15 And/but hostility I will set between you and between the woman, and between your seed and between her seed. He himself will bruise (or “crush”) you (on) the head, and you yourself will bruise (or “wound”) him (on) the heel." (Gen 3:15)
Yep, I really am categorizing this verse as a little bit (“interval”) of good news, at least for the human race; not so good for the serpent. First of all, we have the beginnings of a “war” of sorts between the woman and the serpent, or—more accurately—the snake, since God has already cursed the serpent to crawl on his belly. This hostility that God creates can’t be good news for the snake, since it clearly means that the woman will certainly never, ever trust the snake again, or probably any other snake, for that matter. I’m guessing that the fact that the woman was already none too happy with this particular serpent, since she realized he had fooled her big time.
But now, God Himself has pronounced a “judicial” hostility between the woman (possibly all women?) and the snake (all snakes?). And, I think we could all agree that hostility toward someone or something is usually accompanied by fear, and that that the combination of hate and fear is just nothing but trouble for both sides. On the one hand, now that the snake is condemned to slithering along the ground, he should be easier to kill if the woman spots him; on the other hand, even though the snake no longer has the advantage of talking, and of the woman listening, his unique ground-hugging position may make it easier for him to sneak around, and maybe even take a few shots a biting the woman on the foot, ankle, and so on. The point is that God removed the factor of deception and put the war on more equal footing, so to speak. Note that I am not even attempting to draw out the spiritual metaphor here, or reveal the true creature behind the snake, I’m simply drawing a word picture of the plain, old boring literal sense of this situation. Snake can still bite, but woman can stomp: not rocket science, eh?
But that’s not enough for God. He starts talking about a twist in this hostility that clearly takes us into the future, and involves the progeny of both woman and snake. More precisely, the word God uses is “seed,” and He promises or warns, depending on your perspective, that this mutual hostility, this “war,” will extend to the “seed” of the woman and of the serpent. Again, from a very literal and earthy interpretation, it looks like the children of both sides will also be fighting this war for a while. However, this word “seed” does cause some problems if we simply want to see this as a war between future generations of women and snakes. (NOTE: The word “seed” for the woman’s contribution to the reproductive cycle is probably not a problem. Although “seed” is usually used of a man’s offspring, once his seed was implanted inside the woman, it really did become “her seed” for the purposes of reproduction.)
The problem is that the Hebrew word “seed” is blatantly and clearly singular, and—as such—doesn’t really point to a long succession of human and serpentine kids fighting it out for generation after generation. What would make a bit more sense is if we see the verse pointing to some single future “seed” of the woman in mortal conflict a single future “seed” of the serpent. I say “mortal” because the picture is that of a human triumph in this ultimate “battle of the seeds.” The snake is warned, although he will get a good strike, or bite, on the human’s heel, that the human will “bruise,” or—more likely “crush” the serpent’s head. Let’s see now: Which would I rather deal with, a snake bite on my heel, or a crushed head? And, arguably, a snake’s head is a lot easier to crush than a human head: the snake is on the ground, and his head is small. Strategy? Hmmm; how ‘bout I just step on his head? After I kill the sneaky rascal, then I can deal with the prospect that the bite on my heel has some poison in it, right? Anyway, the bottom line is that the snake’s seed does cause some pain, but is ultimately destroyed by the woman’s seed.
So, isn’t there something more spiritually significant behind all of this “seed,” and “woman” and “snake” talk? Relax folks: Of course there’s more!!! However, I have been careful beyond reason to avoid bringing New Testament truth into this first record of sin and death entering God’s creation, and I intend to maintain that critical care until I get to the point when I’m ready to pull all of the theology together. Frankly, that’s a few posts down the pike yet. But, I will say that here in God’s words there is at least a veiled “prophecy” that some future “seed of the woman,” some future human, will crush some future snake’s seed, some future “serpent” in a way that is climactic and decisive. Some ultimate man will utterly crush some ultimate serpent. That’s pretty much the tone here, and it doesn’t take too much imagination to take a good guess at who that ultimate man actually is. But, as I said, we’re leaving that discussion for a future seed on this blog …. er . . . a future post on this blog.
Next time we’ll get into the specific consequences to the man and the woman, and discover how they really hit them both where they live. See you then!
See you next time; Yours in Christ,