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Could the serpent talk before the fall of man?

Of course, the Scripture is silent on this. The appearance of a crafty snake prompting Eve to sin is a mystery. The text is interested neither in the origin of evil in the serpent nor in the nature of the serpent. It primarily is concerned with what the serpent said. Everything else is enshrouded in mystery. We know from other passages of the Bible that the serpent was simply a tool being used by Satan as a means of disguise. The fact that Eve was not bothered by the serpent’s presence could suggest that it was a kind of a garden pet. We know that it evidently walked rather than slithered on the ground. The slithering was a product of the curse or judgment of God, but I would seriously question its ability to talk and communicate as do humans before it became an instrument of Satan.

Talking and reasoning in language is part of the original created differences between man and animals. Animals were created from the dust of the ground (Gen. 2:18), but with man, God not only created him from the dust of the ground in His own image, but personally breathed into him the breath of life—then man became a living soul (Gen. 2:7). This special work of God in man’s creation is surely designed to stress the great difference between man and animals which would include the ability to reason and communicate with words rather than just sounds. While animals can communicate to some degree with each other and with human beings, they do not possess the ability to reason as do people nor to express themselves as such. Language is unique to people. You can train your dog to go get the paper, but you cannot sit down and discuss its contents with him.

Actually, Eve should have immediately been wary of such conversation, but she was evidently taken by surprise. In Genesis 1 we are told Adam and Eve were to keep and care for the garden. The word for “keep” is the Hebrew shamar, “to keep, preserve, watch” and could, in addition to the idea of general care, imply the idea of guarding in view of something dangerous that could appear. At any rate, I don’t think we can assume the serpent could talk before it became an instrument of Satan.

Related Topics: Satanology

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