BR 20:06, Dec 2004
From Seraph to Satan
Shape-shifting in the Garden of Eden
How should we picture the wily serpent of the Garden of Eden?
Hes often regarded as the Devil in snakes clothes. Yet, much to many peoples surprise, there is no Devil in Eden or, for that matter, anywhere in the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible. In the Hebrew Bible, the serpent of Eden is just called nahash, or serpent; hes never referred to as the Devil or Satan.
The figure called Satan in the Book of Job is not a character bearing this name but a heavenly official with the title Satan, meaning Prosecutor. (The Hebrew term derives from the verb to accuse.) According to the Book of Job, the Prosecutor roams to and fro on the earth and takes his place among the other sons of God (bene elohim); his job is to report on earthly doings to the heavenly court (Job 1:67). In fact, the first biblical figure to bear the title satan is none other than King David (1 Samuel 29:4: he may become an adversary [satan] to us in battle).1