GCTS LogoWalter C. Kaiser Jr.



Kerith Farm


The Bible is  inspired and inerrant. Hermeneutics rooted in grammatical-historical method.  Promise Theology.  Expository preaching-Exegetical Theology with the meaning and message of the Biblical text. "Keep your finger on the TEXT!"

Correcting Caricatures:

The Biblical Teaching on Women


         page TWO

2.      Genesis 3:16 is not a command for man to rule over the woman, but it is a curse: men [unfortunately] will rule over women.

This text, contrary to popular opinion and repeated incorrect appeal for support to 1 Corinthians 14:34 (“[Women] are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says”), does not demand that men are to take charge of their women and “rule over them”.  Rather than viewing this as a normative and prescriptive text found in the Mosaic Law and revealed by God, it is in a curse passage that predicts what will happen when women “turn” toward their husbands instead of turning to God.  In effect, if God were explaining this in today’s plain speech, God might have phrased it thus: “The truth is that, as a result of the fall, do not be surprised, my good lady, if that guy just plain lords it over you.” The statement does not have the slightest hint of a command or a mandate for men to assume that they are in charge, nor is it a prescription command from God by any means.  The Hebrew grammar may not be rendered as “[the man] must [or shall] rule over you”. To demand such a rendering here would be to invite a similar move in verse 18 of this chapter, where ‘[the ground] must produce thorns and thistles for you.” Farmers (should this be the accurate way to render this text) would need to stop using weed killer or pulling out such thorns and thistles, for God otherwise demands that they be left in place in the farm, if this too was meant to be normative in God’s order of things.  But of course that is nonsense-- and so is the same logic for verse 16.

     Some of course, will object by saying that Genesis 4:7 has the same construction, where “sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it” (NIV, emphasis ours). Both the word for “turning”, incorrectly translated, as we will see later on here, as “desire” and the verb “to rule”, or “to master,” are found here as in Genesis 3:16.  Accordingly, it is alleged that the rendering of Genesis 4:7 seems to validate the rendering of Genesis 3:16.

     However, a more preferable rendering of the verb in Genesis 4:7 is to understand that a question is being asked here.  The Hebrew particle signaling a question is absent in about one-half of the Hebrew questions in the Bible, as it is here.  Therefore, we would render the last part of Genesis 4:7, “But you, will you rule (or “master”) over it? (i.e., the sin that is lingering at the door of Cain).  That would allow for the verb to be rendered in its normal way, “will rule,” or “will master”, rather than “must rule”.

     So, the traditional move to see the “law” referred to in 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 as Mosaic Torah is totally without any basis, for the Genesis passage would need to command and mandate husbands to rule over their wives, which it distinctly does not! As we will see later on, there are plenty of places in the Jewish law of the Talmud and Mishnah where just such a command does occur, but one is pressed to embarrassment to find any such hint, much less an order to do such, in the Law of Moses or, for that matter, anywhere else in the Old Testament.

3.      Genesis 3:16. Women did not acquire sexual desires or develop “lust” for men as a result of the Fall!

This translation story has to be one of the oddest stories ever told.  It is a travesty of errors, in which one man in particular, an Italian Dominican monk named Pagnino, published his version at Lyons in A.D. 1528 with the meaning “lust” , and thus occasioned a parade of mimics who have continued to follow his lead to this very day!

     The Hebrew word tĕshûqâ only appears three times in the Hebrew Bible (Gen. 3:16, 4:7; Song of Sol. 7:10). The third century B.C. Greek Septuagint [vi] rendered the two Genesis passages as apostrophe (meaning “turning away”) and the Song of Solomon passage as epistrophe  (meaning “turning to”).  The Samaritan Pentateuch also rendered the two Genesis passages as “turning”, as did the Old Latin, the Coptic (Bhairic), and the Ethiopic version of A.D. 500.

     Jerome’s Latin Vulgate, produced around A.D. 382, under the influence of Jewish rabbis, rendered Genesis 3:16, “thou shalt be under the power of a husband, and he will rule over thee”.  And so the history of error began.

     The result was that Pagnino’s version appeared in every English version.  But the problem with Pagnino, as with those earlier deviations already representatively noted here, was this: they tended to depend on the rabbis for their sense of this infrequently used word in the Bible instead of depending on the Ancient versions of the Scripture such as the Greek Septuagint, the Syriac Peshitto, the Samaritan Pentateuch, the Old Latin, the Coptic Versions, and the Ethiopic.  But where the rabbis or Babylonian Talmud were followed, such as by Aquila’s Greek, Symmachus’s Greek, Theodotion’s Greek, or the Latin Vulgate, preference was given to senses like “lust,” “alliance,” or the like.  Bushnell concludes this enormous piece of philological and translation detective work by saying, “of the 28 known renderings of tĕshûqâ …the word is rendered ‘turning’ 21 times. In the 7 remaining renderings, only 2 seems to agree; all the others disagree.”[vii] Even the early Church Fathers give evidence of knowing no other rendering for this Hebrew word than “turning”.

   Therefore, let us be done once and for all with any idea that women, since the Fall, have lusted after men and that is why men must control them as best as they can.  This must be a male fantasy at best, or a downright imposition of one’s own imagination on the text, because of certain interpretive schools of thought that grew up around a word that had limited usage in the Scriptures.

     Eve “turned” from her Lord and instead placed all her dependency on her husband only to find out that he, too, as a fallen sinner, would take advantage of her and rule over her.  Thus, instead of the resulting gender hierarchy being the norm that God had prescribed, it turns out that it displays the curse that has fallen on humanity, and on women in particular, because of the Fall described in Genesis 3:1-13.

4.      Exodus 38:8; 1 Samuel 2:22, etc. Women served at the tabernacle and ministered as prophetesses in the Old Testament

“Women who served” at the tabernacle (Exodus 38:8 and 1 Samuel 2:22) offended the Greek translators of the Septuagint, so they rendered the phrase: “women who fast”.  Bushnell quotes a Professor Margoliouth of Oxford as decrying such an idea with words, “the ides of women in attendance at the Tabernacle is so odious that it has to be got rid of.”[viii] And so it was gotten rid of as the Authorized Version of the King James mistranslated it as “assembled” and others substituted “prayed”, or “thronged”, instead of “served”. But there it stood: women served at the Tabernacle! But if that is too much to understand, what shall we say of a Miriam, a Deborah, or a Huldah? Miriam is called a “prophetess” in Exodus 15:20 as she led the women in singing the song Moses and the Israelites had just sung in Exodus 15:1-19.  True, she, along with the Chief High Priest Aaron, was censured for her complaining about Moses marrying a Cushite woman. But, if Aaron to fell under the same judgment, yet he survived in his position through the grace of God, why not allow the same for Miriam?

     If women are not to take the lead over men in any circumstance, why did God send Deborah to motivate Barak so he might carry out the plan of God (Judg. 4:6)?  And, further, did not God use another woman, Manoah’s wife, to tell her husband about the announcement of the child she was to bear (Judg. 13:2-7)?  And, if the prophet Jeremiah was already ministering in Jerusalem, or not more than a mile or two north of Jerusalem in Anathoth, why did Hiliah the priest, along with other dignitaries from the palace, seek out Huldah the prophetess about the meaning of recently discovered Law of Moses (2 Kings 22:14; 2 Chron. 34:22)?  Huldah held nothing back as she declared thrice over, “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says” (2 Chron. 34:22, 24, 26).  Her exposition of a half dozen or more texts from Deuteronomy 29:20, 23, 25, 26, 28, 29 thundered against Judah and her King Josiah!

     Nor was God any less displeased with an Abigail (1 Sam. 25), who showed more discernment and wisdom than her foolish husband Nabal, who almost led that whole household into mortal danger had not Abigail intervened.  Not only did King David praise her for preventing him from acting foolishly, but Scripture attests to the rightness of her actions over against those of her husband Nabal  by saying that, ten days later, the Lord struck Nabal down and he died.

     It was not Scripture (not even the Old Testament) that placed women in an inferior position, but a rabbinic set of traditions that has been infused later on more with pagan roots that with its own Tanak that introduced these deviant views of women. Next Page - page three- button