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Gen 3:16-19  –  ESV   –  Contrary 

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 contrary to your husband,

but 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.

19    By the sweat of your face

you shall eat bread,

       till you return to the ground,

for out of it you were taken;

       for you are dust,

and to dust you shall return.” [1]

                                                                Desire – (H8669)  as below  and Contrary (H413)

The word “contrary” (el – H413)  WHY – did the ESV translation use the English Word “contrary” where other translations used “the desire to control” as used in the NLT?   The NASB still different with “the desire will be for your husband”. 

אֵל ʾêl, ale; (but used only in the shortened constr. form אֶל ʾel, el); a prim. particle, prop. denoting motion towards, but occasionally used of a quiescent position, i.e. near, with or among; often in general, to:—about, according to, after, against, among, as for, at, because (-fore, -side), both … and, by, concerning, for, from, × hath, in (-to), near, (out) of, over, through, to (-ward), under, unto, upon, whether, with (-in).[2]

NASB:  Yet your desire (H8669) will be for your husband, And he will rule over you.”[3]

8669.  תְּשׁוּקָה teshûwqâh, tesh-oo-kaw´; from 7783 in the orig. sense of stretching out after; a longing:—desire.[4]

NLT16 Then he said to the woman,  “I will sharpen the pain of your pregnancy, and in pain you will give birth.   And you will desire (H8669)  to control your husband,  but he will rule over you.”

Key part is “inclination”

In the NLT the translation reads that it is a desire to control.

With this situation we see that there would be a conflict between a wife and a husband due to the inclinations of each. 

CONSEQUENTLY, what was the instruction for the husband that was given by God?

To the man, God Said:      (NIV)  (The ESV version above…)

17 And to the man he said,

“Since you listened to your wife and ate from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat, the ground is cursed because of you. All your life you will struggle to scratch a living from it.   

18 It will grow thorns and thistles for you, though you will eat of its grains.  19 By the sweat of your brow  will you have food to eat until you return to the ground from which you were made. For you were made from dust, and to dust you will return.”

Yet God gave instructions that the woman should be in subjection to her husband and that he should love her. 

Eph. 5:28 – NLT

28 In the same way, husbands ought to love (agIapao – LN25:43) their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man who loves his wife actually shows love for himself.

LN25.43 ἀγαπάωa; ἀγάπηa, ης f: to have love for someone or something, based on sincere appreciation and high regard—‘to love, to regard with affection, loving concern, love…. ‘I give you a new commandment, that you love one another’ Jn 13:34; γὰρ τὸν ἕνα μισήσει καὶ τὸν ἕτερον ἀγαπήσει ‘for he will hate the one and love the other’ Lk 16:13; ὁ πατὴρ ἀγαπᾷ τὸν υἱόν ‘the Father loves the Son’ Jn 3:35; … ‘for he loved us first’ 1 Jn 4:19.

… ‘love does not fail’ 1 Cor 13:8; … ‘a person who loves doesn’t do evil to his neighbor’ Ro 13:10.

Though some persons have tried to assign certain significant differences of meaning between ἀγαπάωa, ἀγάπηa and φιλέωa, φιλία (25.33), it does not seem possible to insist upon a contrast of meaning in any and all contexts. For example, the usage in Jn 21:15–17 seems to reflect simply a rhetorical alternation designed to avoid undue repetition. There is, however, one significant clue to possible meaningful differences in at least some contexts, namely, the fact that people are never commanded to love one another with φιλέω or φιλία, but only with ἀγαπάω and ἀγάπη. Though the meanings of these terms overlap considerably in many contexts, there are probably some significant differences in certain contexts; that is to say, φιλέω and φιλία are likely to focus upon love or affection based upon interpersonal association, while ἀγαπάω and ἀγάπη focus upon love and affection based on deep appreciation and high regard. On the basis of this type of distinction, one can understand some of the reasons for the use of ἀγαπάω and ἀγάπη in commands to Christians to love one another. It would, however, be quite wrong to assume that φιλέω and φιλία refer only to human love, while ἀγαπάω and ἀγάπη refer to divine love. Both sets of terms are used for the total range of loving relations between people, between people and God, and between God and Jesus Christ.[5]

The key word is ‘love’ and the interpretation of that word.  It must not be an easy thing when God instructs us to Love our neighbors as yourself.  One of the two greatest commandments in the Bible. 

Matthew 22:34-40

The Great Commandment

34 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”   ESV

NLT:  Matthew 22:37-40

37 Jesus replied, “ ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”

The same Greek word is used, agapao  LN25.43

Concluding questions:

WHY the different words used in different translations?  What insight might that give us?  When we use ‘contrary’ for the word we think of the meaning as the dictionary provides.   

Contrary | Definition of Contrary at Dictionary.com


Contrary definition, opposite in nature or character; diametrically or mutually opposed: contrary to fact; contrary propositions. See more.

Merriam Webster:  Use Link for yourself:  https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/contrary

Definition of contrary

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1a fact or condition incompatible with another OPPOSITE —usually used with the

2one of a pair of opposites

3aa proposition (see PROPOSITION entry 1 sense 2a) so related to another that though both may be false they cannot both be true— compare SUBCONTRARY

beither of two terms (such as good and evil) that cannot both be affirmed of the same subject

by contraries

obsolete in a manner opposite to what is logical or expected

on the contrary

just the oppositeThe test will not be easy; on the contrary, it will be extremely difficult.

to the contrary

1on the contrary




con·​trary | \ ˈkän-ˌtrer-ē  , -ˌtre-rē, sense 4 often kən-ˈtrer-ē  \

Definition of contrary (Entry 2 of 3)

1being so different as to be at opposite extremes OPPOSITEcome to the contrary conclusionwent off in contrary directionsalso being opposite to or in conflict with each othercontrary viewpoints

2being not in conformity with what is usual or expectedactions contrary to company policycontrary evidence

3UNFAVORABLE —used of wind or weather

4temperamentally unwilling to accept control or advice

The key is still that husbands need to LOVE their wives.  Maybe we need an attitudinal adjustment.  But we, as husbands, need to be every vigilant that we approach our wives with understanding and realize they come from a different perspective and it is ‘God given’ so who are we to argue?

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ge 3:16–19). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[2] Strong, J. (2009). A Concise Dictionary of the Words in the Greek Testament and The Hebrew Bible (Vol. 2, p. 12). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[3] New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (Ge 3:16). La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

[4] Strong, J. (2009). A Concise Dictionary of the Words in the Greek Testament and The Hebrew Bible (Vol. 2, p. 126). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[5] Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, pp. 292–293). New York: United Bible Societies.