Both the Old and New Testaments reveal the damage caused by Adam’s willful choice to rebel against God’s commands (Gen 2:15-17; Genesis 3). The fall from innocence of Adam and Eve, and the entry of sin into God’s creation, has had a disastrous effect upon:

  • the created universe (Rom 8:20-22)
  • all plant life (Gen 3:17-19)
  • all animal life (Isa 65:25)


At the Fall, Adam and Eve lost their sinless harmony of relationship with God (Gen 3:8-10). Adam and Eve’s relationship with each other also began to deteriorate as Adam blamed and accused his wife for his own choice to disobey (Gen 3:12). They entered into a life of separation from, and struggle with, the rest of God’s creation (Gen 3:17- 19, 23, 24).

Because of this distorting effect of sin on all human relationships, God had to take drastic measures to reorder the lives of now-fallen human beings (Gen 3:16-19).

To the woman God says that her pains in pregnancy would be greatly increased (v.16a). Remember that the woman was created to be man’s helpmate and the joyful mother of children (Gen 1:27,28; 2:18,23,24). But after the Fall, having a large family with many children was going to become more difficult.

Next God says to the woman, “Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you” (v.16b). Though there is some difficulty in correctly translating the original Hebrew in this verse, the best interpretation is as follows: “Desire” in Genesis 3:16 is not sexual desire; rather, it reflects the presence of sin distorting what God had created woman to be.

As discussed previously, God had made woman as a “helper” to man (2:18), to rule with him in daily life (1:27,28). Sin, however, allowed the entrance of wrong desires. A woman’s fleshly desire would now be to seek independence from the man – even to possibly desire to rule over him.

In order to better understand this, let us examine the same Hebrew word for “desire” as it is used in Genesis 4:7. In this instance, God is explaining to Cain the power of sin and that sin’s “desire is for you”. God then tells Cain, “but you should rule over it” (4:7). Sin would desire to rule and control Cain, but God tells Cain to instead rule over sin (which, sadly, he does not do).

In Genesis 3:16, God tells Eve that Adam will “rule over” her. God is not, however, commanding Adam to dominate Eve; rather, He is describing a change produced by the distorting power of sin in human hearts and human society. God’s original created order had now been drastically changed. Because of sin, woman would now desire to rule in the place of authority. Man would have to strive to resist this attempt, and was to “rule over” the woman.

The full effects of sin’s distortion are clearly seen in Scripture and in the world around us even to this day. The Bible account of Jezebel shows the extreme results of a woman giving in to the desire to dominate (1 Ki 16, 18, 19, 21; 2 Ki 9). There was much heartache and destruction caused by sin that was out of control in Jezebel’s life. To this day, there are women who desire to dominate and control their husbands, their relationships and their circumstances. Their families and many others suffer from this destructive behavior.