Genesis 3:15


Dr Grant C Richison
Genesis 3:15
And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her Seed;
He shall bruise your head,
And you shall bruise His heel.
This is the first prophecy of the coming of Christ. Not only is this a prophecy of his birth, but it is a prophecy of his work.
“And I will put enmity”
The context of this verse is the fall of Adam and Eve. God is speaking to the serpent who is a personification of Satan. God desires no coalition between himself and Satan. The two are mutually exclusive.
“Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her Seed.”
God draws a distinction between “your seed” (Satan’s seed) and “her Seed” (Jesus). “Her Seed” refers to the humanity (incarnation) of Christ. Notice that this passage does not say that the “Seed” was of Adam. This is an inference of the virgin birth. The New Testament calls Jesus the “Seed” (Galatians 3:16).
“He shall bruise your head,
And you shall bruise His heel.”
God is predicting the defeat of Satan by the coming of Christ, the Messiah. God is drawing the battle lines between himself and Satan.
“He shall bruise your head” is a mortal wound. The power of Satan is crushed by the cross of Christ.
Yet even at the moment of the first fall, God promises a solution to their sin. At the fall Satan bruised the heel of Jesus. Sin was the cause of Christ going to the cross. At the cross Christ will crush Satan’s head. One is a non-lethal and the other a lethal act. At the cross Jesus dealt Satan a fatal blow. There he paid for the penalty of sin fully.
Christ not only paid for the sins of the world on the cross but he defeated Satan there (Colossians 2:14,15). Satan was executed at the cross.
“And you shall bruise His heel” refers to the death of Christ. Whether this refers literally to the heels of Jesus pressed against the cross, is not important. Jesus was bruised at the cross (Isaiah 53:10).
PRINCIPLE: The birth of Christ set up the possibility of Christ fully paying for sin by the death of his body on the cross.
APPLICATION: Christ fully paid for our sins on the cross. We are free from suffering for them by ourselves.

116 Responses to “Genesis 3:15”

  • Andy, you cannot answer the issue of your interpolation. Your last blog is gobbledygook in the factuality of your answer. No matter how many times I ask you to prove your point, you don’t do it because you can’t do it. You appeal to vacuous generalities hoping that somehow you can appeal to the authority of your subjective interpretations.

  • Let me interpret for Grant.

    Because Grant has no defense against the truth, he simply denies that I’ve proven anything (even though he hasn’t answered my assertions). He is trying to keep the focus on me so that his inability to prove my assertions wrong goes under the radar.

    Where is your scriptural backing, preacher? Where is it? By the Bible, you are a liar.

  • Facts, Andy, facts. You have not given them. I am focusing on your proof which you have not given. Like many cults, they change the subject from the facts to other subjects just like you just did.

  • Alright, Grant. Teach me, O great wise one. Give me an example of a fact.

  • Give me one statement from Scripture where Satan had physical sex.

  • And you show me how “seed” happens to have two separate meanings in Genesis 3:15.

  • Hi All!
    Just a note from your sister in Christ! You may remember me from a few months ago when I jumped in this thread for a couple of days. I get emails with comments on this post and fight back responding cuz its like talking to a brick wall! Andy, Grant makes very valid points and I feel does well to back up what he shares. My real concern here is for Lottie.
    Lottie if you are still in on this thread I just want to appoligize. This is not a very good example of what it means to be a christian. If I may recommend something to you it would be this, get on your knees and ask Jesus to show you how much He loves you! And then start reading the new testament especially the Gospels, matthew mark luke and john. Learn more about Jesus and what He did for you personally on the cross and how much He loves and wants a relationship with you.
    To Andy and Grant, I believe you men mean well but you are allowing the enemy to use and distract you from the mission. Get back to the basics in fact it might not hurt either of you to do what I recommended to Lottie.
    And Lottie please know I am praying for you and may Jesus awaked your heart to His passionate love for you!

  • Elizabeth, thank you for your blog. Lottie is the very reason I decided to expose Andy’s cultic interpretations. A new Christian does not have the foundation to distinguish between the things that differ. The Bible is replete with challenges to false doctrine. Every 2nd epistle in the New Testament does this, all of the gospels (Jesus confronts religion more than anyone), the book of Jude, much of the book of Revelation, all of the prophets, and the Tora–all of these books confront false doctrine. There is something more than relationships in Scripture.
    For months I left Andy’s ideas stand for others to see how weak they were but once Lottie joined the blog on this verse, then I felt I had to expose his false doctrine.
    Thanks for your love and concern for Lottie.

  • Hi Grant!
    I understand what you are saying and I totally agree. Solid doctrine is VERY important! I appreciate what you are trying to do here and am glad that you have stood up and taken this discussion back over.
    Andy please don’t be offended by what I am about to say but I think you need to go find another playground to play on your false doctrine is not welcome here anymore. And YOU NOT GRANT are the one who should be in fear and trembling.

  • Andy has made some good points about the seed of the serpent which need to be answered. I registered here some months back to follow the Gen 3.15 thread and am sorry to see it descend into the kind of bickering we have witnessed. As teachers (and I have been teaching the Bible for over 20 years) I believe we must be very patient with the genuine seekers for truth and avoid the kind of ad hominem attacks we have seen. Any “seed of the serpent” discussion deserves better. Yet it always seems to raise the temperature – is that surprising in view of the final destination of the topic’s main actor?

    Grant is generously sharing his knowledge of God’s Word with us all. My request to him is the following: the Gen3.15 “seed of the woman” can be traced and explained in the Bible all the way through to the Book of Revelation; Andy has done some work, which Grant rejects, on tracing the “seed of the serpent” through Scripture; if Andy is wrong, and as a first step in a correct analysis of what “seed of the serpent” means and is, would Grant please give us the Scripture references which trace the “seed of the serpent” through the Bible.

  • Elizabeth, thanks for your comments. I believe your insights are right on. Education is not an issue for me when it comes to understanding the Bible. Most people can understand the Bible by using context. Some of the people who have made great impact on me did not have extensive education. Learning from life advances many people into higher understandings of life and Scripture.

  • John Paul. Ad Hominem argument is the attempt to avoid the premise of a person arguing against another. My problem with Andy’s premise is that he does not show it (the premise) from Scripture. Nowhere in Scripture is there a statement that shows Cain or his offspring were the result of Satan having physical sex. The Bible often charges Israel with spiritual adultery by worshiping other gods.
    I do not argue that there are no children of the Devil. Jesus charged religious leaders that their father was the Devil (Jn 8:44). He was their father in a spiritual sense and in their teaching. In Acts 13:9 Paul charged Elymas with being a child of the devil. These children of the Devil are spiritual children of the Devil. Note my treatment of 1 Jn 3:4-12

  • Grant, amen brother! Very well put.

  • Grant, thank you for explaining your position. I may have missed it but cannot remember Andy stressing a supposed physical relationship between Satan and Eve. His main point is not about about sexual intercourse between the two at all. His main point is that there is a physical seed of Satan mentionned throughout Scripture. You obviously agree since you confirm that the Devil has children here on earth. Satan’s children are not diembodied entities. You must therefore agree with Andy that there is a physical seed of Satan on earth. You both seem to be in agreement on his main point. My question is: what is the fuss all about? Please explain where you disagree with him.

  • John Paul, no, I do not believe that Satan has a physical progeny but fallen spiritual children as you should have seen in my studies in 1 John 3. If you mean that children are born with sin capacity, then I do believe that. God told Adam if he sinned “dying you will die.” In other words, Adam died spiritually (Ro 5:12) and we die in him because we have that sin capacity. Later Adam would actually physically die.

    Andy also believes in 1) antisemitism and 2) something similar to British Israelism (a cult).

  • I’m sorry for my part in the bickering. My point is that in Genesis 3:15 the word “seed” can’t have two meanings-one spiritual, one physical, literal. If Jesus Christ was real and is real, then the seed of the serpent is also. From my perspective, that is balanced, logical interpretation of this passage.

  • Grant,Since both you and Andy agree that Satan has a spiritual progeny we can go to the main issue he raised which is that of a physical progeny. What always comes first, and which is the greater, the spiritual or the physical? I think we can all agree that it is always the spiritual that comes first and is the greater. Since you agree that Satan has a spiritual progeny it would be a small thing for you to agree that, since this progeny must have physical bodies, it is, according to all the rules of logic, physical as well as spiritual. Where does the Bible teach that progeny can be one and not the other?

    We do not say “he is a God fearing man but, mind you, I am talking of his spirit, not of his flesh” or “he has shown by his actions that he is wicked, but I mean only in spirit, his flesh is Godly”.

  • Andy, your strongest argument is your last blog, that is, if Christ is the physical seed in Genesis 3:15 then why is not Satan’s seed physical as well. However, there are a number of problems with your interpretation.
    1. You interpretation is not the only alternative. As you mention, the word “seed” has a figurative or metaphorical meaning as well, as does all Hebrew and Greek words. The Hebrew word is often translated “progeny” as it should be in 3:15.
    2. There is no extant statement that Satan had sex with Eve or anyone else in Scripture. This is compounded by the fact that angels are sexless and do not procreate, as Jesus said. There is extensive studies on angelology on this subject.
    3. All subsequent Scripture does not support the point that Satan had sex but, in fact, argues for another point, that is, the federal headship of Adam. It was through Adam (not Eve) that sin passed down to man (Ro 5:12-21). There is extensive literature on traducianism versus federalism when it comes to the fallen nature of man and how it happened. There is no credible theology anywhere that argues your case. You stand alone except for people like William Branham, who is viewed as cultic by all evangelicals.
    4. It is very important in interpretation to let the clear passages interpret the unclear and the majority of passages interpret the minority of passages. Ge 3:15 is the only passage in Scripture that has the possibility of your interpretation. That passage does not possess sufficient clarity to come to your conclusion. It does not say that Satan had sex; that is an inference that you extrapolate from the verse. The onus is on you to prove that assertion. You can’t do it because it is not there. There is another viable interpretation and that is that out of Satan’s influence on Adam and Eve sin entered into the human family. Now people have to born into a new family (the family of Christ) in order to receive a new nature. The Bible extensively argues the tension between the new and old natures. A person is spiritually regenerate (born spiritually) when a person places faith in the finished work of Christ on the cross for our sin. Thus, both the Old Testament and New Testament go to great effort to demonstrate that the sin that occurred in the garden was a sin against God that mankind inherited. First Corinthians 15 also argues that the issue is Adam (not Eve) verses Christ family is the issue. In Adam all die; in Christ all are made alive. Cults take unclear and obscure passages to come to their conclusions. This is very dangerous for the body of Christ because it imposes inferential interpretations of Scripture that comes to conclusions that do not represent what God says in His Word. The overwhelming study of the Bible argues against a sexual encounter of Satan with someone but argues for sin (going autonomy from God’s will) as the reason for Adam’s immediate death and his ultimate eternal spiritual death.
    To save myself some time in demonstrating how evangelicals interpret this verse, note evangelical interpretations of this passage:
    3:15 This predicted battle between the serpent and the woman would not be a literal confrontation in the garden. The language is figurative, indicating the life-and-death struggle between the adversary and the human family borne by the woman. Like the word “sheep” in English, the word “seed” in Hebrew is both singular and plural, meaning either descendants without number, taken as a whole, or one particular descendant. The passage incorporates both meanings by referring to the ongoing opposition to the people of God by their enemies and by predicting the rise of a particular seed, Jesus Christ, who will destroy the serpent in the end (Rm 16:20; Rv 12:9–10).
    3:15 After cursing the physical serpent, God turned to the spiritual serpent, the lying seducer, Satan, and cursed him. bruise your head … bruise His heel. This “first gospel” is prophetic of the struggle and its outcome between “your seed” (Satan and unbelievers, who are called the Devil’s children in John 8:44) and her seed (Christ, a descendant of Eve, and those in Him), which began in the garden. In the midst of the curse passage, a message of hope shone forth—the woman’s offspring called “He” is Christ, who will one day defeat the Serpent. Satan could only “bruise” Christ’s heel (cause Him to suffer), while Christ will bruise Satan’s head (destroy him with a fatal blow). Paul, in a passage strongly reminiscent of Gen. 3, encouraged the believers in Rome, “And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly” (Rom. 16:20). Believers should recognize that they participate in the crushing of Satan because, along with their Savior and because of His finished work on the cross, they also are of the woman’s seed. For more on the destruction of Satan, see Heb. 2:14,15; Rev. 20:10.
    A. The Promise of Salvation (Gn 3:15).
    Genesis 3:15 has been called the Protevangelium, the first Gospel. This first Messianic prophecy comes in a most unlikely place—in the context of a curse upon Serpent. The verses assure Serpent that he would have a battle on three different levels.
    1. On the personal level the woman would do battle with Serpent. She would never again be the pushover she had been in the garden. God promised to put enmity in her heart toward Serpent. This was the beginning of the successful struggle against Satan. Needless to say, God did not force this enmity upon the woman. He was responding to her sense of shame and free admission of guilt. How was this a punishment for Satan? The woman’s enmity toward Satan smashed his dreams of recruiting all mankind for his rebellion against God.
    2. The battle would continue between the seed of woman and the seed of Serpent. That the word “seed” here is figurative is obvious from the fact that women do not literally have seed. The seed of woman would embrace all those who share the woman’s enmity toward the Devil, i.e., righteous mankind. The seed of the Devil would include all who yield to the Evil One without so much as a skirmish, i.e., wicked mankind. God was assuring Serpent that a righteous remnant of mankind would resist with God-given might the evil designs of the children of the Devil.
    3. The struggle between the two seeds would reach its climax in a confrontation between Serpent himself and a single representative of the seed of woman. Serpent will strike at the heel of this champion of righteousness. He will thereby inflict great pain upon him. Ultimately, however, the representative of the seed of woman would crush Serpent’s head, i.e., deal him a mortal blow. That Genesis 3:15 refers to the victory of Messiah over Satan is the teaching of Galatians 4:4–5 and 3:15ff.
    How degrading is the bondage of sin! How entirely does it destroy all honesty and honour, as well as purity and peace! The sinner, once yielding to the tempter, is at his mercy. And having lost his hold of the truth of God, he is but too glad, for his relief from despair, to believe and to plead the lies of the devil.
    God, however, has a better way. He has thoughts of love towards the guilty parents of our race. For the sentence which he goes on to pronounce, when he has called them before him, is not such as they might have expected. It is not retributive, bur remedial, and in all its parts it is fitted exactly to meet their case.
    I. In the first place, their complaint against the serpent is instantly attended to. He is judged and condemned:—“And the Lord God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou are cursed above all the cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shall thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: and I will put enmity between thee and the woman, between thy seed and her seed; and it shall bruise thy head, and thou shall bruise his heel” (ver. 14, 15).
    Though the language here employed is applicable literally to the serpent, as a mere beast of the field, doomed to a groveling life, and destined, from its venomous rancour, to be ever the object of man’s more powerful resentment—the sentence must have been intended and understood in another sense also. Thus, licking or eating the dust, is uniformly made a sign of the defeat and degradation or submission of the adversaries of God and to his people. It is said of Christ that “his enemies shall lick the dust,”—and of the nations that they “shall lick the dust like a serpent,” for fear of him (Ps. lxxii. 9; Micah vii. 17). Of his church also it is said, that “kings and their queens, once her oppressors, shall lick the dust of her feet” (Is. xlix. 23). And of the great enemy himself, with reference to the period of his final overthrow, it is said that “dust shall be the serpent’s meat” (Is. lxv. 25). Then, again, Satan is represented as about to be bruised under the feet of Christ’s believing people, and that shortly, by the God of peace (Rom. xvi. 20). And the whole description of his desperate struggle in the last dispensation (Rev. xii. 7–17), is evidently a comment on the brief announcement in this passage of Genesis. The shout of triumph is heard in heaven:—“For the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused before our God day and night. And they overcame him, by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony.” But not without a bruising of the church’s heel, is this final bruising of Satan’s head accomplished. For it is added, “Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.” There is a fierce persecution instigated by Satan, before his time is out. The victory, however, is not doubtful; already his ruin is anticipated in the courts of the sanctuary above.
    Thus, the sentence pronounced upon the serpent, as the instrument of the temptation, reaches its real author. Satan, flushed with victory, is to be discomfited by the very race over which he has triumphed. And their success over him, it is particularly intimate, is to be the result, not of artful and insidious guile, but of open warfare. The contest may be long, and he may gain partial conquests; but in the end the issue is sure.
    How far the phrase, “the seed of the woman,” as here used, should be limited to the Messiah personally, is not very clear. The prophet Micah probably refers to this first prediction. Foretelling that “out of Bethlehem-Ephratah he is to come forth, who is to be ruler in Israel, and whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting,” he adds, that deliverance is not to be “until the time that she which travaileth hath brought forth;”—intimating that it is of “the seed of the woman” he has been speaking (Micah v. 2–3). And the apostle’s argument would seem to apply here: “He saith, not seeds, as if there were many, but one seed, which is Christ” (Gal. iii. 16). Undoubtedly it is Christ who is principally pointed out; though, at the same time, as the seed of the serpent may have a wider signification, denoting all of his party among men (Matt. iii. 7; John viii. 41); so, also, the seed of the woman may be held to mean all who take part with the Lord, and are one with him in his holy war. At all events, this condemnation of their tempter opened a door of hope to our race; his defeat could scarcely fail to imply their deliverance.
    But, it may be asked, what means this indirect mode of conveying such an assurance of mercy? Why does God speak to the serpent, and not to our first parents themselves? May it not be partly to intimate that the main and chief end of God, in the dispensation of grace, in his own glory? “I do not this for your sakes,” else I would address myself to you; “but for mine holy name’s sake, which ye have profaned” (Ezek. xxxvi. 22–23). It is not because they have deserved any thing at his hand, nor is it merely out of compassion to them, that he interferes. But it concerns his honour that the adversary should not triumph; for his own name’s sake he must needs be glorified in the overthrow of the great enemy, who has apparently frustrated the chief end of his creation of the world. And does not this view render the assurance of mercy to our race even more strong emphatic than if it were immediately given to themselves? It humbles our first parents, and us in them; and yet it encourages them and us. They blamed the serpent, and now the serpent is judged. They even charged God foolishly; as if it were his fault that the devil beguiled them; and now they see that so far from God being, in any sense, accessory to the temptation, his glory is thereby so assailed that it can be vindicated only in the instant condemnation, and final destruction, of the tempter who has prevailed over them.
    All this, however, will be better understood when it is seen, in the end of time, what is the purpose of God in first exposing our nature to trial at Satan’s hand, and them making that very nature the instrument of Satan’s more terrible ruin. Meantime it is plain that it is in part, at least, for the settlement of God’s controversy with Satan, that our race and our world are spared; the fall and recovery of mankind being made subservient to the completion of God’s purpose of wrath against a previous host of rebels, whose malignity was thus to be more fully brought out, that in their utter and eternal misery, God’s righteous severity might be more signally glorified.
    § 3:14, 15 The language has a double reference, referring both to the serpent and Satan.
    § 3:14 cursed. Cursed, the opposite of blessed (1:22 and note), denotes a breaking of the serpent’s powers.
    eat dust All the days. Dust is the symbol of abject humiliation (Ps. 44:25; 72:9), an indignity lasting forever. Satan’s final defeat under the heel of the Messiah (v. 15) is delayed so that God’s program of redemption through the promised Seed of the woman may be accomplished.
    § 3:15 I will put enmity. God graciously converts the depraved woman’s affections from Satan to Himself.
    your seed and her Seed. Humanity is now divided into two communities: the redeemed, who love God, and the reprobate, who love self (John 8:33, 44; 1 John 3:8). The division finds immediate expression in the hostility of Cain against Abel (ch. 4). This prophecy finds ultimate fulfillment in the triumph of the Second Adam, and the community united with Him, over the forces of sin, death, and the devil (Dan. 7:13, 14; Rom. 5:12–19; 16:20; 1 Cor. 15:45–49; Heb. 2:14, 15).
    bruise … bruise. Before His glorious victory, the woman’s Seed must suffer to win the new community from the serpent’s dominion (Is. 53:12; Luke 24:26, 46; 2 Cor. 1:5–7; Col. 1:24; 1 Pet. 1:11).
    head … heel. The suffering Christ is victorious. He has already won the victory at the Cross by providing an atonement for the saints (Col. 2:13–15) and will consummate it at His Second Coming (2 Thess. 1:5–10).

    But even in this sentence there is an unmistakable allusion to the evil and hostile being concealed behind the serpent. That the human race should triumph over the serpent, was a necessary consequence of the original subjection of the animals to man. When, therefore, God not merely confines the serpent within the limits assigned to the animals, but puts enmity between it and the woman, this in itself points to a higher, spiritual power, which may oppose and attack the human race through the serpent, but will eventually be overcome. Observe, too, that although in the first clause the seed of the serpent is opposed to the seed of the woman, in the second it is not over the seed of the serpent but over the serpent itself that the victory is said to be gained. It, i.e., the seed of the woman will crush thy head, and thou (not thy seed) wilt crush its heel. Thus the seed of the serpent is hidden behind the unity of the serpent, or rather of the foe who, through the serpent, has done such injury to man. This foe is Satan, who incessantly opposes the seed of the woman and bruises its heel, but is eventually to be trodden under its feet. It does not follow from this, however, apart from other considerations, that by the seed of the woman we are to understand one solitary person, one individual only. As the woman is the mother of all living (v. 20), her seed, to which the victory over the serpent and its seed is promised, must be the human race. But if a direct and exclusive reference to Christ appears to be exegetically untenable, the allusion in the word to Christ is by no means precluded in consequence. In itself the idea of ?????, the seed, is an indefinite one, since the posterity of a man may consist of a whole tribe or of one son only (Gen. 4:25; 21:12, 13), and on the other hand, an entire tribe may be reduced to one single descendant and become extinct in him. The question, therefore, who is to be understood by the “seed” which is to crush the serpent’s head, can only be answered from the history of the human race. But a point of much greater importance comes into consideration here. Against the natural serpent the conflict may be carried on by the whole human race, by all who are born of a woman, but not against Satan. As he is a fore who can only be met with spiritual weapons, none can encounter him successfully but such as possess and make use of spiritual arms. Hence the idea of the “seed” is modified by the nature of the foe. If we look at the natural development of the human race, Eve bore three sons, but only one of them, viz., Seth, was really the seed by whom the human family was preserved through the flood and perpetuated in Noah: so, again, of the three sons of Noah, Shem, the blessed of Jehovah, from whom Abraham descended, was the only one in whose seed all nations were to be blessed, and that not through Ishmael, but through Isaac alone. Through these constantly repeated acts of divine selection, which were not arbitrary exclusions, but were rendered necessary by differences in the spiritual condition of the individuals concerned, the “seed,” to which the victory over Satan was promised, was spiritually or ethically determined, and ceased to be co-extensive with physical descent. This spiritual seed culminated in Christ, in whom the Adamitic family terminated, henceforward to be renewed by Christ as the second Adam, and restored by Him to its original exaltation and likeness to God. In this sense Christ is the seed of the woman, who tramples Satan under His feet, not as an individual, but as the head both of the posterity of the woman which kept the promise and maintained the conflict with the old serpent before His advent, and also of all those who are gathered out of all nations, are united to Him by faith, and formed into one body of which He is the head (Rom. 16:20). On the other hand, all who have not regarded and preserved the promise, have fallen into the power of the old serpent, and are to be regarded as the seed of the serpent, whose head will be trodden under foot (Matt. 23:33; John 8:44; 1 John 3:8). If then the promise culminates in Christ, the fact that the victory over the serpent is promised to the posterity of the woman, not of the man, acquires this deeper significance, that as it was through the woman that the craft of the devil brought sin and death into the world, so it is also through the woman that the grace of God will give to the fallen human race the conqueror of sin, of death, and of the devil. And even if the words had reference first of all to the fact that the woman had been led astray by the serpent, yet in the fact that the destroyer of the serpent was born of a woman (without a human father) they were fulfilled in a way which showed that the promise must have proceeded from that Being, who secured its fulfilment not only in its essential force, but even in its apparently casual form.

    15 Metrically this verse may be scanned as four two-beat lines and two three-beat lines.
    I shall put hostility
    between you and the woman,
    between your offspring
    and her offspring.
    “Hostility” [????]: Both this context and other passages suggest that long-lasting enmity is meant (cf. Num 35:21–22; Ezek 25:15; 35:5). The human race, “her offspring,” and the serpent race, “your offspring,” will be forever at loggerheads. Those who had been in league against their creator will from now on be fighting against each other, a motif that reappears in the tower of Babel story (11:1–9). It is not simply a case of God versus the snake in perpetuity, but of mankind versus the snake as well (cf. Isa 11:8).

    He will batter your head
    and you will batter his heel.
    The translation of this curse is extraordinarily problematic, because the root ???? “batter, crush, bruise” occurs only here and in two other difficult poetic passages: Ps 139:11, Job 9:17. There is a similar root, ????, which sometimes means “crush,” e.g., Amos 2:7, and sometimes “gasp for, long for,” e.g., Jer. 14:6. It is therefore often surmised that ???? has both meanings as well. There is no agreement among ancient versions or modern commentators, however, as to which meaning is appropriate in which clause in Gen 3:15. The majority of modern writers believe that the sense is the same in both clauses, more preferring the interpretation “crush, batter” (e.g., Westermann, Gispen, Weinfeld, Speiser, Driver, Skinner, Keil) to the alternative “strive after” (Steck, Jacob; cf. LXX). A minority prefer to see a wordplay between two different meanings, the woman’s seed “crushing” the serpent, and the serpent “craving” the man’s heel (so Cassuto, Kidner, Procksch; Vg, Tg.).
    Despite these long discussions, etymology makes little difference to the understanding of the passage. Close attention to grammar and context is more important. The imperfect verb is iterative. It implies repeated attacks by both sides to injure the other. It declares lifelong mutual hostility between mankind and the serpent race. Of more moment for interpretation is the question whether one side will eventually prove victorious in the battle, or whether the contest will be never-ending.
    On the face of it, the saying looks like a mere etiology. It is an explanation of why men try to kill snakes, and why snakes try to bite men; Gen 2–3 is a myth explaining the present human situation. It is also argued that the order of clauses ending with “you shall batter his heel” does not favor eventual human victory (so Skinner).
    On the other hand, it must be remembered that this is a curse on the serpent, not on mankind, and something less than a draw would be expected. Furthermore, the serpent is in a tactically weaker situation, being able only to strike at man’s heel, while man can crush its head. And what is more decisive, this story is not just an etiology, a just-so story explaining why snakes are so unpleasant; many elements in it are highly symbolic, and the dialogue between snake and woman employs ambiguity and innuendo with great subtlety. If elsewhere in the narrative we have double-entendre and symbolic language, it would be strange for it to disappear here, so that the serpent is just a snake and not an anti-God symbol. Once admitted that the serpent symbolizes sin, death, and the power of evil, it becomes much more likely that the curse envisages a long struggle between good and evil, with mankind eventually triumphing. Such an interpretation fits in well with 4:7 where Cain is warned of sin lurking to catch him, but is promised victory if he resists.
    Certainly the oldest Jewish interpretation found in the third century B.C. Septuagint, the Palestinian targums (Ps.-J., Neof., Frg.), and possibly the Onqelos targum takes the serpent as symbolic of Satan and look for a victory over him in the days of King Messiah. The NT also alludes to this passage, understanding it in a broadly messianic sense (Rom. 16:20; Heb. 2:14; Rev. 12), and it may be that the term “Son of Man” as a title for Jesus and the term “woman” for Mary (John 2:4; 19:26) also reflect this passage (Gallus; cf. Michl). Certainly, later Christian commentators, beginning with Justin (ca. A.D. 160) and Irenaeus (ca. 180), have often regarded 3:15 as the Protoevangelium, the first messianic prophecy in the OT. While a messianic interpretation may be justified in the light of subsequent revelation, a sensus plenior, it would perhaps be wrong to suggest that this was the narrator’s own understanding. Probably he just looked for mankind eventually to defeat the serpent’s seed, the powers of evil.

  • John Paul, without going into detail of how language is used. Your argument about progeny is used in both Hebrew, Greek and other languages and refering to a progeny without a body.

    Here is one tiny example: génn?ma; gen. genn?matos, neut. noun from genná? (1080), to give birth to, beget, involving generation from gínomai (1096), to become. That which is born or produced. Spoken of men it means offspring, progeny (Matt. 3:7), progeny of vipers (Matt. 12:34; 23:33; Luke 3:7). Spoken of trees the variant gén?ma means fruit, produce (Matt. 26:29; Mark 14:25; Luke 22:18). In Luke 12:18 gén?ma is used in a special sense common to later writers. Metaphorically spoken of the rewards of Christian virtue (2 Cor. 9:10 [TR]). Strong?s Dictionary does not make the distinction between génn?ma, offspring, and gén?ma, fruit, produce, which results in great confusion.

    Zodhiates, S. (2000). The complete word study dictionary : New Testament (electronic ed.). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.

    Offspring—issue (physical or spiritual)

    A. Used literally of:
    Set apart firstlings Ex. 13:12; Ex. 34:19
    Of a donkey you shall redeem Ex. 13:13; Ex. 34:20
    Man’s issue (children) Job 5:25
    Man as created by God Acts 17:28, 29
    Christ as a descendant of David Rev. 22:16
    B. Used figuratively of:
    True believer Is. 22:24
    New Israel Is. 44:3–5
    Gentile church Is. 61:9
    True Church Is. 65:23

    Thomas Nelson Publishers. (1995). Nelson’s quick reference topical Bible index. Nelson’s Quick reference (458). Nashville, Tenn.: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

  • Grant, thank you for giving of your time to answer. However, you open up by saying “without going into detail of how language is used”…… This is unfortunate since we are talking about language, about the Word, which has been since “the beginning”, the very place the word we are studying is found. The word in question in Gen 3.15 is “seed” (hebrew: “zera” 2234), not the greek “beget” (1080) which you discuss. While the latter, “gennao”, is, as you point out, sometimes used metaphorically in the New Testament, the former, “zera” is never used metaphorically in any of the Books of the Law (Gen, Ex, Lev, Num, Deut).
    The 56 occurrences (excluding Gen 3.15) of “zera” in Genesis all clearly speak of physical, not spiritual progeny. The same goes for 48 further occurrences of “zera” in the remaining four books of the Law.

    We all want to learn. Please explain the basis of the hermeneutics that finds an exclusively spiritual meaning for the serpent’s “zera” in Gen 3.15, when all the other 104 mentions of “zera” in the five books of the Torah have to do with physical progeny exclusively.

    All the further 55 occurrences of “zera” in subsequent 13 books, up to (but excluding) Isaiah, are also clear references to physical progeny. It is only in Isaiah that metaphorical use of “zera” begins to appear, but even here it never excludes the physical meaning.

  • Gentlemen, just wondering, at what point do we agree to disagree and go on with life. People are dieing and going to hell and satan is loving how distracted he is making you. I am all for having a healthy debate but I believe all good things must come to an end :) you all can talk from now til Christ comes back and I believe you still won’t agree. Give it a rest and go win some lost souls to Christ :) HAPPY EASTER!

  • Elizabeth, 1) if the daily presence of death and disagreement were an obstacle to bible study & exposition there would be no church fathers writings, no theology, no bible commentaries, no Bereans, nothing. 2) those who have come here to study deserve answers to their questions about the correct rules of bible interpretation so that they can improve theirs and Grant is not the kind of teacher to shy away from providing answers. 3) God, in the verse under consideration, provides vital information about the origin of the very evils you mention and which this discussion may help us all to better understand. 4) since when are Christians expected to “study to show themselves approved” without asking questions?

  • Hi John Paul! I am not saying we should not study but we are beating a dead horse here. Let’s face it the bottom line is there is good and evil in the world. The importace in us recognizing that is to see, as Paul taught us in Eph. 6:12 that we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against evil rulers of the unseen world.
    I do very much appreciate Grants teaching but it is so easy to become bogged down with details that some of us will never agree on and therefore go on and on with no real tangable benefit for building up the kingdom which is what we are commisioned to do. We are supposed to be spuring eachother on to good works. And frankly this is doing nothing but making my head spin. How bout we talk about putting off the old and putting on the new. Col. 3 Or how to get fleshly desires under control so we can walk in true freedom to love and serve the Lord and one another. Rom. 7 and 8
    There are so many people who need our help, including people who have alread trusted Jesus as their savior but they need people to teach them how to make Him Lord because they are still bound to there old master in there mind. The captives need to be set free and taught how to stay free.
    I will end with this, and I do mean end as I won’t be posting on this particular subject any longer.
    I have been a part of setting people free from satans grip and I am gonna tell you right now they could have cared less about actual or spiritual only. All they wanted was to get free, myself included.

  • Hi Elisabeth, please forgive my insistence but men like Peter, John, Paul, the Bereans, Anastasius, Justin Martyr, Augustine, Wycliffe, Huss, Luther, Calvin, Zwingli (& one could go on and on down to this day, and I am not comparing myself to them) strove and gave their lives contesting the lies which the enemy continuously weaves around what appear to be “minor details”. If they had followed your “don’t get bogged down in details” advice none of us would have today’s ease of access to God’s Word and Truth which sets us free. To this day lives continue to be given and much blood shed to maintain the minor details (all of which are of major importance) of this Truth.

    Incidentally, rules of Biblical interpretation are anything but a “dead horse” or “minor detail”. It is these we are discussing in the Gen3.15 context. Why should this disturb you? Satan would have anarchy. God helps us establish rules. Without such rules there is no Holy Spirit guided study, interpretation or teaching of God’s Word.

    Furthermore, does “love of the truth” not compel those who have it to seek it even in every “jot & tittle” of God’s law? And does lack of such love not condemn to being deceived and damned (2Thess2:8-12)? As a teacher of God’s Word it has been given me to tremble before every detail of it (Is66:2) and before the (Jam3:13) prospect of condemnation for false teachers. I encourage confrontation from my students – it keeps us all sharpened. I am sure Grant welcomes it, as every good teacher does, and I am really sorry that you find all this unnecessary and distasteful. Until Jesus returns men will “earnestly contend for the faith once delivered” (Jude3)

  • Elizabeth, what you just got from John Paul is a snow job. Those men in history did not give themselves for some minor interpretation of Scripture. They gave themselves for major truths of the gospel.

    The problem that John Paul has is that he does not have proof for his obscurantic doctrine and is trying to extrapolate a doctrine from a passage that is not there.

  • John Paul, Brown, Driver, and Briggs, the big Hebrew lexicon gives these categories for zarah: 1) literally of sowing, 2) seed, of crops for food, figuratively/metaphorically: Dt 11:10, 14:22 as the product of any seed, 3) seed as semen, 4) seed as offspring, a) of animals, b) of mankind, collective=descendants, posterity (they use the latter of Gen 3:15), 5) see as marked by moral quality.

  • Grant, thank you for quoting an authority that confirms the literal, physical meaning of zarah. I doubt you will be able to find any authority that defends a spiritual meaning for zarah anywhere in the Torah. I do not know why you accuse me of propagating an “obscurantist doctrine” when I was simply investigating different interpretations of God’s Word. An activity that you, as teacher, should be encouraging.

    It seems that there are some who claim that if the serpent’s zarah has more than a purely spiritual meaning in Gen3.15 then its manifestation required prior sexual intercourse between him and Eve. Would you please direct you accusations of obscurantism to them and not to me. I have never made the unbiblical claim that the physical manifestation of the serpent’s progeny on earth required sexual intercourse on his part.

    You surprised me with your allegation of “snow jobbing”. Is any Bible truth too small to be enquired into and defended? Having before us the examples quoted of defenders of “major” truths, should we judge truths we feel are under attack today as too “minor” to be bothered with?

  • John Paul,

    1. Evidently you did not understand what Brown, Drivers, and Briggs said. They said that “seed” in Gen 3:15 is collective. That means “seed” in that verse is not physical seed but the collective of his entire posterity. That is exactly what Romans 5:12-21 says, that is, sin did not come from some kind of physical intercourse between Satan and Eve but inherited spiritually as a collective race. That lexicon does not support your viewpoint at all. Other lexicons say the same thing. As well, I send you a broad spectrum of commentaries that said the same thin in hopes that you would understand the point.

    2. It is an extreme statement to put the people you quoted into the same classification of those who try to build a system of doctrine on a questionable verse.

    3. You mentioned that it important to take great care even with the details of the Bible. I completely agree with that. That is why I studied Greek for 8 years and Hebrew for 3 years.

    4. Your attempt at explaining hermeneutics is disjunct from all the hermeneutics that I have studied. In other words, you are out of phase with those who study hermeneutics whether they are liberal or conservative.

  • I really appreciate the knowledge and insight Grant and John Paul have provided on the linguistic aspect of this verse.

    If I may add a little to this, please remember that the language we speak is English, the Bibles we read are in English, and the culture from which the first Bible sprung was….English. The Key to understanding scripture is definitely having an open mind and of course, having the help and direction of the Holy Spirit. But also, it’s very important to understand the English language as well. I’m going to line some verses up.

    “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.”
    “I have made a covenant with my chosen, I have sworn unto David my servant, Thy seed will I establish for ever, and build up thy throne to all generations. Selah.” (Psalm 89:3,4)
    “Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of man, and with the seed of beast.” (Jeremiah 31:27)

    If you just look at these verses and their language, and compare them, you should see that the same concept runs through all of them.

  • Andy, we get the primary interpretation from the Hebrew–the language of the Old Testament along with the Aramaic. Hebrew takes precedence.

  • Yes, Hebrew and Greek are very important, but if you believe that the Bible was perfectly inspired and perfectly preserved, then you would hold in faith that the 55+ translators in A.D. 1607-1611 perfectly translated the original Hebrew and Greek manuscripts into our English. And, since they translated word for word, instead of thought for thought, the exact message and meaning of the original authors was also perfectly preserved. Analyze those scriptures above, please.

  • The problem I have with saying there is a spiritual progeny and a literal progeny out of the same verse and from the same word in that verse, is that if you take that course of interpretation through the rest of the Bible, you will hit-and-miss in just about every book of the Bible.

    Please read this and double-check if needed. From the Jewish Encyclopedia, Vol. XI (copyright 1905, page 69-70): “Satan was the seducer and the paramour of Eve, and was hurled from heaven together with other angels because of his iniquity (Slavonic Book of Enoch)…The chief functions of Satan are, as already noted, those of temptation, accusation, and punishment. He was an active agent in the fall of man…and was the father of Cain…The serpent of Gen. iii. is identified with Satan.”

  • Andy, not counting other areas of grammar, there are over 8,000 mistakes in tense alone in the KJV. No biblical scholar holds that the KJV is inspired.

  • Just for reference, this “idea” actually has quite a record, and is not new. From the Encyclopedia Judaica (copyright 1971, Vol. XIV, page 906: “During the Middle Ages the Church, basing itself on such passages in the New Testament as “Ye are of your father and the devil” (John 8:44), propounded the doctrine* that the Jews were the ‘spawn of Satan’.”

  • Andy, I do not want to get into Jewish because I do not have time to research the context of that statement. I believe that Satan was personified in the snake.

  • Jesus was not talking about Jews in general in John 8:44 but to the religious leaders. There is no basis for your anti-semitism, Jesus Himself was a Jew.

  • Andy, you completely ignore all of the arguments above and simply restate your obscurantic interpretation, which no credible scholar accepts.

  • Andy, you are so far off any understanding of languages of Scripture that any attempt to answer you is totally futile.

  • Grant, thank you for your comments. However (and with apologies for my “disjuncted” hermeneutics), re Brown, Driver, and Briggs: A) the collective zahar term does not exclude the individual. B) the term clearly indicates physical progeny. The zahar of the serpent, individual and collective, cannot, as you seem to believe, consist simply of disembodied spirits.

    It appears that the basic reasoning behind your insistence on a bodiless progeny for the serpent is that for his progeny to have a physical dimension there had to be sexual intercourse between him and Eve. In that respect your thinking matches that of the Branhamites and their followers (including Andy) who believe that “physical progeny = need for sexual intercourse”. I understand your shock at and rejection of a doctrine which, to you, implies an unimaginable sexual act. There are some parallels here with Nicodemus throwing his hands up in horror in Jn3.4. The mistake in both cases (although Nicodemus may be intentionally exaggerating, which I do not think you are) is over reliance on simplistic human reasoning which sees a need for human sexual involvement to viabilize an act of God. If a born again believer can be generated outside of human sexual involvement why cannot the serpent’s progeny be generated outside of demonic sexual involvement? If the former can be a flesh and blood being why must the latter be a disembodied spirit?

  • John Paul,

    No, I do not believe the sin passed on from Adam is “bodiless” On the other hand, I believe the sin of Adam instigated by Satan became a sin capacity that was passed on from individual to individual by physical birth. This is the doctrine of the federal headship of Adam (in Adam versus in Christ). As “in Christ” is a spiritual status so is “in Adam” a spiritual status.
    To assert that the “seed” is a physical seed produced by Satan reads into the text something that is not there or anywhere else in the Bible. This is the hermeneutical error called “interpolation.” The onus of proof of such an assertion falls on the person who asserts the interpretation.
    Everything in the New Testament dealing with the sin capacity (“flesh,” “the Old man,” “seed,” “sin” in the singular versus sins in the plural for example) refers to the fall of Adam, not some supposed sex act. This is the argument of Romans 5-7 and well as numerous other passages. The history of the church argues this point, the history of biblical interpretation argues this point. The difference has been between federal headship of Adam versus the traducian view of the nature of man. The body carries the sin capacity–”As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” “In Christ” was not physical and the essence of “in Adam” is sin, not physical.
    In other words, my issue is not “shock” but a demanding exegesis, exposition of Scripture that will not allow eisegesis or reading into the text something that is not there. This is especially true when we consider the overwhelming evidence of how the New Testament looks at this issue. The New Testament is didactic, not narrative, which gives greater specificity to the issue.

  • I have made a decision about this running discussion on Satan’s sex. There are 118 blogs on this page–most of them on this subject. It is obvious that some choose to use a form of exposition that is outside normal scholarship. Therefore, I am going to unapprove all further discussion on this topic. Elizabeth had the wisdom to be right.

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