Troublesome Topic: When Animals Could Talk

Genesis 3:1


Now the serpent

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was more smooth

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than any living

thing from the field which YHVH

ELOHIM (read Adonai Elohim) had made. 

He said  to the woman,

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indeed said ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden?’”    (See comment below.)


It so happened that the serpent was the most smooth-talking, untrustworthy animal of all the living things that were created by THE PERSONAL AND ETERNAL GOD who is also THE SUPREME RULER that live out in the open countryside.

The serpent said to the woman,

“Is it really true that THE DEITY FIGURE restricted you from eating from every tree in the protected enclosure?”   (See comment below.)

When Animals Could Talk

Have you ever wished you could understand what your pet was trying to tell you?

Have you noticed that Eve did not seem to be surprised when the serpent talked to her?

I suspect that in the Garden of Eden, before man’s fall into sin, the animals were communicating just like they do now, but back then Adam and Eve could understand them.

We tend to think that most animals have one sound they make, and we teach little children those sounds (moo, meow, etc), but most animals actually have more than one way to communicate. Dogs bark and growl and whine and make a few other noises; they are not confined to one sound. The same is true for cats. However, we still have to guess at what they are saying. We previously had a small dog that used the same sounds and body language whether she wanted to go outside, needed food, or wanted some attention. We had to guess by context. Birds are very diverse in the sounds they make, with some birds having very complex and involved calling patterns or possibilities. Have you ever wondered what they are saying? Many animals also rely heavily on body language, especially the use of their tails and ears. We understand much of that body language, but it is possible that there is more to it than we think, or at least there once was more to it.

Some communication by animals is obvious, but perhaps there was a time when their ability to communicate was more advanced, and they could do more than just the basics. The serpent sure communicated with Eve in specific terms using logical thoughts. But then, that may have been beyond the serpent’s usual capabilities. The fact that Eve did not seem surprised at the speaking of the serpent tells us that the animals may have been able to do more than they can today, and that they may have been capable of logical, cogent speech.

Think of Balaam and his donkey. It is possible that the donkey was trying to communicate with him all along, but at one point God finally allowed Balaam to understand what the donkey was saying. To Balaam it seemed like the donkey had, for that one moment, been enabled to speak a human language. Perhaps the donkey was speaking his normal language and Balaam was suddenly given the ability to understand it. It may have been a miracle of the ear, not a miracle of the tongue, similar to what happened on the day of Pentecost.

My assumption is that in the Garden, Adam and Eve could understand more than what we do today, and the animals were capable of more advanced communication. It was not just one, but both.

Adam was given the responsibility to name the animals. I have assumed, up till recently, that he was not communicating with the animals, but was naming them so that humans could identify them. I have assumed it was for our good, not theirs. But think about the various times in Scripture when people were given a new name, or a place was given a new name. These were important times, and it was usually for the benefit of the one receiving the new name. Maybe, just maybe, there was communication between Adam and the animals when he named them. Maybe this was a way for the highest of God’s creation, man, the created being that was given the most authority and responsibility, to bless and encourage the creatures around him. Maybe God intended Adam to take note of the animals’ most amazing characteristics and highlight them in such a way that they would continually use those traits for God’s glory. They had a role to play in glorifying God and Adam was assigned the task of highlighting that role, blessing that role, and encouraging that role.

The next lesson is: Passive Men and Dominant Women



The word for serpent denotes “something that hisses and bites.” Later, because of what is recorded in this chapter, the word “serpent” is the same as “crafty or deceptive,” and is one of the names for Satan.

2: “smooth”

This choice of words is most interesting because it is extremely close to the word used earlier of Adam and Eve to indicate their nakedness. The two words seem to come from the same root. It came to mean “crafty, cunning or clever,” but it appears that it may have been derived from the idea of “smoothness, or bareness.” As with many other words, there is a lack of agreement among the scholars about the root from which it is derived, but a connection to smoothness (given by Strong) makes the most sense to me because it is the only one that explains how “naked” and “crafty” could both come from the same root, as it appears they did. Smooth skin being fully exposed means one is naked, smoothness in personality and relationships means one is smooth-talking, convincing and crafty. The smooth talker is so good that when he presents his case, the listener finds no problems with it, nothing to catch (like hair or fur can catch a hand) or slow down the mental process (like rough skin can slow down the hand). Because of the play on words found in this context, “smoothness” seems to be the best fit. The parts of Scripture written in Hebrew are full of such plays on words.

The closeness in words would not have gone unnoticed by the ancient Hebrews, and they would have taken from it that the serpent presented himself to be just like them. Although the conversations prior to the one in which he tempted Eve are not recorded for us, it appears that there were a few of those, and that in them he highlighted the similarities between himself and Adam and Eve in order to win their confidence.

There are at least two other Hebrew words that mean “crafty or shrewd.” The word found here is used elsewhere in the Old Testament where it is sometimes a negative and sometimes a positive. In Proverbs the ability to be shrewd (or smooth) seems to indicate knowing what to say and thus it is equated with wisdom. When it is used negatively it means knowing what to say in order to get your own way. Thus we see that the difference is primarily the intent of the speaker and the condition of his heart. A person with an evil heart is willing to be deceitful in his speech in order to get his way; a person with a good heart will be honest and wise in what he says. In the paraphrase column above I have described the serpent as untrustworthy because we have heard the story and we know that this smooth-talking creature proved to be deceitful and unreliable.


We can be confident that this is not their first conversation because the question that he asks her is not one that is normal as a starting point.

4: "has Elohim"

The serpent does not call God YHVH ELOHIM, because YHVH has a personal element, the God who is interested in each person and intimately connected to each individual who wants an intimate connection. The serpent will never seek or even acknowledge the possibility of such closeness. You will also notice that I have changed the meaning of the name Elohim in the paraphrase column to mean something much more general than usual for Satan would never acknowledge that God is actually the supreme ruler.