Questions From Readers
How did the serpent in the garden of Eden convey to Eve the idea to break God’s law regarding the tree of the knowledge of good and bad?
Genesis 3:1 states: “Now the serpent proved to be the most cautious of all the wild beasts of the field that Jehovah God had made. So it began to say to the woman: ‘Is it really so that God said you must not eat from every tree of the garden?’” There have been various suggestions as to how the serpent might have communicated with Eve. One idea is that it did so through body language or gestures. For example, English cleric Joseph Benson commented: “It seems most likely that it was by signs of some kind. Some, indeed, have supposed that reason and speech were then the known properties of serpents, . . . but of this there is no proof.”
By using mere body language, however, how could the serpent communicate to Eve the idea that by partaking of the forbidden fruit she would become like God, able to decide what was good and what was bad? Furthermore, Eve participated in the conversation, answering the question raised by the serpent. (Genesis 3:2-5) The view that the serpent communicated only with signs or movements would lead to the conclusion that Eve replied by using gestures, whereas the Bible says that she spoke.
Referring to this incident, the apostle Paul warned fellow Christians: “I am afraid that somehow, as the serpent seduced Eve by its cunning, your minds might be corrupted.” The danger Paul spoke of came from “false apostles, deceitful workers.” The threat that such “superfine apostles” presented was not confined to body language and gestures. It included their speech—their cunning words, spoken to mislead others.—2 Corinthians 11:3-5, 13.
Although speech was used to misguide Eve in the garden of Eden, there is nothing to suggest that the literal serpent had vocal cords. It actually did not need them. When God’s angel spoke to Balaam through a she-ass, the animal did not need a complex voice box similar to that of a human. (Numbers 22:26-31) Obviously, when this ‘voiceless beast of burden made utterance with the voice of a man,’ the power for the action came from the spirit realm.—2 Peter 2:16.
The spirit creature behind the serpent that spoke to Eve is identified in the Bible as “the original serpent, the one called Devil and Satan.” (Revelation 12:9) The audible words that Eve heard and responded to came at the instigation of Satan, who “keeps transforming himself into an angel of light.”—2 Corinthians 11:14.
[Picture on page 27]
“You are bound to be like God, knowing good and bad”