Act Two | Temptation...Adam and Eve and Evolution
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Serpents and Snakes in the Bible
Serpents are often mentioned in the Bible. They presented not only a physical threat, but sometimes were symbolic of evil. In one of the most telling images of the Exodus, Moses was commanded by God to make a bronze serpent, and set it up on a pole for his people who lived as nomads in the wilderness. Then, if any people were bitten by a poisonous snake, all they had to do was look at the bronze serpent and the Lord would cure them.
Moses and the Bronze Serpent
Now Moses led the exodus of the Hebrew slaves out of Egypt around 1250 BC. About 550 years later, in the time of King Hezekiah, there were reforms to do away with idols and images. The great bronze serpent of the wilderness period had become just such an idol, and people burned incense to it as if it were God himself. So Hezekiah had it destroyed (2 Kings 18:4). The obvious symbolic point of the story of the bronze serpent is that it was lifted up as a symbol of faith in the God of the wilderness people. In John’s Gospel the imagery was applied to Jesus lifted up on the Cross. Less obviously, sometimes the serpent was used as a symbol of military might. Big nations like Egypt, Babylon, Assyria, were always a threat to small nations like Israel. Famously, on one occasion, the symbol of the serpent and the dragon are put together (Isaiah 27:1).
Satan and the Serpent in Eden
Is Satan the serpent in Eden? No. Quite simply the Old Testament makes no such identification. Quite the opposite, in fact. After tempting Eve, the serpent is made to crawl on his belly, something not required of Satan at all. It is St. Paul who calls Satan ‘the serpent’, meaning the tempter.Josephine: So. The Biblical serpent was a creature that really liked being up-front with upright ideas. It was an upright creature. Walked upright. Talked upright. Talking snakes sounds a bit like a folk-tale, but the Bible is trying to make a big point here. It needs startling word pictures to get it across. The serpent was a potent symbol of how potential good may quickly turn to real evil.