Friday, 25 February 2011

The Fall: The Snake

The true identity of the snake is beyond the animal world. While I think that a literal snake was involved in the deception, the narrative reads like another being is speaking thru the reptile. This is made clear in the fact that a snake is speaking. Language is not the domain of animals and utterances of animals must come from cognitional beings. This other identity is also seen in the curse which mentions enmity between the snake and the woman. The implication in Genesis is made explicit by John in Revelation where he identifies the snake as Satan.
And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. (Revelation 12)
And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, (Revelation 20)
The snake was a tool in the hand of Satan; it was Satan who was deceiving the woman to entice her into sin.

Now when confronting the man about his sin, God gives him an opportunity to answer, as God does for the woman. But the snake gets no opportunity to speak further. It seems that judgment had already been decided in the angelic realm. Jesus informs us that hell was created for the devil and his angels, it was not initially intended for man.
Then [the King] will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. (Matthew 25)
God then pronounces curses in the order of the events: the snake, the woman, the man. God says to the snake
“Because you have done this,
cursed are you above all livestock
and above all beasts of the field;
on your belly you shall go,
and dust you shall eat
all the days of your life.
I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel.”
The first part of this curse seems to be directed at the animal itself. A comparison is made to livestock and beasts of the field, the latter being the group that snakes belonged to. And a description is given of the mode of locomotion for snakes. God possibly cursed the animal directly to stand as a memorial to the events in Eden. Though the question arises as to whether there is a dual meaning to this part of the curse. If this is the case then as the snake is cursed above all animals so Satan receives a curse greater than any man or angel. As the snake is humiliated—by moving on its belly and dwelling amongst the dust—so Satan will be humiliated beyond all others.

The second half of the curse more clearly targets the possessor of the snake. These words are well recognised as the defeat of Satan by a descendant of the woman, it is labelled the protoevangelium: the first pronouncement of the gospel.

The enmity is between the snake and the woman as well as between the seed (offspring) of the woman and the seed of the snake. Seed is singular here. Linguistically it could be a collective singular, though note Galatians 3:16. However the conflict is also shown to be between the snake and the woman's seed. The next line contrasts the earlier one by mentioning the seed bruising the snake directly, ie. not his seed.

Head is a metaphor for leader. The offspring of the woman shall defeat the snake's rulership. The metaphor of the heel suggesting complete defeat, the heel is above the head, the lowest part of the seed is above the highest part of the snake; the offspring will ultimately and completely rule (compare Psa 110:1). The bruising of the offspring's heel reveals that this conquest will come at some cost.

Although there is not an exhaustive explanation of the gospel here, there are clues in the text that the enticer of the Fall was to be defeated by a descendant of the woman.

1 comment:

  1. I love these answers from the bible. :)

    Is it A or B?

    It's both!

    ReplyDelete

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