THE SERPENT OF GENESIS 3
Pastor F.W.C. Neser, M.Sc., South Africa
F.W.C. Neser was trained as a Scientist but is a dedicated Christian since his youth. To him the Bible is the Word of God from Genesis to Revelation.
WHEN God created Adam and Eve, the devil was already a fallen angel and the adversary of God. He was also to become the slayer of man and the father of lies. If the fallen angels who had followed him in his rebellion against God, had left a seed behind on earth when they went in unto the daughters of men and these bore children from them, why not also Satan?
There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.
The figurative use of the word serpent in the garden of Eden was only to bring forward a very important fact and truth.
When Revelation 20:2- - - - -
And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years
See also Revelation 12:3-4, 9:
And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the women which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born- - -
And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
----refers to the dragon as: "that old serpent which is the Devil and Satan" (Satan means adversary), then it is clear that it was no one else but the devil himself which tempted the first man Adam, and not a snake. As the figurative use of the name "dragon" had to serve to depict the ferocity and frightfulness of the enemy of our soul, so the "serpent" had to depict his deceitfulness, charm and fascination.
The Hebrew for "serpent" in:- - - - Genesis 3:1:
NOW the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?
----is 'nachash' which means to hiss, mutter or whisper, as do enchanters. It also means in a secondary sense to divine, or enchant or mesmerise, as a snake often does before catching its prey. It also has the meaning to shine or sparkle, like bronze or copper. Some Scriptures also tell us that Satan has an extremely attractive appearance -(see e.g., 2 Corinthians 11:3,14),and this Hebrew word therefore also conveys the meaning to fascinate and bewitch. cp.Deuteronomy 18:10-14:
There shall not be found among you anyone that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD: and because of these abominations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee. Thou shalt be perfect with the LORD thy God. For these nations, which thou shalt possess, hearkened unto observers of times, and unto diviners: but as for thee, the LORD thy God hath not suffered thee so to do.
In like manner the term saraph (plural seraphim), meaning to burn, or to be elevated, is translated in Numbers 21 :8, 9, 6; - as a "fiery serpent" - - - -
And the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live.
- - - - in the next verse the word 'nachash' is again used for serpent, - - - -
And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.
- - - - while in verse 6 - - - -
And the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died.
- - - - both words are given for "fiery serpents".
The same word saraph (Seraphim) is used of the heavenly ones of Isaiah 6:2, 6:
Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly.... Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar:
Thus saraph is used of a fiery serpent and of an exalted celestial being; nachash being similarly used to designate a serpent and a glorious spirit being. The nachash, or serpent, who beguiled Eve:----- 2 Corinthians 11:3, 14:
But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
- - - - is spoken of as "an angel of light" in verse 14:
And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.
Have we not, in this, a clear intimation that it was not a snake, but a being of glorious aspect, apparently an angel, to whom Eve paid such great deference, acknowledging him as one who seemed to possess superior knowledge, and who was evidently a being of a superior (not of an inferior) order? Moreover, in the description of Satan as "the king of Tyre" it is distinctly implied that the latter being was of a supernatural order when he is called a "cherub". Ezekiel 28:11-19:(v. 14, 16)
Moreover the word of the LORD came to unto me, saying, Son of man, take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyrus, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord God; Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty. Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering - - - - - - -: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou was created. Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of stones of fire. Thou was perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee. Thou hast defiled thy sanctuaries by the multitude of thine iniquities, by the iniquity of thy traffick; therefore will I bring forth a fire from the midst of thee, it shall devour thee, and I will bring thee to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all hem that behold thee. All they that know thee among the people shall be astonished at thee: thou shalt be a terror, and never shalt thou be any more.
His presence in Eden, the garden of God, - (v.13), is also clearly stated, as well as his being "perfect in beauty" - (v.12), His being "perfect in his ways from the day he was created till iniquity was found in him" - (v.15), And as being "lifted up because of his beauty" - (v.17).
The word "beast" also, in Genesis 3:1, - chay, denotes a living being, and it is as wrong to translate zoa - "beasts" in Revelation 4, as it is to translate - chay "beast" in Genesis 3. Both mean living creature.
Satan is thus spoken of as being "more wise than any other living creature which Lord God had made". Even if the word "beast" be retained, it does not say that either a serpent or Satan was a "beast", but only that he was "more wise" than any other living being. We cannot conceive Eve as holding conversation with a snake, but we can understand her being fascinated by one, apparently "an angel of light" (i.e., a glorious angel) possessing superior and supernatural knowledge.
It is remarkable that the verb nachash is generally translated to enchant, fascinate, bewitch; or of one having and using occult knowledge. See: Genesis 30:27; Genesis 44:5,15; Leviticus 19:26; Deuteronomy 18:10; 1 Kings 20:33; 2 Kings 17:17; 2 Kings 21:6; 2 Chronicles 33:6. So also is the noun used in Numbers 23: 23; Numbers 24:1.
When Satan is spoken of as a "serpent" -it is only by way of implication; it no more means a snake than it does when 'Dan' is so called in - (Genesis 49:17),
or an animal when 'Nero' is called a "lion"- (2 Timothy 4:17), or when 'Herod' is called a "fox" - (Luke 13:32), or when 'Judah' is called "a lion's whelp" - (Genesis 49:9). It is the same figure when "doctrine" is called "leaven" - (Matthew 16:6). It shows that something much more real and truer to truth is intended.
When it is said in Genesis 3:15, "thou shalt bruise His heel", it cannot mean His literal heel of flesh and blood, but suffering, more temporary in character. When it is said (v. 15),"He shall crush thy head", it means more than a skull of bone, and brain, and hair. It means that all Satan's plans and plots, policy and purposes, will one day be finally crushed and ended, never more to mark or to hinder the purposes of God. This will be effected when Satan shall be bruised under our feet - (Romans 16:20). This, again, will not be our literal feet, but something much more real.
The bruising of Christ's heel is the most eloquent and impressive way of foretelling the most solemn events; and to point out that the effort made by Satan to evade his doom, when threatened, would become the very means of insuring its accomplishment; for it was through the death of Christ that he who had the power of death would be destroyed; and all Satan's power and policy brought to an end, and all his works destroyed ----
Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil:
( 1John 3:8:)
He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.
(Revelation 20: 1-3,10:)
AND I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled:and after that he must be loosed a little season. And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.
- - - - what literal words could portray these literal facts so wonderfully as these expressive figures of speech? It is the same with the other Figures used in - (Genesis 3:14),"On thy belly shalt thou go". This Figure means infinitely more than the literal belly of flesh and blood; just as the words "heel" and "head" do in - (Genesis 3:15).
It paints for the eyes of our mind the picture of Satan's ultimate humiliation; for prostration was ever the most eloquent sign of subjection. When it is said "our belly cleaveth unto the ground" - (Psalm 44: 25), it denotes such a prolonged prostration and such a depth of submission as could never be conveyed or expressed in literal words.
So with the other prophecy, "Dust shalt thou eat" - (Genesis 3:14). This is not true to the letter, or to fact, but it is all the more true to truth. So when Christians are rebuked for "biting and devouring one another" - (Galatians 5:14-15), something more heartbreaking is meant than the literal words used in the Figure. When "His enemies shall lick the dust" - (Psalm 72:9) they will not do it on their knees with their literal tongues; but they will be so prostrated and so utterly defeated, that no words could literally depict their overthrow and subjugation.
If a serpent was afterward called a nachash, it was because it exercised fascination over other creatures, and if it became known as "wise", it was not because
of its own innate positive knowledge, but of itswisdom in hiding way from all observation; and because of its association with one of the names of Satan (that old
serpent) who "beguiled Eve" - (2 Corinthians 11:3, 14).
It is wonderful how a snake could ever be supposed to speak without the organs of speech, or that Satan should be supposed able to accomplish so great a miracle. It would have been greater than that wrought by God Himself, who opened the mouth of Balaam's ass.
It only shows the power of tradition, which has, from the infancy of each one of us, put before our eyes and written on our minds the picture of a "snake" and an "apple":
A) the former based on a wrong interpretation,
B) and the latter being a pure invention, about which there is not one word said in Holy Scripture.
Never was Satan's wisdom so craftily used as when he secured universal acceptance of this traditional belief: for it has succeeded in fixing the attention of mankind on the letter and the means, and thus blinding the eyes to the solemn fact that the Fall of man had to do solely with the word of God, and is centred in the sin of believing Satan's lie instead of God's truth.
The temptation of "the first man Adam" began with the question "Hath God said?" The temptation of "The second man, the Lord from heaven" began with the similar question "If Thou be the Son of God", when the voice of the Father had scarcely died away, which said "This is my beloved Son". All turned on the truth of what God had said.
The Word of God being questioned, led Eve, in her reply:
(1) to omit the word "freely" -----Genesis 3:2, cp Genesis 2:16,
(Eve) - "We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden"
(LORD God) - "Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat"
(2) to add the words "neither shalt thou touch it" ---- Genesis 3:3, cp Genesis 2:17,
(Eve) - "God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it"
(LORD God) - "thou shalt not eat of it"
(3) to alter a certainty into a contingency by changing:
(LORD God) -"thou shalt surely die" - (Genesis 2:17)
(Eve) - "Lest ye die" - (Genesis 3:3).
It is not without significance that the first Ministerial words of "the second Man" were "It is written", three times repeated; and that His last Ministerial words contained a similar threefold reference to the written Word of God -(John 17: 8, 14, 17).
The former temptation succeeded because the Word of God was three times misrepresented; the latter temptation was successfully defeated because the same Word was faithfully repeated. (Taken from Appendix 19, "The Companion Bible").
THE SEED (PROGENY) OF THE SERPENT
Thisn ow brings us to a better understanding of what the LORD God meant when He said, "And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed - (progeny, Hebrew - zera) and her seed" - (Genesis 3:15).
This does not mean the literal offspring of a snake, but the literal progeny of Satan. In other words, as the fallen angels had a literal offspring on earth through their union with the daughters of men, in like manner did Satan, the chief fallen angel, have his literal descendants on earth; and there was to be a continual enmity between Satan and the woman, and between his seed (progeny) and the woman's seed. Satan was the most subtle of all, and therefore he was able to camouflage himself as effectively as a snake; the result is that his evil deeds and that of his seed would also not be so easily recognized throughout the ages.
In John 8:44 we read that Jesus said to those Pharisees who were always following Him and watching for an opportunity to kill Him, that they were of their father (ancestor, Greek -.pater) the devil. Our Lord Jesus never insulted anybody, He only spoke the truth. He therefore stated a tremendous fact with profound significance, a fact which had its origin in the garden of Eden, and which will only finally come to an end when Satan is finally put away after his last rebellion against God, as stated in Revelation 20.
In Matthew 23:33, Jesus calls those Pharisees serpents and a generation (off-spring, brood, progeny, produce, Greek -gennema) of vipers, and in verse 31 the
children (sons, Greek - huios) of them which killed the prophets, and in verse 35 he holds them responsible for all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias.
Who killed Abel?
Cain of course!
They must therefore have been the offspring of Cain. But they are also called the offspring of Satan; Cain must therefore have been the child (literal) of the devil. They were therefore none other than that same seed of whom the Lord said that there would be enmity between them and the woman (and therefore of course also those born out of her) and her seed.
That the blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation;
But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.
In the parable of the wheat and the tares in: ----Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43,- - - - we read of the tares that were sown among the wheat, and that the wheat represented the children (sons, Greek - huios) of the Kingdom, and the tares the children (sons, Greek - huios) of the wicked one (the devil) cp Matthew 6:13.
There is therefore a literal seed of the devil, and a literal seed of God on the earth, but only the angels will come and tell the difference at the end of the age, the time of harvest.
In the following Scriptures we also read of the children of Belial (the devil):Deuteronomy 13:13; Judges 19:22; Judges 20:13;1 Samuel 1:16; 1 Samuel 2:12; 1 Samuel. 10:27;1 Samuel 25:17, 25; 1 Samuel 30:22; 2 Samuel 16:7; 2 Samuel 20:1; 2 Samuel 23:6; 1 Kings 21:10,13; 2 Chronicles 13:7; 2 Corinthians 6:15.
We see here that even the sons of Eli were such sons of Belial.
Esau, although born of the same father and mother, was of that other seed, so much so, that it is written:
"Yet I loved Jacob, and I hated Esau" - (Malachi 1:3; Romans 9:13).
But God loves the sinner, whence then this hatred of Esau? We go into this very important question fully in our series on "The LostTen Tribes of Israel". The
explanation must surely lie in the fact that there is an offspring of Satan and his fallen angels (the tares) here on earth.
Read John 10.
In 1 John 3:12: ----
Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous.
----we read that Cain was of (out of, Greek - "ek") that wicked one the devil and the first murderer.
Read John 6:70:
Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?
Here the seed of the serpent (the devil) launched his first onslaught upon the seed of the woman. But Cain was also the son of Eve. Could it be that this is how sin began? That Eve was beguiled (seduced) by this shining enchanter in the guise of an angel of light in the same way as the sons of God (the fallen angels) went in unto the daughters of men?
There were giants in the earth in those days: and also after that,when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.
Were Cain and Abel twins, the one fertilised by Satan and the other by Adam? Please read also Genesis 4:25; (and note the words "another seed instead of
And Adam knew his wife again; and she bare a son, and called his name Seth: For God said she, hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel, whom Cain slew.
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