We’ve learned a bit about the original rebel: the entity called Chaos. And we’ve considered how this might also be connected to the Titans of old. Now, let’s dig a bit deeper into Prisoner Zero’s ultimate end.
For now, even as a prisoner, Chaos exerts an evil influence upon all creatures, both in our physical world and in the spirit realm. Prisoner Zero’s evil may have inspired the second rebellion, which occurred in a very special garden.
Did you know that Eden was the original holy mountain of God? Yes, Eden was a garden, but it was a garden set upon a mountain. We learn this from Ezekiel 28:
You were an anointed guardian cherub.
I placed you; you were on the holy
mountain of God;
in the midst of the stones of fire you walked.
You were blameless in your ways
from the day you were created,
till unrighteousness was found in you.
In the abundance of your trade
you were filled with violence in your midst,
and you sinned;
so I cast you as a profane thing from
the mountain of God,
and I destroyed you, O guardian cherub,
from the midst of the stones of fire.” (Ezekiel 28:14–16)
Eden was more than just a garden. More than a paradise. It was the where the divine council met, the “seat of the gods” on “the mountain of God.” Adam and Eve were there, and they served alongside the “elder brothers”—or elohim—as members of the Lord’s divine council.
It was in Eden that the Enemy first employed a PSYOP (psychological operation). And these PSYOPs have formed a major component in the enemy’s arsenal ever since. In this case: “You will be as gods.”
Of course, that was a bald-faced lie. Instead of achieving godhood, Adam and Eve lost their immortality, died spiritually, got kicked out of their home (the garden), were expelled from the divine council, and were evicted from the holy mountain.
All because they listened and believed a serpent’s lie.
We’ve already discussed the first rebel, Chaos; but who is this second enemy? Who is the serpent in the garden?
The name “Satan” means “accuser,” and it’s written ha-shaitan in the Old Testament. It is not a personal name, but a job title—the satan. Ha-shaitan means “the accuser” or “the adversary.” Think of it as performing the office of prosecuting attorney—the one who accuses the defendant of a crime.
Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. (Genesis 3:1)
The word translated “serpent” in this verse is nachash. It’s based on an adjective that means “bright” or “brazen,” like shiny brass. The noun nachash can mean “snake,” but it can also mean “one who practices divination.” In Hebrew, it’s not uncommon for an adjective to be converted into a noun—the term is “substantivized.” If that’s the case here, nachash could mean “shining one,” which is consistent with other descriptions of the Satan figure in the Old Testament.
For example, in Isaiah 14, the character is called “Lucifer” in the King James translation, based on the Latin words chosen by Jerome (lux + ferous, meaning “light bringer”). But the original Hebrew text actually names him—not “Light Bringer”—but Helel ben Shachar, which means “shining one, son of the dawn.”
Now, consider this in Daniel 10:
I lifted up my eyes and looked, and behold, a man clothed in linen, with a belt of fine gold from Uphaz around his waist. His body was like beryl, his face like the appearance of lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and the sound of his words like the sound of a multitude. (Daniel 10:5–6; emphasis added)
Obviously, “shining one” is an apt description of the angel who had to battle the prince of Persia (a supernatural being) to bring his message to Daniel.
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Another example occurred about nine hundred years before Daniel, when the Israelites began to complain (and complain and complain) on their way out of Egypt. In response, God sent saraph nachash (“fiery serpents”) to torment them. Saraph is the root word of seraphim, which roughly means “burning ones.” The Hebrew words saraph and nachash are used interchangeably, so rather than “fiery serpents,” the actual translation should read “saraph serpents.”
Deuteronomy 8:15 praises Yahweh for bringing Israel through “the great and terrifying wilderness, with its fiery serpents,” reinforcing the interchangeability of saraph and nachash.
Now, if the mental image of flaming snakes isn’t weird enough, the prophet Isaiah twice referred to flying serpents (saraph `uwph, in Isaiah 14:29 and 30:6). And in his famous throne-room vision, Isaiah saw:
…the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. (Isaiah 6:1–2)
Again, the root word of “seraphim” is saraph, the same word translated “serpent” in Numbers and Deuteronomy. In fact, aside from the Isaiah 6 passage above, every single mention of “seraphim” in the Old Testament refers to serpentine beings!
The bottom line is this: What Adam and Eve saw in the garden wasn’t a talking snake, but a nachash—a radiant, divine entity, very likely of serpentine appearance.
Now, you’re probably wondering how the rebel in Eden could be one of the seraphim and one of the cherubim. Good question.
Cherubim in the Bible are usually mentioned in descriptions of the mercy seat on top of the Ark of the Covenant and in reference to carved decorations in Solomon’s Temple. Two notable exceptions are the cherubim who guard the entrance to Eden and the four cherubim Ezekiel saw in his famous “wheel within a wheel” vision by the Chebar canal.
Contrary to the typical artist’s depiction as winged, often feminine angels (forget the chubby, winged babies of Renaissance paintings—those are right out), the cherubim were terrifying:
…this was their appearance: they had a human likeness, but each had four faces, and each of them had four wings. Their legs were straight, and the soles of their feet were like the sole of a calf’s foot. And they sparkled like burnished bronze.
Under their wings on their four sides they had human hands. And the four had their faces and their wings thus: their wings touched one another. Each one of them went straight forward, without turning as they went.
As for the likeness of their faces, each had a human face. The four had the face of a lion on the right side, the four had the face of an ox on the left side, and the four had the face of an eagle.
Such were their faces. And their wings were spread out above. Each creature had two wings, each of which touched the wing of another, while two covered their bodies. And each went straight forward. Wherever the spirit would go, they went, without turning as they went.
As for the likeness of the living creatures, their appearance was like burning coals of fire, like the appearance of torches moving to and fro among the living creatures. And the fire was bright, and out of the fire went forth lightning.
And the living creatures darted to and fro, like the appearance of a flash of lightning. (Ezekiel 1:5–14; emphasis added)
That’s consistent with the idea of “shining” or “burning” connected to the nachash and the seraphim. Now, compare Ezekiel 1 to Ezekiel 10:
And every one had four faces: the first face was the face of the cherub, and the second face was a human face, and the third the face of a lion, and the fourth the face of an eagle. (Ezekiel 10:14)
Did you notice that the first face was a cherub instead of an ox? The human, lion, and eagle faces are the same. Why the change? Is there a connection between the cherub and the ox?
The word “cherub” probably comes from the Akkadian karibu (the “ch” should be a hard “k” sound). It means “intercessor” or “one who prays.” The karibu were usually portrayed as winged bulls with human faces, and huge statues of the karibu were set up as divine guardians at the entrances of palaces and temples. This is the role of the cherubim “at the east of the garden of Eden…to guard the way to the tree of life.”
Cherubim were the gold standard for guarding royalty in the ancient Near East. In Assyria they were called lamassu, and the Akkadians called them shedu. They were sometimes depicted as winged lions rather than bulls, and they were often incorporated into the thrones of kings. So, the function of the biblical cherubim, guarding the tree of life and carrying the throne of God, was entirely consistent with what the neighbors of the Israelites believed about these beings. Based on what archaeologists have found in the ancient Near East, the cherubim were more like winged sphinxes than humanoids with wings.
So, we’ve identified the nachash, one of the entities—gods, if you will (it’s the word God uses for them)—in the divine assembly on God’s holy mountain. But what about the other gods? Who else was in Eden with God, Adam, Eve, and the nachash? What do we know about them?
Actually, more than you’d think. We know that those gods were in the Garden, or Yahweh would not have inspired Ezekiel to call Eden “the seat of the gods.” And it’s possible they’re mentioned in Ezekiel 28, just not in the way we expect.
Scholars generally agree that Ezekiel 28 is linked to Isaiah 14, another account of the divine rebel being tossed out of Eden:
How you are fallen from heaven,
O Day Star, son of Dawn!
How you are cut down to the ground,
you who laid the nations low!
You said in your heart,
“I will ascend to heaven;
above the stars of God
I will set my throne on high;
I will sit on the mount of assembly
in the far reaches of the north.” (Isaiah 14:12–13)
Ezekiel 28 and Isaiah 14 describe the same event, so we have confirmation of other divine beings in Eden. In the Ezekiel account, God describes how the “anointed guardian cherub” was cast out of Eden, where he’d once walked “in the midst of the stones of fire.” Compare that with what we discussed above about the brazen, glowing, or burning appearance of the beings encountered by Moses, Daniel, and Isaiah. And in Psalm 104:4, we read that God “makes his messengers winds, His ministers a flaming fire.”
In the Isaiah 14 passage above, we also see a reference to the “stars of God.” Scholars agree that “stars” in the Old Testament often refer to the bene ha’elohim (“sons of God”).
The divine rebel in Eden was cast out of the Garden for his pride and his desire to set his throne “above the stars of God”—the sons of God who appear as beings of fire and light. So, it’s likely that the “stones of fire” in Eden were the sons of God, angelic beings that the nachash wanted to rule from his own “mount of assembly.”
Apologists for the Bible often try to de-supernaturalize the puzzling references to fiery, flying serpents by offering naturalistic explanations. Some suggest that the fiery serpents of Numbers 21 were saw-scaled vipers, dangerous venomous snakes native to the Sinai Peninsula. Others claim that the verses are proof that dragons or pterodactyls were alive during the Exodus. Both suggestions miss the point. We need to keep our eyes on the supernatural.
Well, the consequences of the rebellion in Eden were immediate and harsh:
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)
Well-meaning Christians often point to that verse as the moment snakes lost their legs. Again, that misses the point. God didn’t remove the legs of snakes; He described the punishment of the nachash in figurative language. What happened was this: The nachash was cast down from the peak of the supernatural realm, “full of wisdom and perfect in beauty,” to become the lord of the dead.
For Adam and Eve, the banishment affected the two of them and all their descendants through the present day. Instead of living with God as members of His council, we humans have struggled for millennia to make sense of a world that often seems to make no sense. The memory of our brief time in the Garden of God has echoed down through the long and many centuries since, and it may be the source of our belief that mountains are somehow special: reserved for the gods.
Eden was a lush, well-watered area “on the holy mountain of God,” where Yahweh presided over His divine council. The council included the first humans along with the loyal elohim.
The long war between Yahweh and the sons of God who rebelled is not just about control of the spirit realm, it’s also about whether humanity will be restored to its rightful place “in the seat of the gods”—among the divine council on the holy mountain of God. We see God’s battle plans and references to previous skirmishes in the Bible, but a day is coming when He will destroy all enemies.
At least some of which are serpentine. And remember — a good word to describe “flying, fiery serpents” is dragon.
1 Numbers 21:4–9.
2 Genesis 3:24.
3 The Book of 1 Enoch also describe angels in the underworld as “burning mountains” (1 Enoch 18:13, 21:3).
4 Isaiah 14:9-10.