I was wondering exactly was the snake in the Genesis story. Was it a metaphor for sex? Was it Satan's influence? Was it Satan himself?
No, not unless the other animals that God created are also metaphors . . .
This is a good example of the problems encountered when people bring preconceptions into the scriptures. It's easy to do. Certainly, medieval painters did so, as well as scholars of ancient near-eastern literature and philosophy.
Let's lay aside our preconceptions for a moment and consider what the first part of Genesis literally claims.
- It's the account of God's creation of the heaven and the earth.
- God created various types of animals and then humans, male and female.
- God commanded them to multiply (sexual reproduction) and fill the earth.
- The most practical, skilled, and intelligent (φρόνιμος, phronimos) of all the wild animals that God created was called serpent. It could speak the language of humans.
- The serpent tricked humans into disobeying God's command.
- God cursed humans and the serpent, and predicted hatred between Eve and the serpent. Their offspring would maintain this hatred.
- The serpent would wound the heel of the offspring of the woman, but the woman's offspring would deliver a fatal wound to the serpent.
Our inferences about serpents include the following:
- Serpents were created male and female, and commanded to reproduce.
- Serpents were more intelligent than orang-utans, parrots and crows, tucuxi dolphins, and octopuses. Currently, dolphins are considered the most intelligent wild animal on earth.
- Before God cursed the serpent, it did not crawl along the ground as a snake. Apparently, it also lost its intelligence as well as its legs.
The motives of the serpent to deceive the humans are not stated. Perhaps with the death of humans, the serpent would take primacy over the earth. Perhaps satan incarnated as a serpent, while Messiah incarnated as a human.
Eve's first offspring is recounted in Genesis 4:1. A question relating to the Hebrew in this verse is located here: What is the meaning of אֶת־ in Genesis 4:1?
The connection between the serpent and satan is addressed by another question as previously noted. What is the relationship between the "Adversary" in Job and the serpent in Genesis?