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And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. (Genesis 3:14-15 KJV)

That punishment (upon thy belly shalt thou go) is directed to the animal "serpent" only, or it has some symbolic meaning?

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A very good question. It would be nice if the answers were to stick to the question that is about the possible symbolism of the punishment. –  gideon marx May 15 at 9:38

3 Answers 3

As near as whether or not 'upon thy belly' has any symbolic meaning there is no indication that I find in the Bible to answer that.

In the passage in which this punishment was given to the Serpent, there is much that can be extracted;

Genesis 3:14 and 15 And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

In the statement, thou art cursed above all cattle, we are left to wonder if before that curse the Serpent had legs, which God took away or not, which seems plausible, because if the Serpent was already legless would there be any punishment in crawling on his belly.

The second part about eating dust is also part of the punishment since being low to the ground it would now be impossible for the Serpent to avoid the dust and would be forced to do so for as long as he lived.

The last part of that is where the nebulous meaning comes in:

Genesis 3:15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

What does God mean by putting enmity between the Serpent and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed?

There are two things of importance that we must understand in this statement.

  1. Enmity-The quality of being an enemy; the opposite of friendship; ill will; hatred; unfriendly dispositions; malevolence. It expresses more than aversion and less than malice, and differs from displeasure in denoting a fixed or rooted hatred, whereas displeasure is more transient.

This indicates a deep rooted hate, not to the point of trying to annihilate the Serpent species, but that there will always be animosity between them.

  1. God said her seed and not man's seed.

Why this becomes important is because Jesus was born with the seed of Mary, but not the seed of man, and it is commonly thought to be a prophesy of the battle between Satan and Jesus for the souls of mankind.

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What you do in this answer is to say right at the beginning that you cannot answer the question. But ... ! You can answer another question. –  gideon marx May 15 at 9:39
    
@gideonmarx perhaps you misread, my statement was that the Bible does not appear to resolve that question, and in saying that, indicated that any answer would not be backed up by Scripture unless someone knew something I did not. Instead I tried to help him with what I could elicit from the Scriptures in order to help him form his own opinion. –  Bye May 15 at 13:08
    
I am completely lost. Help 'him form his own opinion' of what? The son asks you for bread you give him water. Just remove your answer. –  gideon marx May 17 at 10:08
    
@gideonmarx I'm sorry that you cannot understand my answer. It was meant to help him to analyze Scriptures for himself. Two people apparently did understand because it has two up votes. once it is voted on, the poster cannot delete an answer, but I do not see any reason to delete it anyway. Learning to analyze scripture is important for Christians, and is the reason there are so many commentaries. If you are that unhappy with my answer you can vote it down and/or vote to close it, but after rereading my answer I do not feel it needs to be deleted. –  Bye May 17 at 12:32

I think is important to look at this as a whole, not just "upon thy belly shall thou go". This is symbolic, as a lot is in the Holy Writ. We have the advantage over the devil, and if we desire, we can resist him, and he will flee from us. He has no more power then we give him.

This is personal interpretation: If something/one is crawling, and I am walking, I immediately have a vantage point and power over that individual. Satan was not given a body because of his rebellion, so he cannot literally crawl upon his belly.

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If the declaration; that the punishment; ( upon thy belly shalt thou go) is directed to the "serpent" only, is a question? The answer is yes.

Or it has some symbolic meaning; if the "it" is a question about the serpent, being upon its belly, as symbolic? The answer is no.

If the "it" is referring to that part of the punishment as symbolic? the answer is no.

However, the punishment as established in Genesis 3;15, is in actuality, the promise of redemption.

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