A. The term "serpent" is nachash (BDB 638).  It has several possible etymologies.

1. Kal Stem – "to hiss"

2. Piel Stem – "to whisper" as in sorcery or divination

3. From 4:22 – "to shine" possibly related to the term "bronze"

4. From Arabic root – "to creep"

B. The definite article is present which shows one particular snake or personified entity.

C. The literalness of the serpent is bolstered by the following:

1. It is listed as just one of the beasts of the field that God had created. 

2. Its punishment in John 3:14 as a literal animal.

3. It is alluded to specifically in the NT, 2 Cor. 11:3 and 1 Tim. 2:13-14. 

D. The serpent was specifically identified with Satan in

1. The inter-testamental book of "Wisdom," 2:23-24.  "For God created man to be immortal; . . . nevertheless, through envy of the Devil came death into the world."

2. Irenaeus (about a.d. 130-202)

3. Revelation 12:9; 20:2

4. This identification is absent from the OT itself because it does not discuss Genesis 3 at any length.  It is not even mentioned or interpreted in any other OT book.

E. Why Satan is not specifically named The emphasis of the text is on mankind's responsibility, not on supernatural temptation.  In Romans 1-3 where man's sinfulness is presented and 4-8 where its effects are noted, Satan is never mentioned.


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