The renaming of the woman as Eve, chavvah ("progenitress"), "because she was the mother of all the living" (Gen. 3:20), happens only after eating from the tree. This too bolsters the "sexual" reading of this story—eating of the tree of ultimate "knowledge" turns the wife of Adam from ha-ishah ("the woman") into a (potential) mother.
God's response to the woman after she eats from the tree is not a curse. The words "And to the woman He said, / 'I will make most severe / Your pangs in childbearing; / In pain shall you bear children. / Yet your urge shall be for your husband, / And he shall rule over you” (Gen. 3:16) are a description of women's new state: procreative, with all the "pains" connected to procreation in the premodern world, including the natural pain of childbirth. This verse is not stating (as a harmonistic reading of Genesis 1-3 might imply) that before eating the fruit women gave birth painlessly, but now they would have labor pains. Furthermore, it notes that women will not do what most people do—try to avoid pain at all cost—because "your urge shall be for your husband, / And he shall rule over you." The meaning of this last section is ambiguous. The root m-sh-1 ("to rule") has a general sense, so that its use might suggest an overall hierarchy of male over female. However, the context of this verse suggests that it means merely that men will determine when couples engage in sexual intercourse.
It is difficult to determine the attitude of this mythmaker toward the new state that he is describing. Is he happy that a boring life as asexual immortals in Eden has been traded for a challenging, sexual life outside of Eden? Or does he miss immortality? Or is he being merely descriptive, noting how humankind moved from an earlier stage to its current one? The Bible (in contrast to much of Victorian and post-Victorian society) has a generally positive attitude toward human sexuality, as may be seen most clearly from the Song of Songs. In various places, it sees women in particular (in contrast to men) as very sexual beings (see especially Proverbs 1-9). Thus, it is quite reasonable within a biblical context to see Eve as a type of Pandora figure, who is to be commended for bringing sex into this world.
Implications and Conclusions
Genesis 1:1-2:4a and 2:4b-3:24 are two separate stories, written by different authors using different styles. They are both myths—neither aims primarily at offering a scientific description of "the earth and everything upon it" (Neh. 9:6). They are metaphors on the story level, traditional tales dealing with issues of collective importance. As such, they are "creating" worlds.
The first story describes a very good world, which is highly structured and controlled by a most powerful God who in some ways is so dissimilar from humans that he even has his own word, bara, to express his creative activity.
The world of the second story is much more ambiguous. Its God, a master potter (Gen. 2:7), is much more humanlike, walking and talking, even sewing (3:21). Also this world is unlike that in the previous story: it lacks the gender equality of the previous story, and it is not "very good."
Modern "critical" biblical scholarship fosters these observations by allowing the stories to be disengaged from each other, allowing each to be seen as an independent story, reflecting its author's perspectives. It understands them as constructive myths, which helped to frame the very essence of Israelite self-understanding, as well as their understanding of their relationship to their God, and to the world that they believed He had created. (“How to Read the Jewish Bible”, Marc Zvi Brettler, pages 45-47)