Caught & The Serpent Motif in Other Ancient Near Eastern Literature

Finger Pointing UpYup, that’s the way many people are, if something looks good they want it and will take it if they can.  Since You can create things with a simple word, I guess Your Word is also Law, a law that we’re supposed to follow. 

I bet Adam and Eve didn’t tell You they broke the law, did they?  Just like today, most people aren’t willing to admit to breaking the law, or even making a mistake.

“And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.

And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?

And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.Cartoon

And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?

And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. And the LORD God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat (Gen 3:8-13).

Wow, Adam and Eve sound like democrats.

There were three things that I started enjoying when I was a teenager and continued to do that until late into my 40s.  I call them vices because they always got me in trouble.

The first two were vices from the get go, I just didn’t realize it.  The last one I allowed to become a vice and it was a problem because even once I removed the first two, if I found pleasure in the third it would lead me back to the other two, which kind of go hand-and-hand.  And they were:

* Alcohol,

* Drugs, and

* Women.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that all women are bad, just the ones I liked.  Yet, I don’t blame the troubles I’ve had with women on them, that was my own doing, and I was a master at it.

If I don’t stand in the middle of the highway I won’t get ran over, but without Jesus I’m unable to stay off the highway.

The Serpent Motif in Other
Ancient Near Eastern Literature

2. Egyptian solar deity
Egyptian solar deity. By the Fifth Dynasty (2494 to 2345 B.C.) he had become a major god in ancient Egyptian religion, identified primarily with the midday sun. The meaning of the name is uncertain, but it is thought that if not a word for ‘sun’ it may be a variant of or linked to words meaning ‘creative power’ and ‘creator’.

Throughout most of the ancient Near East, people revered and often worshiped serpents as symbols of royalty, wisdom, healing, fertility, death and other forces, both harmful and beneficial.  

However, in ancient writings serpents and serpentine creatures played their most prominent roles as adversaries of both humans and gods:

In the Egyptian Myth of Osiris‘ the sun god Ra (sometimes spelled Re) has to contend with Apophis, a demon serpent who attempts each morning to overthrow Ra and thereby enfold the world in darkness.

Consequently, Egyptian texts liken the pharaoh’s enemies to Apophis, thus calling down curses upon their heads.

The snake of the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh is somewhait reminiscent of the serpent in Genesis 3 in that it deprives the hero, Gilgamesh of immortality.

Image result for The Sumerian epic hero Gilgamesh holding a lion.
The Sumerian epic hero Gilgamesh holding a lion. The Epic of Gilgamesh is amongst the earliest surviving works of literature.

While Gilgamesh is bathing in a pond, a serpent robs him of the Plant of Rejuvenation which, if eaten, would have granted him eternal life.

The ser­pent devours the plant and is rejuvenated as it sheds its old skin. Gilgamesh, however, is consigned to die as a mortal.

Serpents similarly oppose humans and gods in other Mesopotamian stories, such as the Etana Myth, Enumo Elish and Inanna and the Huluppu Tree.

In Ugarit’s Baal Anat Cycle, Baal and his consort, Anat, defeat the seven-headed “twisting serpent,” Lotan.

The word Lotan is related to Leviathan (crushed by God at the time of creation (see Ps 74:14) but prophesied to reassert itself temporarily during the end times (Isa 27:1]).

See a discussion of God’s dealings with a similar monster, Rahab, in Job 9:13,26:12, Ps 89:10,Is 51:9.

The serpent of Genesis 3 plays an adver­sarial role, as do those in other ancient Near Eastern literature, but it is introduced simply as one of the creatures “the Lord God had made” (v. 1).

Enuma Elish
Enuma Elish is the Babylonian creation mythos (named after its opening words). It was recovered by Austen Henry Layard in 1849 (in fragmentary form) in the ruined Library of Ashurbanipal at Nineveh (Mosul, Iraq), and published by George Smith in 1876.

God the Creator is omnipotent; his purposes cannot be thwarted by any creature.

Although the serpent or sea mon­ster motif in the Bible reflects the fact that Biblical writers incorporated well-known images from the ancient world into their writings, other Biblical material clearly demonstrates that these inspired authors did not accept the mythology behind the Mesopotamian or Egyptian stories.

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