A Talking Snake?


This has driven me crazy and no one ever talks about it. Why didn’t Adam and Eve think it strange that a serpent could actually speak to them? I would have been freaked out.


Great question, but one rarely asked. The Hebrew word translated serpent in Genesis 3:1 is used 31 times in the Old Testament and is never translated any other way. But it comes from a root meaning “to practice divination.” As a noun this root is translated “enchantment” and in its verb form, “enchanter.”

Whatever confronted Eve probably came to be called a serpent because of the judgment God pronounced upon it, that it would crawl on its belly and eat dust all the days of its life.(Gen. 3:14) But what it looked like before its judgment is anybody’s guess, except that it almost certainly didn’t look like a snake. Satan himself is called “that ancient serpent” in Rev. 12:9 but nobody thinks of him as looking like a snake. Paul said that he masquerades as an angel of light. (2 Cor. 11:14)

We don’t know what form the devil took on to have his chat with Eve, but whatever it was didn’t frighten her. Nor did she appear surprised to find herself conversing with it, but was persuaded by it’s logic, though flawed, and the authority with which it spoke.

Some have speculated that before the fall man and animals could talk with one another, but other than this event and the incident with Balaam’s donkey (Numbers 22:21-31) there’s no indication of that being generally so. It’s more likely that Satan came to Eve as a familiar figure, someone she recognized and perhaps even admired. Remember, the angels had been created sometime earlier. (Job 38:4-7)