Skip to comments.Question about the serpent in Genesis chapter 3 [Ecumenical]
Posted on 07/17/2012 12:35:09 PM PDT by Thermopylae
Genesis 3:1-15 "Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, 'Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?' The woman said to the serpent, 'We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, 'You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.'' 'You will not surely die,' the serpent said to the woman. 'For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and that you will be like God, knowing good and evil.'....So the Lord God said to the serpent, 'Because you have done this, 'Cursed are you above all the livestock and all the wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.'"
I would be interested to hear anyones opinion of the nature of the serpent. Was the serpent an actual animal or was the serpent simply a disguise for the devil? I have been told growing up that the serpent was really the devil. If that was true, then why does God punsh the serpent (the animal) and not the devil in verse 14 and 15? We are told in Numbers 22:28-30 that the Lord opened the mouth of Balaam's donkey. Is it possible that before the fall, Adam and Eve could speak to animals freely and understand what the animals were saying back to them?
I doubt seriously that wildlife “talked” in a human voice to Adam and Eve except in this instance. Satan possessed a snake, which at the time had wings and flew, and tempted Eve.
I'm pinging some Religion Forum posters who may have insights for you.
I bet there is much more contained in those words then we suspect. Our DNA must have been altered and the Earth “changed”
I like snakes. Obviously, the “serpent” who tempted Eve was not a natural snake, any more than “the dragon, that ancient serpent” is an Australian Bearded Dragon. There is symbolism going on.
The natural environment, in its fallen state - fallen because of the choice of humans, not animals - includes all kinds of predators. They are neither good nor evil, but are simply part of the natural order as it stands. Be kind to snakes. They only want to eat a rodent!
The Bible also uses the lion (among other animals) as a symbol of sin, of danger, of a threat to the soul, and yet, God is not calling on us to exterminate all natural lions. Balaam’s ass, if we take that very interesting episode as literally true, speaks as one might expect an animal to in context. This is not comparable to the action of the “serpent” in Genesis.
I would be more interested in knowing more about this tree...
Why would God make a garden, populate it with fruit trees, and then tell them they could eat all of them except from this one tree...
Why not stick the tree out somewhere where they couldnt reach it?
I know, I know “God wanted to test them” yeah yeah... forget that- that is NOT mentioned in the bible, that it was a test- it is someone’s guess as to god’s intentions
So... nevermind about whether they should have eaten from it or not- WHAT WAS THIS TREEE?
This gives me an opportunity to vent about God’s failings.
If Adam and Eve had the federal government back then this whole fall thing could have been avoided. First, we would have had decent labeling laws and each tree would have been clearly labeled along with a warning from the Surgeon General.
Second, the Department of Agriculture would have had strict regulations on the use of the fruit from the various trees. Fruit from trees causing death would surely be banned from the market place.
Third, the serpent is clearly an illegal alien and as such would not have been allowed across the border. What? Oh- never mind about that point.
Finally, Adam and Eve were totally dependent on God- the equivalent of food stamps. If the Federal Government was running things they would not have been married in order to qualify for increased benefits. If they were not married then they would not have been together. Adam would not have been tempted and everything would be as it should be.
Animals were created or changed at the fall of man.
Previously, no animals ate each other because
there was no pain in that time. Animals gained
the ability to eat flesh at the time. God sacrificed
(hurt) his own beloved animals to make a covering for
the first humans. This covering foreshadowed the
sacrifice of Christ thousands of years later.
The serpent similarly changed and crawled on
his belly as punishment. Snakes themselves
are not evil. But they do represent the punishment
of the serpent. Snakes crawl on the belly. We have
knees and backs that are easily damaged and in pain.
All are consequences of the first sin.
Why would God punish the serpent?
Again, it’s a way to remind us of the past and to
show us the way forward, which is that Christ is
the savior of the world. God had to punish everyone
involved or else He would compromise his perfect
righteousness, and we know He cannot go against His
own nature. The Israelites were punished later, but
the nations around them were also punished, even
though they were doing God’s will in inflicting damage
on His people. Everything works together for the good
of those who love him and are called according to His
The trees (not one) represent a choice.
These were not to be eaten of. Otherwise the first
humans would not be free. If God made us free
but we had no real choices, he would be a liar.
God created the United States through Christians.
Not a test but a choice. There is a difference.
Love is a choice. God desired that man love Him. We showed we are unable to choose love over our own desires therefore we fell.
God’s love for us is so great he can and has made up for our shortcomings by the sacrifice of his Son.
I think the snake is symbolic of our ego.
How can you have free will, if there is no choice? They only had one thing that they were forbidden, the tree. Remove the tree, and they no longer have a choice.
What if Genesis 3 is a metaphor.?.
What if Geneisis 1-3 is a metaphor.?..
A story representing things nobody at that time could practically conceive of.. The science of which they could not possibly understand.. All legends have some point to them..
Understanding what a GOD can/could do is beyond the science of that day or this one.. Why not a metaphor.. Jesus used metaphors a lot.. Who can/could understand building a Universe.. let alone a solar system..
Those wanting literal explanations about things to great for them are exhibiting hubris.. and arrogance.. Which are conditions Not rare among humans..
All told expecting the third human on earth to come from other than two originals would take a huge Yarn to explain it.. But that Yarn was indeed invented.. Sometimes a good story (they are) but alas it is only a Yarn(evolution).. The metaphorical tale works for me..
A helpful way to understand both modernism (as opposed to post modernism)and Genesis is to compare Descartes’ Tree of Knowledge — with Genesis Tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Here is the real problem. Eve ate the apple, so did Adam. How come neither of them lived forever ?
I think the whole story is about ‘man’ choosing what he ‘wants’ over what he ‘needs’(that which God gives us). Eve used her ‘free will’ to disobey God. Lucifer ‘opened’ her eyes to a new world where she could ‘do as she pleased’. She apparently wasn’t aware of it until then. God wasn’t pleased.
The serpent asked Eve what God said. After she misquoted God, adding that 'we are not to touch the fruit', when God had never said do not touch it, the devil then insinuated doubt about God, saying, 'No', (it is OK to eat it, to touch it, by implication). (Man is forever adding to the word of God). Then the devil offered up that age old seduction of godhood, saying, "...for God knows that in the day that you eat thereof, your eyes will be open, and you will be like God." So implied in the statement is the long desired position of godhood, and that derived from Mother Earth (fruit of the ground). Finally the promise of eternal life through our own acts...that one eat of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge (in the original....gnosis...meaning knowledge) we attain to godhood.
Here you have the essence of the New Age Movement, Hinduism, Mormonism, all eastern mysiticism, most of the cults.
1. Cast doubt on the inerrency of the Word of God.
2. Slighyly reallign the word of God, add or taking away.
3.Rely on the Knowledge of man rather than the Truth of God.
4. You will become like God.
It is the same old package that comes around each generation to pervert the truth of God. It is easy to sell the idea of Godhood. If you are god,....to whom are you accountable? What moral code of behavior is wrong , if you are god, you can do whatever you wish...you make it up as you go along. And you get to tell everyone how much knowledge you have, and if they just acquire that secret knowledge which God kept from man,.....if you just get in touch with Mother Nature (a witchcraft term or that of Nature Worship. It is the cult of Self. Had Eve denied self and Jesus said, "..deny yourself, Take up the Cross and Follow Me", this would be a different world.
If the fruit was the knowledge of good and evil, then how was Eve to know that what she was doing was wrong, (evil), BEFORE she ate it? That has always bugged me.
After Eve ate the fruit she knew evil experientially.
Beforehand she had only experienced temptation which isn't evil. Committing the act made her "know" (experience) evil.
everything in the garden has a real-life correlation today
but how does a fruit “contain knowlege of good and evil”?
I dont know of any modern fruit that acts that way
When my kids were young they loved cookies and I would bake them. But I didn't set them on the table in front of them and tell them not to eat. Especailly not to eat or you will surely die (or worse, get a spanking)
I would stick them on top the fridge until it was time to eat cookies.
(I really am trying to be serious here)
So.. why make a “tree of knowledge” and then stick it right in front of them, and tell them not to eat it.
And what kind of tree contains knowledge?
My understanding was the Devil was in the snake. Satan will be punished after the tribulation when he will be thrown into the lake of fire for all eternity.
Yes, initially, you don't give the kid a choice. But you don't protect them from every wrong choice forever. Eventually, you let them start making their own choices and suffer the consequences for better or worse.
The tree is somewhere in the garden, not necessarily right in front of them like a plate of cookies.
And we can only speculate about what kind of tree contains knowledge. The tree is obviously closed to us at this point. It's not something the Lord apparently wants us to study.
To remind them that they weren't God.
They could do just about everything, but God wanted something to be a constant reminder that they were less than Him. Taking from the tree was something in life was the one thing they were NOT allowed to do. The reminder was to illustrate to them the principle of authority...that they were lesser beings.
I heard a person teach once that the tree didn't actually contain knowledge...but in eating the fruit (disobeying) they finally experienced the knowledge (and difference) of both good and evil because they had now sinned.
“If the fruit was the knowledge of good and evil, then how was Eve to know that what she was doing was wrong, (evil), BEFORE she ate it? That has always bugged me.”
The Bible said that God had told them they could eat everything but the fruit of that tree. So, she knew God did not want her to do that.
But, my guess is there are many other things that your kids are confronted with on a daily basis that you have no control over or that you do let them around that are tempting. Do you tell your kids not to slam the doors or to shut the Fridge door or to flush the john, etc? Why let them go to the bathroom by themselves if they have the free will to not flush the john?
Again, the only way man has free will and can show he loves God is let him be able to make the choice for himself. If the choice is not there, there is no free will.
The above is quoted from The Tree of Life vs. The Tree of Knowledge provided for context here.
It seems to me the "serpent" that seduced Eve could not literally be an "animal." It was a spirit clothed, or appearing to the senses in animal form that is, in a material body that Eve could perceive by action of natural sensory perception.
God warned Adam and Eve away from touching or eating the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil; but was silent on any eating of the fruit of the Tree of Life.
God created man with free will. That is, man is completely free to obey or disobey the Word of God. But what this story tells is that if man disobeys i.e., makes a choice against the order that God established in the Beginning then man dies spiritually in the act. At that point, the Tree of Life becomes forever inaccessible to him.
Is God saying here that man places a higher premium on knowledge per se than he places on Life, including his own Life "more abundantly" in Christ Jesus? Judging from contemporary experience, I'd have to say this would be a completely truthful representation of the matter in terms of human language.
God's injunction against eating of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil recognizes that if man himself becomes the judge of Good and Evil (because he would have critical knowledge of the distinction involved by eating of the Tree), then man makes himself the "judge" of the created order. Anytime a man does that, he falls away from God and His created Order, and in that process initiated by man himself he falls away from his own Life in God, and thereby separates himself from the Source of his own being.
Of course, this is exactly the result that Lucifer here in serpent's garb is seeking: the utter destruction of Man as God created him and, through that act of destruction, the obliteration of the Creation God made in the Beginning.
Lucifer Satan is the original Nihilist. He so hates God and God's creation especially Man that he wants to reduce it all literally to Nothing.
The Tree of Life is also placed in Revelation where it finally bears fruit through the sacrificial action, redemption, and Judgement of the Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
Just some thoughts. Which I believe are eternally, fundamentally relevant to issues of the human condition, now and always.
Thanks so very much for posting, dear Thermopylae!
You cannot make a statment like that as if it was fact. You THINK God put it there to remind them they were not God- The Bible does not SAY "God put the tree there to remind them they were not God"
Your entire post is like that, even saying the tree is NOT what the Bible says it is
Why do some finite humans continue to believe they can apprehend the thoughts of an infinite God?
If you wish to amuse God, tell him of your plans.
What I find interesting about the passage is that Eve does not seem surprised at all that an animal talked to her.
She just answered it and carried on a conversation with it.
That would lend itself to conclude that animals talking in the garden was not uncommon.
Of course, there are animals even today which can “talk”. The parrot comes to mind.
I’m guessing then that whatever creature it was had the ability to vocalize or mimic a human voice, and was either possessed by Satan or allowed Satan to use it, which might be more likely the case since God punished the serpent.
Eve knew it was wrong for the same reason she explained to the serpent; God told her.
God knew exactly where Adam and Eve were when he said, "Where art thou". What God was asking was "Where are your heads"; what were you thinking?
The “Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil” was only ONE tree - among many trees available from which to find fruit to eat. God was looking for obediance - not sacrifice.
However, it was the devil who tempted Eve with the words, “Hath GOD said” ..??; in other words - trying to get Eve to question God’s authority and judge for herself if God had really said that she could not eat the fruit from ONE tree.
Then .. a curious thing happened - after Eve took a bite of the fruit - NOTHING HAPPENED TO HER ..???? Why not ..???? It was only when Adam saw that Eve had eaten from the forbidden fruit and nothing happened that he decided it was really safe to eat - and VOILA! Adam and Eve became spiritually dead - not physically, just spiritually.
The answer to the riddle was that when a couple are married, it is the husband who God had placed in spiritual authority - thus Eve could eat the fruit without penalty (for the moment) - and it could not pass to Adam (for the moment) - but IT WAS UP TO ADAM TO TAKE THE FRUIT FROM EVE - TOSS IT TO THE GROUND AND RUN QUICKLY WITH EVE TO THE SOLICE OF GOD’S PROTECTION - where, after their confession of what they had done, God would have forgiven them and restored them back to Him.
However, Adam did not do that. He also made a wrong choice and it condemned them both to spiritual death (because God had appointed Adam to be the spiritual head of the family).
Thus - this opened the door for GOD to provide another avenue for mankind to be restored unto God: Jesus
Because they didn't eat from the Tree of Life. That's a different tree from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
And that's why God kicked them out of the garden and blocked the way to the Tree of Life with an angel with a flaming sword, so they wouldn't eat of the Tree of Life and live forever in a sinful state.
God did not tell Adam he couldn't touch it, only to not eat it.
Yes, How was Eve to know! First off, how can one believe that if God knew the end of time from the beginning, is all-knowing, and in sovereign control of His creation (except our will)(he can be very persuasive to change that tho) how could he not know exactly what would happen? And yes... tell someone ‘no’ and that’s what they did. (This is a biblical, God’s Word principal in Romans where law and grace are explained... and that the law is used by God for a purpose... to show us we cannot keep the law... and now we start realizing apart from the Grace of God in Christ we are unable to BE sinless... Anyway... what I wanted to say... yes, something about Eve being off the hook. Read Gen.2-3 carefully and you’ll see Eve was not created when God GAVE ADAM the rules about the garden. I’m sure this changes theology a little...
Genesis is parable.
We also know that creation was corrupted and is even described as accursed due to the sin of the original breeding pair of human beings, who were cast out of the garden, circling back to the created order of God not being a totality, further narrowed to not encompassing the entire world as it then existed.
Along with corruption came not just disease, aging and death for all His creatures, but diminishment as well. Does this mean that an ability to communicate directly and clearly with mankind then existed broadly among the so-called lesser creatures? Perhaps.
We do have scriptural examples of creatures other than man speaking. We have an example of the language of mankind being confounded to the point that men could not understand one another. Language confounded, diminished capacity as a result of the fall of man, it isn't at all implausible.
Maybe, like the cookies, that tree was for later. Maybe as they matured, but not yet. Or, maybe, it had certain medicinal uses but was not to be used for recreation.
So the problem wasn't merely that they took from the tree, but they did it prematurely (God hadn't yet given them the green light) and they did it in alliance with the dragon.
If the tree is symbolic, then again, the problem is that they got ahead of God and they did it in alliance with Lucifer making him the source of the knowledge, in effect, and giving him authority in the Garden. If God had the tree of "knowledge" right there in the Garden, I have to assume it is because he intended, as they grew and matured, to share it with them. But when Lucifer was able to usurp God's fatherly apprenticeship he went to Plan B.
As others said, its likely that had they immediately sought God and asked forgiveness, the damage could have been repaired without having to leave the garden. Its the fact that they hid their alliance with the dragon that required a more dramatic remedy.
I think a lot of us are living Plan B (or C or D). God is a master of Plan B. But God's Plan A would have been better had we trusted him sooner.
Well then, I stand corrected.
Thank you for your observation, dear sister in Christ!
Many years ago, I read an essay by Maurice Maeterlinck called “The Two trees in the Garden”. He told the Genesis story in a way I had never heard, and yet, when I re-read Genesis, it was exactly as he had said it was. God forbade Adam and Eve from eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. He said that, if they ate from it, they would immediately die. Since they didn’t know what death was, the threat was sort of an empty one, but note that, after they did eat, they did not immediately die, but lived for many more years. The serpent told Eve that, if they ate, they would become like God. Their eyes would be open to new knowledge. Specifically, they would know how to find and eat from the other tree, the Tree of Life, and become immortal, like God.
After they ate, God expressed fear to some unnamed interlocutors that the humans might find their way to the Tree of Life, and quickly banished them from the Garden, and set an angel with a sword of fire to block the way to the Tree of Life. In other words, what the serpent (the supposed father of lies) said, was true. Now, in a hierarchical world, maybe evil does consist in trying to rise above your appropriate station. It may be wrong to seek to become gods. History is filled with people achieving near-godlike power, and it reliably ends badly.
We, sorely limited beings, imagine overcoming our limits and achieving heaven on earth. If we were “good” we would make peace with our limits and accept our place. But “a man’s reach must exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for?”
Indeed. They "hid their alliance with the dragon" by "covering their 'nakedness'." Thus the idea of "guilt" first comes into the picture....
And of course, the "more dramatic remedy" could only be provided by the Incarnation of the Son of God....
Excellent insight, dear brother in Christ. Thank you!
Free Will. Read “Perelandra” by C.S. Lewis. It will explain everything about this.
I believe the Serpent first masqueraded himself as God in the Garden, since he has been a deceiver from the beginning, His punishment was to be turned into a serpent / dragon.
IMHO (and my viewpoint isn’t popular on this here), these are Peshers. Analogous stories to describe deeper principles. The serpent and tree aren’t literal snakes and trees but descriptions to paint a picture of greater principles in a time when the language was limited and literacy was highly uncommon.
Think about this analogy then re-read this story.
Think about the changes in the world from 5 thousand years ago until now. The differences in how we view things, language, everything.
Now imagine five thousand years in the future. Some archeologist is reading the story of you. He comes across one of your journals and in it, you said “Today, I bought a new Jaguar. We were so excited, we immediately went to the field to eat some dogs and watch the Tigers battle the Cubs. After, we had so much Bud, we spent all night worshiping the porcelain god”.
Without the proper context and proper perspective, it would seem you have some animal sacrifice ritual in which you eat dogs and watch animals fight to the death all for some god you worship named porcelain.
How do we know that serpents had wings (were dragons)?
I agree. I wish I knew more.
I don’t necessarily agree with the premise, however, the image of serpents with wings is very common in ancient Sumerian and Egyptian iconography so there does seem to be some sort of archetype of that image, and these are the closest cultures to the time of the writing so it stands to say that it meant something.
Now, this could be a common fiction archetype of the time like superheroes of our day. Without that cultural context, we really don’t know.
Just to set the record straight, I like snakes and rodents! Okay, I may be a little prejudiced against the Western Diamondback Rattlesnake but I am in therapy.