The Bible Project

Power Over the Snake - Son of Man E4

Episode Summary

Welcome to episode 4 of our series on the Son of Man!

Episode Notes

In part one (0:00-13:10), Tim recaps the series so far. He says the Son of Man title is Christ’s favorite title to use to describe himself, and it originally comes from a dream in Daniel 7. Tim then recaps Genesis 1 and 2. Humans are created after the animals but are then called to rule over the animals. So the creation and power order is inverted. Humans are overcome by the animals when they listen to the serpent, and humans embrace an animal-like state. Tim emphasizes that flowing out of Genesis are two lineages: a human lineage, the seed of the woman, and an animal lineage, the seed of the serpent. And at some point, a Son of Man will deliver the seed of the woman from the seed of the serpent.

In part two (13:10-18:30), Tim and Jon dive into the imagery of animals in the Bible. Jon asks what is the proper relationship with animals for people to have. Tim speculates that animals are meant to be in a peaceful relationship with humans. And a peaceful connection with the animals is an image the prophets use to describe a new creation. (Lions, lambs etc. )

In part three (18:30-33:50), Tim dives further into Genesis. He examines the inverted first born/second born relationships in the book. Abraham has two children, Isaac and Ishmael. Ishmael is the firstborn but is not chosen by God. Instead, God chooses Isaac. Then later in the story, Isaac has two sons, Jacob and Esau. Jacob is the second born and is chosen by God. Tim points out that the pattern is intentional.

In part four (33:50-end), Tim then moves into the account of the Exodus. Pharaoh says he wants to deal “shrewdly” with the Hebrews. This is a synonym of the snake saying it is the “crafty” beast. Pharaoh is now embracing an animal-like tendency and seeking to harm the Hebrews.

Then Tim dives into the story of the burning bush. God tells Moses to turn his staff into a snake ( snake (נחש) ). Many western readers see this story as some sort of magic trick that God is telling Moses to do. That's far from what's happening. Tim says the story is actually meant to portray Moses as a successful “son of man” who has power over the snake. This point is further emphasized when Moses and his brother Aaron go before Pharaoh to demand the release of the Hebrews. Aaron throws down his staff and it becomes, in Hebrew, a sea serpent. This is a different word than the previous word used for snake.

Exodus 7:8-13:
"Now the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, “When Pharaoh speaks to you, saying, ‘Perform a sign,’ then you shall say to Aaron, ‘Take your staff and throw it down before Pharaoh, that it may become a sea serpent (תנין).’" So Moses and Aaron came to Pharaoh, and thus they did just as the Lord had commanded; and Aaron threw his staff down before Pharaoh and his servants, and it became a sea serpent (תנין).
Then Pharaoh also called for the wise men and the sorcerers, and they also, the magicians of Egypt, did the same with their secret arts. For each one threw down his staff and they turned into sea serpents (תנין). But Aaron’s staff swallowed up their staffs. Yet Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he did not listen to them, as the Lord had said."

Tim says the point is Moses and Aaron becoming associated characters. They are humans who have power over the snake. Literally. They grab snakes and symbolically they prevail over Pharaoh. This theme is picked up by later biblical authors who see the symbolism and use the same word, “sea serpent,” to describe Israel’s enemies.

Isaiah 51:9-11:
"Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of the Lord; [// the arm of Moses with the staff]
Awake as in the days of old, the generations of long ago.
Was it not You who cut Rahab in pieces, [= Israelite name for the god of Egypt]
Who pierced the sea-monster (תנין/tanin)
Was it not You who dried up the sea,
The waters of the great deep;
Who made the depths of the sea a pathway
For the redeemed to cross over?
So the ransomed of the Lord will return
And come with joyful shouting to Zion"

Ezekiel 32:2:
“Son of man, take up a lamentation over Pharaoh king of Egypt and say to him,
‘You compared yourself to a young lion of the nations,
Yet you are like the monster (tanin) in the seas."

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Show Produced By:
Dan Gummel, Jon Collins

Show Music:
Defender Instrumental, Tents
Where Peace and Rest are Found, Beautiful Eulogy
Conquer, Beautiful Eulogy
Mind Your Time, Me. So.

Show Resources:
Son of Man Video: https://bit.ly/2D3wD9o
Gerhard von Rad, Genesis: A Commentary
Crispin Fletcher-Louis, Jesus Monotheism
Richard Bauckham, Living with Other Creatures