The Bible mentions snakes over eighty times! It seems as though snakes were found everywhere in biblical times: in Pharaoh's court (Exodus 7:12), in the wilderness (Numbers 21:7), on the island of Malta (Acts 28:3), in the garden of Eden (Genesis 3:1). Although snakes themselves are not evil creatures, they almost always carry a crafty and evil connotation in Scriptures.
Are snakes evil? Does the Bible say anything about snakes?
The first time the Bible mentions snakes is in the garden of Eden. "Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made" (Genesis 3:1). Satan used the serpent to lie to Eve and deceive her into man's original sin in the garden. God consequently cursed the snake after punishing Adam and Eve. "The LORD God said to the serpent, 'Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life" (Genesis 3:14). The snake's physical lack of limbs is a reminder to us of the effects of sin on this world.
Snakes have continued to be associated with sin since this story of origination. The Old Testament is full of similes and metaphors for evil that presents itself like a serpent.
The wicked are compared to those who "hatch the eggs of vipers" (Isaiah 59:5, NIV) and to those who "shall lick the dust like a serpent" (Micah 7:17). Psalm 140:3 also warns of evil men who "make their tongue sharp as a serpent's, and under their lips is the venom of asps." The Psalms also hold warnings of the wicked speaking lies and having "venom like the venom of a serpent, like the deaf adder that stops its ear, so that it does not hear the voice of charmers or of the cunning enchanter" (Psalm 58:4–5). In the New Testament, Jesus and John the Baptist call the Pharisees a "brood of vipers" and "serpents" because of their dangerous hypocrisy (Matthew 3:7; 12:34; 23:33).
Snakes have long since been associated with evil and corruption in literature and in culture. Serpents, often taking the shape of mythical creatures such as dragons, represent Satan in Revelation as well, bookending the Bible's record. In Genesis, the serpent led man to fall, but in Revelation the "ancient serpent" is "thrown down to the earth" (Revelation 12:9). We have hope and freedom from the serpentine Devil we first meet in the garden.
In Genesis 3:15 we hear God's first promise to save us from the Devil's schemes. God promises that the Seed of woman will crush the snake's head. This is a prophecy for the Son of Man to save us from the serpent's bite. "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life." (John 3:14–15; cf. Numbers 21:6–9).
We can rejoice, because the association of the evil serpent does not have power over us. Jesus arrived and crushed the serpent's head (Genesis 3:15). We have further hope that when Jesus returns to restore the earth every part of creation will be included—even snakes. The prophet Isaiah depicted this harmony: "The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder's den. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea." (Isaiah 11:8–9).
Who is Satan?
Is Satan / the devil a person or some sort of force or personification of evil?
How does the Bible use symbolism?
Biblical typology – What is it?
Superstitions – What does the Bible say?