To the woman he said,So, some have argued that part of Eve's punishment is that the man will "rule" over her--forever (or at least till the curse is lifted).
"I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing;
with pain you will give birth to children.
Your desire will be for your husband,
and he will rule over you." (Gen 3.16)
I personally don't think this is in view here, for the following reasons:
The fact that the verbs for "rule" are the same tense and mood, make me wonder why commentators translate 3.16 as "will rule" and 4.7 as "must rule". I cannot find any comments in the literature about this, although 4.7 is the more accepted rendering ("must rule"=>"must attempt to rule") of the two.
So, if these forms/structures are indeed identical, and if 4.7 is generally accepted as a "must try to rule" and "desire (to rule)", THEN Gen 3.16b becomes something like this:
You will desire to rule over your husband;-- a perpetual power struggle...
And (at the same time) he will struggle diligently to rule over you
There is no indication that there is a 'winner' in this struggle, but history has shown us that all have been losers.
The anthropological research of Peggy Reeves Sanday indicates that in addition to biological sexual distinctions, the nature of the environment in which a society develops influences male and female roles. A hostile environment, she argues, readily leads to male domination, whereas relative equality between the sexes is most frequently found when the environment is beneficent. Indeed, in the biblical narrative, human sin results in both a hostile environment (a cursed ground) and male dominance.What this would mean for my understanding of this verse is that the struggle of 3.16b would result (early in history) in more male dominance--due to the harsher environment. [However, other studies indicate that in 'pioneering' environments, such as post-exilic Palestine, women's status IMPROVES--see WS:WBC:118]
So, I conclude that Gen 3.16b is NOT a 'curse on Eve', but rather a simple prediction of (1) definite power struggles between husbands and wives (not necessarily men and women--not in view here) and of (2) a POSSIBLE tendency in early history toward male dominance.