When did the serpent fall?

While watching a Q+R about a recent Bible Project video, I came across a view I’d never seriously considered before: what if Genesis 2–3 shows the serpent’s fall as well as the human fall?

I had always assumed the serpent was already a rebel by the time we meet it as the most subtle/cunning/shrewd beast of the field, but there’s actually nothing in that description that implies a fallen creature. The video points out that the Hebrew contains a word play where the serpent goes from “more arum [clever] than any beast of the field” to “more arar [cursed] … than any beast of the field.” Since arum has associations with wisdom, this progression suggests a fall. Further, the very fact that God punishes the serpent in the same way as the humans suggests the serpent also rebelled, rather than being an already-evil creature placed there by God in order to provide a temptation to the humans.

Anyway, the key part of the video is from 2:00–5:15:

Any thoughts on whether this reading is viable, any textual evidence that points towards or away from it, or how it affects how we think of the origin of evil?


If by serpent you mean the devil I don’t believe he fell until after Jesus was born. I do enjoy that podcast though.

Yes, this whole episode was quite good. My question is focused on the serpent we meet in Genesis 3, but if they’re right that the story shows the serpent’s fall, it would suggest the serpent is a spiritual being and not just a beast. But then its talking already points that way, whether as a spiritual being disguised as a serpent (their view) or a spiritual being represented by a serpent (my view).

I guess in my view it’s also the spiritual being represented as a serpent.

It’s interesting to note that Jews don’t believe satan is evil. They dont believe he’s a fallen angel at all. Only angels they occasionally believe broke their grounds was the Enochian angels.

It’s not until the New Testament that the serpent is actually linked to the devil.

But I believe there are plenty of hints.

The tannin “ great ocean monster” was linked to other faiths as being a evil serpent dragon being. I believe even the serpents in moses are referred to as tannin as a point.

It sets to clues that to me becomes super clear and mocks it in the New Testament.

A sea dragon and a flying dragon both in a lake of fire and chained down instead of the ocean or free to fly. Obviously I don’t think he’s real dragon or that dragons are real but that the image was that.

It’s also interesting to note that the serpent tempted them and that the devil also was among the angels and tested job.

When I read the story in context of the entire Bible I believe that Satan somehow deceived a man and a woman involving a fruit tree and that he was punished for it and with mankind now held accountable for sin the devil was placed in a position where he had to test mankind until eventually he tried to murder Jesus through Herod.

So I see it as a fall story with the serpent but not as the fall story typically associated with the serpent.

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Can I just add a side note and say this kind of thing is why I love Bible Project videos. You can have listened to five thousand sermons, done a hundred small group Bible studies, and taken classes on the biblical exegesis, and there are still things they bring up that you’re like, “Huh! Haven’t heard that one!”

Super interesting, thanks for posting.

That wordplay in the Hebrew with most clever creature and most cursed creature is really neat and I would imagine it was supposed to be salient.

I also thought that was an interesting thing they brought up about the “overlapping” space in the Garden of God’s space and our space where heavenly and earthly creatures were interacting together. The thought that the cherubim were chilling in the Garden pre-Fall and not just sent to do security duty once Adam and Eve need to be kept out is a thought that has never before occurred to me.

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Yes, it really changes the story. I tended to see it as God placing the humans in an idyllic place with a serpent to tempt them, waiting for their eventual failure. Instead, it could be God choosing to share power with both heavenly and earthly creatures (all of whom are collapsed into a few characters in Eden), yet some of both kinds rebel and complicate the plot.

It does seem to make the overall story more coherent, and Eden less like a game.

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Yeah. Like God is more a participant in the drama and less a puppetmaster pulling strings or a mad scientist setting up inevitable reactions.


That belief.

Not in my TaNaKh.

Origen comes to mind.

Add-up that for the omnipotence, omniscience and omnipresence God we believe in one fall makes more sense than two.

The Cycle of Opposites ?

The first argument is based on the cyclical interchange by means of which every quality comes into being from its own opposite. Hot comes from cold and cold from hot: that is, hot things are just cold things that have warmed up, and cold things are just hot things that have cooled off. Similarly, people who are awake are just people who were asleep but then woke up, while people who are asleep are just people who were awake but then dozed off. – Plato

Or, if good exists – and God is good – evil must exist also, else how to define good. etc.

Friend, I am very curious about this belief of yours. Please tell me more about why you think Satan fell after Jesus was born. Does this have to do with a certain way of interpreting passages in Revelation?

Had to do with the entire Bible including the book of revelation.

I did post a link to a thread I made on this subject a while back to goes over some of it. In a nutshell it’s this.

  1. The Jews have had the same Torah basically for 4,000-ish years until Jesus was burn and preaching. The Jews never believed for a second Satan was evil. There are no verses in the Torah to make someone think the devil is evil. That does not begin until the New Testament.

  2. You don’t read of demons operating beyond what God send them to do in the Torah. That does not begin until the New Testament as well. All the other spirits of torment in the Torah was sent by God. The exception is Enochian angels that pursued women. That’s a while another subject though.

  3. Jesus says that he saw Satan falling light lightening. The New Testament says after falling satan knew his time was short. We read of a upraising of demonic activity in the New Testament. The devil is now referred to as our enemy in the New Testament unlike in the Torah.

  4. We read of why Satan fell. Satan fell after a war was sparked between him and michael because he tried to kill a infant boy who would become the king of kings and we see that having happened with Herod.

My friend,

Thank you so much for answering! This is a position that I’m going to ponder for a bit, and I appreciate the summary. :slight_smile:

Edit: Found the link. Sorry that I missed it!

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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