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The Pregnant Woman’s Sufferings (Genesis chap. 3, verse 16)

Kendrick Goltzius – Diana discovers the pregnancy of Callisto, 1590

Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.

The woman will give birth between pains and sorrows. It means that, before the transgression, the woman gave birth to children without pain? Or was it the condition of the wife of the author who wrote Genesis’s book? That was a man who was trying to understand the cause of what was happening around him. What was the reason for the tremendous suffering of women during childbirth? God has no fault. Human suffering comes from the tree of which the woman had eaten the fruit.

The relation between suffering and tree has been suggested from the similar sound of two Hebrew words: “tree” (ETS) and “suffering” (ITSabon). Is this a scientific truth? I don’t think so, because we know that is the female anatomy that elicits the pain of pregnancy and not a divine curse that, from a certain point onwards, dramatically changed the woman’s anatomy. Is the dominion of the man over the woman something happened after the transgression? Probably this is true, because this isn’t an anatomical change, but an human attitude. In fact, God created the woman as a being perfectly corresponding to the nature of man. Man and woman were one flesh because intimately united by an alliance among themselves and with God. But when the inner mechanism of transgression is set in motion, the woman, like any other person or thing, is seen as an opportunity for personal affirmation.

However we have to say that the Jewish society of the time was certainly not feminist and probably also the author of the Genesis’s account didn’t shirk from this cultural conditioning. And yet he wrote that in the beginning it was not so and he probably didn’t accept the state of subjection of the woman. A state that can be overcome if you don’t take the place of God in your life and you obey God rather than men.

Simone Venturini


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