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Did the Serpent Speak Literally?

Let's put some things into perspective first. Both of the serpent in Genesis 3 as of Balaam's donkey the words they spoke are literally written in the bible. That is words made up of letters. Also it is said that the serpent was the craftiest of all the animals and of the donkey it is said that she complained about the severe beatings of her master. This refers to the intelligence of the first and of the feeling of pain and justice of the latter. Also it is said about the donkey that "the Lord opened the mouth of the donkey." Something like this is not reported about the serpent in Genesis 3.

Now here the sceptics, thinking they are so rational, object that animals cannot speak as humans; so, according to them these animals simply cannot have spoken. And they make believers out to be simple witted souls that swallow anything their religion calls for. Beyond that they are berated as unenlightened fundamentalists and in the end both the Lord and all the bible stands for is discarded as so much nonsense.

One believer exclaimed that had it been written that Jonah swallowed the whale, she would have believed that also. But why then does Paul talk about our "reasonable service" in Romans 12? Does this not go too far? The bible also states that God does not allow us to be tempted beyond our strength. Is that not similar to stating that God is not irrational, nor does He demand irrationality from us. He demands faith, certainly, but not fanatical faith. In the case of a Jonah swallowing a whale, the bible certainly would have mentioned that God turned him into a humongous giant first for the occasion and the whole story would have made sense. But God does not turn us into literal giants and Jonah probably was not swallowed by a whale (they do not frequent the Mediterranean), but by some kind of large fish. The belly of the fish being full of air, would have sustained him for 3 days, but not without eating away at his skin (consider that it does not have to be a full period of 3 days and 3 nights, just like also the Lord was 2 nights in the grave; this being a Semitic way of talking about days and nights). And in fact it has happened in the whaling time that a harpoonist was swallowed by a certain species of whale, only to be discovered alive the next day in the entrails of that fish, after it had been caught.

When Joshuah exclaimed: "Sun, stand still!" the sun for the human eye also stood still. So, why would one find fault with such a manner of speaking? What seems to have taken place is that the earth crust stood still. Something that could have happened at the impact of enormous meteorites. And the account actually relates that stones fell from heaven. But enough has been published on this by faithful thinkers.

Where am I going with this? No, I say to the rationalist, you reason your responsibility away to bow down before your Maker. No, I say to the fanatic, you give up on reason out of undue fear of the divinity. For the rationalist biblical paradoxes are so many contradictions that affirm him in his own godhead and for the fanatic the paradoxes are occasions that goad him on towards even more fanaticism, also to play god . . . The sceptic lacks faith and the fanatic should heed Paul's words: "I would rather speak five words with my mind . . .!"

There remains the problem that animals do not speak as humans do. But does this make the bible a bed time story book and the God of the bible somebody that rambles on, or somebody that must be discovered behind the stories that have been made up by simple people who did not know better? Or does this mean that the bible is a dictation solely by the Holy Spirit Who demands blind faith from us at all times and that it is best to be a parrot that mindlessly repeats Scripture? DOUBLY NO! Have you never heard of horse whisperers, or snake enchanters, whether they are occult or not? Consider that Balaam was a gifted seer of whom it was said that whom he blessed was blessed and whom he cursed was cursed. Consider that Eve was in the glory days of the garden of Eden and that Adam, her husband, had both discerned and named the animals. Whether truthful or not, of Solomon there remains an extrabiblical legend that he could talk with the animals.

But of course if you are the kind of sceptic that thinks that the human being as well as the animals are molecule machines without a soul, then this entire conversation is lost on you. For I do believe that these animals spoke the words, every letter of them, that they have been recorded as having spoken. Why could not Eve have spoken with a soul or spirit language, instead of with a physical mouth? Also of poor man Lazarus and the rich man, at whose gate he lay, it is said that they spoke in the afterlife. So, for the believer, it is obvious that the rich man could speak in his soul; it even being made clear that they had tongues and fingers. [Take note that the Lord does not say that this was a parable!]. Let it be clear that I have no problem believing that souls can converse, nor have I trouble believing that God could enlighten Balaam's donkey and have her soul speak out to him. Did not Solomon ask: "Who can see the spirit of a human go up and the spirit of an animal go down!?"

This explanation seems to hold true for the snake, but of the she-ass it is said that the Lord opened her mouth, specifically. This is confirmed by the Holy Spirit in 2 Peter 2. 15, where it is stated that the 'dumb (not being able to speak like a human) donkey uttered with a human voice.'

I could attempt to reason that almost all kinds of higher vertebrates have vocal chords and that, even though animals cannot think in (abstract) terms, it therefore must have been possible for the she-ass to speak. But I have the feeling that in that case I am too reational(istic) in my efforts and that I am trying to force the issue and trying to understand God almighty. How to explain this so that my rational mind understands it, I do not know; nor do I feel the need to explain everything. "The hidden things belong to the Lord," the bible states. I do not need to understand everything rationally. If everything could be understood by reason alone, then we would die; for there is also need of feeling and of faith, hope and love.

Of course God is also a God of miracles. I praise Him for that. I do not go along with people like Velikovsky that overstrain their brains to explain the 10 plagues that the Lord brought over Egypt. The manna that the people ate in the desert is called the 'bread of angels' by the bible itself. I am not going to attempt to explain miracles, when they are obviously direct acts of God. But even so, my mind says that there is a difference between creating bread and multiplying it, even though that also is an evident miracle. The miracle of the axe coming up and subsequently floating on the water, teaches us that God is at liberty to go against His own natural rules. And that should not appear altogether strange. For blackholes in the universe, according to astrophysics, are places where all laws seem to disappear!



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