Genesis 3:1 uses the noun nachash for 'serpent'. It comes from a root word that means 'to hiss or whisper', which is also used for divination (Gen 30:27). Can we thus infer that in Eve's considering of the tree of knowledge, she used divination? Just as Laban said "I have learned by divination", can we then infer that in Eve's dialogue with the serpent or nachash she was 'learning by divination' that the tree was desirous to make her wise? If so, this would make Gen 3:1 to be the earliest mention of divination in the Bible.

2 Answers 2


Jeremiah 46:22a

Egypt will hiss like a fleeing serpent as the enemy advances in force;

Genesis 30:27

But Laban said to him, "If I have found favor in your eyes, please stay. I have learned by divination that the LORD has blessed me because of you."

I have learned by divination
נִחַ֕שְׁתִּי (ni·ḥaš·tî)
Verb - Piel - Perfect - first person common singular
Strong's 5172: To hiss, whisper a, spell, to prognosticate

Indeed, there is some linguistic linkage among "hissing", "serpent", and "divination".

Could it be implied that Eve in her dialogue with the serpent or nachash, she was learning by divination that the tree was desirous to make her wise?

In some passive sense, this is true. However, the serpent took the initiative, not Eve.

Genesis 3:

1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field that the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden?’ ”

After that Eve responded:

2 The woman answered the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden, 3but about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You must not eat of it or touch it, or you will die.’ ”

Eve didn't ask for this. At this time of her innocence, Eve had no concept of divination in her brain. She could talk to God directly.

  • 1
    I've often wondered if Genesis 3:1 might simply read: "[The] serpent was more crafty than any beast." This would imply that he wasn't a beast at all. Rev. 12:9 relates that: "the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan" may simply have been the form the Devil chose to assume as he approached Eve. This might have been especially true as she and Adam tended the Garden. Slithering in a tree would be a perfect means of approaching Eve. To this day, snakes are reviled all over the world (that is, assuming the word "serpent" translates to "snake"). Just some thoughts. +1.
    – Xeno
    Jun 14, 2021 at 19:08
  • The serpent must have been something that we don't yet understand. Part of its curse was live on its belly, which meant it had "legs" before, and to eat dust. No snake eats dust, so to assign to it the physical body of a snake as we know a snake today, is incorrect. The serpent represented something else. In fact if you look at the story as being symbolic of something then you understand that the curse resulted in this serpent living by its desires (belly) and being nourished by what Solomon would call vanity (dust). Aug 31, 2023 at 3:22

Could it be implied that Eve in her dialogue with the serpent or nachash, she was learning by divination that the tree was desirous to make her wise? There are ancient connections between snakes, or serpents, and spirits of prediction, or divination.

The Ouroboros is a circular symbol depicting a snake, or less commonly a dragon, swallowing its tail, as an emblem of wholeness or infinity. The Ouroboros eats its own tail to sustain its life, in an eternal cycle of renewal. The Serpent biting its own tail is first seen as early as 1600 years BC in Egypt as a symbol of the sun, and represented the travels of the sun disk. From there it moved to the Phonecians and then to the Greeks, who gave it its name, Ouroboros, which means 'devouring its tail'.

In mythology, the Ouroboros is a symbol representing the Milky Way galaxy. Myth refers to a serpent of light residing in the heavens. The Milky Way is this serpent, and viewed at galactic central point near Sagittarius, this serpent eats its own tail. Many ancients used the galaxy to calculate cosmic and earth cycles.

It is found in Gnosticism and alchemy representing cyclical natural life and the fusion of opposites. It also symbolizes the transcendence of duality and was related to the solar god Abraxas, and signified eternity and the soul of the world. The Ouroboros appears in many other cultures and settings as well...the Serpent Jormungand of Norse legend, one of the three children of Loki and Angrboda, grew so large that it could encircle the world and grasp its tail in its teeth. It guarded the Tree of Life, and is often depicted as an Ouroboros. The Aztec serpent God Queztacoatl was depicted similarly, and Chinese alchemical dragons have both similar shapes and meaning. In Hindu, you have the dragon circling the tortoise which supports the four elephants that carry the world. http://www.tokenrock.com/explain-ouroboros-70.html

In Acts 16:16-21 there is an episode of a girl who had a spirit of divining the future following Paul and his entourage, crying out for many days, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” Eventually, Paul was so troubled by this that he turned and said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” and it did so immediately. The NIV footnote adds,

“A python spirit, a demonic spirit. The python was a mythical snake worshipped at Delphi and associated with the Delphic oracle. The term ‘python’ came to be used of the persons through whom the python spirit supposedly spoke. Since such persons spoke involuntarily, the term ‘ventriloquist’ was used to describe them.”

This makes a connection between serpents and divination. To answer your question, the Genesis account does not imply that Eve was trying to learn something by divination. She certainly heard, and listened to, a spirit that seemed to appear as a talking snake. Is this the first episode of ventriloquism – the dragon, Satan, being out of sight as an invisible spirit, making it seem as if a snake (a python?) was speaking to her? That is my own, speculative, thought. But deceptive, demonic forces were certainly at work to turn the first human couple from listening to God’s voice of instruction, to start following another voice of instruction.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.