But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. (Genesis 2:20-22)
Eve was created to be the helper of Adam, to assist him in his great work, which, thanks to the curse of Adam, is a hard, miserable task.
Eve was tempted and in turn tempted Adam with her sweet fruit; he fell, as men are wont to do when a woman’s sweet fruit is involved. Adam was a given a cruel curse for weakness, but Eve was as well.
To the woman he said,
“I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing;
in pain you shall bring forth children.
Your desire shall be for your husband,
and he shall rule over you.” (Genesis 3:16)
The first part of the curse is harsh, but simply; Adam and Eve were blessed to be fruitful and multiply, but to Eve being fruitful became a painful and deadly experience. That is the first part of her curse, to desire children with her innermost being, but to suffer, and often die, in the bearing.
Yet, the second part of the curse is less straightforward, but more interesting. The more literal translation from Hebrew is more interesting still:
…and to your man is your following and he will regulate in you,
Following and regulate as defined for this:
Following: To go, proceed or come after. Being next in order or time. Subsequent to. As the river follows the path of its banks.
Regulate: To govern or correct according to rule. Rule over a dominion. To bring order, method, or uniformity to. To compare one thing to another in the sense of a rule of measurement, often as a proverb or parable.
Eve’s curse then is to desire her husband and to follow after him.
Her purpose, woman’s purpose is to help man, her greatest desire is to follow after their husband, she yearns to be his.
He will regulate in you. Her curse is not primarily that man controls her outwardly, physically, but rather that he rules in her.
Adam controls Eve’s emotional being; to him she is devoted, for him is her greatest desire, and to follow him is her greatest pleasure and purpose.
Eve’s curse is emotional dependence on fallen man. She desires to her very core to be wholly his.
Adam has absolute rule over her inner world, whether she wills it or not.
Before the curse, she was a helper to a perfect leader. Now she is a subject to a fallen man cursed with bitter hardship. This fallen man may be cruel, he may be weak, he may foolish, he may be sinful, he may despise her, he may reject her, and he will most certainly hurt her. He will never be the perfect man, God’s own untainted image, in which she yearns with longing deep to lose herself, subsume herself.
This is the paradox of Eve’s curse: She yearns to be Adam’s as he was, but Adam as he is is fallen: sinful and weak. She sees his weakness and may rebel against him and herself to her own ruin, but however much she may rebel, she knows she is beholden to him. Her desire for fallen Adam causes her suffering for she can not be rid of it, yet he is not the perfect man he was before he fell. Rebellion against his imperfection only causes her greater suffering for her need to be Adam’s is her very core.
Woman can only find true joy and purpose in wholly devoting herself to man, yet man, being imperfect, will never truly fulfill her longing to lose herself wholly in him.
Adam’s curse is to labour brutally and unceasingly only to see it come to ruin; Eve’s curse is to suffer the whims of cursed Adam or suffer the utter desolation of being bereft of Adam.