The Serpent in Genesis 3

Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made…”  Gen 3:1 KJV

I have no doubt the serpent in Genesis 3 was a literal creature – part of the arrangement God established in the Garden of Eden.  It is somewhat frustrating that brethren publicly state they haven’t found any EC who accepts the serpent was literal, refer to me by name and yet make such a misrepresentation[1].  Such is life.  For His own purposes, God had established the serpent with shrewdness (H6175 “An adjective meaning crafty, shrewd, sensible.  This adjective can have either a positive or negative connotation.[2])

The record tells us that the serpent, for its part in the Fall, was cursed “thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life…”  Gen3:14 KJV.  We don’t know the fate of the particular serpent.  Bro Andrew Perry noted some speculate it was killed by Abel[3] and I have heard such suggestion before (although am unaware of any written examples).  It’s not an issue of great significance.  Of significant is the fact that the serpent was undoubtedly cursed and suffered the consequences of its actions.

A question occurs, were all serpents throughout the earth walking, talking and shrewd?  Or was this a particular beast – a special creation of God’s like the garden itself?  After the Fall the serpent was identical to the various other snakes outside the garden in its circumstances.  There are approximately 2,900 species of snakes[4] – I suggest this means God made other serpents/snakes as they are now crawling on their bellies in the dust.  Given literalists tend to reject speciation (despite evidence to the contrary) perhaps they ought to accept the same.  Ie it should be easily accepted by all that this serpent was a specific special creation and not rather than the progenitor of all serpents.  How interesting that the punishment for this special serpent was that it ended up crawling on its belly just like all the existing snakes.

The treatment of the Serpent and its relationship to the existing snakes outside the Garden is perhaps a good comparison to how I see the position of Adam and Eve – in a privileged location etc initially but after their failure identical to any other human.  (Incidentally the existence of the serpent the “murderer from the beginning, and [who] abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.”  John 8:44 goes some way to answering those who object to God making Adam/Eve a certain way).


[1] Eg Cowie, Ron (2015), “Theistic Evolution and the sad compromise” Study 3, 31 min 30sec.

[2] AMG OT Word Study

[3] Perry, A  “The Curse on the Serpent”  The Testimony Magazine  Volume 61  Page 475 (1991)


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