Slaves

shackles broken

In my previous two posts, A Parable and Masters, we discovered the close relationship between a parable and dominion. This foundation inspires my conclusions in this post. If you haven’t read those articles, please do so for context.

My original question was how Genesis 3:16 and 4:7 are teaching us a parable. Let’s look at these verses once again.

To the woman He said, “I will greatly multiply Your pain in childbirth, In pain you will bring forth children; Yet your desire will be for your husband, And he will rule over you.” (Gen. 3:16 NASB)

“If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.” (Gen. 4:7)

In the Biblical Role of Women, we learned that in Genesis 3:16 YHWH is telling Chavah (Eve) the consequence (curse) of her disobedience. This is not the same thing as a commandment even though many theologians across the centuries have treated it as such. In other words, God’s original design didn’t include a hierarchy among the sexes or a mandate that men would rule over women. The text is clear that Chavah was designed to be Adam’s ezer kenegdo (helpmeet); which is an aid, protector, rescuer, boundary setter, and guide. This is far from a mere domestic assistant.

This, however, doesn’t mean that Chavah “ruled” Adam or that her status was superior. Adam has a function and purpose and Chavah has a function and purpose. It is only by working in tandem as “One” that they most effectively accomplish YHWH’s will for their lives. They are one flesh and are equal in the eyes of Elohim. It takes both a man and a woman to display the image of Elohim.

But sin frustrated this design for both Adam and Chavah. Each of their purposes were cursed or distorted due to the fall. Through toil and with sweat Adam will now strive to cultivate the ground. Chavah’s role to be Adam’s ezer is now also problematic. Just as the ground will not effortlessly yield to Adam’s labor, Adam will not easily relent to Chavah’s role as his ezer.

The tension between men and women will be as thorny as the cursed ground. And Eve’s curse reveals the heart of the issue. There will now be a power struggle as fallen Adam seeks to subjugate Chavah in self-preservation.

© Walter Arce

© Walter Arce

This is where the second account we are examining comes in to play. We see virtually the same phrase in Hebrew when YHWH speaks to Cain before he kills Abel. The difference, as I pointed out in the Biblical Role of Women, is that YHWH commands or explicitly states to Cain that it is possible to master sin and that this IS the will of YHWH. In other words, man was NOT created to be ruled or mastered by their nephesh or basic animal drives. Humans are meant to be ruled by the Word of Elohim (God). We live by His words, not our fears or fleshly appetites.

To summarize, let’s look at what we’ve covered so far. (Some of these conclusions are drawn from the Role of Women series.)

  1. Adam ruling over Eve is a curse, not a commandment. Chavah’s desire to be Adam’s ezer kenegdo isn’t evil or sinful. This purpose and function is at the core of every woman redeemed or not. However, all men will resist this function of their wife. This isn’t the design or will of the Creator. This is why a redeemed man is expected to love his wife sacrificially. He must master his desire to resist his wife’s role. Likewise, a woman must not let her desire to be the man’s ezer control or undermine the relationship. She must allow the Spirit of YHWH to bring healing in His timing.
  2. Cain is told that he SHOULD master sin. It is our unbridled passions, desires, and beastly urges that cause us to sin. These urges aren’t evil or sinful in and of themselves; however, if they control or rule our life, they lead us to commit sin. They are only concerned with self. This is why we need the Word of God to set the proper boundaries for living as a human created in the image of Elohim.

A parable or a proverb is a comparison of two things; there will be similarities and there will be differences. Our job is to discern the heart or point of the story or saying. The message should cause a change in our thinking that leads to a change in our behavior.

In both Genesis 3:16 and 4:7, teshukah (desire) is present. Chavah has teshukah for Adam and sin has teshukah for Cain. YHWH doesn’t call teshukah evil or sinful. In fact, it was YHWH that created teshukah! Teshukah is our inborn desires and appetites that motivate us to live and survive.

The first thing that should stand out to us is the fact that Chavah and all women since have an additional teshukah that men do not have. All of mankind (men and women) have the desire to eat, sleep, procreate, and expand their territory. But, women have an additional teshukah for their men; that is to be the ezer kenegd0. This is the way women are wired — before sin and the fall. A woman is an ezer kenegdo whether you allow YHWH to use her or not. And whether she is redeemed or not. (Pray she is redeemed! For an ezer kenegdo that is ruled by her nephesh (flesh) is truly rottenness to the bones of her man! [Pr. 12:4])

Mashal (to rule/master and a parable/proverb) is also present in both of these verses. There is a message to be received in these accounts. Who rules who or what is the real question here. If Adam (man) is ruled by his nephesh, he will walk  in the curse and subjugate his wife in tragic animalistic fashion. A nephesh craves power to benefit only ones’ self. We see the epitome of this when Cain takes the life of his brother. There can be no self-sacrificing love or protection given by a nephesh ruled person since his heart is only focused on numero uno.

However, a redeemed man has relinquished himself over to the Creator. He is no longer guided by his ungodly fear and the flesh (nephesh); therefore, he is free to forgive and love his wife— even sacrifice himself for her. Any authority granted to him is used to benefit his wife, not control her. This is how a restored and redeemed relationship functions. This is unity and oneness. Both the man and the woman are free to fulfill their purpose within the clear and protective boundaries of the Word of Elohim.

As a result, I really believe this is also what reverses the curse on Adam’s purpose as well. Any time we are obedient, we bring restoration not only to our relationships, but also to the creation itself. The Jewish sages call this tikkun olam, repairing/healing the world. We know that creation is enslaved by the corruption of sin and death just as we are; and like us, it desires to be set free[1]. This happens as the sons of God are revealed. We are a son/daughter of God as we are conformed to His image.

I submit to you that the parable presented in Genesis 3:16 and 4:7 is a story about slaves and masters. In the beginning, man (man and woman) were given joint authority over the earth and all the living creatures (the beasts).

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” (Gen. 1:26)

What YHWH declares to Cain is simply a reiteration of His original purpose for mankind. You rule the beast (nephesh), not the other way around. Adam and Chavah were meant to be coheirs[2] of the creation and image bearers of Elohim[3]. In other words, they were meant to master the creation together as godly stewards, not as tyrants. Ultimately, YHWH is the only righteous Master, Ruler, and King. We are His emissaries carrying forth His loving instruction and order in creation.

We must choose whom we shall serve. Will it be YHWH? Will it be some false god? Or will we serve ourselves? As I mentioned in my last post on Masters, there is real irony when we choose to serve anything other than YHWH. While we may believe that serving another god or that satisfying our own fleshly desires is “freeing”, it is actually the very thing that enslaves us to sin. In other words, our real choice is to be slaves of death!

The parable teaches us that there is one Master, YHWH; but our nephesh (soul/flesh) will try to usurp His authority and rule instead. If we allow this to happen, we are nothing more than a beast. By trying to “rule”, we only enslave ourselves to death and destruction, a curse.

We must also be mindful of whom we try to master. For example, I don’t believe it was YHWH’s design nor will that people enslave people. Slavery is a perversion of servant-hood. We have destroyed the spiritual imagery of serving YHWH and the brethren with human abuse, oppression, bondage, and slavery.  In other words, forced captivity and servitude is a perversion of the protective and free will service of the heart we should have for the Master of the Universe.

This is why it is so hard for us to relinquish our whole being over to YHWH. Like an oppressed slave, we fear that YHWH is going to withhold real “goodness” from us. This is why many people drag their feet in coming to repentance. They think true followers no longer have any “fun”. Do you see the irony in that?

Real Slavery

But there is another reason that we need to understand Chavah’s curse. The rule of Adam in the curse isn’t godly. It is oppressive. And if you think I’m wrong about that, perhaps you should take some time to look at world statistics[4] on the plot of women. If you think women are only oppressed in third world countries, you are flat dead wrong. While the hardest hit regions for victims (where slaves are picked up) are South and Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe and Africa, the destination countries (where they are bought!) include Europe, USA, Japan, Australia, India, Israel, and the Gulf States[5]. In other words, western countries are providing the “demand” for this horrendous practice. Many end up as forced prostitutes or on internet pornography.

“More girls were killed in the last 50 years, 
precisely because they were girls,
than men killed in all the wars in the 20th century. 
― Nicholas D. Kristof, Half the Sky

Yes, women (and even some weaker men and boys) are a hot black market commodity in today’s “progressive” world. In the US, human trafficking generates $9.5 billion yearly[6]. It is estimated that 200,000 US women annually are forced into the sex trade. The majority of these are American, not imported from other countries. The largest annual human trafficking event in the US is the Super Bowl[7].

Where women are oppressed the most, they are educated the least[8]. This is one way men maintain control and power over women. In less developed countries, as many as 87% of women are illiterate. If you don’t believe that this twisted mindset has infected Judeo-Christian doctrine and tradition, you haven’t read history. In every century since the dawn of mankind, women have been subdued by men the world over. Bible believers have justified this behavior with the Scriptures with Chavah’s curse standing out as the “precedent”.

These facts should at least cause us to pause and consider our current paradigm of the woman’s role. Has our view of women in marriage and the assembly been colored by the beast? Where do you think such ideas as “women shouldn’t even be taught the Torah” originate? The answer can only be found in fallen man. By the way, all these things should also cause us to rethink what Paul is saying about women in his letters. We have a very long secular and spiritual history tainted by the curse. We must separate truth from tradition. Silencing half of our assemblies is a serious matter; especially since women are a metaphor for the Holy Spirit.

“One reason why trafficking has been ignored 
     is that the victims are voiceless.” 
- Nicholas D. Kristof, Half the Sky (Emphasis mine)

There is only one answer to our plot. . Rule the beast (nephesh/flesh); do not serve your lusts, desires, and appetites. Serve YHWH by knowing and keeping His word. If YHWH blesses you with an ezer kenegdo, treasure this gift; there is no need to fear her or control her. Choose to walk in blessing instead of the curse. She’s perfectly suited to guide, nourish, and protect you (inwardly) just as you are perfectly suited to do these same things for her (outwardly).

Hear the parable of Genesis 3:16 and 4:7. The only thing we are meant to rule is the creation and its creatures. The only thing we are meant to master is the beast within us all, our nephesh (flesh). If we fail to do so, we become a curse, enslaved like a beast — headed for the pit.

Now go and read all of Romans 7 and 8 with fresh eyes.


[1] Rom. 8:18-23  For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.  (19)  For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God.  (20)  For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope  (21)  that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.  (22)  For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.  (23)  And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.

[2] 1 Peter 3:7

[3] There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise. (Gal. 3:28-29)

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