Skip to main content

The serpent in the Garden of Eden was a real serpent. The Bible records:

Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. (Genesis 3:1)

It was a “beast of the field”.

The word “subtil” generally means, “cunning and deceptive”. This definition will not fit in here because the earth was still in a perfect state at that period of time. “Subtil” therefore meant clever.

When God created the animals on the sixth day God made everything “good”.

And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good. (Genesis 1:25)

The Creator, our Lord Jesus Christ, told us that the serpent is a wise creature. He said:

Be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. (Matthew 10:16)

The serpent is the wisest after man; therefore the devil opted to use it as his medium. Since there was no human being around except Adam and Eve, the devil had to use his second best option.

When Eve fell to his trap, he no longer used the serpent to tempt Adam; Eve was his better bait! Didn’t Jesus also say that “man” is now the agent that Satan uses to play his deception?

And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. (Matthew 24:4)

The book of Genesis, which is the first book of the Bible, just mentions the serpent deceiving Eve, but does not mention the role of Satan there. In the last book of the Bible, the book of Revelation, God tells us in plain language who that old serpent or the serpent that appeared of old was.

The dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan. (Revelation 20:2)

One might ask: Did the devil come as a serpent or did the devil use a serpent medium? It is a valid question. A close look at the texts of Genesis reveals that the serpent was a real serpent, and the devil used it as his medium and spoke through it.

Please notice how the serpent was introduced and whose voice it is:

Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? (Genesis 3:1)

The first sentence talks about a real serpent of the field. The next sentence does not say “it” said, but rather, “he” said. That is a clue that the serpent was only the medium but someone else was speaking through it.

There are people, who believe that serpents were endowed with the power of speech and reason before sin entered the world, and the logic that is cited is-Eve did not express surprise when the serpent spoke and reasoned out things with her! Well, that is not true. Remember Balaam’s ass that spoke?

And the LORD opened the mouth of the ass, and she said unto Balaam, What have I done unto thee, that thou hast smitten me these three times? And Balaam said unto the ass, Because thou hast mocked me: I would there were a sword in mine hand, for now would I kill thee. And the ass said unto Balaam, Am not I thine ass, upon which thou hast ridden ever since I was thine unto this day? was I ever wont to do so unto thee? And he said, Nay. (Numbers 22:28-30)

Is there any surprise expressed by Balaam when his ass spoke? Because there is no surprise on Balaam’s part we can’t conclude that asses were speaking during Balaam’s time, can we? “The LORD opened the mouth of the ass” during Balaam’s time and Satan opened the mouth of the serpent during the first temptation.

What a contrast between the two creatures that ever spoke! A serpent-the wisest-became the mouthpiece of the devil. An ass-the foolish beast-became the mouthpiece of the Lord! How beautiful this truth fits in:

But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty. (1 Corinthians 1:27)

To further prove that serpents were not endowed with the power of speech is to look at the curse that the Lord pronounced on them.

And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, 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. (Genesis 3:14)

Two curses are mentioned here. The first-“upon thy belly shalt thou go”. Which means it was not going on its belly before. It was probably flying, as Isaiah talks about a “fiery flying serpent” (Isaiah 30:6). The second curse was-“Dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life”, which means it was not eating dust before. If serpents were speaking before, then why aren’t they speaking now? If they had this ability to speak before, and that  bility was removed, why doesn’t the Bible mention that? We see nothing of the removal of the power of speech in the curses pronounced on it.

One might say: Doesn’t the serpent eat a lot of other things too, and not just dust? Yes it does. But notice what God did not say: God did not say, “Only dust shalt thou eat”. Dust would be its food, but not its only food.

After cursing the serpent God curses the one behind the serpent, the devil himself.

And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. (Genesis 3:15)

This is the first prophecy of the coming Messiah. In fact if was declared to the devil first, and not to our first parents! There is no doubt that Jesus’ coming to earth was to save believing mankind; but His battle was with the devil primarily, and not man.

One might ask: Was it fair for God to curse the serpent which was only a medium? Wasn’t it innocent? We need to realize that not only the medium of the devil was cursed but the entire creation on planet earth suffered. God told Adam:

Cursed is the ground for thy sake. (Genesis 3:17)

And Paul wrote:

For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. (Romans 8:22)

It really wouldn’t have mattered as to which animal was used as a medium as the curse would not just come upon the medium only but on the entire creation.

One might ask: Why did God permit the devil to use a medium? Well, the devil has to be given a fair chance to play his tricks. God had to permit him to use his methods in this Great War. If God cuts off his powers then the Satan would have accused God of monopoly in this great drama of life.