The Serpent and the Tree

First, here is a summary of the story of the fall:

In the garden of Eden, God told Adam not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.  Later, a creature called the serpent gives the fruit of the tree to Eve (Adam’s wife), and she eats.  Eve then gives the fruit to Adam, who eats as well.  Immediately, Adam and Eve realize they are naked and make clothes for themselves.  That evening, God talks with Adam, Eve, and the serpent and curses them all.  God them makes clothes of skin for Adam and Eve, and sends an angel to guard the way to the tree of life. (Summary of Genesis 2:15 – 3:22)

The characters in the above story are God, Adam, Eve, the serpent, an angel, two trees, and fruit, while the setting is in the Garden of Eden.  The mystery deepens (or opens) when you look at other scriptures in the Bible where these things resurface together.

Here are some examples of where a tree and a serpent appear together:

1) In Exodus 7:8-13, Aaron throws his staff down in front of Pharaoh, and the staff turns into a serpent.

2) In Numbers 21:4-9 God sends “fiery serpents” among the children of Israel.  To stop the plague, Moses makes a brass snake and wraps it around a pole for the people to view.

3) Isaiah 14:29 says, “Do not rejoice, all you of Philistia, Because the rod that struck you is broken; For out of the serpent’s roots will come forth a viper, And its offspring will be a fiery flying serpent.”

Strangely, the word for “fiery serpents” in the above scriptures is the  Hebrew word “Seraphim”, which are also winged angels.  Here are some examples of scriptures where angels and trees appear in the Garden of Eden:

4) In Ezekiel 28:11-19, the King of Tyre is called a cherub that was in the Garden of Eden,

5) In Ezekiel 31 Pharaoh is called a tree that was “exalted above all the trees of the field” in the Garden of God.  Yet, Pharaoh is prophesied in this scripture to be slain by the sword, and to lie in the midst of the uncircumcised.

In these scriptures the Prophet Ezekiel is speaking to kings and calling one a tree in the Garden of God, and the other an angel in the Garden of Eden.  As neither of these kings could have physically lived in the garden with Adam, Ezekiel was really identifying the spirit that possessed these men, exposing “that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan” (Revelation 20:2).  Satan, a fallen angel, was the only enemy present in the Garden who knew the principle that “when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death” (James 1:15).

There are other instances in the Bible when trees and fruit do not refer to just botanical trees, such as:

6) Solomon is said to have been like “an apple tree” with “fruit” in the Song of Solomon 2:3

7) Agur the son of Jakeh said, “This is the way of an adulterous woman: She eats and wipes her mouth, And says, “I have done no wickedness.”   (Proverbs 30:20)

If you read Genesis with Solomon’s interpretation of trees and fruit in mind, the story goes way beyond the story of a snake holding an apple.  This makes sense as the tree of knowledge could not just be a botanical tree as “knowledge” is not a tangible article like an apple.

So why all this symbolism?  The Bible is written in such a way that a elementary school child can read it and not ‘get’ anything, but at the same time an adult can read the same scripture and blush.  So, what Moses (who wrote the book of Genesis) described in the Garden of Eden was literal, yet “family friendly”.

Finally, the Tree of Life is also an allegory for Jesus Christ.  Though this tree is a spiritual allegory, its manifestation was the sacrifice of a man on a cross – a very un-supernatural event.  Jesus Christ became the antidote for the serpent by being lifted up on a tree, just as Moses lifted up the serpent on a pole in the wilderness.  So whereas sin came to man through a serpent and a tree, life comes to man through the Son of God and the cross.

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