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ELOHIM (read Adonai Elohim)

said to the serpent, “Because you have done this,

you are cursed

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more than all large easily domesticated animals, and the lively, freely roving animals; you will walk on your belly, and you shall eat dust all the days of your life.  (See comment below.)

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So THE PERSONAL AND ETERNAL GOD,  who is also THE CREATOR AND OWNER OF ALL THINGS said to the serpent, “Because you purposefully deceived the woman, there will be consequences for all living things, but you are cursed more than all the other animals; it will be evident because the way you move will be changed, you will no longer walk on legs, rather you will slide along the ground on your belly, and what you put in your mouth will change, you will now get dust in your mouth since you will be down on the ground, and you will eat stuff that is close to the ground.  (See comment below.)



The basic idea behind a “curse” in Hebrew is that of being “reviled, detestable, or loathed.” Originally there was nothing in it that related to predicting or causing something bad to happen to someone, as is the case with the putting a curse on someone, e.g. as used in voodoo.

2: “your life”

This is not a temporary change but rather a permanent condition that the serpent will pass on to all its offspring. God changed its DNA.


God gave most animals legs so they could live and move above the ground, and not have constant contact of their entire bodies with the ground. But after the deception, the snake’s body was changed so that it now travels right along the ground. It seems from this that there was something “wrong” with eating dust. Along with mankind, the animals, at least the land animals excluding insects, were made from the dust of the earth. Maybe God was saying, “Don’t eat that which you were made from.” Doing so can be considered a mild form of cannibalism. Now the serpent would be participating in it regularly.

We all know that snakes don’t really eat dust, but they do stick their tongues out often and that means their tongues will get dusty simply because they are so close to the dust. Most snakes catch and eat things that are close to the dirt.

We can surmise that the snake originally walked either on four legs, or somewhat upright. The way the easily-domesticated animals are mentioned first in the statement of the curse seems to imply that such was the category the snake originally belonged to. This makes sense; it was an animal that seemed friendly, and got along well with humans. It happened to also be very intelligent. Maybe it was the animal that was most like humans in physical ways too, but to go into descriptions of this point would involve a level of speculation I am not comfortable with. I will go into speculative things if there seems to be a good foundation for them, but we all need to be careful and not go too far in that direction.

I said in conjunction with Gen 3:1 that it is hard to tell from the text how much of what was said was coming from the serpent itself, and how much was coming from Satan. Where does one stop and the other start? That question is also relevant for us when we sin, and it is equally difficult to answer. However, the fact that there was a consequence for the serpent indicates that it was not all Satan. Notice that the consequence was quite strong, implying that the level of responsibility was quite high. This would also assume that the snake, and other animals, had volition, a will. The serpent was punished because it chose to do this.

Do animals still have a will? Do they possess some level of understanding of morality? I suggest that the answer to both questions is yes, but in a limited fashion compared to man.