The Ancient Serpent tempts Adam and Eve; that’s the opening intrigue in Genesis 3. This scenario punctuates the entire story of humankind.
The ancient Serpent is presented with no introduction. The intrigue is the focus. The first five minutes of a movie don’t reveal everything. Likewise with God in Genesis 1. The characters of the story exist and assume their roles. Their background and history are presented elsewhere and later in the story. We discussed God’s background and history. Now, let’s investigate that of the ancient Serpent.
(Agony of Humankind, chapter 1.3)
Last week we established the connection between Adam and Eve and the Serpent. Both (Adam and Eve are one unit) are animated by wisdom (nakedness and subtlety), but one is positive and the other, negative. Everything to do with the Serpent’s wisdom is negative. It was cast down and its sole goal is to cast down everything and everyone else.
Now the serpent (H5175) was more subtil than any beast (H2416, חַי chay = life) of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, Yea, has God said, You shall not eat of every tree of the garden?
Serpent is the name of something that had life in the field. That is the meaning of the Biblical Hebrew word beast. In its first presentation, this life being is already disguised. The fallen Cherub, Lucifer, had taken over this animal. Of course, Adam and Eve didn’t know that it had modified its appearance; they didn’t know that animals can’t talk, or if they did, they thought it was quaint like we do when we see Disney animated animals. Had Adam and Eve seen the live being for what it really looks like, we might’ve had a different beginning of the story of humankind! That said, this beast is called Serpent. That’s its name, and we know that names have meaning; this is the 5th key to mastering Biblical Hebrew. Names identify the character of those who possess the name. What is this beast’s character?
נָחָשׁ nâchâsh naw-khawsh’; from H5172 (נָחַשׁ); a snake (from its hiss):
KJV – serpent.
נָחַשׁ nâchash naw-khash’; a primitive root; properly, to hiss, i.e. whisper a (magic) spell; generally, to prognosticate:
KJV – ⨯ certainly, divine, enchanter, (use) ⨯ enchantment, learn by experience, ⨯ indeed, diligently observe.
We all know what a reptilian serpent is, a snake. We’ve seen them in a field or the zoo or on TV. These creatures might be mysterious but they are no mystery to us. Actual reptile serpents are mentioned throughout the Bible and H5172 appears about 28 times, generally referring to reptiles or this creature here in Genesis 3:1. Above, I’ve also included Strong’s H5172, the ROOT, from which Serpent is derived. Roots of Biblical Hebrew words are a pivotal factor in comprehending Bible meaning, they are the sixth key. The King James’ translations, following the KJV above, used throughout the Old Testament, are so revealing of this creature’s character that we must take the time to meditate on them. They set the stage for chapter 3. These traits begin to DEFINE the SERPENT’S NEGATIVE WISDOM.
We’re going to draw on dictionary definitions of the KJV translations.
Divine. Adjective: superlative, godlike, beatific, holy, sacred, beautiful. Noun: clergyman, providence of God. Verb: discover (something) by guesswork or intuition, put (someone or something) under a spell; bewitch.
Enchant(er). fill (someone) with great delight; charm. captivate, dazzle, enrapture. Put (someone or something) under a spell; bewitch, witch, wizard, sorcerer.
Learn by experience. practical contact with and observation of facts or events. The knowledge or skill acquired by a period of practical experience of something, especially that gained in a particular profession. An event or occurrence which leaves an impression on someone. Verb: Encounter or undergo (an event or occurrence). Feel (an emotion or sensation).
Diligently observe. Notice or perceive (something) and register it as being significant. Watch (someone or something) carefully and attentively. Take note of or detect (something) in the course of a scientific study. Fulfil or comply with (a social, legal, ethical, or religious obligation). Maintain (silence) in compliance with a rule or custom, or temporarily as a mark of respect. Perform or take part in (a rite or ceremony).
As you read or reread the above description of the ancient Serpent keep in mind that these characteristics are all associated with BAD practices, BAD ideas, BAD ways of doing things. These attitudes and behavior are negative. Be careful because a lot of the above characteristics CAN BE POSITIVE. But, when wielded by the Serpent they are designed to DRAW HUMANS to the WRONG WAY of doing things. WRONG beliefs, WRONG actions.
Is the Serpent Reality or Myth? If you believe in Christ, you have no alternative than to believe in the existence of this ancient Serpent, the Devil. Otherwise, something is seriously wrong with your theology. Why? Because Matthew 4 indicates Christ was tempted by the Devil. They had interaction. If you believe in One then you must believe in Both. You cannot reason that One is real and the other make-believe.
The Serpent, such is the NAME, such is the NATURE, such is the BEHAVIOR, such is the INFLUENCE of this dastardly creature. A one-word translation, serpent for נָחָשׁ nâchâsh. which we read mechanically, thinking about a reptile. It’s name, although slithery, hides the depth of the individual to whom we are introduced in Genesis 3:1. It’s only when we delve into the Biblical Hebrew ROOT MEANING that we can begin to grasp the wicked, evil, and immoral creature we’re dealing with.
You might think I’m exaggerating. Not at all, We’re not dealing with a cartoonish clown of a red, pointed-ears figure carrying a pitchfork. We’re dealing with a sinister figure that has a well-thought-out plan which it is executing here and now, generally unbeknownst to most. Never forget NEGATIVE WISDOM, that’s is the name of its game.
There are two Bible texts where observed and experience (two KJV translations of nachash) are used BOTH is a context of intrigue, subterfuge, and deceit. This is the Serpent. Read about the trickery between Jacob and Laban concerning his daughters (Genesis 29-30, see Further Study below). In 1 Kings 20 Ahab the Israelite and Ben-Hadad the Syrian king are in subterfuge mode and displease God in the process. The point is not just the examples, the lesson is the wrong observance and wrong experience these examples convey. That is what characterizes the Serpent.
In this context, I remind you that observation and experience are both VITAL characteristics that we all possess. It is their usage and conclusions that can lead us astray. In Audit of Humankind, chapter 8.3, one of the primary ways humankind REASONS is by observation and experience. People observe UFOs and conclude there’s life in outer space. People experience near-death and conclude there’s life after death. Humans need both observation and experience. But, we have to be very careful about how we interpret what we observe and what we experience. I believe both those phenomena exist but looking at OUR OWN feelings, intuition, and conclusions are not the best way to go; it could be the worst. There are other secular or Biblical explanations.
Origin of the Serpent
We’ve already touched on this singular subject of the origin of the ancient Serpent. in Origin of the Universe chapter 7. A Cherub is a Very Powerful Spirit Being. Fact or Fiction? (7.5) and Fallen from Heaven – The Fate of Lucifer (7.6). You should review those chapters including those before and after to get a clear idea of the origin of this wicked entity.
For brevity sake following are the highlights of two contexts that have a double comprehension. I suggest you read them in their entirety. Yes, they name the Kings of Tyre and Babylon, but the detailed descriptions of both these kings are really the physical counterparts of a much superior spirit being. The text in bold letters in the box below pinpoints the excellence of this heavenly being. The theme of the physical kings enlightening a spiritual story is prevalent, the likeness and image of the earthy revealing the heavenly and vice versa is a constant revealer of puzzle piece shapes in the Bible jigsaw puzzle.
12 Son of man, take up a lamentation on the king of Tyrus, and say to him, Thus says the Lord God; You sealed up the sum, full of wisdom (H2451), and perfect in beauty.
13 You have been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of your tabrets and of your pipes was prepared in you in the day that you were created.
14 You are the anointed cherub that covers; and I have set you so: you were on the holy mountain of God; you had walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire.
15 You were perfect in your ways from the day that you were created, till iniquity was found in you.
16 By the multitude of your merchandise they have filled the midst of you with violence, and you have sinned: therefore I will cast you as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy you, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire.
17 Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty, you have corrupted your wisdom (H2451) by reason of your brightness: I will cast you to the ground, I will lay you before kings, that they may behold you.
Here’s the second context with the comparison of the Serpent to the King of Babylon. Notice the name Lucifer
4 That you shall take up this proverb against the king of Babylon, and say,
12 How are you fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art you cut down to the ground, which did weaken the nations!
13 For you have said in your heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also on the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:
14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.
This anointed cherub is a created being and was in the Garden of Eden which was prepared for it on the day of its creation. Notice the reference to sealed up the sum, full of wisdom (Ezek. 28:13). And then you have corrupted your wisdom. What a description of Lucifer, (bringer of Light) in a downhill spiral to be renamed Serpent, (godlike bewitching charmer). This detail is the origin and pathway of this wicked spirit being, who we find at the outset of the story of humankind. This is the Serpent’s undoing from positive wisdom to negative wisdom.
Old or Ancient Serpent
Let’s see a further description of this being; this time in the New Testament. It’s a word most of us just pass over as we read the Bible. Just one word, but how descriptive. We know the verse well.
And the great dragon was cast out, that old (G744) serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceives the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
I’m referring to the word old. In many translations (NIV, Living, ESV) it is rendered ancient. This word carries little meaning in English, basically indicating age, at least, that’s the way we take it. Yet, the Greek is revelatory of a couple of fundamental principles about the character of the ancient Serpent. You’ll notice that with the New Testament we also have to go back to the original language to grasp a fuller meaning of what John was inspired to author.
ἀρχαῖος archaios ar-khah’-yos; From G746; original or primeval:
KJV – (them of) old (time).
ἀρχή archē ar-khay’; From G756; (properly abstract) a commencement or (concrete) chief (in various applications of order time place or rank):
KJV – beginning corner (at the the) first (estate) magistrate power principality principle rule.
ἄρχομαι archomai ar’-khom-ahee; Middle voice of G757 (through the implication of precedence); to commence (in order of time):
KJV – rehearse from the) begin (-ning).
ἄρχω archō ar’-kho; A primary verb; to be first (in political rank or power):
KJV – reign (rule) over.
First, the meaning of old or ancient enhances our comprehension of beginning in Gen. 1:1. G746 indicates ancient has to do with commencement, the order of time. This word helps us realize there’s a timeline of history and an order of events.
Mark 10:6 But from the beginning (G746) of the creation God made them male and female.
Colossians 1:18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, (G746) the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.
I realize the three verses in Mark and Colossians are in Greek and the one in Genesis is Hebrew. That said, in Mark, there’s is a beginning at the preaching of Christ’s Gospel and an earlier beginning at the seven-day Creation in Genesis 1 and 2. The ancient Serpent refers to the beginning of the Serpent, who was Lucifer; this is corroborated by Ezek. 28:13 in the day you were created. Lucifer had a definite beginning and it was a long long time, I have no idea when, but it is definitely before the events of Creation week in Genesis 1. Job 38:4-7 indicate Lucifer and the angels were present at the creation, the beginning, of Earth. There are multiple beginnings of various events at different times. The magnificent creation of Lucifer, decked with precious clothing in God’s heavenly Garden of Eden, was an event that had a beginning.
Second, the meaning of old or ancient specifically refers to governmental leadership. Lucifer was in the Mountain of God, signifying rulership from His Throne. Part of fallen Lucifer’s plan was to ascend into heaven, to exalt its throne above the stars of God. That is a coup d’etat, a takeover of government. The top rulership handed to Lucifer was not good enough for it. The ancient Serpent wanted more, it ALWAYS wants more, to be number ONE, at the top of the hierarchal chain. Look at these verses where we find the various KJV translations of old and ancient, G746 the basis of G744, ἀρχαῖος, archaios.
Luke 20:20 And they watched him, and sent forth spies, which should feign themselves just men, that they might take hold of his words, that so they might deliver him unto the power (G746) and authority of the governor.
Colossians 2:10 And you are complete in him, which is the head of all principality (G746) and power:
1 Corinthians 15:24 Then comes the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule (G746) and all authority and power.
We are taking our time to expand the subject of the Serpent because it is of primary importance to understand the Agony of Humankind. We saw in Genesis 1:26 that God gave humans dominion over the Earthly Creation. At that beginning, God gave humans its government. Just as He had done in a previous beginning when He handed a top government position to Lucifer. The Serpent failed and his goal is to see that humans also fail. Look around, open your eyes. Is humankind succeeding or failing at government? Is the glass of peace and prosperity getting fuller or emptier? Whichever you decide, I think we’d agree there’s room for much improvement.
That improvement will be forthcoming, that’s what the Bible says, but, that’s another story, for later on.
This blog post is an excerpt from chapter 1.3 of the book Agony of Humankind
Verify these verses and Biblical Hebrew word meanings. You owe it to yourself. Go to UnlockBibleMeaning.com. Find Genesis 3:1. Switch to Strong’s Concordance. Verify the meaning of Serpent: H5175 and its root H5172. See for yourself the translations. At the bottom of the reference H5172, click on Hebrew Concordance for H5172 and find where it is translated learn by experience. In Genesis 30:27, read this in conjunction with Gen. 29:25 where Laban substituted Leah for Rachel. Laban beguiled Jacob. Beguiled is a characteristic associated with the Serpent.
Go to Revelation 12:9 and find the Bible verses that contain G744, G746, and their derivatives. Read the contexts and see how old and ancient are either related to time or rank, beginning or government. Make the relationship between this meaning and the ancient Serpent. Most of those verses talk about positive subjects but we can apply the same principles to the Serpent’s negative principles.
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