"The Serpent of Eden" or "Paradise Lost"
Some have discussed the meaning of the account in Genesis 3, about the serpent. A pivot question has been: Who lied, the serpent or Jehovah?
Please bear in mind that the account in Genesis 3 is not an eyewitness account. According to JW, Moses wrote Genesis. According to most scholars, Genesis was compiled by king Solomons priestly scribes. Anyway, this is a narrative that got the present form many centuries after any actual incident in the Garden of Eden. The narrator, whoever it was, may of course have had access to older written sources that are lost today.
Please also bear in mind that the names Satan or Devil are not mentioned at all in Genesis, not even in the Pentateuch. In fact, we can only find these names in the latest of the Hebrew texts.
The rise of Satan
We can find the word satan a few places in the Hebrew Scriptures, but mostly, the word does not refer to a certain being, as a name, but as a common noun, meaning resister, accuser or adversary. The context shows, in most places, that a human being is referred to. Even JW admit this. See for instance 2 Sam 19:22; 1 King 5:4; 11:14,23,25 (All scriptural references are to New World Translation. See also footnotes in the Reference Edition.)
One of the few clear references to Satan, as a being or angel, in the Hebrew Scriptures are found in Job 1. But the book of Job is a quite late book, definitely post-exile. (JW claim that Moses is the author, but they are the only one to claim this.)
Another reference to Satan is found in Zech 3:1,2, also a post-exile book. Here, Satan occurs with a definite article, but it is still not a proper name. The meaning is most likely the accuser and the setting is also a kind of a court, where this accuser plays his role.
A curiosity: Look up 1 Chron 21:1. This seems like a reference to a personal Satan, doesnt it? Then, look up the parallel account in 2 Sam 24:1. Here, Jehovah himself is the accuser. This might be shocking to anyone who believes in the absolute integrity of the Bible. My point is this: The Chronicles are written post exile, much later than 2 Samuel, at a time when the Jews had an idea of Satan as an evil angel, an idea that didnt exist before the Babylonian exile.
(For those of you that dont know this: It is common historical knowledge that the Jews accepted the ideas of angels and of Satan as Jehovahs adversary after the exile, influenced by Persian religion. In the 2 nd century before Christ, this belief was manifest among some of the Jewish fractions. Remember that at the time of Jesus, the Pharisees did believe in the existence of angels, but the Sadducees rejected this teaching.)
Another interesting point is that an apocryphical Hebrew book, The Book of Wisdom, says in 2:23,24: For God created human beings to be immortal, he made them as an image of his own nature; Death came into the world only through the Devils envy, as those who belong to him find to their cost. This is in fact very close to the Christian belief about Satan, sin and salvation, and this book was also accepted and used by the early church fathers. But, since JW rarely refer to apocryphical books in support for their views, they have a hard time finding support for the belief in Satan as an angel and Jehovahs adversary in the Hebrew canon.
Back to Eden
With the above in mind, please understand that the narrator of Genesis 3 did not speak a single word about Satan or the Devil.
Now, please read through the account from Genesis 2:16 and all of Genesis 3, and think about what it really says. Think about what that ancient narrator wanted to tell us.
So, did you do it? And . did you maybe think Who lied, the serpent or Jehovah?
To me, it is not a matter of who lied and who did not. Maybe both lied? Maybe both said the truth? Maybe the serpent was partly right and Jehovah partly wrong?
The serpent said: For God knows that in the very day of your eating from it your eyes are bound to be opened and you are bound to be like God, knowing good and bad. Was this a lie? Apparently not. In v22 we read: And Jehovah God went on to say: Here the man has become like us in knowing good and bad
Jehovah said: for in the day you eat from it you will positively die. Was this a lie? Maybe, maybe not. At least, Adam and Eve eventually died, But Jehovah did not mention that 1000 years = 1 day. And he did not mention that he meant some sort of a spiritual death. On the other hand, the serpent promised that the result of eating the fruit would show up the very same day, that they would be like God. And, as seen above, this really happened.
Remember that Adam and Eve never were promised eternal life by neither Jehovah nor Satan. It was only a question of die or not die after eating the fruit. The question of eternal life arose later, when Jehovah prevented Adam and Eve from eating from The Tree of Life by expelling them from the garden of Eve.
Some have argued that the serpent couldnt have been only a serpent, that Satan must have been the one who pulled the strings.
Gen 3:1 says that the serpent proved to be the most cautious of all the wild beasts. If this was just a stupid snake acting as a puppet for Satan, how could it be described as cautious?
Gen 3:14 says: And Jehovah God proceeded to say to the serpent: Because you have done this thing, you are the cursed one Why should Jehovah punish a snake, when Satan was the one to blame?
Cherubs and sword
Some might argue that angels actually are mentioned in Gen 3:24, when speaking of the cherubs guarding the way to The Tree of Life. To say that cherubs are a sort of angels is a gross misunderstanding. Actually, the whole idea of cherubs is borrowed from Babylonian mythology, where cherubs were called karibu. These were half-human, half-animal spirits guarding the gates of temples and palaces. In the Biblical account the cherubs are portrayed as winged creatures. The first occurrence of cherubs in connection with the worship of Jehovah is the Ark of the Covenant. (1 Sam 4:4)
One evil question: Who invented the sword?
Well, if you believe that the account of Gen 3 relates to historical facts, it must have been Jehovah, since he posted the cherubs and a sword to guard The Tree of Life.
To, me it shows that this is a narrative put together by a man with good intentions, but not being aware of this gross anachronism.
The meaning of the account
The mainline is about how chaos came into a perfect world, how lust (they realized their nakedness), pain and labour started. It also describes mans tendency to act independent of God. The beings to blame were Adam, Eve and the serpent. Satan was never in question, since the narrator never had any idea about any angel that acted as an adversary to Jehovah.