Someone recently asked me a great question about our first Torah portion wherein we see the “serpent” deceiving Eve. The question was, “If the serpent was satan, how could satan, disguised in a serpent, be in a Holy place like Garden of Eden?”
Well, that IS a great question! Was the serpent satan, or what?
My thoughts: Who really knows for sure? The thing is, regardless as to whether or not the serpent was Satan, the serpent certainly was controlled by evil, which managed to sow seeds into Eve’s mind and cause her to doubt YHWH. Obviously satan (aka Lucifer) was already roaming the earth during the Garden of Eden times.
We get a glimpse of this in Ezekiel 28 (which is a confusing chapter, since it appears to be all about the King of Tyre, in the first part; yet switches gears to discuss the beautiful cherub IN THE GARDEN in the second part:
Ezekiel 28: 11 The word of ADONAI came to me: 12 "Human being, raise a lament for the king of Tzor, and tell him that Adonai ELOHIM says: 'You put the seal on perfection; you were full of wisdom and perfect in beauty; 13 you were in 'Eden, the garden of God; covered with all kinds of precious stones - carnelians, topaz, diamonds, beryl, onyx, jasper, sapphires, green feldspar, emeralds; your pendants and jewels were made of gold, prepared the day you were created.
14 You were a keruv, protecting a large region; I placed you on God's holy mountain. You walked back and forth among stones of fire. 15 You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, until unrighteousness was found in you. 16"'When your commerce grew, you became filled with violence; and in this way you sinned. Therefore I have thrown you out, defiled, from the mountain of God; I have destroyed you, protecting keruv, from among the stones of fire.
17 Your heart grew proud because of your beauty, you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor. But I have thrown you on the ground; before kings I have made you a spectacle. 18 By your many crimes in dishonest trading, you have profaned your sanctuaries; therefore I brought forth fire from within you, and it has devoured you; I reduced you into ashes on the ground in the sight of all who can see you. 19 All who know you among the peoples will be aghast at you. You are an object of terror, and you will cease to exist.'" (CJB)
So, from what I can tell is that the King of Tyre was apparently controlled or influenced by Satan, who was once Lucifer. So, holy or not, apparently, both humans and animals in the Garden had the CHOICE to obey YHWH, or not. The serpent certainly allowed itself to be controlled by satan, and thus, we can surmise that evil was already in the Garden BEFORE the fall. YHWH gave them that choice.
Isaiah 14 does the same confusing thing. That chapter seems to be talking about man, and then suddenly turns to the “Morning Star” - Lucifer, the evil one who puffed himself up and got kicked out of heaven, and then began wreaking havoc on earth, influencing men. Check it out:
Isaiah 14:12 "How did you come to fall from the heavens, morning star, son of the dawn? How did you come to be cut to the ground, conqueror of nations? 13 You thought to yourself, 'I will scale the heavens, I will raise my throne above God's stars. I will sit on the Mount of Assembly far away in the north. 14 I will rise past the tops of the clouds, I will make myself like the Most High.'
15 "Instead you are brought down to Sh'ol, to the uttermost depths of the pit. 16Those who see you will stare at you, reflecting on what has become of you: 'Is this the man who shook the earth, who made kingdoms tremble, 17 who made the world a desert, who destroyed its cities, who would not set his prisoners free?'
18 "All other kings of the nations, all of them, lie in glory, each in his tomb. 19 But you are discarded, unburied, like a loathed branch, clothed like the slain who were pierced by the sword, then fall to the stones inside a pit, like a corpse to be trampled underfoot.
20 You will not be joined with those kings in the grave, because you destroyed your own land, you have brought death to your own people. The descendants of evildoers will be utterly forgotten. 21 Get ready to slaughter his sons for the iniquity of their fathers; so they won't arise, take over the earth and cover the world with their cities." (CJB)
What I’ve gleaned from the above is that those passages in Ezekiel and Isaiah have "dual references" - to both Lucifer and man … man with his evil, fallen nature….
Apparently, those passages represent the actual beginning of sin in the universe, BEFORE the fall of Adam and Eve. Sin originated in the free will of Lucifer in which — with full understanding of the issues involved — he chose to rebel against the Creator.
YHWH then judged this mighty angelic being: “I reduced you into ashes on the ground in the sight of all who can see you.” (Ezekiel 28:18). This in no way implies that satan had no further access to heaven, for other Scripture verses clearly indicate that he retained this access after his fall (Job 1:6-12; Zechariah 3:1,2).
However, Ezekiel 28:18 indicates that Lucifer lost his place of authority in heaven (Luke 10:18), and was completely and permanently cast out. Yet, for reasons known ONLY to YHWH Himself, he was allowed to “roam the earth:
Job 1:6 It happened one day that the sons of God came to serve ADONAI, and among them came the Adversary [Hebrew: Satan]. 7 ADONAI asked the Adversary, "Where are you coming from?" The Adversary answered ADONAI, "From roaming through the earth, wandering here and there." (CJB, see also Job 2.)
So, yes, it is entirely possible that the “serpent” Eve saw and spoke to, WAS satan, himself! Or – as mentioned above – perhaps the serpent was simply influenced/controlled by satan. Who really knows?