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Who is the serpent in Genesis?
An examination of a literal interpretation:
It is common to believe that Satan was a literal snake who lost it's legs and had to crawl on it's belly for the rest of it's life, on the other hand, it is surprising to find an uncommon interpretation with a thorough analysis. If everything that God made is good, why would the embodiment of evil dwell within a snake? It would not be harmful to carefully study our belief's to see if it is undoubtedly in accordance with God's word.
Our study begins in Gen. 3:1 "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?" The word "Serpent" (Strongs #5175) in Hebrew is "nachash." It's root word is "nachash" which means "to practice Divination, to hiss a magic spell." In the ancient near east, Serpents were symbols of chaos and evil, but also symbols of wisdom. It is also noted that there is a common motif throughout the history of humanity. For instance, the phrase "You're a snake!" means that the person is a cunning and dishonest person. Does this mean that it is derived from a literal snake? Lets examine the literal interpretation.
We shouldn't strictly interpret it literally because it isn't consistent with other passages of scripture. Our conclusion would be that Satan is a snake who deceived man and was lost it's legs as a punishment. This is in complete contradiction with other verses depicting him as a spiritual being.
An alternate interpretation is that the serpent was possessed by Satan, but this is also not biblical because the text says that the serpent was more crafty than all of god's creatures which means that God did not create it. It also would not be the serpent's fault for causing man to sin since animals do not have a soul or a conscience.
Moreover, Genesis 3:15 says "And I will cause hostility between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel." This is speaking about Jesus who would descend from the physical line of Adam. The serpent's offspring would be those who are spiritually against God's elect as explained in 1 John 3. It is not speaking about a physical breed of evil snakes. God did not create animals with the natural ability to speak in human language, except in numbers 22:28. There is more evidence that the serpent was an allegorical figure.
The serpent in genesis was never a literal snake, but the malicious conjurer of deceit identified as Satan. The snake was a motif used to symbolize his craftiness and treacherous nature in creating lies because he is the father of lies (John 8:44.)