Click to View


After Adam and Eve sinned by disobeying God, God punished Eve that she will have increased labor (Genesis 3:16). This is often translated as pain.

The concept of pain in childbirth, the so-called curse of Eve, cannot be traced to Scripture in the original languages, or to early Judaism. Genesis 3:16 is used as proof that pain is inevitable, ordained by the Creator as punishment for Eve's sin. The word translated as "sorrow" or "pain" is the Hebrew word etzev. However etzev is also used for Adam in the following verse, Genesis 3:17, a fact most translators have overlooked! The Hebrew Bible with English translation reads as follows: "Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow (etzev) and thy pregnancy: in pain (etzev) thou shall bear children ... And unto Adam he said, ... cursed is the ground for thy sake; in toil (etzev) shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life" (Hebrew Bible, 1965).

When the same word is translated as "pain" for the woman and "toil" for the man, it is clear that the translator's cultural beliefs have biased his judgment as a scholar of the text. The best description of giving birth is toil, or labor. When Eve's first child Cain was born there is no mention of pain or any kind of difficulty in the birth, but only the joyful statement, "I have obtained a man [from] the Eternal" (Genesis 4:1). In the Talmud, Eve's "curse" is divided into 10 parts, embracing the whole of a woman's life. Adam's "curse" is paired with Eve's, and divided into 10 parts also. (Helen Wessel, "Biblical and Talmudic Images of Childbirth", in "The Encyclopedia of Childbearing", ed. Barbara Katz Rothman, 1993, p. 29)

The Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible made by 70 scholars nearly 300 years before Christ uses the Greek word lupe to translate the Hebrew word etzev in Genesis 3:16. The word lupe refers only to an emotion. Three Greek words are used to translate chul and yalad. These words are gennao, tikto, and odino. Gennao means to have a child and is used of either parent. Tikto simply means "to give birth." Odino means to labor in birth. These same three simple words are found in the Greek New Testament. But again, translators have too often imposed on them the false assumption of pain or anguish in birth, even though the Bible describes the bearing of children as one of the most rewarding and joyous experiences of a woman's life. (Helen Wessel, "Biblical and Talmudic Images of Childbirth", in "The Encyclopedia of Childbearing", ed. Barbara Katz Rothman, 1993, pp. 29-30)

Islam Dictionary Index Start Page

Click to View