DID GOD CURSE WOMAN?
98. Can anything be accomplished by clearing the reputation of one so remote in history as Eve? Much, in many ways. The false teaching that God is in some way punishing women for the sin of Eve, at certain times of anguish, has robbed women of much sympathy, and also furnished a cloak for sensuality, and for much unnecessary cruelty to women, throughout past ages, and up to the present hour. The teaching that God punishes Christian women for the sin of Eve is a wicked and cruel superstition, and unworthy the intelligence of Christians. But in addition to this, the doctrine has laid a blighting band upon woman's self-respect, self-confidence and spiritual activity, from which causes the entire Church of Jesus Christ suffers moral and spiritual loss, and therefore we offer no apology for expending much time and thought in a thorough examination of Genesis, third chapter.
99. Woman had been constituted by God, in words addressed to Satan: (1) The progenitor of the coming destroyer of Satan and his power; (2) and in her own person also an enemy of Satan. This latter is a point of much importance to women, and generally passed over very lightly. With such an appointment as this to fulfill in life (and none could be nobler), what would Satan, who knew it, wish done to woman, his enemy? It is not difficult to conjecture; he would have her so crippled she could not contend with him successfully. How better could he cripple her than to incite her husband,—the one living closest to her who has strength to do it—to hamper her activities as much as possible? And then, knowing of a Seed whose coming would be his doom, Satan would aim his sorest blows at her function of motherhood, and torture her by every means that could be devised, in her child-bearing. How he would hate her every time she was about to become a mother!
100. Now all this, which common sense tells us Satan would most certainly wish to do, most Bible expositors (as we are about to show), tell us GOD DID. For once then, if God did so, God and Satan would be found working on the same side, for the same result. Can we imagine such a thing as this? God and Satan working harmoniously together in the treatment of women, after the same fashion, from the Fall in Eden as long as this world lasts?
101. Although Eve had given the evidences we have mentioned of having become one of the Household of Faith; although God had exalted her to a relation with believers equal to Abraham's; although God had put enmity between her and Satan, so that she was no longer associated with God's great enemy, yet the Bible commentary represents that God now turned and pronounced a curse, or several curses upon her. We are sure that if anyone would curse her under such conditions, it would not be God, but Satan, her enemy. Surely God and Satan would not unite to curse.
102. It is not necessary to translate the language addressed to Eve by the Almighty on this occasion, as our English Bible translates it. Let us hold Savonarola's banners high today: "Nothing has been learnt from any man;" "We accept no authority save our own experience and reason." This teaching that God cursed Eve, and through Eve all women, comes over into theology from the Babylonian Talmud. Scripture nowhere says Eve was cursed, or women either. We do not accept as an authority that book of fables, the Talmud. Jesus Christ trampled the "traditions" of the Jews under His feet, and Paul warned solemnly against them, more than once. Our own spiritual experience as women, and the witness of the Spirit in our hearts, testify: "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us." As Christian women, we refuse to address ourselves to the task of working out Eve's "curse" for sin, if indeed she ever had one. We will not deny the faith; we will not discount the sufficiency of the atonement. Since theology points no other way for women through this chapter in Genesis but into a "curse," we must do some sappers' and miners' work, and hew a hermeneutical and exegetical road for ourselves.
103. But first, as to what theology teaches: The comments of Dean Alford--not the harshest by any means quite fairly represent the line of theological teaching here, "I will greatly multiply the pain of thy pregnancy," is his translation and he adds: "And yet, though this shall be so, the woman, as a second curse, shall desire again the occasion of this pain; and thirdly, [that is, note his words, in accordance with a third curse, "though the subject of all the suffering which accompanies the propagation of the race, she shall be subordinate, and ruled over by man."
104. But what does all this mean if not that Adam, or man, is to be wonderfully rewarded for his part in that Garden fruit-eating? He is to be elevated to government over women; and to be allowed to dictate, by his own whims, how much or how little physical suffering she is to endure, as the price of his fleshly indulgence! And has God so honored man for all time as to give him this, which often amounts to the power of life and death over a fellow creature, forsooth because Adam accused God of unwisdom and sheltered Satan from blame? We know very well who, if anyone, will reward man thus, if only we will exercise common sense,—the one whom Adam favored, Satan. If God and Satan both award man thus, here again we find for a third time these, two working together for the same result. We said a moment ago if anyone caused Eve to suffer, or cursed Eve it was her enemy, Satan; if anyone rewarded Adam for shielding Satan, it was Satan again.
105. Notice that Dean Alford names at least three curses from which, he says, woman is to suffer. But why did he not set forth all ten of them,—especially that one that declares that man was also to be awarded the privilege of practicing polygamy because of Eve's sin? Christian theology dares not set forth the whole of the Talmudic teaching as to the "curses" of woman, in these enlightened days. It only ventures as far as the subordination of woman to the sensuality of man. To set forth the whole ten curses would effectually secure the condemnation of the whole, including the parts theology would keep. The "ten curses of Eve" will be found on p. 137 of Dr. Hershon's "Genesis with a Talmudic Commentary" (Bagster, London), found in most of our large libraries. We will not soil our pages with all its filthy details, but one would have thought that any portion of such a document would have been considered so debased by corrupt association as to unfit it for incorporation into Bible instruction. We number them:
106. "TEN CURSES WERE UTTERED AGAINST EVE.
1. ‘Greatly multiply’ refers to catamenia, etc.;
2. ‘thy sorrow’ in rearing children;
3. ‘thy conception’;
4. ‘in sorrow shalt thou bring forth children’;
5. ‘thy desire shall be unto they husband’; [followed by language too coarse for reproduction, leaving no doubt of the rabbinical interpretation of “desire”];
6. 'He shall rule over thee' [more, and fouler language] ;
7. she is wrapped up like a mourner, i. e.
8. dares not appear in public with her head uncovered;
9. is restricted to one husband, while he may have many wives;
10. and is confined to the house as to a prison."
The teaching of the Babylonian Talmud, in the "ten curses of Eve," and in parts of it unfit for quotation, has since 1528 been allowed to settle the meaning of an obscure word in Genesis 3:16, as "desire"—and that against all the testimony of the most ancient versions of Scripture. We will bring out this point clearly in forthcoming lessons. The teaching of the seventh and eighth curses has also been allowed to cast a shadow forward into the New Testament, and to pervert the meaning of St. Paul's words about veiling in worship, in the 11th chapter of l Corinthians.Lesson 14 Home