After confronting Adam and Eve for their disobedience, he then turns from them to the one who tempted them in the first place. He asked Eve a question. He asked Adam a question, but there was no question for the Serpent. God’s words to the serpent opened up with a curse. Genesis 3:14 begins, “The Lord God said to the serpent, ‘Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field…’” As you can see the text records the curse upon the “serpent” as an animal rather than directly on Satan who spoke through the snake. The serpent was declared by God the symbolic picture of the evil one because it was the instrument Satan used to seduce Eve. Twice in the book of Revelation (12:9, and 20:2) Satan is described as “The ancient serpent who is the devil, or Satan…” Satan can shape-shift at will. He might have simply appeared to Adam and Eve as a serpent. Maybe, he simply decided them into thinking they were talking to a serpent, or possibly Satan possessed a literal serpent and caused it to speak or spoke through it. We see Satan possessing pigs in the New Testament. We don’t get all the details here, but we do know that it was a serpent that tempted Eve to eat of the forbidden fruit. Thus, the serpent would remain a reminder to every generation of the fall of our first generation of parents.

The word “Satan” literally means “adversary.” We know several things about this being from the Scriptures and we can glean other things. It seems to me we can build a case that Satan’s original adversarial relationship with God began before time. Kendall agrees and says several helpful things. Satan’s fall took place before , “God created man; for the serpent was already the ‘father of lies’ when he approached Eve. It was obviously after God created the heavens and the earth. Perhaps the angels were created before God created the earth; ‘the heavens’ is listed first. The angels were probably a part of the ‘heavens’, the invisible realm of God’s creation. It could be that the revolt of Satan took place, then, after God created the heavens but before he created the earth.”[1]

As the representative of Satan in the temptation of man, the curse was on the snake. “Man would always regard him as a symbol of the degradation of the one who had slandered God. He was to represent not merely the serpent race, but the power of the evil kingdom. As long as life continued, men would hate him and seek to destroy him.”[2] Indiana Jones is the great archeologist and adventurer made famous in recent (kind of!) movies. Indiana Jones isn’t afraid of anything—until a snake shows up on the scene. Then we hear him mutter, “I hate snakes” and “Snakes, why did it have to be snakes?” I confess, when I used to mow my own yard, whenever a snake appeared I would take my lawnmower after it. Why, like Indiana Jones, I hate snakes. It seems that the fear and hatred of snakes is acknowledged by evolutionary scientists but they have their own explanation for this. A California anthropologist did an experiment once with Monkeys. “One day she put a fake snake into the large outdoor cage of Rhesus macaques at the Davis Primate Center only to see a real snake slither into the cage. About half the 80 resident monkeys gathered around the real thing, mobbing it, calling out in alarm. The fear of snakes, Isbell reasoned, must be deeply embedded in our primate history.” The anthropologist Lynn Isbell has argued that, as primates, the serpent as a symbol of death is built into our unconscious minds because of our evolutionary history. Isbell argues that for millions of years snakes were the only significant predators of primates, and that this explains why fear of snakes is one of the most common phobias worldwide and why the symbol of the serpent is so prevalent in world mythology; the serpent is an innate image of danger and death.” My fear and dislike of snakes might look irrational but it’s anything but “unconscious.” They are cursed by God and all the hatred and fear of them have their roots in Genesis Chapter 3.

[1] Kendall, R. T. 2000. Understanding Theology, Volume Two. Ross-shire, Great Britain: Christian Focus.

[2] Pfeiffer, Charles F. 1962. The Wycliffe Bible Commentary: Old Testament. Chicago: Moody Press.