Pt.4 The Serpent in the Garden
Some make this teaching far more mysterious than it actually is.
"Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made." (Genesis 3:1)
Herein lies the problem, Satan was not created in the garden (a beast of the field), he is older than all the creatures of the garden. The angels are a separate creation. The serpent is separated from the beasts of the garden as it became the instrument of an evil entity that was already fallen.
Adam and Eve had no concept of a foreign creature entering the garden to use another as a pawn, so they were unguarded. But they could have no excuse for allowing a mere animal they were appointed to rule over to persuade them to break the command God gave.
What do we know of this creature? This was a creature made on the same day with Adam. We do know that this creature was made by God and was pronounced good along with the rest of the creatures. This animal is first described as standing upright (Because his punishment was to crawl on its belly). The Bible could be talking about a particular unique creature that is no longer here, one that showed more intelligence (crafty) than all the others.
As Satan was the most intelligent angel God made, Satan would pick a creature comparable to himself to use, thus he "was more cunning than any beast of the field"
Was this serpent (creature) endowed with speech since he was carrying on a conversation disputing with Eve? Scripture states all the creatures were brought to Adam, he gave the species their name (Gen. 2:19). The next verse (20) “there was not found a helper comparable to him.” Not one creature was endowed with superior reason and speech as Adam, only man had been created in the image and likeness of God. Because there was no helpmate suitable for Adam, He could not mate with them even if they were of higher intelligence ( which does make it a problem for the serpent theory). God was to make a mate that was an equal so they could be fruitful and multiply, so he formed Eve from his body.
We do know that certain creatures have intelligence and have the capability to speak, even today. They can be taught to speak, such as parrots. Even dolphins show a high level of emotion and communication. But this creature carries on a conversation, this is a supernatural event. Satan could certainly speak through the serpent in the Garden, as he influenced Peter to try and keep Jesus from the cross (Mt.16), or as Satan entered Judas directly betraying Jesus before the last supper and faced him in his arrest.
Satan took control over the Serpent (creature) and persuaded Eve to disobey. The reason the serpent is judged is because the serpent allowed itself to be used by Satan. It is the willingness of the serpent which is addressed. The creature was judged because he was volitionally cooperative. Later we find that if an animal causes harm to man, that animal must suffer the consequences (Gen. 9:5; Ex. 21:8).
God addressed the creature used, and separated him from all the other creatures in the garden. Holding him responsible for participation. The disguise of Satan was in a serpent (reptile?), using a creature whose capacity to speak may have been greater than the other creatures. Whatever the reptilian species was, it was influenced by a malevolent spirit who schemed the diabolical plot to the ruin the harmony of the first human pair in the garden of Eden.
Since Adam and Eve did not know of this invisible creature's existence God addresses only the serpent. when he mentions it in revelation, he is connecting to this event.
The great dragon, is identified with ‘the ancient serpent called the devil and Satan.’ The word for dragon is Leviathan in Hebrew. It is used in the Greek Septuagint and in Rev.12. This word dragon is what we now call dinosaurs, reptiles. We know from the text that a spirit being was present and active, not just a mere animal that was a beast of the field. Satan was not permitted to have direct contact with man; he was limited in his deception. Just as God limited his attack on Job, he did the same with Adam. For if he could, he would have killed him. As Jesus said he was a liar and a murderer from the beginning (John 8:44). As he later instigated the death of Abel through his brother Cain.
A creature by itself could not carry this conversation with eve especially challenging her in God's command this way. The devil who was already fallen was the true influence behind this temptation to disobey.
We read this creature is to be grounded, to crawl. Satan is a spirit not a physical creature made in the garden, this is why there are two involved in this deception. His way to deceive was through the senses and his speaking by this creature would be like channeling today.
Gen. 3:1: “Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made.” This creature was (subtil) crafty. Don’t let this word the Hebrew word ’arum (עָרוּם) means “clever,” it is translated shrewed, prudent and twice crafty. The word for subtil can be used in both a good and bad way, (it is used in a good way Prov.1:4, 12:16, 23, 13:16, 14:8,15, 18; 27:12). It as synonymous with wisdom, prudence, and particularly shrewdness. It is a possibility that Jesus alludes to this when he exhorts his disciples to be wise (cunning) as serpents but gentle as doves (possibly the Holy Spirit).
Itcan also be “cunning” in a bad way (Job 5:12; 15:5). Here it has the idea of smoothness, to be cunning in a bad sense: He was more cunning than any creature made in the garden. We see this by the way the serpent speaks to the woman to convince her to do what God said not to. He used half-truths distortion and lies in his conversation to convince her to do what God said not to.
The Septuagint translates it as phronimootatos, the wisest of any beast of the field. This being in a bad sense, implying craft, cunning, guile, mischief. The common word for Serpent in Hebrew is Nachash from the root; properly, to hiss, i.e. whisper a (magic) spell; nachash as a noun generally means, to prognosticate: divine, enchanter, (use) enchantment, or learn by experience; meaning to whisper or hiss as in soothsayers. It means upright serpent; a primitive root; properly, to hiss, i.e. whisper a (magic) spell; generally, to prognosticate: divine, enchanter, (use) enchantment, learn by experience. This is where we get the saying the hiss of the serpent. It is the same word nechoshet which means bronze in Hebrew in Num. 21:9 (nahash nehoshet 2 Kings 18:4). The word is also a verb and has been connected to divination (Gen. 30:27, 44:5, 15; Lev. 19:26; Deut. 18:10). Brown Driver Briggs defines nachash - to practice divination, to divine, to observe signs, to learn by experience, to diligently observe, to practice fortunetelling, to take as an omen (Piel) 1) to practice divination 2) to observe the signs or omens. Ancient divination practices (also in the middle - east) included the serpent.
In Isa. 8:19 ‘And when they say to you, ‘Seek those who are mediums and wizards, who whisper and mutter,’ should not a people seek their God?’ These people gave themselves over to spirits that they thought were deceased, spirits who would communicate through them sometimes speaking strange sounds. As a snake hisses, soft spoken words were the sounds of these ancient channelers.
When this is put together it describes to us a shiny as brass upright creature; he had light, effulgence, (2 Cor.11:14). The creature had a mesmerizing effect on Eve. In other words, using this earthly creature to diguise himself he approached Eve as the ancient adversary of God, Lucifer; the shining one. Satan appeared as an angel of light (2 Cor.11:14) in his beauty (alluring) and speech he mesmerized her as she listened to his whisperings. It was a spiritual deception, as an angel of light, he could counterfeit in some small way God’s appearance in glory each afternoon.
Whatever this naachaash (OT:5175) was, he stood at the head of all inferior animals in wisdom and understanding. As Satan is referred to in Ezekiel 28:17: "Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; You corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor.” as he was once called V.12-13 "the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God.”
What we know is that this creature he chose walked erect. This is implied by his punishment - on thy belly shalt thou go. Some believe this creature could speak, because a conversation is made between him and the woman.
That he was also endued with the gift of reason as we see him disputing with Eve. The text seems to imply that speech and reason may have been natural to nachaash and this is possibly what distinguished him as being more subtle than all the beasts of the field that the Lord God had made? Satan certainly used a vehicle that was suitable for his nature.
This creature is one that Adam would have been familiar with, as he named all of them on the 6th day. he instead attacked Eve and she was not surprised when he engaged her.
Snakes have no organs for speech, they hiss from their tail; Reptiles make sounds. The Bible records a donkey speaking, influence by GOD. This creature’s actual ability came from a supernatural event. Since all the creatures are called good there had to be a foreign entity that instigated this trap. The voice Eve heard was more ancient than the creatures made in the garden. The creature that Adam was to rule over was used to bring him and Eve to ruin.
There is no way to know exactly which creature was used, anymore than to know what the fruit of the forbidden tree was. There are various type of serpents, it may not be a snake like we have today, but more like a reptile. It should be noted the Midrash Raba says that the snake was to be elevated above the other creatures as a servant of mankind so he was given human characteristics had the power of speech and walked upright.
Trees, fruit and a Serpent
One thing we can rule out is Satan being the fruit of the tree and Eves eating meant having intercourse with Him and producing Cain. The Bible strictly speaks against this nonsense.
When God asked: The woman said, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate." Gen. 3:13-15
1 Tim. 2:14-15: “And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.” They both were not deceived, Adam partook of the same fruit that Eve ate. How can this be a sexual sin as they claim? Because that is not what the word deceived is applied to. She was deceived by his words to disobey and to eat the fruit from the tree.
For if Satan is the tree or the fruit, then one must apply this principle of interpretation to other trees they ate from in the garden. This would mean they are having sex with others. Let’s look at this interpretation of trees in the book of Genesis and other examples. Gen 2:8-9: “And out of the ground the LORD God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. “The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” Both are literal trees according to the Bible, trees that gave food. The Hebrew word for tree is `ets meaning wood (plural sticks). Yet Murray and others teach the tree is actually the serpent, whose fruit Eve ate by having sex with him. Every time a tree is mentioned it a real tree that comes from a seed. Gen 3:1 “And he (the serpent) said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’? Even the Serpent knows its a tree. Certainly the serpent is speaking about something other than himself, a real tree. To prove this all one has to do is go back to when the trees were created by God. Gen. 1:11 tells us the trees (seed) fruit produce after its own kind. This included the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Genesis 1:11 fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind, whose seed is in itself.” V.29-30 “every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food.”
ma'akal from 398; an eatable (includ. provender, flesh and fruit): KJV-- food, fruit, ([bake-]) meat (-s), victual.
The Hebrew word and the context is consistently used for physically eating - not sex. Gen. 3:19: “In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground.” Gen. 9:4: “But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.” Gen. 24:33: “Food was set before him to eat, but he said, “I will not eat until I have told about my errand.” Exod.2:20: Call him, that he may eat bread.”
It says “And out of the ground the LORD God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food.” (Genesis 2:9)
Eve wasn’t looking at the serpent, she was conversing with him about the fruit, looking at the tree.
Then the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate.” Genesis 3:6. V.11-12 God asks “Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?" v.17 You “have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, 'You shall not eat of it.'
God says it’s a tree with fruit. A tree He planted in the garden (Gen.1:12). Genesis 1:31says “God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good.”
Genesis 3:22-23 “And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever"-- therefore the LORD God sent him out of the garden of Eden.”
God prevents them from eating from the tree of life as they ate from the tree of knowledge. God calls them trees, the men who teach this insidious doctrine call the tree the Devil.
The Bible teaches Adam and Eve, hid among the trees of the garden” (Genesis 3:8), the same trees they would eat the fruit from. When you change the trees and you change the fruit to be intimacy with Adam and Eve, there is something very wrong with a teachers understanding of the Bible. They make Adam and Eve into adulterers (you must include Adam who also partook of the same fruit). Those who follow these destructive teachings will reap the same judgment as the purveyors of it.