The Serpent, Dragon and the Seraphim

We have all read the story of Adam and Eve who was tricked by a snake. As fantastical as it sounds, as believers in the Scriptures we have faith in its accuracy. So what was this serpent’s appearance? Was it a normal snake or something more of a heavenly origin? I believe the scriptures contain a lot more secrets on this regard, than meets the eye. In this short study we will attempt to find answers to what could have been the origins of the Serpent and it’s connection to other parts of Scripture through consideration of the Original Hebrew and Greek words used in our Manuscripts. Let us begin:

1.Enchantment, Divination and the Serpent
The first time we see the “serpent” is in Gen 3:1

Gen 3:1 Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?

The Hebrew word for serpent “Nawkhawsh”(H5175) comes from “Nawkhash”(H5172) which is translated as “enchant” and “divine” in several places in the Scriptures(Gen 44:15, Lev 19:26, Deu 18:10, 2Ch 33:6).

H5175 – נחשׁ – nâchâsh – naw-khawsh’ – From H5172; a snake (from its hiss): – serpent.
H5172 – נחשׁ – nâchash – naw-khash’ – A primitive root; properly to hiss, that is, whisper a (magic) spell; generally to prognosticate: – X certainly, divine, enchanter, (use) X enchantment, learn by experience, X indeed, diligently observe.

2.Dragon, Serpent and… Whale?
Before the appearance of the Serpent in Gen 3, we see the Hebrew word “Tanneen”. The interesting thing about this word is that it appears in the Scriptures 23 times, of which it is translated as “Whale” 3 times, as “Serpent” 3 times and as “Dragon” 17 times.

Gen 1:21 And God created great whales(H8577), and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

Exo 7:9,10 When Pharaoh shall speak unto you, saying, Shew a miracle for you: then thou shalt say unto Aaron, Take thy rod, and cast it before Pharaoh, and it shall become a serpent(H8577). And Moses and Aaron went in unto Pharaoh, and they did so as the LORD had commanded: and Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh, and before his servants, and it became a serpent(H8577).

Psa 91:13 Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon(H8577) shalt thou trample under feet.

Isa 51:9 Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of the LORD; awake, as in the ancient days, in the generations of old. Art thou not it that hath cut Rahab, and wounded the dragon(H8577)?

There is surely a correlation between “Tanneen” and “Nawkhash” as God tell Moses that the rod will become a “Nawkhash” in Exo 4:3 and says it will become a “Tanneen” in Exo 7:9. It is surely not a whale as we see it translated in Gen 1:21.

H5175 – נחשׁ – nâchâsh – naw-khawsh’ – From H5172; a snake (from its hiss): – serpent.
H8577 – תּנּים תּנּין – tannı̂yn tannı̂ym – tan-neen’, tan-neem’ – (The second form used in Eze_29:3); intensive from the same as H8565; a marine or land monster, that is, sea serpent or jackal: – dragon, sea-monster, serpent, whale.

3.Fiery Serpent and the Seraphim
Out of the heavenly creatures mentioned in the Scriptures the “Saraph” seem to be connected to the word “Nawkhash” as well.

Num 21:6 And the LORD sent fiery(H8314) serpents(H5175) among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died.

Num 21:8 And the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a “fiery serpent(H8314)”, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live.

Deu 8:15 Who led thee through that great and terrible wilderness, wherein were fiery(H8314) serpents(H5175), and scorpions, and drought, where there was no water; who brought thee forth water out of the rock of flint;

Isa 6:2 Above it stood the seraphims(H8314): each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly.

Isa 6:6 Then flew one of the seraphims(H8314) unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar:

Isa 14:29 Rejoice not thou, whole Palestina, because the rod of him that smote thee is broken: for out of the serpent’s root shall come forth a cockatrice, and his fruit shall be a fiery flying serpent(H8314)(H5774).

Isa 30:6 The burden of the beasts of the south: into the land of trouble and anguish, from whence come the young and old lion, the viper and fiery flying serpent(H8314)(H5774), they will carry their riches upon the shoulders of young asses, and their treasures upon the bunches of camels, to a people that shall not profit them.

The Seraphim who are called by Isaiah to be heavenly beings with six wings is what God asks Moses to mold in the wilderness and lift it so that the people are healed. This emblem made of Brass was indeed a Serpent(Nawkhash) figure as mentioned in 2Kin 18:4.

H5175 – נחשׁ – nâchâsh – naw-khawsh’ – From H5172; a snake (from its hiss): – serpent.
H8314 – שׂרף – śârâph – saw-rawf’ – From H8313; burning, that is, (figuratively) poisonous (serpent); specifically a saraph or symbolical creature (from their copper color): – fiery (serpent), seraph.
H5774 – עוּף – ‛ûph – oof – A primitive root; to cover (with wings or obscurity); hence (as denominative from H5775) to fly; also (by implication of dimness) to faint (from the darkness of swooning): – brandish, be (wax) faint, flee away, fly (away – ), X set, shine forth, weary.

4.Serpent, Dragon, Devil and Satan
The Serpent in the Garden is connected to a dragon and also identified as Devil(Accuser) and Satan(Adversary) clearly in the book of Revelations.

Isa 27:1 In that day the LORD with his sore and great and strong sword shall punish leviathan(H3882) the piercing serpent(H5175), even leviathan(H3882) that crooked serpent(H5175); and he shall slay the dragon(H8577) that is in the sea.

Rev 12:7-9 And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon(G1404); and the dragon(G1404) fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon(G1404) was cast out, that old serpent(G3789), called the Devil(G1228), and Satan(G4567), which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

Rev 20:2 And he laid hold on the dragon(G1404), that old serpent(G3789), which is the Devil(G1228), and Satan(G4567), and bound him a thousand years,

In “that” day surely speaks of the great and dreadful “Day of the Lord”. Now a dragon from popular culture may not be the same as the Dragon mentioned in Scripture. But it could be a reptilian creature which is of significant size, far from the insignificant “snake” we have heard of.

H5175 – נחשׁ – nâchâsh – naw-khawsh’ – From H5172; a snake (from its hiss): – serpent.
H3882 – לויתן – livyâthân – liv-yaw-thawn’ – From H3867; a wreathed animal, that is, a serpent (especially the crocodile or some other large sea monster); figuratively the constellation of the dragon; also as a symbol of Babylon: – leviathan, mourning.
G1404 – δράκων – drakōn – drak’-own – Probably from an alternate form of δέρκομαι derkomai (to look); a fabulous kind of serpent (perhaps as supposed to fascinate): – dragon.
G3789 – ὄφις – ophis – of’-is – Probably from G3700 (through the idea of sharpness of vision); a snake, figuratively (as a type of sly cunning) an artful malicious person, especially Satan: – serpent.
G1228 – διάβολος – diabolos – dee-ab’-ol-os – From G1225; a traducer; specifically Satan (compare [H7854]): – false accuser, devil, slanderer.
G4567 – Σατανᾶς – Satanas – sat-an-as’ – Of Chaldee origin corresponding to G4566 (with the definite article affixed); the accuser, that is, the devil: – Satan.
H7854 – שׂטן – śâṭân – saw-tawn’ – From H7853; an opponent; especially (with the article prefixed) Satan, the arch enemy of good: – adversary, Satan, withstand.

Conclusion
In almost all cultures some form of the serpent is visible in folklore or legend. From Apep and Meretseger in Egypt, Illuyanka of the Hittittes, Jörmungandr in Norse mythology, Typhon in Greek Mythology, Shesha in Hinduism, Mucalinda in Buddhism, Dragons/Sea Monsters of Europe and Asia, there are plenty of variations of the Serpent depicted in all forms in each culture.

What exactly did the serpent in Eden look like and what was it exactly? We may never know, unless God Himself reveals it to us. But it was surely something more than a simple talking Snake.

Advertisements

4 thoughts on “The Serpent, Dragon and the Seraphim

  1. michaelajfarril

    Dear Ramesh,

    I read this study with great fascination. Prior to reading what you had to write, I did notice a strange connection between what the King James Version calls the “nakhash” in Genesis 3 and the story in Genesis 44 when Joseph had not yet made himself known to his brothers but filled their sacks with corn, and told his servants to hide his cup in Benjamin’s sack, which on opening and discovering therein, Joseph says “is not this it (the cup) in which my lord drinketh , and whereby indeed he divineth”, the word “divineth” using this same word “nakhash”. I had been puzzled by the strange connection between the word “nakhash” meaning “to divine” and “nakhash” the serpent and wondered if there was a connection but you have explained this. And your analysis is wonderful. Thank you for that!

    Just one thing, though. You say at the end of your study that we may never really know what this creature looked like unless God reveals it to us. But I thought the Bible actually gives us clues on how to identify this animal. As per your analysis, it is an animal of not quite clear definition as what is called a “nakhash” in one place in the Torah is “taneen” in another. But there are other clues which help with its identification.

    In Genesis 3:1, the Torah says, “Now the serpent was more subtil [sic] than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made”. This means that this “nakhash” which tricked Adam and Eve was an animal and in particular, a “beast of the field” as it was a beast of the field more subtle, that is, cunning, than any of the other animals. And that it was a beast of the field means it wasn’t a “taneen” made from the water as it says in Genesis 1:21. As you mentioned, in the KJV, the word “whales” here is “taneen” in the Hebrew. And you showed how that Moses’ rod became a “taneen” in Exodus 7:9 so there seems to be a bit of an interplay between the words “nakhash” and “taneen”. However, the “nakhash” in Genesis 3:1 is clearly a beast of the field, one of the other “beasts of the earth” made from the earth as mentioned in Genesis 1:25 and not a water creature as the “taneen” seems to imply.

    Now in Genesis 3:17, Yahveh cursed Adam by saying that he will now have to work by the sweat of his brow. This curse as we accept was not directed purely at Adam alone but to all us male descendants of Adam, so that all the sons of Adam are cursed along with the first man, Adam. In the same way, in Genesis 3:16, Yahveh cursed Eve by saying that she will have birth pains when giving birth and that Adam will rule over her. Again, this curse was not purely directed at Eve but to all the daughters of Eve even to this day. So if the curses that Yahveh made to Adam and Eve were not purely directed at Adam and Eve per se but to all the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve, this means that the curse that Yahveh made to the “nakhash” in Genesis 3:14 was not only to the specific “nakhash” in the Creation Story but to all the descendants of this primordial “nakhash” which, like the descendants of Adam and Eve, must exist today.

    Therefore, whereas you say at the end of this study that we may never know what the animal which spoke to Adam and Eve really looked like, I thought that, in the same way that by looking at the descendants of Adam and Eve we can get a good idea of what the original man and woman looked like, by looking at the descendants of the first “nakhash” we can get an idea of what the first “nakhash” looked like. And it is quite clear in the Bible what to look for. For us to identify what the original “nakhash” looked like, we simply have to look around at all the beasts of the field and see which one best fits the description of the “nakhash” in the Genesis story. All we need to look for is a creature that is a beast of the field, hence a land animal (Genesis 3:1), it is a land animal that now goes about on its belly and eats dust all its life (Genesis 3:14), it is able to speak like humans seeing the “nakhash” spoke to Eve in clear language saying “Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” and to Eve’s reply says, “Ye shall not surely die, etc.”, and the “nakhash” reasons like humans, even reasons better than humans as the humans through the reasoning of the “nakhash” were tricked. So, once we have identified this creature, we will know it is the descendant of the first “nakhash” and we will know what the original “nakhash” looked like.

    So, you could say that God has already revealed the true identity of the “nakhash” and it is really not a mystery at all.

    Love and Shalom

    Reply
      1. michaelajfarril

        Dear Ramesh,

        Throughout your study, you used a letter-number system when mentioning Hebrew words. For example, you write H5175 – nachash (etc.). I don’t understand this numbering system but I am guessing you are referring to a Hebrew-English dictionary of sorts. Could you explain the reference? As it looks like this would help me with my Hebrew learning.

        Love and Shalom

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s