The identity of the serpent

George Athas gathas at
Tue Aug 29 11:55:49 EDT 2000

| There are several indicators in the text that the serpent is
| more than just an animal, which leads to the question what
| exactly is he?  One clue is given towards the end of the
| chapter when God says, "the man has become like one of us."
| For those wondering who God is talking to, a clue is given
| right afterward when it says that he stationed the cherubs
| to guard the entrance to the tree of life.  I.e., God and
| the angels have the knowledge of good and evil.  But it's
| also obvious that the serpent himself had such knowledge,
| while A & E did not (prior to their fall).  Having knowledge
| of good and evil is not a characteristic of animals

This is an assumption of yours which is not supported by the text. The text clearly states
that the snake was more cunning that the other animals (remember Balaam's ass, too?).  If
the snake is to be directly identified with the Satan, then we must say that God cursed
the Satan to crawl on his belly and eat dirt. Why is he never seen doing this, whereas
snakes are? The snake of Genesis 3 is simply a prototype or precedent for the Satan. The
snake is not the Satan. However, the Satan is the proverbial Snake. The snake is not the
Satan, but the Satan is a snake. A very important difference.

| (likewise, of course, the ability to converse with humans).
| The statement that man has become like God and the angels,
| therefore, implies a comparison between the serpent and the
| cherubim, i.e. that he is an evil version of the cherubs
| (exactly as we find in Ezekiel 28).

Ezekiel 28 says absolutely nothing about the Satan, or the cherubs. It's a dirge about the
King of Tyre -- that is the monarch of a Phoenician city. Isaiah 14 also says nothing
about the Satan either.

| [...]
| so obviously there's more there than just an animal.

I cringe when the word "obviously" is used.

Best regards,
- Anglican Chaplaincy, UNSW;
- Southern Cross College,
Sydney, Australia
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