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Genesis 3:1 NASB
Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?”
Really?!? Are we really supposed to believe in talking snakes?
I think we have good reason to believe this is not a mere snake. One clue is that this serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field. Scripture here explicitly states he was more intelligent than an animal. He spoke to the woman, and she didn’t seem to have any issues with a talking animal. This was clearly a rational, spiritual being, not just a snake.
Another reason to question whether this was a snake or something else comes from the original Hebrew. The word translated in English Bibles as serpent is nachash, which means “shining one.” That phrase sounds more like a supernatural being, such as an angel, rather than a snake.
The question now is, “Why would nachash be translated as serpent and not shining one, or angel, or something closer to the literal Hebrew?
In Numbers 21, the Scripture says that the Israelites became impatient on their journey to Canaan and began to complain and speak against God and Moses. As punishment, the Lord sent fiery serpents among them, which began to bite the people and kill them. Verse 8 says,Then the Lord said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent [seraph], and set it on a standard; and it shall come about, that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, he will live.”
The seraphim are a class of fiery, six-winged angels (see Isaiah chapter 6), but seraph can also be used to refer to fiery serpents. We can discern whether the Scripture refers to an angel or a snake by the context. In Isaiah’s vision, seraphim are clearly angelic spirits surrounding God’s throne, while in Numbers 21 the Bible clearly refers to venomous snakes. According to Numbers 21:9, And Moses made a bronze serpent [nachash] and set it on the standard; and it came about, that if a serpent bit any man, when he looked to the bronze serpent, he lived.
Nachash and seraph are used interchangeably by Moses (the author of Genesis and Numbers).
In the New Testament, John probably had the same double-meaning in mind when he referred to Satan as “that ancient serpent, called the devil” (Revelation 12:9, 20:2). Clearly, the serpent in the garden was not a snake, or even a snake possessed by the devil; it was Satan himself.
The first step in Satan’s plan was to question God’s word.“Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?”
Genesis 3:2-3 NASB
The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’”
Satan’s purpose was not only to plant a seed of doubt in the woman’s mind. The question was also intended to determine how well the woman knew God’s word. The woman clearly understood God’s command not to eat the fruit, but she added, “You shall not eat from it or touch it…” God had never said the tree was not to be touched. Either the woman added to God’s commandment on her own, or Adam had added to the command when he explained it to her. Either way, the woman’s understanding of God’s word had been tainted.
The humans had presumptuously added to God’s word.
The origin of sin was not an outward act of disobedience, but humanity’s inner pride. The act of disobedience was merely the result of the inward corruption of sin. Humans already thought they knew better than God.
Satan took full advantage of this.
Genesis 3:4-6 NASB
The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! “For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.
Since the woman had already departed somewhat from God’s commandment by adding to it, explicitly questioning God’s commandment was not difficult for her. The fruit looked good to eat, and she desired the wisdom Satan alluded to. The man and the woman chose to disobey God’s word.
Genesis 3:7 NASB
Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings.
There eyes were now open, just as Satan promised. However, instead of becoming wise they became ashamed of themselves. This was not at all what they had expected, but they quickly covered themselves with fig leaves.
The world had changed forever. Paradise was lost.