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The Serpent in the Bible

Besides the role that the serpent played in the Garden of Eden, the creature appears in a variety of passages in the Bible, and is associated with other figures mentioned in religious text. In this article, you will learn the serpent’s connection to the likes of Moses, curses, and poison.

As a Curse

The serpent is associated with and is used as symbolism for curses. It is used to describe or refer to people who have been cursed. The following passages in Genesis shed light on this association:

And the LORD God said to the serpent, Because you have done this, you are cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; on your belly shall you go, and dust shall you eat all the days of your life:” [Genesis 3:14,15]

Dan shall be a serpent by the way, an adder in the path that bites the horse heels, so that his rider shall fall backward. [Genesis 49:17]

As a Charmer

The serpent is seen as a charmer. In the following passages, you will see that the creature is mentioned in relation to circumstances regarding charm and enchantment:

“Their poison is like the poison of a serpent: they are like the deaf adder that stops her ear;” [Psalm 58:4,5]

“Surely the serpent will bite without enchantment; and a babbler is no better.” [Ecclesiastes 10:11]

“For, behold, I will send serpents, cockatrices, among you, which will not be charmed, and they shall bite you, said the LORD.” [Jeremiah 8:17]

As a Poisonous Creature

The venom of the serpent is noted for its poisonous nature, and is used throughout the Bible to refer to the destruction and harm it can cause.

“They shall be burnt with hunger, and devoured with burning heat, and with bitter destruction: I will also send the teeth of beasts on them, with the poison of serpents of the dust.” [Deuteronomy 32:24,33]

“He shall suck the poison of asps: the viper’s tongue shall slay him.” [Job 20:16]

“Their poison is like the poison of a serpent: they are like the deaf adder that stops her ear;” [Psalm 58:4]

“They have sharpened their tongues like a serpent; adders’ poison is under their lips. Selah.” [Psalm 140:3]

“Look not you on the wine when it is red, when it gives his color in the cup, when it moves itself aright.”[ Proverbs 23:31,32]
“And he shook off the beast into the fire, and felt no harm.” [Acts 28:5,6]

Transformation of Moses’ Staff

Passages in Exodus mention the transformation of Moses’ staff into a serpent. When Moses is commanded to throw down his staff, he does so only after he transforms it into a snake. God instructs Moses to grab the snake by the tail, and when he does, the snake turns back into his staff. This miracle (in addition to two others) is used to convince the Jews that Moses is indeed a true messenger of God. The transformation of the staff is also used to convince the Egyptians to release his people. Two references of Moses’ staff and the connection to the serpent is:

“And he said, Cast it on the ground. And he cast it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from before it.” [Exodus 4:3]

“Get you to Pharaoh in the morning; see, he goes out to the water; and you shall stand by the river’s brink against he come; and the rod which was turned to a serpent shall you take in your hand.” [Exodus 7:15]