Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Curse of Eve

When I was pregnant I took a Hebrew Class. I had been wanting to learn another language, but never thought of Hebrew because of the different alphabet. But when I heard that a man in our stake would be teaching it through the Institute, I felt inspired to go.

I was actually the best in the class. I have a gift for languages. I know this. But I was surprised that even with my forgetful pregnant brain it came so easily for me. I haven't gone beyond beginning Hebrew since then because well, I had a baby and haven't had time to take any classes. But it was good for me. I can read it and recognize it being spoken, although my understanding and conversation skills are limited to phrases like: "Are you a teacher?" "No, I am a student" and "The world is my laboratory." This gets me in good with lots of Jews in L.A. That and "can I use your bathtub?" and "what a beautiful violin."

My goal someday is to read the Bible in its original Hebrew. But I'm getting way off course here. I was talking about Eve.

Lots of Christians believe that childbirth is supposed to be painful. That it has been since the dawn of time and that it is because of the curse of Eve. Didn't God curse her for eating the fruit by saying he would increase her suffering in childbirth?

Well, actually no. God didn't say that. Those are the words translators chose when translating the Bible later, at a time when the conditions surrounding childbirth were particularly awful. The Hebrew word etzev is translated to mean "labor, toil and work." It is used 16 times in the King James version of the Bible, but when it referred to childbirth, some translators interpreted it to mean "pain, sorrow, anguish or pangs."

And if you read Genesis in the original Hebrew, God never curses Eve exclusively. He used the same wording when speaking to Adam as to Eve.

Yes they would work hard in the real world outside the garden. They would have to labor and sweat and toil. And all of those words apply to childbirth--thus, the term labor is appropriate. But no mention is made of pain in any of the original Hebrew writings of the prophets. The Curse of Eve idea originated some time after 200 A.D. when contempt for women and women healers like midwives led to some pretty bad conditions for women. That is quite a long story which I won't cover here. But Marie Mongan does a good job with the history of Childbirth in her book Hypnobirthing, if you want to check it out.

I find this a fascinating example of how one word, translated incorrectly can effect the state of women so much and become embedded in modern Christian thinking.

That's why I love being part of a religion that encourages us to find things out for ourselves. Personal revelation. It's where it's at. I think this is the biggest misconception of Mormons and adherents to any religion--is that we are automatons, blindly following. But clearly, some people are--because that misconception didn't come from nowhere. Let this be a call to all you who consider yourselves thinking women. If you haven't questioned and at least examined your options for birthing besides the one where the doctor tells you what to do, now is the time.

I hear to many regrets about first births from people who just didn't know there were other options. Think of this birth as your only birth. And consult with the Lord. He cares how and where you will bring his spirit into this world.


  1. I couldn't agree more: "He cares how and where you will bring this spirit into this world."



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