Posts Tagged ‘Fabels’

I assume that you’ve already heard or read the story of the serpent and Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. But have you ever wondered why Eve wasn’t shocked or even surprised when the serpent spoke to her? When we read the account in Genesis 3 there doesn’t seem to be any indication that her conversation was out of the ordinary – but why would that be?

Some in the Church have explained this by teaching that back then the serpent could talk and walk upright on legs. You’ll excuse me when I say that that’s the most absurd way of evading the question! The only other instance in the Bible where an animal spoke to a human is in Numbers 22:22-41 where Balaam’s donkey spoke prompted by the appearance of the angel of the Lord and the text plainly tells us that it was God who enabled the donkey to speak in order to warn Balaam of the unknown danger confronting him. (v.28)

There are two other passages that most scholars agree have to do with what happened in the Garden of Eden in Genesis 3: Ezekiel 28:1-19 and Isaiah 14:1-22. In those passages God rebukes and passes judgment on the kings of Tyre and Babylon. To prove to these kings that they deserve God’s judgment the prophets compare them to a supernatural being (a cherub in Ezekiel 28 and Lucifer in Isaiah 14) whose pride resulted in a failed coup against God.

Notice that these passages refer to a divine being, not a serpent. And since Scripture will never contradict itself, that’s what we will use to clear up this difficulty.  In both of these passages this ancient enemy of God, the being who causes the fall of humankind into sin, is not a snake that talks and walks upright like a man but a supernatural being. And I am absolutely certain that Ezekiel 28 is referring to Genesis 3 since Ezekiel 28:13 mentions Eden and the Garden.

Those who argue that Lucifer appeared as a snake must explain why there isn’t a single text that says Lucifer (or any other divine being) can change into an animal. This is simply another convenient “escape clause” the Church has used over the years to promote one of its fairy tale doctrines. And even if there was such biblical proof, it still doesn’t answer why Lucifer would need to speak to Eve as a snake or why Eve wasn’t surprised that a snake could talk. The Church’s view of Lucifer appearing or possessing a snake actually complicates the matter, since that would mean that prior to this appearance or possession snakes did not talk or walk upright. Eve would probably have run away screaming for help. So who or what spoke to Eve? It must have been someone or something that Eve regarded as rather normal at the time.

The answer for all of this is very simple. The reason that Eve was not shocked or frightened that a snake was talking to her is because she wasn’t talking to a snake! She was talking to a luminous divine being with a serpentine appearance and not an animal of any kind.

Look at Genesis 3, Ezekiel 28, and Isaiah 14 more closely. And consider the ancient backdrop of these passages: The Bible as well as other Eastern texts describes where the divine council met for business. Council meetings took place on a cosmic mountain, the place where divine decrees were given and decisions were made. (See Job 1:1-12, Gen. 1:26, Gen. 3:22, Gen. 11:7) This cosmic mountain is mentioned many times in Scripture as “the mountain of God”. Ezekiel 28:2 also mentions the “seat of the gods”. The word “seat” refers to the place of administration. Even in our own language, such as the county seat. This imagery is consistent throughout Scripture.

But isn’t it clear that by the wording in Genesis 3 that Eve was talking to a snake? The vocabulary is clear but the meaning that traditional interpretation has given is not, and is in fact been the cause of the confusion. The Hebrew word that was translated serpent or snake in Genesis 3 is ha-nachash. (Pronounced – ha-nakash) The word nachash can function as a noun, a verb, or an adjective. As a noun nachash means snake, so the traditional translation would be possible, but then it contradicts Ezekiel 28 and Isaiah 14. When nachash is used as a verb it means to practice divination and could also be used in Genesis 3 if Lucifer was using divination to appear as a snake. But the solution comes when we use the word nachash as an adjective because it then means shining bronze or polished. The Hebrew word “ha” always means “the” so ha-nachash as an adjective would translate to “the shining one”. Consider that angelic or divine beings are often described in the Bible as shining or luminous and at times use this same word, nachash. In the New Testament Writings the word “serpent” is translated from the Greek word, ὄφις (ophis) but the root word is ὀπτάνομαι (optanomai) and means to look at, or behold, to allow one’s self to be seen, to appear.

What’s so significant about translating ha-nachash as “the shining one” is that the name Lucifer comes from the Latin Vulgate translation of the Hebrew in Isaiah 14:12, “Helel ben-Shachar”  and  literally means, “Shining One, son of the Dawn”. Translating ha-nachash as “The Shining One” removes the contradiction of snake vs. supernatural being in the Garden of Eden. We have the same type of words that interplay between noun, verb, and adjective in our English vocabulary. The word “word” is a noun, adjective, and verb. It is most common as a noun as in “the words on the page blurred as she moved the magnifying glass”. It can also be used as a verb as in “I will try to word my sentences carefully, so as not to confuse you.” Finally, it can be used as an adjective as in “I completed a word find.”

Eve was confronted by a member of God’s divine council, so to speak. She wasn’t surprised because she and Adam probably saw these beings come and go on a regular basis. Notice in Genesis 3:22 God laments that the two “have become like one of us…” The same plural language is used in Gen. 1:26. It seems that Eden was near the place where God’s council met and this is the day that Lucifer decided to settle the score he had with God.  To say that Eve was speaking to a divine being of serpentine or shining appearance seems much more logical than she had a conversation with a talking snake. And Ezekiel 28 supports this. Even though the word nachash is not used notice the description that is used:

“You were in Eden, the garden of God; Every precious stone was your covering: The sardius, topaz, and diamond, Beryl, onyx, and jasper, Sapphire, turquoise, and emerald with gold. The workmanship of your timbrels and pipes was prepared for you on the day you were created.” (Ezek.28:13)

The same description of a supernatural being with a brilliant appearance is used in Isaiah 14 and Genesis 3. Not only that, but many passages describe angelic or divine beings as having a serpentine or shining appearance. (See Ezek. 1:13-14, 26-27, Dan 10:6, and also Mar 9:3 and Luke 24:4)

Some may say, “But what about the curses in Genesis 3? Doesn’t that rule out the translation of a “shining one” and keep with the traditional interpretation of a snake?”  That would be a misguided approach since it would make more sense if the curse were directed at a fallen divine being than a snake. First consider the curse with respect to Eve. God tell the nachash that there will be enmity between the offspring of Eve (humankind) and the offspring of the nachash. If the nachash were a snake then all humans would hate or fear snakes and snakes by nature would exist to attack and harass humans. That is not the case.

In Genesis 3:14 God tells the nachash that he will eat dust all the days of his life. Snakes do not eat dirt as a means of sustenance so the curse is not meant to be taken literally. If that were the true it would make a great case for evolutionists. I believe that snakes were created by God the way we see them today and that their method of propulsion has nothing to do with the curse. Eating the dust of the earth was a term used for someone of lowly social status of defeat. (Micah 7:16-17, Isa 49:23) If all Scripture is to agree with itself then a divine super natural being is the only explanation of what tempted Eve and not a snake.

It amazes me how gullible some adult Christians have been to believe such fairy tales taught by the Church. That might sound unkind, but if you take this view of Genesis 3 then how you can your children differentiate between the stories you tell them about Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy and the contradictions in Scripture this creates?

Years ago I explained the truth about Eve and “the serpent” to my 10 year old niece using these same passages. She responded by exclaiming, “I always thought that story about a talking snake was dumb.” You see, even a child is able to discern the truth from Scripture!

What all this means is that there is no contradiction between passages in Scripture. They all speak of a supernatural shining one who rebelled against God in an attempt to usurp His headship of the Divine Council and was cast from His presence. More importantly the nachash knew that it was God’s intention to make humankind members of His Divine Council and give them authority over the earth, the place where He will one day rule. Humans were therefore a threat and had to be eliminated. But he wanted to plan it so that God would destroy them. And God would have to make that decision if the humans sinned. And with the help of the nachash, Adam and Eve did sin. But God reacted in a way that the nachash did not anticipate; He gave them another chance.

And while the humans were driven from the Garden of Eden, at least they weren’t destroyed. But even more important; God mad a way so that their transgression could be atoned for. And He knew that one day a human child of Eve would undo the effects of the fall in the Garden.

The New Testament Writings confirm that God’s own son was born of human flesh, paid the penalty of our sin through his death, and rose again so that we could regain our status as children of God and will one day rule with Him over all that is His. But we must also remember that those same New Testament Writings also encourage us not to give in to fables (1Tim 1:4, 1Tim 4:7, 2Tim 4:4, Titus 1:14, 2Pet 1:16)

In closing, I encourage you to, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane [and] vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness.” (2 Tim 2:15-16)