Everyone knows that the best way to kill a snake is to cut it’s head off. The final part of God’s curse on the Serpent, Satan, is the death blow that the “seed” of the woman would deliver on behalf of all mankind. Genesis 3:15 finishes by saying, “…he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” According to Josephus, an ancient Hebrew Commentator and historian the curse involved a lot of other things. He gleans this from his understanding of the overall dealings of Satan and the woman. Josephus writes that God, “Also deprived the serpent of speech, out of indignation at his malicious disposition towards Adam. Besides this, he inserted poison under his tongue, and made him an enemy to man; and suggested to them that they should direct their strokes against his head, that being the place wherein lay his mischievous designs towards men, and it being easiest to take vengeance on him that way: and when he had deprived him of the use of his feet, and made him go rolling all along, and dragging himself upon the ground.”[1]

That speculation is all very interesting for sure, but the bottom line, regardless of how you see the details, is that the Serpent is cursed, and Satan loses in the end. Notice that God is addressing the serpent, Satan, and telling him to his face that he’s going to lose. Hamilton makes some good comments, “Also, the serpent is told that he is to be on the losing side of a battle between the seed of the woman and himself. In this eventual showdown, his head will be crushed by the seed of the woman. Is the ‘seed’ collective or singular? The Hebrew allows for either, but the Septuagint has ‘he.’ (The Latin Vulgate even has ‘she’!) Not without good reason many have referred to Genesis 3:15 as the protoevangelium, ‘the first good news.’ An as-yet-unidentified seed of the woman will engage the serpent in combat and emerge victorious. It is likely that Eve does not comprehend this word. But the snake is not left in the dark—he is to be cursed, a crawler, and crushed.”[2] The original readers of Genesis did not know any details, but they did know that salvation from the curse would one day come! That’s the good news!

I’m not a very “original” guy, but I am a good student. If I find someone who says it better than me, I don’t have to try to improve on it. That’s why I use so many quotations in my writing. Redford does a great job wrapping up this discussion. “The enmity in this verse is more than the aversion that many people have for snakes. It is a perpetual and spiritual enmity between Satan and Eve, between all the forces of evil and all humanity (the offspring of the woman). At last, however, the offspring of woman, in the person of Jesus Christ, would gain the victory by crushing the head of Satan. Immediately after the baptism of Jesus, the tempter came to him as he had come to Eve, but he was defeated at every turn. Whatever damage Satan was able to inflict on Jesus was, in effect, a mere strike at his heel. Through his death and resurrection, Jesus attained the final and decisive victory. Thus does Paul declare the assurance that every Christian possesses: ‘The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet’ (Romans 16:20).”[3]

[1] Josephus, Flavius, and William Whiston. 1987. The Works of Josephus: Complete and Unabridged. Peabody: Hendrickson.

[2] Hamilton, Victor P. 1995. “Genesis.” In Evangelical Commentary on the Bible, 3:14. Baker Reference Library. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

[3] Redford, Douglas. 2008. The Pentateuch. Vol. 1. Standard Reference Library: Old Testament. Cincinnati, OH: Standard Publishing.