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*Scripture verses covered in this section's commentary are noted in italics

Genesis 3:16-19 meaning

Verses covered in this passage:

  • Genesis 3:16
  • Genesis 3:17
  • Genesis 3:18
  • Genesis 3:19

God then judges Adam and Eve for their sin.

Sin has consequences. To the woman God said, I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth. Literally, this means, increase and then increase some more. The original tasks given to Adam and Eve were to tend the creation, be fruitful and multiply. Now, because of sin, making a living and childbirth were to become greatly difficult and painful.

Then God said, “Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” The phrase here is the same that is found in Genesis 4:7, where God warns Cain that sin desires to control him. This desire is referring to the desire to control or conquer her husband, but it won’t work. Women who seek to control relationships in order to get fulfillment will instead get futility.

God then turned to Adam. Because Adam listened to his wife and chose to sin, his penalty was pain and trouble in working, and eventually death. God cursed the ground because of Adam, the earth would no longer easily yield food, instead, it would grow thorns and thistles making work difficult. After this painful toil, death and a return to the dust would be his end. The perfection of the garden was replaced with pain and toil. Men who seek to gain fulfillment from their work will instead gain futility.

Since God is God and we are not, we are not owed an explanation why He chose these judgments. But it is worth contemplating that God appears to be making it clear to humanity that their new state is not a place of satisfaction – that they should seek something more, something greater. In Genesis 3:15 God promises the means by which that something greater can be gained.

Biblical Text

16 To the woman He said, “I will greatly multiply Your pain in childbirth, In pain you will bring forth children; Yet your desire will be for your husband, And he will rule over you.” 17 Then to Adam He said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat from it’; Cursed is the ground because of you; In toil, you will eat of it All the days of your life. 18 “Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; And you will eat the plants of the field; 19 By the sweat of your face You will eat bread, till you return to the ground, because from it you were taken; For you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”




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