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How did Satan appear in Eden?

In my quick painting above I present a scene that might be viewed as subtle and mysterious.  Indirectly I imagined a scene where Adam and Haweh are hiding from the Lord after they were deceived by the evil one.  We can't see them but God can, as God is omnipresent.

I have often wondered in what manner or form did Satan appear in the garden paradise.  I have seen many illustrations over the decades.  Most of these tend to represent a serpent hanging from a tree and sweet talking a naked female figure. The word "serpent" (nachash) does appear in the text of Genesis 3, but snakes and serpents are not able to play games and deceive people as this being does so it can not be an actual serpent of a certain species.  Some carry the idea of an actual snake or serpent so far as to suggest the fossils of snake like lizards are found in the mid-east and these later lost their legs because of the events in Eden.   I think they are going a bit far, although fossils are found everywhere on Earth.  God would hardly punish a group of reptiles because of the events in Eden.

Another extreme is the idea that no higher being, like the devil, was in Eden at all, but that the couple fell due to their own ignorance and imaginations.  Some would suggest that Adam and his wife were ontologically imperfect and evil because they lacked knowledge.  Knowledge helps to perfect a person.  Only God is ontologically complete or perfect. Experiencing suffering for a season will eventually make the world more complete.  Much can be wrote about these positions. The best possible world is one where suffering exists for a period of time but this has no real bearing on what the devil might look like at times.

I would suggest that Satan appeared in the garden as a being of light, who may have shimmered or glowed off and on and perhaps changing his form, sometimes appearing serpentine. Actually the Hebrew word for serpent (nachash) also means "shinning one". Some scriptures tell us that the devil was an anointed cherub that guards.  These "cherubim" were not naked baby-like figures but mighty creatures that appear in much ancient art as great beings (Keruba) that guard royal thrones and such.  They sometimes have a lions body and the head an eagle, along with wings.  These were evidently modified over time into the griffons which sort of guard the thrones of European kings.  Sometimes Seraps are represented as throne guardians (Isaiah 6) and these are often presented as serpentine. Putting aside how literal or symbolic these beings may be, it is not surprising that Satan the Devil might appear in differing ways.  I would further suggest that Satan would not have appeared overwhelming to Eve and was shimmering but subtle.  He probably would even have acted somewhat friendly (as evil people often do!). 

Of course there is also differing positions about the degree of symbolism that exists in the text of Genesis.  Crushing the serpents head does not have to be a descendant of Eve stepping on an actual snakes head but rather represents the final defeat of the devil by Christ.

Pastor Zomok

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Replies

  • how do we know whats a sysmbol in the bible and whats a parabale and whats litteral,,, how do we look at the snake tree fruit sin story and decide what or how to think in what way  so we know what it means exactly,,, and ok science shows fossil true ,,science is agreeing more and more with bible every time I start to understand it correctly,, but how do you know how to understand it correctly?

    • There is a very simple rule of thumb here Jade, where symbols and parables are used it telly you, just as some of the Bible is poetry.  there are always statements like, "And I saw . . .," or when Jesus recounts a parable He starts off like. "There was once a man . . ."   genesis was not written as if it were a parable or alagory, it is written as a history of the early days of God's people.

      • The Bible is filled with many styles or genres of speech language: metaphors, symbols, hyperbole, poetry of several sorts, figures of speech.  There is such richness in the Hebrew and Greek, and the philosophy of the Hebrews was more concrete rather than abstract.  Some say the Book of Jonah is just a big parable but it is written as historical prose.  There is so much to study and bring up in discussions...

  • This is a great piece Steve, presenting all the various thoughts about the Serpent of Eden.  If we read the Book of Job, we can see that God limits Satan's powers; Satan is still under God's power and command, he can only do what God allows him to do.  I am not sure as to whether one of those 'allowed' powers would include taking on other forms.  Personally I feel that Satan may have 'possessed' some dinosaur type creature, like Tetrapodophis amplectus (four legged snake)(below).

    WE also have to believe by faith that Adam and Eve were created perfectly, otherwise Jesus' sacrifice to bring us back to that sinless state, is surplus to need.  If we were born as we are (as evolution demands) then we are what God made us.  As to knowledge making for perfection, it's a view I would strongly challenge.  The amount of human knowledge is greater now than ever before, but mankind is more sinful now than ever before, rejecting God and all His works.  I believe however that it was not about knowledge; the tree was called the tree of 'Knowledge of Good and Evil'.  In my mind this equates to innocence, if we do not know the difference between good and evil then there can be no sin, we are innocent.  If we accept that Adam was created with the abilities of language and thought, together with certain thought patterns, then those thought patterns would be positive, God-given ones. 

    Eating the fruit of that tree, whatever that fruit was, did not magically trigger that knowledge, it was the act of disobedience against God.  Adam and Eve suddenly realised that they had been disobedient to God and it seems to me that it was the act, not the fruit, that made them realise what sin was.

    • ummm question though/...if we were perfect,,, and it took us to fall then there was  a shared form between us and G-D before? and we communicated ,our sounds could be heard but now our dna is damaged even pituary gland all major glands for making human compatable with one another has been disabled..science tryes to genetically engener it some work some work well but we cant be perfect.. soooooooooo  you say innocence like a before reset state..

      right?

      • Man was made in the image of God [Genesis 1:27], when saw what He had made He said it was good, that is the highest level in Hebrew, Good = perfect.  Man's DNA was altered and if you look at the ages of the lifespans from Genesis through Exodus there is a continual decrease from almost a thousand years to around 70 to 100 years, this was the result of the fall.  It also brought sickness into the world along with pain and suffering.

    • I like the fossil, not what happened, but the remains of a creature that was here a long time ago.  :-)

      • The fossil is interesting. Man's disobedience and sin that's what happened and bad.

        I kind of began to think maybe it isn't so good to think the fossil is interesting.???

        God bless,

        Mary

        • I just posted the fossil picture as it seems to support the fall story, that the serpent actually did loose its legs just as God proclaimed.  I believe that science supports the Scriptures rather than being incompatible.

          • I thought it was a separate species of snake. I missed the part about what you were saying about it losing its legs. That does support Scriptures.  :-)

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