Genesis 3:1-19 Is the account of the “fall of man.” It is a passage so familiar to most of us that we would feel very comfortable sharing it with anyone asking the question of how did sin entered the world.
However, as familiar as this passage is, unfamiliarity lies within it.
As you read my dramatization below, see if you can recognize it.
Backdrop: Tropical Paradise
Ambient Temperature: Perfect
Atmosphere: Peaceful Tranquility
Setting: Garden of Eden
Eve, the first woman of man, strolls through the luscious garden that has been so carefully crafted for her home. There she gathers fruit for the mid-day meal.
Never tiring of the glory held within the magnificence of creation, she took a restful seat underneath the branches of a nearby palm. As she sat, Eve released a peaceful sigh and surveyed the scope of Eden.
While resting in the coolness of the shade, Eve turned her thoughts to the basket of fruit she had earlier gathered. A gentle smile creased her face as she reviewed its contents of kiwi, passion fruit, strawberries, oranges, peaches, mango’s and more.
Pleased with her harvest she turned her gazed towards Eden’s horizon but her attention was distracted as she heard a rustling of sound over her head. Looking upwards she recognized one of God’s creations and was delighted that it was making its way towards her…….
* * * * * * *
Characters: Serpent, Eve and Adam
Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman,
“Has God indeed said, “You shall not eat of every tree of the garden?”
and the woman said to the serpent,
“We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden, but the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, “ You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.”
And the serpent said to the woman,
“You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.
Characters: Serpent, Eve, Adam, and God
God said to the woman,
“What is this you have done?” and the woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
So the Lord God said to the serpent;
“Because you have done this, you are cursed more than all cattle, and more than every beast of the field. On your belly you shall go, and you shall eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.”
To the woman He said,
“I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception. In pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.”
Then to Adam He said,
“Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, “You shall not eat of it.” Cursed is the ground for your sake, in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life and you shall eat the herb of the field, in the sweat of your face you shall eat bread. Till you return to the ground. For out of it you were taken, for dust you are, and to dust you shall return.” Genesis 3:1-19.
* * * * * * *
Did you find the unfamiliarity?
Generally when I read this account my focus is on deception, disobedience and “he said, she said.” Due to this I have overlooked certain aspects of the passage. Aspects that I have read many times as if they were “normal,” and continue to read past them with no “wonderment” at all.
* * * * * * *
- And the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made, and he said to the woman……and the woman said to the serpent………and the serpent said……..
Say what?! Am I reading this right….a talking creature?
What we are witnessing are two different species communicating. Not only are they communicating, they are doing it in the same language, and need I say, as if it is a “normal” everyday occurrence.
Eve’s reaction is one of familiarity…interesting.
First of all, if I was sitting under a tree and a “serpent” began making its way towards me, I wouldn’t sit long enough to give it a chance to open its mouth let alone….speak. Trust me I would be high tailing it out of there so fast that I’d probably earn an Olympic gold medal.
Secondly, let’s say I did muster the composure to allow a “serpent” to approach me as soon as it opened its mouth and spoke, I’d be looking around the corner for the “white coat” guys. Straight jacket size medium please. Whatever my reaction would be it definitely would not mirror Eve’s.
Outside of these two reactions, witnessing an animal or creature speak would be nothing less than a miracle and I for one would be filled with wonderment. I wouldn’t have been running to my husband to talk about eating an apple, I’d be telling him about the talking creature. However, Eve didn’t and her reaction does not reflect any “wonder” in it at all. Subsequently, based on the following passages, neither did God or Adam. Their reactions also reflected that was a “matter of fact.”
So what could this mean?
We know that Satan played a role in this account of the serpent tempting Eve. He used the serpent as a tool to lead her into temptation. But even with that, Eve’s reaction still remains as if there was nothing strange or out of the ordinary. In fact she didn’t hesitate with her response and conversed as though it was a normal everyday experience.
So if a talking serpent (empowered by Satan or not) wasn’t miraculous, didn’t provoke wonderment, or viewed unusual in anyway, then the curios thought enters my mind that it may have been common place. Which in turns begs the question could animals talk before sin entered the world?
Hold on, this is not the only reference in the Bible of a talking animal.
Noah and the flood has come and gone. The Exodus of the Hebrews has occurred and Balaam lives during the time that the Israelites are wandering in the wilderness.
- Synopsis: Balaam was on his way to see Balak (a leader seeking to do battle with the Israelites) who God had specifically told not to go unless Balak’s men come to call. The men did not but Balaam went anyways, most likely seeking a profit. Needless to say his disobedience angered God and an angel of the Lord took a stand as an adversary against him (Balaam).
- As Balaam set out riding on his donkey, the angel stood in the way with his sword drawn. The donkey could see the angel and turned away, not once but three times. Each time she did Balaam got angry and struck her in hopes to turn her back onto the road. Finally she lay down on the road in fear of the angel in which Balaam began to strike her even more.
Then the Lord opened the mouth of the donkey, and she said to Balaam,
“What have I done to you that you have struck me these three times?” And Balaam said to the donkey, “because you have abused me and I wish there were a sword in my hand, for now I would kill you!”
So the donkey said to Balaam, “Am I not your donkey on which you have ridden ever since I became yours, to this day? Was I ever disposed to do this to you? And he said, “No.” Numbers 22:28-30
* * * * * * *
Once again we witness verbal interaction between an animal and a human and Balaam’s reaction did not differ much from Eve’s. He was apparently frustrated by the actions of his donkey as she veered off course, but when she spoke to him; he simply responded.
- The differences between these two accounts that I note are….keeping it simple.
- Serpent and Eve – Occurred before sin entered the world and the serpent spoke.
- Donkey and Balaam – Occurred after sin entered the world and God opened the donkey’s mouth.
* * * * * * *
These two intriguing accounts in the Bible have left me pondering a question that I will never have answered while I occupy airspace on earth. However, it has been fun to “wonder” if animals were originally created to verbally interact with man, and if God so chose, they could do so today.
However, more importantly the exercise that I have learned when reading the Bible is to not breeze by or gloss over passages, especially those that hold unusual or unfamiliar accounts, but rather pause, consider, and dwell on all that God wants to share with us through His Word. The familiar as well as the unfamiliar.