Nowhere does the Old Testament suggest that the serpent in Eden involved Satan or anything other than a serpent. However, some Jewish writings around the time of Jesus suggested it.
The Life of Adam and Eve
In a late Jewish work called The Life of Adam and Eve the devil explains to Adam why he rebelled against God and how in jealousy and spite he engineered Adam’s expulsion from paradise:
And the devil sighed and said, ‘O Adam, all my enmity and envy and sorrow concern you, since because of you I am expelled and deprived of my glory which I had in the heavens in the midst of the angels, and because of you I was cast out onto the earth.
When God blew into you the breath of life and your countenance and likeness were made in the image of God, Michael brought you and made us worship you in the sight of God.
And I answered, ‘I do not worship Adam…I will not worship one inferior and subsequent to me. I am prior to him in creation; before he was made, I was already made. He ought to worship me.’ When they heard this, other angels who were under me refused to worship him.
And the Lord God was angry with me and sent me with my angels out from our glory; and because of you, we were expelled into this world from our dwellings and have been cast onto the earth. And immediately we were made to grieve…And we were pained to see you in such bliss of delights.
So with deceit I assailed your wife and made you to be expelled through her from the joys of your bliss, as I have been expelled from my glory.
From James Charlesworth, The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, volume 2, page 262, 1985
Later in the book, Eve tells her children the story of the temptation:
The devil spoke to the serpent, saying, ‘Rise and come to me, and I will tell you something to your advantage…why do you eat of the weeds of Adam and not of the fruit of Paradise? Rise and come and let us make him to be cast out of Paradise through his wife, just as we were cast out through him.’
The serpent said to him, ‘I fear lest the Lord be wrathful to me.’ The devil said to him, ‘Do not fear; only become my vessel, and I will speak a word through your mouth by which you will be able to deceive him.’ (Charlesworth, page 277)
Then the devil, through the serpent, entices Eve to eat the fruit. She ‘bent down the branch toward the earth, took of the fruit, and ate.’ (Charlesworth, page 279)
Obviously, The Life of Adam and Eve is not part of the Bible, but it shows what some Jews were thinking and writing in the period before Jesus.
From the Temptation of Eve to the Temptation of Jesus
Books like the The Life of Adam and Eve and the Book of Enoch influenced popular Jewish thought in the time of Jesus and set the backdrop for belief in demons in the New Testament.
We will examine the references to Satan and demons in the New Testament at another time to see what they tell us about the existence of either one, but let me say that Satan and demons are not as easily dismissed in the New Testament as they are in the Old Testament.
One huge issue to consider is the temptation of Jesus in the desert, but, instead of plunging directly into that passage, we will begin with something a bit different. In preparation for discussing the actual passage I will share an original retelling of the temptation story.
You can read part #1 of the story next time.
Articles in this series:
Is the Fall of Satan a Myth?
The Fall of Satan in Isaiah 14
The Fall of Satan in Ezekiel 28
The Fall of Satan in Revelation 12
The Fall of Satan in the Book of Enoch
Satan in the Old Testament
Was Satan the Serpent in Eden?
Was Satan in the Desert with Jesus?
Does Satan Exist?
Do Demons Exist?
Image credit: Ludela – Eve and the Serpent [CC-BY-SA-3.0 Wikimedia Commons]
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