Where did this serpent come from? I’ve been trying to stay within the context of what we know only from the creation account. When we begin talking about the serpent, it would be easy to flip ahead in the story to Isaiah 14, Ezekiel 28, or Revelation 12 and try to insert the origin of the serpent based on those texts. But we must remember that Adam didn’t have Revelation chapter 12 or anything else. He had a few brief words from God, and that was it. Let’s try to understand the background of the serpent based solely on the Genesis text.
Adam was the ruler of the world. When he is given Eve for a wife, they are the king and queen of planet earth. They are co-regents if you will. They must benevolently take care of all of creation. They have been placed in this position by God to care for land, water, plants, and animals. God has explained to them, mainly to Adam, all about the rest of His creation. Even though they were the last step in the creation process, God took the time to explain to Adam concerning all things within the kingdom that he had just received.
God explained the plants to Adam. After forming Adam on the sixth day, God plants a garden. Then God put Adam within the boundaries of the garden. Then God caused every type of tree to grow within the confines of the garden. Here we can see that God is teaching Adam about plant life, trees, fruit, and what is available for food. He instructs Adam concerning the trees, including two special trees. The instruction is verbal as God speaks and visual as the trees spring up from the ground in front of Adam.
God explained the animals to Adam. He formed one of every land creature and bird from the dust of the ground and brought them to Adam for the purpose of Adam naming them. God had given Adam that authority as king of the earth. It was sort of like a game. Let’s see what Adam will call this one. There is another purpose that God has in bringing Adam all these animals. God is demonstrating to Adam that there is no animal that he can have an intimate relationship with. After all the animals have been brought to Adam and he has named them, there is not one that is a helper comparable to himself.
Note this well: Adam has named each animal, and not one has talked back to him. There can be no relationship with them. Then God creates woman. Adam is flabbergasted. Here was someone he could have intimacy with. Here was someone he could talk to. Here was someone of the same flesh and bone as himself. The law of marriage is laid down immediately after the creation of the first woman. A man will leave father and mother and cling to his wife and they shall be united. This law has never been revoked, not even after the fall.
Chapter 3 introduces the serpent. The serpent was more crafty than any other creature. He begins speaking to the woman. Actually, he begins “questioning God” to the woman. His first statement is a question of God’s authority. “Did God give you a command?” Adam and Eve are together in the garden. The serpent begins talking to Eve concerning God’s authority. Adam does nothing.
After Eve gives an answer concerning God’s instruction, the serpent contradicts God’s instruction. Here the serpent shows himself to be the voice of an enemy of God. Even though we have no record in the creation account that there is an enemy of God, we must understand that whatever is speaking is an enemy of God since his words are the exact opposite of God. In essence the serpent states that God had lied to Eve when describing the consequences for eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Adam still does nothing.
Now Eve walks over to the tree and begins considering it. At the time the serpent approached Eve, Adam and Eve were not at the tree of knowledge of good and evil since Eve describes it as being in another location, in the midst of the garden. Eve takes the initiative to walk to the tree and examine it, especially its fruit. Adam does nothing but follow along. Adam is watching his wife about to die and does not prevent her, but instead joins her.
When Adam and Eve eat from the tree, their eyes are opened revealing their now shameful condition. The serpent had stated that upon eating from the tree that their eyes would be opened knowing good and evil. Some of what the serpent had said was right, but he had twisted it. This shows that the serpent had some inside knowledge as to what the tree would do to mankind. This must be a being whose knowledge in some way extends into the heavens and knows somewhat of God’s intentions with mankind.
We see two aspects of the serpent. #1- The serpent was a creation of God which was proclaimed as good. #2- The serpent spoke with the voice of an enemy of God, lying about God, and lying to mankind. There is a mystery here that isn’t completely understood. It must be clear though that there is an unseen power that has caused the serpent to rebel against its Creator and against the caretakers of creation.
The curse which God places on the serpent is directed at these two aspects. #1- Upon your belly you will go and dust you will eat is directed at the creation of God which was proclaimed as good. #2- I will put enmity between you and the woman, between your seed and her seed; it will bruise your head and you will bruise his heel is directed at the voice of the enemy. The promise also indicates prophetically that this unseen power will have many offspring under its authority. This begins a new time period during which this enemy will have power over a portion of mankind in opposition to the offspring of the woman who will bring forth the enemy’s doom. Let the conflict begin!
Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13
-The Orange Mailman
P.S. I will do a study on the origin of Satan which includes all the Bible passages we have. There is so much erroneous information out there that I think it would be good to examine the pertinent passages as one study, with this Genesis passage as the foundation of course.