Genesis 3:16

16 To the woman he said, "I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; 1in pain you shall bring forth children. 2Your desire shall be for[a] your husband, and he shall 3rule over you."

Genesis 3:16 Meaning and Commentary

Genesis 3:16

Unto the woman he said
The woman receives her sentence next to the serpent, and before the man, because she was first and more deeply in the transgression, and was the means of drawing her husband into it.

I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception,
or "thy sorrow of thy conception" F1, or rather "of thy pregnancy" F2; since not pain but pleasure is perceived in conception, and besides is a blessing; but this takes in all griefs and sorrows, disorders and pains, from the time of conception or pregnancy, unto the birth; such as a nausea, a loathing of food, dizziness, pains in the head and teeth, faintings and swoonings, danger of miscarriage, and many distresses in such a case; besides the trouble of bearing such a burden, especially when it grows heavy: and when it is said, "I will greatly multiply", or "multiplying I will multiply" F3, it not only denotes the certainty of it, but the many and great sorrows endured, and the frequent repetitions of them, by often conceiving, bearing, and bringing forth:

in sorrow shall thou bring forth children,
sons and daughters, with many severe pangs and sharp pains, which are so very acute, that great tribulations and afflictions are often in Scripture set forth by them: and it is remarked by naturalists F4, that women bring forth their young with more pain than any other creature:

and thy desire [shall be] to thy husband,
which some understand of her desire to the use of the marriage bed, as Jarchi, and even notwithstanding her sorrows and pains in child bearing; but rather this is to be understood of her being solely at the will and pleasure of her husband; that whatever she desired should be referred to him, whether she should have her desire or not, or the thing she desired; it should be liable to be controlled by his will, which must determine it, and to which she must be subject, as follows;

and he shall rule over thee,
with less kindness and gentleness, with more rigour and strictness: it looks as if before the transgression there was a greater equality between the man and the woman, or man did not exercise the authority over the woman he afterwards did, or the subjection of her to him was more pleasant and agreeable than now it would be; and this was her chastisement, because she did not ask advice of her husband about eating the fruit, but did it of herself, without his will and consent, and tempted him to do the same.


F1 (Knwbue Knrhw) "tuum dolorem etiam conceptus tui", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; "tuum dolorem conceptus tui", Drusius, Noldius, p. 315. No. 1978.
F2 "Praegnationis sive gestationis", Gataker.
F3 (hbra hbrh) "multiplicando multiplicabo", Pagninus, Montanus.
F4 Aristotel. Hist. Animal. l. 7. c. 9.

Genesis 3:16 In-Context

14 The LORD God said to the serpent, "Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life.
15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel."
16 To the woman he said, "I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you."
17 And to Adam he said, "Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, 'You shall not eat of it,' cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;
18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field.

Cross References 3

  • 1. [John 16:21]
  • 2. Genesis 4:7; Song of Songs 7:10
  • 3. 1 Corinthians 11:3; 1 Corinthians 14:34; Ephesians 5:22-24; Colossians 3:18; 1 Timothy 2:11, 12; Titus 2:5; 1 Pet. 3:1, 5, 6

Footnotes 1

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.