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The Land Before Time–PART 4: Clipped Wings

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As previously discussed, although the angels were free to leave the place or dimension wherein they were created to exist, an exit from that habitation had consequences. We have a general idea about when they got their wings clipped, but was limitation set on the angels before or after the pre-Adamic era? Are some angels more limited than others?

Pseudepigraphal writings like the Book of Enoch give us some answers, but perhaps the best place to start is with humanity’s beginning in the Bible itself. If we dig into the original language of Genesis 3:11b–15, we find some puzzle pieces from the account of what happened in the Garden:

And he said, “Who told thee that thou was naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?” And the man said, “The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.” And the Lord God said unto the woman, “What is this that thou hast done?” And the woman said, “The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat. And the Lord God said unto the serpent, “Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life.” (emphasis added)

A casual reading of this passage in any translation from the original Hebrew overlooks the deeper meaning of the words, such as the word translated “serpent.” That word in Hebrew is nachash, נָחָשׁ, Strong’s #H5175. Nachash comes from an “unused” root. This is an interesting point of Hebrew grammar, which Messianic Jewish scholar Dr. Arnold Fruchtenburg explains this way:

What is meant by “unused” root is that though the root of the word has a specific meaning, you will not find that root meaning in literature. Only its derived meanings will be found. Knowing the root meaning of a word, then, is only the first step. The root meaning of a word may be exactly as it says, but that root may not even be used in biblical literature. Only derived meanings might be used, and, therefore, you must learn to distinguish between the root meaning and its derived meanings.[i]

Hebrew roots are usually three letters, which can be used to make other words of related meanings. Sometimes all that distinguishes the different forms of the root are the vowel sounds, but this is where it gets interesting—and confusing. Hebrew has no written vowels, so vowel sounds are depicted with the use of special marks called “points.” If the vowel points are not written, as often happens in Hebrew, then the translator is left to guess what the actual word means. It’s an educated guess, of course; there are only so many meanings for each word, but this explains how the same passage in ancient Hebrew can be translated several different ways.

The word for “serpent,” is nachash, comes from the root nachash (נָחַשׁ, Strong’s #H5172). In writing, the two words are virtually identical, differing only by one vowel point, but the meanings are very different. The root word means “to practice divination or observe signs.”

“Divination” is also translated as “witchcraft,” and witchcraft implies working magic, perhaps by casting spells. This is how we get the connection from the root word, nachash, to its nearly identical derivative. The Strong’s definition of the root is “to hiss, i.e., whisper a (magic) spell.” That hissing sound that is made by the witch, diviner, or conjurer is the link to the snake, an animal that makes no sound from its throat other than hissing.




What does this do for our understanding of Genesis 3? It explains the link between nachash the serpent and nachash the diviner, the one possessing hidden power or knowledge. The translators of the KJV, and of most other translations for that matter, adopt the meaning of nachash as being a serpent, snake, or reptile. However, the word by itself does not specifically say that the being in Genesis 3 is a serpent. We could just as easily translate it as “the one who hisses and practices witchcraft.”

As we learn from other passages in the Bible (such as Ezekiel 28:1–19), this creature is Lucifer, or Satan. According to 2 Corinthians 11:14, Satan masquerades as an angel of light. That is definitely not a slithering snake. He can make himself appealing, which is one of his greatest powers. Why would Eve, or any of us today, listen to Satan if he appeared as an ugly serpent?

It does seem, though, that Satan likes the moniker of snake or serpent. As an example, the Mayans and other ancient civilizations of Central and South America worshiped a plumed or feathered serpent named Quetzalcoatl. Perhaps Quetzalcoatl was one of a number of demonic manifestations as snakes of serpents recorded throughout human history. It may be that Satan’s apparent fondness for the form of a serpent is an effort at spiritual propaganda: turning a negative feature into something positive. We humans may not like snakes, but we do like dragons. Quetzalcoatl and his kin from China and other cultures are essentially glorified snakes with wings. All of them fall into the category of serpent.

In our investigation, this “serpent” of Genesis 3 is connected to reptiles because of the way some translate the text. However, as you will discover, this was not ordinary “snake” but a practitioner of enchantment. Does this stand up to scrutiny elsewhere in the Bible? We find the answer in 1 Samuel 15:23, where the prophet Samuel defines the sin of King Saul by saying,

For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.

Rebellion in God’s eyes is like witchcraft. This is very important, and it sheds some light on how God must have seen Lucifer’s leadership of the angelic rebellion. Remember that Satan said he wanted to be “like the Most High” (Isaiah 14:14), and that his rebellion apparently started long before his appearance in the Garden of Eden. God was intimately familiar with Satan’s rebellious attitude, and recognized it in him before it manifested in actions against the Creator. The passage in Isaiah 14 and the parallel in Ezekiel 28 address this rebellious pride and haughtiness. Clearly God was not talking to a simple serpent in Genesis 3:14.

In the previous verse, according to the KJV, Eve said that the serpent “beguiled” her. This word beguiled is nasha, (נָשָׁא), from Strong’s # H5378. It is translated as “deceived,” but it means much more than that. This word literally means “to make someone a debtor.” This is the consequence of the sin of Adam and Eve in the Garden, a consequence that continues to bear bitter fruit in our own sin to this day. The act of rebellion against the Creator’s command put humanity into such debt that it could only be satisfied by the blood of Jesus Christ. But Satan was the banker who wrote the note!

The point of this chapter is make the case that the fallen angels, after having their wings clipped, had to resort to technology to accomplish their goals. The translation of Genesis is germane to that discussion, as we see in the curse God pronounced on the devil in Genesis 3:14:

And the Lord God said unto the serpent,

“Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life.”

“All cattle” in Hebrew is behemah (בְּהֵמָה), Strong’s #H929, which is also derived from an unused root. A better translation is “beast,” and that is how the KJV renders the term in most of the 189 instances where it appears in the Old Testament.

This is where it gets interesting. Remember, God had put man over all the beasts He created, as we see in Genesis 1:26:

And God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.” (emphasis added)

Here again, the KJV translators use “cattle” for behemah. Think about what this means in regard to that curse in Genesis 3:14. What God is telling this arrogant angel—the one He had created to be over the other angels, and the most beautiful of them all—is that He had just lowered his position not only to a place beneath mankind, but under all the animals!

Imagine the devil’s indignation. As a consequence of tricking Adam and Eve into rebellion and putting mankind in bondage, he was now even lower than the creeping things. In God’s eyes, he was lower than a bug!

The curse goes on to include the phrase, “upon thy belly.” The Hebrew term translated as “belly” is gachon (גָּחוֹן), Strong’s #H1512, a word considered to be derived from the root word giach, (גִּ֫יחַ), Strong’s #H1518. Giach means “bursting forth” or “gushing forth,” such as waters breaking forth (Job 38:8), something or someone breaking out (Exekiel 32:2), or the breaking forth from the womb (Psalm 22:9; Micah 4:10). This is the way the devil is to move, as God says, “upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life.” “Shalt thou go” in Hebrew is halak, (הָלַך), Strong’s #H1980, which means: “to go,” “to come,” or…TO WALK!

Now we arrive at the last part of the curse, a very important phrase translated as, “dust shall thou eat.” There is nothing controversial in this translation. “Eat” means just what is says: “eat,” “devour,” “consume.” “Dust” also means what we would expect: “dust,” “powder,” “dry earth.” Where it interests us is in the implications we draw from the devil’s new purpose “all the days of [his] life.” Instead of ruling over the Creator’s angelic dominion, he gets to consume the refuse of creation.

When we consider these deeper meanings of the Hebrew text, we see that Genesis 3:14 is not telling us about a serpent at all. It is addressing the relationship between the Creator and His most prized creation—the one who, because of his pride and jealousy, caused Adam and Eve to fall. Read it like this:

For doing this (making the man and woman, My newest prized creation, a debtor to sin) you have become small in My eyes. You are even lower than an ant! Your pride has broken out and you are going to have to eat your rebelliousness. I don’t care how beautiful you think you are! From this point on, your wings are clipped and you are going to have to walk the earth and eat my dust.

Maybe it would have been better to be just a serpent.

Abilities of Angels in God’s Army

Hebrews 13:2 says that angels can appear as men:

Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.

Daniel chapter 10 shows that angels are capable of appearing to select individuals or groups within larger groups of people. As an example, Daniel himself says that only he saw the angel who appeared. Those around him did not because they fled in terror. Daniel himself was rendered speechless until the angel touched him, which shows also that angels are able to cause physical reactions within those they visit.

As Luke 2:9 shows, angels can be undeniably intimidating:

And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

In Matthew 28:2–7, we see that angels are also messengers:

And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men. And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.



Sometimes angels only appear to certain people, such as in the angelic visitation to Peter in Acts 12:7–10. The being caused a light to shine in the dark prison, caused his chains to fall off of him, and caused the gate to open “of his own accord.” He did this while sneaking Peter out, past two soldiers who were nearby. In this case, demonstrated is the fact that angels can control environmental elements such as light, and can manipulate physical objects such as chains and (probably locked) gates. Note as well that while this is happening, Peter thought he saw a vision. This indicates that angels can appear not only in human form, but as supernatural or spiritual beings.

There are times when God will use His angel to carry out a death sentence, as Acts 12:23 illustrates:

And immediately the angel of the Lord smote Herod, because he gave not God the glory; and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost.

Daniel 9:21–22 tells us that angels are capable of flight, and can impart knowledge to human beings:

Yea, whiles I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation. And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding.

Abilities of Satan and Fallen Angels

Now contrast these angelic abilities with those of fallen angels, and even Satan himself. Second Corinthians 11:14 explains that Satan can appear as an angel of light. We also know, according to Job 1:6–7 and Zechariah 3:1, that he is still able to appear before God. Although many people think Satan exists only here on earth, the Bible clearly shows that he is able to travel between earth and heaven. In fact, according to Genesis 28:10–12, Jacob had a dream in which he saw angels descending and ascending:

And Jacob went out from Beersheba, and went toward Haran. And he lighted upon a certain place, and tarried there all night, because the sun was set; and he took of the stones of that place, and put them for his pillows, and lay down in that place to sleep. And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it.

Is it a stretch to think that the devil and his angels use these kinds of passages and gates as well?

In M Theory, physics, we see that there are at least eleven different dimensions. We find an interesting correlation to this in the Bible.

We live in a 3-D world. The “D,” of course, stands for “dimensions”: height, depth, and width. In addition, Einstein speculated that time was the fourth dimension. So in actuality, humans exist in four dimensions.

In 2 Corinthians 12:2, the apostle Paul is recounting a visit to “the third heaven.” If there is a third, there must be at least two others. That gives us at least three heavens and therefore, three additional dimensions.

3D + time + 3 heavens = 7 dimensions.

In the Bible, we also see that there are also four different levels of hell. There is hell or Hades (which has keys); the Abyss (which has keys); Tartarus, which is a keeping place for the angels; and the final resting place of Satan, the Lake of Fire. Those are four distinct places and thus, for the purposes of our conversation, four different dimensions of hell.

3D + time + 3 levels of heaven + 4 levels of hell = 11

That’s M Theory, and that’s physics. There are probably more dimensions than this, but the point is that if heaven is not within the same dimension as earth, Satan is capable of interdimensional travel, because he can go to both places.

It is also evident that evil forces travel through the heavenly places, as we infer from in Ephesians 6:12:

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

And we see in Genesis 6:1–4 that angels are both physical and spiritual beings because in this verse they copulate with human women.

Comparing the above attributes of angels and fallen angels, it is reasonable to assume, at first glance, that they have the same abilities. But take a closer look at the parameters around the actions that they take.

UP NEXT: The Power Behind Supernatural Abilities

[i] Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum, “Biblical Answers to Tough Questions: Hebrew Language,” (December 26, 2016).

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