To Desire, To Rule
He said to the woman, I will greatly increase your sorrow and your conception; you shall bear sons in sorrow, and your desire shall be toward your husband; and he shall rule over you. Gen 3:16
Desire. Such a word. In Hebrew, the word teshukah means to run after, desire, longing, craving. These are powerful words. Yet, we find that they are equaled by another strong word, rule. Mashal is best translated as to have dominion and govern.
Many men will look at this verse and see total power. What they should see instead is total responsibility. The word kabash is the Hebrew word used in Gen 1:28 when G-d commanded us to subdue the earth. That word means to conquer or subjugate.
It is easy to see the difference now. On the one hand, subdue, it is an order to overpower. On the other hand, rule, it is a word of responsibility. How you might ask? Good question.
If one is a ruler, as in to govern, there are people whose lives depend on that person. If you are a ruler, you must make sure that the economy is good so that your people can earn food. You must make sure that they are protected and safe in their land so that they don't live in fear. You must take care to implement good and well founded rules that provide for a better life for all parties concerned. There is a tremendous weight of accountability and liability that sits on the shoulders of a ruler.
At times we may not like the decisions that are made, but they are made and the rulers over us must answer for those decisions. In a G-d-fearing marriage, the man is the one that must answer for decisions made. To coin an old marketing phrase, he answers to a high authority, G-d.
As a ruler, the man must understand BOTH sides of the coin; the one subject to him and the One that he is subject to. That is a point of accountability both up and down the chain of command.
Now, when we look at this verse, there aren't many women out there, I would guess, that would desire, crave, or long to be conquered. They are looking for the one thing that G-d promised them back in Genesis chapter 3. They want a man who understands the weight of responsibility that is on his shoulders, one who knows the love that she holds towards him.
And the man, he wants his beloved to understand the weight that is on his shoulders, not that she should support that same weight, but instead so that she might support him in his endeavors as the ruler at home.
Barukh atah Adonai Elohenu Melekh HaOlam
Blessed are you, Oh L-rd our G-d, Ruler of the Universe