In many ways, this story has perplexed many a reader and many questions. Who is the serpent in the garden of Eden, and why does the serpent speak? Where did the serpent in the garden of Eden come from? Is the serpent Satan? And who or what is Satan? Are Satan and lucifer the same? We will look for and find these answers together and you might be surprised by the answers.
The Serpent or The Shining One
The word serpent in Genesis 3 is ha’nachash הַנָּחָשׁ and is translated as “The Serpent”, in most bibles. It uses the word נָחָשׁ “serpent” with the definite article הַ Ha “the” attached as a prefix. As a noun, the word is translated as a serpent, but as a verb, it means “the beguiler“, “the deceiver” or “the diviner“. This root as an adjective would mean “bright”, or “brazen” (as in shiny brass) with the definite article prefix. This is not uncommon in Hebrew grammar to substantivize an adjective for use as a noun so הַנָּחָשׁ used as an adjective would be translated as “The Shining One“. And Genisis 3:1 would be read like this.
1Now the Shining One was more clever than any animal of the field that the LORD God had made. It asked the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You are not to eat from any tree of the garden’?”Genesis 3:1
The Serpent In The Garden Of Eden
So which use did the biblical writer have in mind? I suggest he had all three in mind as a triple entendre. Biblical writers loved plays on words or saying the same thing in different ways within the subject. I believe according to words used in the verse of chapter 3 that he meant to convey both a serpent, a deceiver who gives false divination, and a shining one. The Shining One would make sense in several ways as divine beings are described as luminous or shining as in daniel 10:4-6.
4Now on the twenty-fourth day of the first month, as I was byDaniel 10:4-6
the side of the great river, that is, the Tigris, 5 I lifted my eyes
and looked, and behold, a certain man clothed in linen, whose
waist was girded with gold of Uphaz! 6His body was like beryl,
his face like the appearance of lightning, his eyes like
torches of fire, his arms and feet like burnished bronze (נְחשֶׁת
nechoshet) in color, and the sound of his words like the
voice of a multitude.
Not a Snake But A Divine Being
So what we have here in Genesis 3 is not just a random snake, but an upright divine luminescent shining being that is purposely trying to beguiled and deceive with his words and is serpent-like in appearance.
She was in the presence of one of the Sons of God (Bene Elohim), beings who were more powerful than mere angels, whom humanity was created “a little lower” than. (Psalm 8:4-5; the phrase usually translated as “a little lower than the angels” is actually “a little lower than the Elohim in the Hebrew text).
So who was this serpent standing in front of her, tempting her to disobey Yahweh? In the biblical text of the Hebrew Bible, there are a few more phrases and concepts I must mention to help us through this. One is the term “Sons of God” which is actually mentioned several times in the Hebrew Bible and is usually mistranslated or its term is masked.
Usually when these Sons of God are mentioned it is in an Ancient Near East concept called “The Divine Council” or the Council of EL”. Dr. Michael S. Heiser an American biblical Old Testament scholar wrote his Ph.D. thesis on the divine council and psalms 82, his website is well worth looking at as the education you will receive from his many papers and lessons on biblical Hebrew is invaluable.
Sons of God
So Eve was in the presence of one of the Sons of God, a Divine Council member who was not happy with God’s new creation. But why would he be upset about mankind? Humanity was created a little lower than the angels (Psalms 8:6) as is usually translated, but the Hebrew text actually says “a little lower than the Elohim”. Just as the sons of God were created to Image God in the spiritual realm (“let US”…“OUR” in Gen 1:26-27), Man was created to serve and be the image of God on Earth and was just handed dominion over the earth (Gen 1:26-27).
In Hebrew Psalms 8:6 reads like this:
wat-tə-ḥas-sə-rê-hū mə-‘aṭ mê-’ĕ-lō-hîm; wə-ḵā-ḇō-wḏ wə-hā-ḏār tə-‘aṭ-ṭə-rê-hū. ( ו וַתְּחַסְּרֵהוּ מְּעַט, מֵאֱלֹהִים; וְכָבוֹד וְהָדָר תְּעַטְּרֵהוּ. ) Yet Thou hast made him but little lower than Elohim, and hast crowned him with glory and honor.
The translators seem to deliberately mistranslate this verse.
The Shining One, Son of the Dawn
There is another passage in the Hebrew Bible that speaks of a “shining one”, like the serpent in the garden, but you probably have not heard of it as it is also mistranslated. Isaiah 14:12 in most bible translates it as:
“How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!”Isaiah 14:12
and some translate it like this:
“How you have fallen from heaven, morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations!”Isaiah 14:12
This can be very confusing when atheists point out that christ says “I am the bright morning star”, This makes it sound as if these two personas are one and the same. The Hebrew here actually says instead of “Lucifer” (light bearer), Helel, ben Shahar, which should be translated as, “Shining One, Son of the Dawn“. So this verse now makes sense.
“How you are fallen from heaven, Shining One, son of the Dawn! You have been thrown down to the earth, you who destroyed the nations of the world.”.Isaiah 14:12
The Serpent Of Perfection
So here Isaiah seems to be directly linking this boastful king of Babylon to the “Shining One“, the serpent of the garden. Now can we tie this shinning one to any other text in the bible? Perhaps Ezekiel 28, especially verses 12-14, It reads like this.
12 “Son of man, take up a lament concerning the king of Tyre and say to him: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.Ezekiel 28: 12-14
13 You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone adorned you: carnelian, chrysolite and emerald, topaz, onyx and jasper, lapis lazuli, turquoise, and beryl. Your settings and mountings were made of gold; on the day you were created they were prepared.
14 You were the anointed cherub, for so I ordained you. You were on the holy mount of God; you walked among the fiery stones.
Again we find a prophet of Israel comparing a foreign king to a cherub, that was in the garden of God in Eden. Like Isaiah, Ezekiel uses language that conveys the thought of shining such as jewels of many kinds that are also used to describe the shining throne of God. So here at first glance, it seems indirectly implied, unless we look at the Hebrew.
יב בֶּן-אָדָם, שָׂא קִינָה עַל-מֶלֶךְ צוֹר; וְאָמַרְתָּ לּוֹ, כֹּה אָמַר אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה, אַתָּה חוֹתֵם תָּכְנִית, מָלֵא חָכְמָה וּכְלִיל יֹפִי. 12 ‘Son of man, take up a lamentation for the king of Tyre, and say unto him: Thus saith the Lord GOD: Thou seal of perfection, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty,
יג בְּעֵדֶן גַּן-אֱלֹהִים הָיִיתָ, כָּל-אֶבֶן יְקָרָה מְסֻכָתֶךָ אֹדֶם פִּטְדָה וְיָהֲלֹם תַּרְשִׁישׁ שֹׁהַם וְיָשְׁפֵה, סַפִּיר נֹפֶךְ, וּבָרְקַת וְזָהָב; מְלֶאכֶת תֻּפֶּיךָ וּנְקָבֶיךָ בָּךְ, בְּיוֹם הִבָּרַאֲךָ כּוֹנָנוּ. 13 thou wast in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the carnelian, the topaz, and the emerald, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the carbuncle, and the smaragd, and gold; the workmanship of thy settings and of thy sockets was in thee, in the day that thou wast created they were prepared.
יד אַתְּ-כְּרוּב–מִמְשַׁח, הַסּוֹכֵךְ; וּנְתַתִּיךָ, בְּהַר קֹדֶשׁ אֱלֹהִים הָיִיתָ–בְּתוֹךְ אַבְנֵי-אֵשׁ, הִתְהַלָּכְתָּ. You were the anointed cherub, for so I ordained you. You were on the holy mount of God; you walked among the fiery stones.Hebrew/English Ezekiel 28: 12-14
The words here translated as “seal of perfection”, hwtm tknyt may be translated differently, In Semitic, the letter m can be silent at the end, so it would read hwt[m] tknyt which would translate as an alternate word for serpent making it read, “the serpent of perfection” Furthermore, this could be the serpent in the garden of Eden as the text also states, “You were in Eden, the garden of God“.
The Shining Cherub
Also in these verses you see “anointed Cherub”, Cherubs in the ancient near east were throne guardians, not cute little babies with wings and a bow and arrow. It says anointed cherub, this is one possible translation if you assume the word mashach root means anointed, and not a Semitic homonym for “shine”, and thus translate it has “The Shining Cherub”. And thus the whole text Ezekiel 28: 12-14 would read,
12…Thus saith the Lord GOD: Thou Serpent of perfection, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty. 13 You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone adorned you: carnelian, chrysolite and emerald, topaz, onyx and jasper, lapis lazuli, turquoise, and beryl. Your settings and mountings were made of gold; on the day you were created they were prepared. 14 You were the Shining Cherub, for so I ordained you. You were on the holy mount of God; you walked among the fiery stones.Ezekiel 28: 12-14
Is The Serpent Satan
I know this will come as a shock to most of you, but there is no definitive evidence in the Hebrew Bible, that is what we call the old testament that Satan is indeed the serpent or the one we call the devil. As you noticed perhaps, I did not capitalize the word satan, that is because in the Hebrew bible Satan is not a proper noun. All but in one verse, every mention in the old testament does not say “satan” it says “the satan”.
Just like ha’nachash has the ha prefix, so does satan, and as mentioned, Hebrew does not allow a definite article in front of a proper noun, just like in English, well unless you’re “the Donald” it seems.
The satan is a title, meaning the accuser or the adversary. It is a function of the divine council. And nowhere in the Hebrew bible does it say this adversary is evil, even in the book Job, he is just another one of the sons of God coming to the divine council meeting.
There is no persona other than one time in the book of chronicles that the use of the word satan is used as an indefinite article. 1 Chronicle 21 parallels the story of David’s census in 2 Samuel 24, in which God orders David to “go number Israel and Judah” and then punished the king and kingdom for doing so.
The Chronicler changes this story, as he does others, to show the relationship between God and David as uncompromised; he writes that “a satan stood up against Israel and he provoked David to number Israel” (1 Chronicle 21:6–7; 27:24).
Although it is possible to read “Satan” here instead of “a satan” (Hebrew uses neither uppercase letters nor indefinite articles, e.g., “a”), nothing else in this story or in any texts for another 300 years indicates that the idea of an evil prince of darkness exists in the consciousness of the Israelites.
Why Does The Satan Become The Fall Guy
Two separate things appeared to have happened during the time that Rome and the gentiles took over the church and not knowing and understanding the complexity of the Hebrew language the two events merged: Satan became the proper name of the devil, a supernatural power now seen to oppose God as the leader of demons and the forces of evil; and the serpent in the Garden of Eden came to be identified with him.
The concept of Satan and the devil begins to appear in the second and first centuries B.C.E. In the book called 1 Enoch, we read about the “angel” or watcher who “led Eve astray” and “showed the weapons of death to the children of men” was called Gadreel and not Satan.
Another text o that time called The Wisdom of Solomon taught that “through the devil’s envy death entered the world, and those who are on his side suffer it.” Though this may very well be the earliest reference to Eden’s serpent as the devil, in neither text nor in any document we have until after the New Testament, is satan clearly understood as the serpent in Eden.
So there you have it, The Serpent In The Garden Of Eden, And questions answered, Is the Serpent Satan? And what does the bible say about this serpent? One thing we can clearly understand is that this serpent is a rebel, He not only rebelled against God but was instrumental in the fall of man.
He at least once sat at The Divine Council making him one of the Sons of God, and a second office as a guardian Cherub that stood before the throne of God. We can see by his descriptions he was also a being of light and is even called the shining one or the bright one. And most importantly, he is not only the original rebel but I believe the biggest threat to mankind.
We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!
Let us improve this post!
Tell us how we can improve this post?