Our Readers Ask . . .

Why Would Satan Use a Serpent to Speak to Eve?

▪ You may agree that as discussed on page 8, Satan was the force behind the serpent that spoke to Eve. The Bible certainly teaches this. However, you may wonder, ‘Why would a powerful spirit manipulate a snake the way a ventriloquist uses a dummy?’

The Bible characterizes Satan’s tactics as “machinations,” or “crafty acts,” and this incident helps to prove the point. (Ephesians 6:11; footnote) What we see in Eden is no fable about a talking animal; it is a chilling example of clever strategy designed to lure people away from God. In what way?

Satan chose his target carefully. Eve was the youngest intelligent creature in the universe. Taking advantage of her inexperience, he set out to trick and seduce her. By hiding behind a serpent, a very cautious creature, Satan shrewdly concealed his own bold and ambitious aims. (Genesis 3:1) Consider, too, what he accomplished by making the serpent appear to speak.

First, Satan caught and riveted Eve’s attention. She knew that snakes do not talk; her husband had named all the animals, including this one, likely after careful study. (Genesis 2:19) No doubt Eve too had observed this cautious creature. So Satan’s ploy roused Eve’s curiosity; it got her to focus on the one thing in all the garden that was forbidden to her. Second, if the serpent was lurking in the limbs of the forbidden tree, what conclusion was Eve likely to draw? Might she not have reasoned that this lowly, dumb creature had itself eaten from that fruit and had thereafter been able to speak? If the fruit could do so much for a serpent, what might it do for her? We cannot know for sure what Eve thought or whether the snake had taken a bite of the fruit, but we do know that when the serpent told Eve that the fruit would make her “like God,” she was prepared to believe the lie.

Satan’s choice of words also reveals much. He sowed doubts in Eve’s mind, implying that God was holding back something good from her and needlessly restricting her freedom. The success of Satan’s scheme depended on the chance that Eve’s self-interest would outweigh her love for the God who had given her everything she had. (Genesis 3:4, 5) Tragically, Satan’s gambit worked; neither Eve nor Adam had cultivated in their own hearts the kind of love and appreciation for Jehovah that they should have. Does not Satan promote the same kind of self-interest and rationalizing today?

What, though, about Satan’s motive? What was he after? In Eden, he attempted to hide both his identity and his motive. But, in time, he revealed himself. When he tempted Jesus, he surely knew that disguises were of no use. So he directly urged Jesus: “Fall down and do an act of worship to me.” (Matthew 4:9) Evidently, Satan has long been driven by jealousy over the worship that goes to Jehovah God. He will go to any length to divert or pervert such worship. He loves to destroy integrity to God.

Clearly, the Bible reveals that Satan is a deadly strategist in seeking his aims. Happily, we need not be fooled as Eve was, “for we are not ignorant of his designs.”​—2 Corinthians 2:11.