Genesis 3:1 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Genesis 3:1, NIV: "Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, 'Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?'"

Genesis 3:1, ESV: "Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”"

Genesis 3:1, KJV: "Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?"

Genesis 3:1, NASB: "Now the serpent was more cunning than any animal of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, 'Has God really said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?'"

Genesis 3:1, NLT: "The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the LORD God had made. One day he asked the woman, 'Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?'"

Genesis 3:1, CSB: "Now the serpent was the most cunning of all the wild animals that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God really say, 'You can't eat from any tree in the garden'?""

What does Genesis 3:1 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

The previous two chapters described God's creation of the universe and how fully He provided for the first two human beings. Genesis chapter 3 turns to describing how they became separated from God.

In this verse, a new character is introduced: the serpent. Who is he, and where did he come from? We have no reason to assume that animals possessed the power of speech and reason at this time. Still, some commentators remark that the woman—later named Eve—seems oddly unsurprised when the serpent speaks to her. Others point out that many conversations recorded in the Bible appear to be summaries, not word-for-word transcripts. The actual discussion might well have taken longer than what's recorded here.

We're told the serpent is the most crafty or shrewd of all the wild animals. This is from the Hebrew term ā'rum, which also means "prudent" or "sly." The term, itself, is not necessarily negative. However, as with any gift or ability, how one chooses to use it makes the difference between sin and righteousness. In this case, the serpent uses "craftiness" in order to ruin mankind. After the fall God specifically curses the serpent (Genesis 3:14–15).

Not all Bible scholars agree, but most understand this speaking serpent to be Satan himself. As a result, conservative Bible teachers generally hold one of two interpretations. First, that Satan possessed and spoke through a serpent created by God. Second, that Satan took on the form of a serpent for the purpose of tempting the woman to sin. That seems consistent with what we know of Satan from other passages in the Bible. First of all, Satan and the other demons are spiritual beings, not physical, but with the ability to take control of both people (Luke 22:3) and animals (Mark 5:11–13). Jesus describes Satan as the Father of lies (John 8:44), and Genesis 3 describes the first recorded lies to be heard on earth. Finally, Revelation refers to Satan as a dragon, the "ancient serpent" or "serpent of old" (Revelation 12:9; 20:2).

His first recorded words to the woman challenge God's commands with a simple question, casting doubt on God's words. The serpent seems to either misstate or question God's restrictions about what she and the man could eat: "Did God actually say, 'You shall not eat of any tree in the garden'?"

It will become clear the serpent knows exactly what God had commanded. His intent is to provoke Eve to judge God's fairness.