all this is correct? No. But I think I can and have proven that there is a reasonable amount of evidence to consider it a realistic possibility. Two ancient primary translations from the Hebrew both say the word should mean “turning” in some sense. I also believe that evidence does not exist to prove what I have said here to be incorrect, either. That being the case, it is up to you to make up your own mind, but I think If the original Hebrew said “teshuba”, it would make so much more sense!
the implications of teshuba
The above being said, I want to look at the meaning of Genesis 3:16 more closely.
3:16 And your (teshuba) will be to your husband, and he will rule over you.
This can read:
And your repetitive physical returning will be to your husband;
and your repetitive answers will be to your husband;
your repetitive arguments will be to your husband,
your repetitive comebacks will be to your husband.
In context, Genesis 3:16 is God listing the negative consequences of the fall.
One negative consequence, “He will rule over you” has been covered here. It used to have a meaning of domination, but now is a rule satisfied voluntarily by the woman through submission. Perhaps there is a parallel to be drawn here, of the sinful nature tendency, and a replacement under New Testament instructions to believers.
What is the sinful nature tendency of wives since the garden? A wife arguing with her husband, or having a heated ongoing dialog with him is commonplace in marriage, and I think always has been to some extent with us sinners. These may be the “answers”, like “teshuba” is used is Job, in argument, that Gen 3:16 is referring to with “your answering will be to your husband”.
A woman arguing with her husband is so natural and commonplace, a nagging and contentious wife so stereotypical, that the same is even mentioned in Proverbs.
Prov 21:19 It is better to live in a desert land than with a contentious and vexing woman.
Prov 27:15-16 A constant dripping on a day of steady rain And a contentious woman are alike; He who would restrain her restrains the wind, And grasps oil with his right hand.
Prov 25:24 It is better to dwell in the corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman and in a wide house.
This tendency of wives may be what Gen 3:16 is referring to by “your answering will be to your husband”. As such these statements in Proverbs are not verses on women put out in isolation, but rather they tie into the negative effects of the fall pronounced by God in Genesis 3.
(And to balance these Proverbs out, while the Bible does not record the words of a wife speaking on how terrible it is to be ruled by her husband, per “he will rule over you”, the Bible is rife with absolutely horrifying stories, time and time again, of how men have mistreated their wives and women, even in a criminal manner, all throughout history. If anyone is upset that these few verses in Proverbs seem to unfairly target the sinful nature of women or wives, just keep in mind that overall, a far more numerous number of verses cover the sinful nature of men or husbands.)
So it may be that these negative “answerings” of a wife to her husband describe part of the negative consequences of the fall. What then would be the New Testament replacement in Christ? In the New Testament, it says a wife should submit herself to her own husband. Eph 5:33 also mentions the wife respecting the husband. I would think that when a Christian wife submits herself, that this is what counteracts the tendency for “answering”, as well as her respecting him.
Eph 5:25-33 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body.
FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND SHALL BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH.
This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife in order that she respects her husband.
On a wife respecting her husband, the “in order that” here is “ina” in the Greek, which means “in order that” or “so that”. The meaning is that of a cause and effect relationship. Like a few verses earlier, the same word is translated “so that” in the phrase “and gave Himself up for her so that He might sanctify her”.
While most women enter into a marriage showing respect for their husband, I believe what maintains that respect is the love of the husband, inspiring the wife to respect her husband. This is much like a wife’s submission is supposed to replace a husband’s domination. If the husband loves his wife as these verses say, then he will facilitate the wife to respect him, and this will help the wife’s negative “answerings” to be replaced with respect. But this respect needs to be helped and facilitated by the husband showing her love. He loves her in order that she respects him. This cause and effect relationship is how the Greek in Eph 5:33 seems to read. It might benefit a couple to know the husband’s love towards his wife is part of how to facilitate replacement of this tendency with one of respect.
There is one admonition made to women in the New Testament that I believe relates to the “repetitive returning” of Gen 3:16, in a literal physical sense.
That is 1 Cor 7: 10-11: But to the married I give instructions, not I, but the Lord, that the wife should not leave her husband (but if she does leave, she must remain unmarried, or else be reconciled to her husband), and that the husband should not divorce his wife.
It is striking to me that the wife is given more lenient instructions. She is told not to leave, but instructions are given for what she is to do if she does leave her husband anyway. The husband is given no contingency plan, and is more firmly told to not leave his wife. This difference could be reflective of God’s consistency in His Word. If “teshuba”, a “repetitive returning”, was how Genesis 3:16 read in Paul and Jesus’ time, then 1 Cor 7:10-11 would have some added meaning, tying these verses to Gen 3:16.
In closing, I think this information could be very beneficial to women, men, and married couples. In this Christians very well may have been deprived of an important insight into a successful Christian marriage. If God originally intended for the Word to contain this information, and these insights (and more ones yet unknown) to be drawn from it, then this information is still as important for people today as it ever was. Might a couple benefit from knowing that a tendency for negative verbal “answerings” is in the Bible as a consequence of the fall? That the husband loving his wife, facilitates her to respect him, which in part will help this tendency for “answerings” to him that a wife may have? That another way to see it is she will have a tendency to repetitively return to him? If this is how the original read, then I could not begin to list the importance of this understanding for Christians who trust the Word of God as their guide in life.
but if you cannot accept this
But if you cannot accept this, perhaps believing in the KJV-only, or for whatever reason are still convinced the word in Gen 3:16 means “desire”, then let me suggest something to you.
Let the word “desire” mean just that. There is no basis, on the context of its 3 uses in the Bible, to say it means “desire to control” or “desire to destroy” etc. The verse in Song of Solomon 7:10 clearly counterbalances any argument for such a definition based on Gen 4:7. So the word “desire” should be taken as have a neutral meaning, and should be understood to just mean “desire”.
From looking at the entire Bible, there is context to identify what sort of desire (in “your desire will be to your husband”) is being meant in Gen 3:16. What is a woman’s greatest desire concerning her husband? We are told: Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Psalms 37:4
And for those who are Christians, God has given instructions to us in marriage. What the husband is told to do by God, more times than anything else in marriage, is to love his wife. He is told to love his wife so much it is as even as much as his own body, even as himself. See Eph 5 above. And in telling the husband to do this, God is giving the wife her greatest desire towards her husband: that he would love her. And so her desire towards her husband in Gen 3 is her desire that he would love her.