Sunday, February 12, 2012

Sunday Inquiries: #3.5

Inquiry #3 was my general question of the overall motive of Satan, the one formerly known as Lucifer.

The quandary is not one that I imagine will ever be answered fully this side of Paradise (and perhaps not on the other side either), and that, truth be told, is okay. I don't need to know that stuff. Not really.

But what does seem a much more currently pressing dilemma, is this aspect of the 'Serpent' from Genesis, Chapter 3.

There is no mention whatsoever of this swarmy slitherer in chapters one or two. If he is, in fact, the very same being that we know as Satan, which Church tradition tells us was the head of all the angelic realm before he chose to fall, then why is there no note of his creation? We know that in the first sentence of the Bible God created 'the heavens' and 'the earth', but the Hebrew word for heavens can be a tricky one to define, and, it would seem, does not necessarily have to include the angelic realm as the indwelling residents of that 'heavens'.

Then along comes chapter three, and immediately we are gobsmacked with a villain: Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord had made. From that resume, we seemingly can conclude:
     a) the serpent is one of the 'beasts of the field'
     b) the serpent was made by God
     c) apparently he was a smart lad

So far so good -- no problems there... but the very next verse throws me for a loop: He said to the woman, "Did God say, 'You shall not eat of any tree in the garden'?"
     d) apparently the serpent can talk

This is where the story breaks from what we know of the world. I've never watched any sort of youtube video in which a 'beast of the field' just went on up and talked in full sentences.

In my mind's eye, the obvious solution is that the description of this 'Serpent' is told as an analogy for something else. But what, exactly? What did he look like? Was he a man? Was he half-human, half-snake? Was he Trogdor? We get no details on the nature of this creature.

Being raised as a boy in Sunday School that this 'Serpent' was in fact Satan taking the story somewhat allegorically is not difficult. Perhaps Beelzebub is a shape-shifter.

No matter... but then...

The story unfolds as we expect; the serpent's craftiness exceeds that of Adam and Eve and the two lovebirds eat of the fruit and incur God's wrath.

The exegesis of the story again gets tricky, however, when we are greeted with God's curse to the 'Serpent':
The LORD God said to the serpent, 
"Because you have done this, 
cursed are you above all livestock
and above all beasts of the field;
on your belly you shall go,
and dust you shall eat
all the days of your life.
I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel."

Now, I've ingested a wealth of fantastic sermonizing on the latter half of this curse. Jesus is said to be the offspring of the woman, whom Satan will bruise at the point of Christ's crucifixion, but Jesus will hurt him far worse by his resurrection. That's a lovely scene and fantastic foreshadowing: huzzah!

But what of the first half of the curse? It sounds to my plebian ears like a literal curse. What does it mean that the serpent will have to writhe on its belly, eating dust? If this is Satan, was he still rewarded something above that of the animal kingdom before the sinful seduction of man?

The simplest way to read the curse is literally, in which case we have the story of 'how the snake came to be'.

Why is this story veiled so?

It seems almost as if God does not desire for us to know the historical, literal depiction of how the fall came about... why tell the story with such apparent symbolism?

And again, if the curse is for Satan, who is his offspring? Can Satan reproduce? How could that be? Who is his seed? Nephilim? The Antichrist? That all sounds a bit too conspiracy theoristy to me.

I don't know how to interpret this stuff, but I do know one thing:
I hate snakes... and I have Biblical backing!


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