I came across this story about a spell written on an Egyptian tomb which may be the world’s oldest Semetic text. The whole thing is cool, but I especially love that “Believing that some snakes spoke the Semitic language of the
Canaanites, Egyptians included the magic spells in inscriptions on two
sides of the sarcophagus in an effort to ward them off.”
Why yes, it makes perfect sense that some snakes would speak the Semitic language of the Canaanites. How else could Eve have understood the serpent in the Garden?
I tease, but I also wonder.
There’s a theory that the story of the expulsion from the Garden is about Yahweh’s ascendancy over a goddess, possibly Ishtar, to whom the tree of Knowledge and the serpent would have been sacred. This theory goes something like this–the two creation myths in the Bible are not incompatible. All gods got together and created men and women and then set about focusing on the men and women who they would claim as their own, tight focus in on the protagonist of our story, Yahweh, and his folks.
Other gods work as teams, but Yahweh wants to be the only god of his people. Fine, except that there are other gods around, using the same land with their people nearby. So Yahweh has to make a rule–do what you want, but stay away from this (or these, depending on if you read the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and the Tree of Life as the same or different trees) tree (leaving unspoken, “because it belongs to that goddess and hanging out at that tree might accidentally run you into her”).
And yet, if you read it this way, your heart almost breaks for Eve. Here she is, faced every day, with God coming into the Garden in the cool of the evening, looking, as He does, like a man, like Adam. And there, near the Tree that is forbidden to them, a Sacred being visits that she resembles. That impulse, to see yourself as truly belonging to the Universe and not just an afterthought hastily scraped together out of bone and mud, it’s compelling and understandable.
Did I have a point? I can’t remember. The Tylenol is kicking in.
It’s just that there’s something compelling to me about the serpents that speak the same language as the Semetic people, but I can’t quite put my finger on it.