Satan the Serpent
Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field that Yahuwah 'Elohiym had made
- Genesis 3:1
The word "serpent", mentioned here, is translated from the word nachash. This word can mean in the sense of a verb: to whisper, prognosticate or enchant. As a noun it can mean an incantation, an enchantment or a snake.
It is of interest and importance to also note that the same root is used to mean "copper" : nechuwshah and the Chaldean word for "copper" (nechash) is virtually identical to the word which is used for "serpent" in Genesis 3:1.
Was an actual snake involved in the temptation of Eve?
I have encountered, recently, quite a bit of material which supposes that there was no involvement of any reptile in the events of Genesis 3. This view is often closely associated with the idea that the method of temptation also did not involve a literal tree nor any literal fruit.
It is noted in this view that the definition of the word "nachash" only associates serpents with the meaning by way of attributing the primary definition to its character, such as hissing and a sneaky, crafty nature.
Without going off topic and delving into the literal or non-literal meaning of trees and fruit, the use of the word nachash can be found throughout scripture in reference to instances where anything But a literal snake would be quite odd.
An example would be Exodus 4:3 when Moses cast a rod upon the ground and it became a serpent. YHWH commands him to then put forth his hand and take the serpent by its tail. It's a logical conclusion, then, that the word nachash is, at least at times, used to mean an actual, physical reptile.
Another source to examine for evidence of the presence of an actual serpent in the garden of Eden is what history and archeology have to say about serpents throughout a wide array of cultures.
Serpents, are perhaps, the most heavily dealt with beasts in religious and mythological records. They are seen as embodiments of evil, wisdom, luck, power, knowledge and enchantment. Depicted in ancient art countless numbers of times, they are often shown as an evil to be defeated or feared.. as if mankind had learned to associate their misfortune in life with this beast.
Other depictions actually portray a serpent with a tree and human beings nearby... a scene very reminiscent of the description of events in Genesis 3.
Some even depict serpents as having legs. Recall the curse put on the serpent - "Because you have done this, you are cursed more than all cattle and more than every beast of the field. You shall go on your belly and you shall eat dust all the days of your life." Genesis 3:14
So then if we have the involvement of a real beast... how did this beast come to be used as Satan's tool and why a serpent rather than some other animal or why did Satan himself not appear instead of using a creature as his medium?
First we can look at what is unique about the serpent as opposed to other animals. "Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field..."
You might look at a modern snake crawling through your own garden and not associate it with a great degree of intelligence, and such is the case now with this animal who has been debased from its original created form both in appearance and brain power, but not only did the serpent once have a very different form, it also had great intellect.
Though most might be accustomed to considering humans the only earthly creatures with sentient intelligence and feel that this is directly connected to mankind being created in YHWH's image... there is not an actual parallel between human monopoly on intelligence and their unique design in His image.
Humans are designed in His image in the sense that they literally resemble the form of their Maker, both in appearance and in having an imperishable and individual spirit. The serpent was not made in the image of YHWH but it was created with great intelligence and even a sentient will that could yield to Satan.
This brings us to another point about why the serpent as opposed to some other animal. YHWH created man in His image, but is man the only creature who had a "model" they were created to resemble?
Consider a particular classification of angelic being called a Seraph. Seraphim are mentioned in the English translation of the Bible in Isaiah: "Above it stood seraphim, each one had six wings, with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew." Isaiah 6:2.
The word in Hebrew - saraph means a fiery, burning creature identified with a serpent and interestingly... copper. (refer back to the words nachash and nechuwshah). The word saraph occurs also in Numbers 21:8 and is translated "fiery serpent" and again in Isaiah 14 and 30 also translated a "fiery serpent".
In Revelation, Satan is referred to as "that old serpent, called the Devil and Satan" Revelation 12:9. If the animal known as a serpent was modeled or "made in the image" of the class of angelic beings to which Satan himself belongs, it is quite logical that he chose this beast as the most suitable physical housing for himself.
Why didn't Satan himself manifest physically to Eve? Because he couldn't. Satan had no physical presence and as a rebellious spirit outside of YHWH's will, he had no authority to breach the divide between the spiritual and physical realms without the explicit consent to inhabit a native, physical resident of earth.
Satan: The Originator of Sin
Satan is most often connected to the individual called "Lucifer" spoken of in Isaiah 14... i do not agree that these are the same individuals, but that subject is for a different discussion.
The bible does, however, provide an understanding of his goals, his motives and when he initiated his rebellion. He is described in Job as an opponent of both the Creator and those who serve Him... attempting to lay accusation against YHWH's servants in order to destroy them.
He behaves like a malicious prosecuting attorney, he can't supersede his Creator's law so instead he attempts to work it to his ends... knowing that the wages of sin are death, he seeks to demand the full penalty of breaking the law when a person stumbles... and is not above tempting you to stumble so he can. (Thank Yahushua for Mercy!)
In Revelation are these verses about him :
"And war broke out in the heaven. Miyka'el and his angels fought with the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought but they did not prevail nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer.
So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Diablos and Satan, who deceives the whole world. He was cast to the earth and his angels were cast out with him. Then I heard a loud voice saying in the sky, "At this moment salvation and strength and the kingdom of our 'Eloah and the power of His Anointed have come, for the accuser of our brothers who accused them before our 'Eloah day and night, has been cast down. " Revelation 12:7-10
This future event shows some of Satan's goals... he has a desire to literally overthrow YHWH, His law and His will to the (insane) point that he will even storm the "gates of heaven" and engage His faithful angels in battle.
Some will see this as a description of a past event, however it is clear by looking throughout scripture that until this point, he brings before YHWH accusation against believers and is denoted as the "prince of the power of the air"... still having access to heavenly realms.
Satan was the original sinner... having been created (as were all creatures) good, he conceived the antithesis of creation... destruction, in that he willfully began to oppose the sovereign will of YHWH which by its very nature upholds all creation... the natural consequence of that opposition is destruction... the wages of sin were always death.
In his dissent, he successfully lured legions of other angelic beings into his vision of a universe without YHWH. This event occurred before mankind existed, as obviously he was already in a sinful state when he tempted Eve.
This is the rebellion most believers are familiar with, and it was the one which would set in course all other instances of willful sin for all of time... but it might not be as well known that it wasn't the last angelic rebellion. That's another discussion.
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