Genesis reports that a snake talked to Eve in the Garden of Eden and enticed her to eat the Forbidden Fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
Why would Eve listen to a talking snake, and even be persuaded by it? Wouldn’t she be shocked by a snake speaking to her?
People often scoff at the notion of a talking snake or a snake that walked upright. Is it ridiculous to believe this? Or is it a perfectly sane position to hold? Is the Talking Snake of the Garden of Eden simply a myth? Is it a primitive fable ancient man formulated to explain the origin of evil?
Indeed, something about the Talking Snake of the Garden of Eden is absurd! I’m convinced that what is absurd is not to believe in Eden’s Talking Snake!
First, nobody knows what Eden was like before sin. For all we know, most animals spoke. We have the reliable witness of Yahweh and Adam as to what happened in Eden recorded in Genesis. Just because we don’t see talking snakes today in our post-Curse world does not mean they were not in Eden. It’s rather arrogant to doubt the Genesis testimony.
Second, Eve would not have been shocked by a Talking Snake, and the Genesis account does not indicate any surprise on Eve’s part. This might have surprised her only if her experience had been solely of non-talking snakes. But this encounter likely occurred within a few weeks of Creation when everything Eve was seeing was new to her anyway.
God Himself spoke directly to the snake expecting it to understand (Genesis 3:14-15). He cursed the snake and gave the first prophecy of the coming Redeemer Who would fix Adam’s problem.
God’s curse brought vast changes throughout Creation. This included physical changes in human bodies (increased pain in childbirth), physical changes in vegetation (thorns and thistles sprang up, toilsome farming), and physical changes in animals (snakes on their bellies, attack and defense functions). Loss of speech by animals could have been one of the lost capabilities, especially since the snake used speech to deceive Eve.
Examples of Talking Animals
Around 1400 BC, Balaam’s donkey conversed with the prophet Balaam (Numbers 22:22-35). In fact, Moses reported that the Lord opened the mouth of the donkey and she reasoned with Balaam as she protested Balaam’s treatment of her! She could even count! The donkey had the physical equipment for speech and the mental capacity for intelligent conversation with humans. This capability was blocked till God “unblocked” her mouth. This may be true of most animals; their inability to speak may be a result of Yahweh’s curse on creation.
Even today, parrots are examples of animals that can talk.
Did Eden’s Talking Snake Have Legs?
Nobody knows whether Eden’s Talking Snake had legs. He was cursed more than every beast of the field and condemned to go on his belly, so it seems that prior to tempting Eve he had some form of upright locomotion. Otherwise one cannot see much meaning to God’s curse.
Maybe the snake was able to hold himself erect with only a portion of his tail on the ground acting as a “foot.” Or maybe he had legs which were removed as punishment.
Who Was the Talking Snake?
I believe the crafty Talking Snake of Eden was a real talking snake that Satan used as an instrument to attack mankind, the apex of God’s Creation. Satan is not mentioned in Genesis, but the New Testament makes clear the identification of Satan with the serpent.
Jesus alludes to the lying presence of Satan at the beginning in a debate with the Jews:
You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. (John 8:44 NASB)
Three times in Revelation Satan is identified as a serpent (Revelation 12:9; 12:15; 20:2):
The serpent of old who is called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world.
The Apostle Paul even refers to the literal snake that deceived Eve:
But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ. (2 Corinthians 11:3 NASB)
Thus the identification of the Talking Snake in the Garden of Eden with Satan cannot be denied.
Significance of Eden’s Talking Snake
The Apostle Paul warns his readers not to be deceived and led astray as the Serpent deceived Eve (2 Corinthians 11:3). What was the crux of how the Serpent deceived Eve? The Serpent challenged Eve to doubt and disbelieve God’s Word by first questioning and then denying what God had said:
Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” … The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! (Genesis 3:1,4 NASB)
Doubting the existence of Eden’s Talking Snake is a first step in doubting God’s Word. Beware!
Questions to Ponder
- What is the main objection that people have to believing in the Talking Snake of Eden?
- Is it possible that the world was different in the distant past from the way it is now? Is there physical evidence to indicate this?
Share your thoughts on these questions in the comments below. It could encourage or help another reader.
Soli Deo Gloria.
This is the 26th of a series of weekly blog articles on Adam.
Read the prequels:
1. Was Adam in the Garden of Eden?
2. Did Moses Believe in Adam?
3. Did Jesus Believe in Adam?
4. Did Paul Believe in Adam?
5. Does Belief in Adam Matter?
6. Adam and Puppies
7. Why Did Adam Sin?
8. What Should Adam Have Done?
9. What Did Adam Cause?
10. What Was Adam’s Forbidden Fruit?
11. How Long Was Adam in Eden?
12. Was Adam’s Garden of Eden Real?
13. Christmas & Adam (with videos)
14. Where Was Adam’s Garden of Eden?
15. Did Adam Wear Clothes in Eden?
16. Was Adam Backward or Brilliant? (with video)
17. Who Was Mrs. Adam?
18. Adam’s Dream Girl
19. Adam’s Prolific Princess
20. Adam’s Problematic Princess
21. How Many Children Did Adam Have?
22. Whom Did Adam’s Sons Marry?
23. Did Adam Ride a Unicorn?
24. How Long Did Adam Live?
25. Did Adam Swat Mosquitoes in Eden?
Read the sequels:
27. Why Should Adam’s Sin Affect Me?
28. Did Roses Have Thorns in Adam’s Garden?
29. Adam the Image-Bearer & Harambe the Gorilla
30. Did Adam Ever Return to Eden?
31. What Was Adam’s Tree of Life?
32. Will Adam Be in Heaven?
33. Did Adam See the Big Dipper?
34. Did Adam Know Earth Is Round?
35. Did Jesus Say When Adam Was Created?
36. Did Adam See Dinosaurs?
37. Did Adam Like Steak?
38. Could Adam Read & Write?
39. Did God Use Evolution to Make Adam?
40. Adam & the Olympics
41. Adam and the Gospel
42. Adam and the Genesis Road
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©William T. Pelletier, Ph.D.
“contending earnestly for the faith”
“destroying speculations against the knowledge of God”
“for the defense of the gospel”
(Jude 1:3; 2 Cor 10:5; Phil 1:16)
Wednesday May 18, 2016 A.D.
The Lord God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”
Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’” The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. (Genesis 2:16; 3:1-6)