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When God cursed the Earth He also cursed the serpent.

Genesis 3:14 NASB

The Lord God said to the serpent, "Because you have done this, Cursed are you more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field; On your belly you will go, And dust you will eat All the days of your life;

Is the serpent specifically Satan? If not, is there a practical outworking of this curse seen in serpents today? We surely see the other curses of labor pains in childbirth and toilsome labor.

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The serpent is not Satan. Nor is Lucifer, but that's another question. christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/4056/… –  The Freemason May 6 '13 at 13:57

4 Answers 4

The curse continues with its most important point

And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring[a] and hers; he will crush[b] your head, and you will strike his heel.”

This is thought to mean Jesus (enmity) will crush serpent's head (defeat death), after Jesus suffers (heel struck).

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I think you need to look up the definition of 'enmity'. How in the world did you conclude that was a substitution for Jesus? –  Dan Esparza May 5 '13 at 16:33
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The Wikipedia article on the passage confirms that this is a common Christian interpretation of the passage. Christ isn't mere or catch-all enmity, but enmity between sepent's seed and woman's seed. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seed_of_the_woman –  pterandon May 5 '13 at 19:59
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I have heard this taught in a number of Anglican churches in Sydney Australia, although I would have assumed the "he" (as in he will crush your head) is the reference to Jesus, not the 'enmity' –  Greg May 6 '13 at 3:16

Poetically, the serpent has always been seen as mystical, crafty, and deceptive. Genesis used the symbolism of the serpent to personify evil generally and satan, the devil, or lucifer, specifically.

The fact that a serpent is now on it's belly instead of legs was a new symbol that the serpent is now weak, though still deceptive. He was further cursed that the son of man would crush his head incapacitating him fully.

The point: very very few christians would say that the serpent, a beautiful creation of God, is inherently evil or deceptive, nor would they say that the serpent as a species was punished in any way. It was satan and his minions that were punished and have had their heads crushed when Christ was hung on the cross.

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"It was satan and his minions that were punished and have had their heads crushed when Christ was hung on the cross" seems to be conjecture. –  Dan Esparza May 5 '13 at 16:32
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@DanEsparza What you have called conjecture the vast majority of christians call primary theology. –  fredsbend May 10 '13 at 15:00

Warning: Catholic answer to not specifically Catholic question ahead.

This passage in Genesis is known as the protoevangelion. The Gospel before the Gospel before the Gospel. There is a lot packed into those two sentences and its often a let down when I read this to my Catechism kids because its so short and so vague.

If you want to read it literaly, go ahead no one is stopping you from believing that in their original conception snakes had arms and legs. A lot of saints and artists didn't see the serpent as a little grass snake, but as a giant Basalisk sort of creature. Something so fearsome that it would shake someone from a state of grace. In any event there's a lot of good and useful ways to read this literally.

Allegorical, the serpent is Satan, the only important distinction to make is that Satan is not literary the Serpent so you ought to keep the literal inferences to.the literal sense and the allegorical inferences to the allegorical sense.

In the moral sense, this might be the curse that all those who lead others out of a state of grace inflict upon themselves. It is a just punishment for being a deceiver. When you lay object your belly you cannot see the heavens and loosing the beatific vision is precisely what Lucifer earned for himself through his pride.

The anagogical sense is probably the most important sense In which to read this scripture because it carries within it God's promise of a redeemer. But since you didn't ask about that line, the next line, there is no sense rehashing it. But what this might mean for eternity is that Satan will be cursed and derided by creation forever, even though some created beings may find him more attractive than the God Himself.

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I think it is sin. Sin causes you to fall and have a struggling life whether rich or poor. No matter where you stand. But sin is there trying to device even though you know you shouldn't do certain things. So biblically we see that everyday. Don't be the serpent.

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Although many questions are based on personal opinions, personal opinions would be more weighty when they are supplemented by evidence in the scholarly literature or official doctrine or document. Please identify the denominational point of view, and make your answer longer. Longer answers aren't always better, but many of them are more in depth without being overly wordy. –  Anonymous Aug 23 at 1:49

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