Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?”
Genesis 3:1 (NASB)
Crafty – The introduction of the serpent immediately puts us on guard. Crafty is a term to cause even the most gullible person to become timid of another. It’s definitely not how we’d introduce a friend, right? “Hi, Mom, this is my friend Tom. He’s very crafty.” I don’t think Mom would sit well with that one. And maybe that’s the intent of this verse – to put us on guard, to cause us to recoil at the serpent’s entrance. Or is it?
Aruwm is spelled the exact same in Hebrew as arowm. It’s just a slight variation in the vowel pronunciation. Visually, in Hebrew there is no difference. The first means crafty, while the second means naked. Both these words originate from the very same root, aram which can mean shrewd, crafty, and even prudent. In one instance aruwm gives the allusion of a hidden agenda, while the second word arowm conveys the point that nothing is hidden at all – it’s naked… all laid out on the table. So here in Genesis 3:1 the word is used to describe the serpent as being shrewd, but in Genesis 2:25 this same word describes Adam and Eve as simply being naked. It almost appears that the serpent is getting a bum wrap in his introduction doesn’t it? He gets stuck with the negative side of the same word.
But maybe this play on words is what God intended. The serpent, after all, was not being deceptive in his conversation. He was actually laying it all on the table for Eve to decide. In a sense, he was being naked. Think about animals, and think about how God makes his will known to them. How does God control the course of animals, or does He? Maybe He just created them and let them loose upon the world. Maybe they don’t enact God’s will in any way. I would argue the opposite. God placed in animals something called “instinct”, and through this instinct they do what God created them to do. They carry out God’s will according to their inner voice. But man, on the other hand, and especially in the garden, carried out God’s will by listening to an external voice – God’s voice. It was God that led men throughout the ages and enacted His will upon the earth by speaking to men from an external location.
The serpent is acting according to his own inner voice. While it may appear that he’s being crafty, he’s also being naked. He simply tells Eve how it is and almost encourages her to listen to her inner voice as well. What’s Eve’s response? She begins to listen to her own inner voice just as the serpent does. She sees that the fruit of the tree is good for food, pleasant to look upon, and would make her wise. Her inner voice, that bit of personal instinct based on prior experiences broke through and drowned out the external voice of God – and she ate of it.
The rest is history, but the exact same challenge faces us daily. Do we listen to our own inner voice and make our decisions based on personal experiences, or do we listen to God and His commandments? In one instance, we become god ourselves and rely upon our own choices to move us through life. Right and wrong no longer measure to a standard, but rather are personal decisions. And no other person holds the key to morality but us. Or do we listen to God? Do we abandon our inner voice for the voice of God and measure our morals and deeds to what He says is true? It’s a daily choice, and I’m sure we’re all familiar with it. Do we choose to become more like an animal and further from God, or do we choose to be human and enter into relationship with our Creator?