Genesis 3:1 - nature and form of "The Beast", or serpent

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Genesis 3:1 - nature and form of "The Beast", or serpent

Post by email » Tue Jun 08, 2010 5:15 am

I have heard it taught, and I am having difficulty with it, that the beast of the field could actually speak or and that it moved about from an upright position as man. Also taught that when cursed by God, that it was not made to move about on its belly but made to walk in the fashion of apes or monkeys. There was even mentioned of the serpent not actually not eating of the dust. My understanding is that Satan is an usurper and that the beast was used by him in the image of a serpent to beguile Eve. I also believe that Satan used the image of a serpant because a serpant was known for having great wisdom. This is not a subject that will cause me to stumble, however, I would love for you to elaborate on the subject according to your knowledge and understanding. Understanding is what I am trying to acquire.
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RE: Genesis 3:1/The Beast

Post by larry » Sat Jun 12, 2010 3:27 pm

Thanks for visiting I am sending you a rather long quote from an article by Martin Pickup in the August 2003 edition of Biblical Insights. I hope it will be helpful.
“The New Testament identifies the serpent of Genesis 3 with Satan, a rebellious angel of God and the accuser and tempter of humanity (Rev. 12:7-9; 2 Cor. 11:3-14). The New Testament also indicates that the seed of the serpent, mentioned in Genesis 3:15, are all of Satan’s followers (Matt. 9:34; John 8:44).

Modern liberal commentators reject the New Testament’s explanation of these matters and treat the talking snake of Genesis 3 as an unhistorical figure. They regard the narrative itself as a myth from Jewish folklore or as an allegorical tale intended to depict human temptation or the power of evil. Yet the New Testament writers provide us with inspired commentary on the Old Testament, and they treat the events of Genesis 3 as sober historical fact. But, modernists ask, if we are supposed to regard Eve’s tempter as a spiritual being, why does Genesis depict him as a snake and not as a spirit? One possible explanation is that, in ancient times, the term ‘serpent’ may itself have been used metaphorically to signify an evil spiritual being (as some ancient Near Eastern literature suggests). Another possibility is that Satan chose to appear to Eve in the body or the form of a snake. In any case, it is clear that the inspired writers of the New Testament connect the serpent with Satan.

The Lord’s curse upon the serpent is stated in poetic form, using vivid, symbolic language. Some people have taken the words, ‘on your belly you will go’ (v.14), as an explanation for why snakes today have no legs. But one would not take literally the next expression, ‘and dust you will eat,’ so the language of this verse is probably just a poetic way of predicting Satan’s degradation using imagery derived from a serpent’s means of locomotion. The fact that snakes crawl in the dust symbolized perfectly the subjugation of Satan.

The next verse of the prophecy tells how this subjugation will come about.

And I will put enmity between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel.

These words promise a future hostility between the serpent and the woman, and hostility extending to their respective seeds. The Hebrew work for ‘seed,’ zera, is generally used in scripture as a collective singular noun; that is, it refers to a group of offspring, viewed corporately. The word can refer to the totality of a person’s descendants or it can be limited to a particular line of descendants, but the collective nature of the singular noun is evident in either case. Therefore Genesis 3:15 seems to be referring to and enmity that will exist between the descendants of the woman and the descendants of the serpent.

The last half of the verse speaks of an attack upon the head of the serpent and an attack upon the heel of the woman’s seed. The imagery is that of a man seeking to kill a snake by stamping its head with his foot, and the snake responding by trying to bite the man’s heel. An attack upon the heel may also suggest the serpent’s attempt to take over the position of man, in accordance with Hebrew idiom where grabbing another’s heel signified supplanting him (see Genesis 25:26). I likewise, treading upon the head of an enemy was a common figure in the ancient world to denote subgation of one’s fors (see 2 Sam. 22:39; Psa. 8:6; 41:9; 110:1). Both of these ideas may be indicated by the imagery of Genesis 3:15.”
I commend you on your desire to gain a better understanding of what the Bible teaches. I wish everyone had that attitude. I know I continue to learn as I study and communicate with others who have the same desire.



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