Serpent The frequent mention of this creature in the Bible, together with the important part which it plays in early mythology, justifies a fuller treatment of the subject here than could well be given under the special terms by which the several species are designated. To these, however, we also refer as affording further details on certain points.
I. Bible Names. — The following are the Heb. and Gr. words by which either the serpent in general or some particular kind is represented in the A.V. with great variety and little precision.
1. Nachash (נָחָשׁ, so called probably from its hissing; Sept. and New Test. ὄφις) the generic name of any serpent, occurs frequently in the Old Test. The following are the principal Biblical allusions to this animal: Its subtlety is mentioned in Ge 3:1; its wisdom is alluded to by our Lord in Mt 10:16. The poisonous properties of some species are often mentioned (see Ps 58:4; Pr 23:32); the sharp tongue of the serpent, which it would appear some of the ancient Hebrews believed to be the instrument of poison, is mentioned in Ps 140:3; Job 20:16, "the viper's tongue shall slay him;" although in other places, as in Pr 23:32; Ec 10:8,11; Nu 21:9, the venom is correctly ascribed to the bite, while in Job 20:14 the gall is said to be the poison. The habit serpents have of lying concealed in hedges is alluded to in Ec 10:8, and in holes of walls, in Amos 5, 19; their dwelling in dry, sandy places, in De 8:15. Their wonderful mode of progression did not escape the observation of the author of Proverbs 30 who expressly mentions it as "one of the three things which were too wonderful for him" (ver. 19).. The oviparous nature of most of the order is alluded to in Isa 59:5, where the A.V., however, has the unfortunate rendering of "cockatrice." The art of taming and charming serpents is of great antiquity, and is alluded to in Ps 58:5; Ec 10:11; Jer 8:17, and doubtless intimated by James (Jas 3:7), who particularizes serpents among all other animals that "have been tamed by man." SEE SERPENT CHARMING.
2. Sardah (שָׂרָŠ, prob. burning, SEE SERAPH; Sept. ὄφις or δράκων; A.V. "fiery") occurs generally in connection with the above term (Nu 21:6; De 8:15), but occasionally alone (Nu 21:8; Isa 14:29; Isa 30:6), as some peculiarly venomous species.
Much has been written on the question of the "fiery serpents" (הִנּחָשַׁים הִשּׂרָפַים) of Nu 21:6,8, with which it is usual to identify the "fiery flying serpent" of Isa 30:6; Isa 14:29. In the transaction recorded (Numbers loc. cit.; De 8:15) as having occurred at the time of the Exodus, when the rebellious Israelites were visited with a plague of serpents, there is not a word about their having been "fling" creatures; there is therefore no occasion to refer the venomous snakes in question to the kind of which Niebuhr (Descript. de l'Arab. p. 156) speaks, and which the Arabs at Basra denominate heie sursurie, or heie thiare, "flying serpents," which obtained that name from their habit of "springing" from branch to branch of the date trees they inhabit. Besides these are tree serpents (dendrophidoe), a harmless family of the colubrine snakes, and therefore quite out of the question. The Heb. term rendered "fiery" by the A.V. is by the Alexandrine edition of the Sept. represented by θανατοῦντες, "deadly." Onkelos, the Arabic version of Saadias, and the Vulg. translate the word "burning," in allusion to the sensation produced by the bite; other authorities understand a reference to the bright color of the serpents. It is impossible to point out the species of poisonous snake which destroyed the people in the Arabian desert. Niebuhr says that the only truly formidable kind is that called boetan, a small slender creature spotted black and white, whose bite is instant death, and whose poison causes the dead body to swell in an extraordinary manner (see Forskal, Descript. Animal. p. 15). It is obvious that either the cerastes or the naja haje, or any other venomous species frequenting Arabia, may denote the "serpent of the burning bite" which destroyed the children of Israel. See Ziegra, De Serpentibus Ignitis (Jena, 1732).
The "fiery flying serpent" of Isaiah (loc. cit.) can have no existence in nature if taken in strict literalness, though it is curious to notice that Herodotus (2, 75; 3, 108) speaks of serpents with wings whose bones he imagined he had himself seen near Buto in Arabia. Monstrous forms of snakes with birds' wings occur on the Egyptian sculptures; it is probable that some kind of flying lizard (Draco, Dracocella, or Dracunculus) may have been the "flying serpent" of which Herodotus speaks; and perhaps, as this animal, though harmless, is yet calculated to inspire horror by its appearance, it may denote the flying serpent of the prophet, and may have been regarded by the ancient Hebrews as an animal as terrible as a venomous snake. Accordingly, Hamilton Smith is disposed to take the saraph, or supposed winged serpent, to be a haje, one of the more Eastern species or varieties of the cobra or naja, which have the faculty of actually distending the hood, as if they had wings at the side of the head, and are the same as, or nearly allied to, the well known spectacle snake of India; and this interpretation seems to accord with the words of Moses, the serpents, the burning ones (Nu 21:6). The serpent may exhibit this particular state of irritation when it stands half erect with its hood distended, or it may be that variety which is possessed of this faculty to the greatest extent. Naja. reflectrix, the pof or spook adder of the Cape colonists, is reported by Dr. Smith to' be scarcely distinct from the Egyptian naja haje. With regard to the faculty of flying, the lengthened form, the muscular apparatus, the absence of air cells, and the whole osteological structure are all incompatible with flight or the presence of wings: hence Herodotus, in his search for flying serpents at Buto, may have observed heaps of exuviae of locusts cast on shore by the sea — a phenomenon not unfrequent on that coast — but most assuredly not heaps of bones and ribs of serpents. As for those of Plutarch, they may have been noxious sand flies. Flying serpents are only found represented in the symbolical pictures of Egypt, where they occur with birds' wings. Those of history, and of barbarous nations excessively habituated to figurative forms of speech, are various; some being so called because of their rapid motion, others on account of a kind of spring they are said to make at their victims, and a third class because they climb trees, and are reported to swing themselves from thence upon their victims, or to other trees. Now, many species of serpents are climbers; many hang by the tail from slender branches of low trees in highly heated glens, snapping at insects as they wheel around them; but all are delicately jointed, and if any should swing further than merely to change their hold, and should miss catching a branch, they would most certainly be dislocated, and, if not killed, very seriously injured. From personal experiments, we can attest that serpents are heavy in proportion to their bulk, and without the means of breaking their fall; that few, large or small, could encounter the shock of twelve or fourteen feet elevation without fracturing many spinous processes of their vertebrae, and avoid being stunned for a length of time, or absolutely crushed to death. Being instinctively conscious of the brittleness of their structure, nearly all snakes are timid, and desirous of avoiding a contest unless greatly provoked. This remark applies, we believe, to all innoxious serpents, the great boas perhaps excepted, and to most of the poisonous, exclusive of several species of viper and cobra-de-capello (comp. Thomson, Land and Book, 2, 333). Of the so called flying, or rather darting, serpents, Niebuhr found near Basra a venomous species called heie sursurie and heie thiare — that is, "flying serpent" — because it was said to fling itself from one tree to another. Admiral Anson heard, at the island of Quibo, of snakes flying without wings: we may notice the Acontias and Prester, that fell like arrows from the tops of trees, and the green AEtula of Ceylon, said to spring from trees at the eyes of cattle — an accusation repeated of more than one species in tropical America. Next we have the uler tampang hari, seen in a forest near the river Pedang Bessie, somewhere, we believe, in the Australasian islands, under circumstances that most certainly require confirmation; since this fiery serpent, so called from the burning pain and fatal effect of its bite, swung itself from one tree to another, 240 feet distant, with a declination to the horizon of only about fifteen degrees. We may thus refer the "winged" or "flying" serpent to the Naja tripudians, in one of its varieties, because, with its hood dilated into a kind of shining wing on each side of the neck, standing, in undulating motion, one half or more erect, rigid, and fierce in attack and deadly poisonous, yet still denominated "good spirit," and in Egypt ever figured in combination with the winged globe, it may well have received the name of saraph, and may thus meet all the valid objections and conciliate seemingly opposite comments (see Nu 21:6,8; De 8:15; Isa 16:14; Isa 30:6; and Paxton's Illustrations), excepting the authority of Herodotus, Pausanias, and Bochart, which, with all the respect due to their names, is not now sufficient to establish the existence of a kind of serpent whose structure is contrary to the laws of zoological organization. In Isa 14:29; Isa 30:6, the epithet מעוֹפֵŠ, meophaph, vibrating (rendered "flying" in the A.V.), is another form for "winged," and occurs in passages unconnected with the events in Exodus. Both bear metaphorical interpretations. A further confirmation of the "fiery serpents," or "serpents of the burning bite," being najas, occurs in the name Ras om-Haye (Cape of the Haje serpents), situated in the locality where geographers and commentators agree that the children of Israel were afflicted by these reptiles. Should it be objected that these are the haje and not the spectacle snake, it may be answered that both Arabs and Hindus confound the species.
3. Akshub (עִכשׁוּב, Sept. ἀσπίς, A.V. "adder") is found only in Ps 140:3, "They have sharpened their tongues like a serpent; adders' poison is under their lips." The latter half of this verse is quoted by Paul from the Sept. in Ro 3:13 ("asp"). The poison of venomous serpents is often employed by the sacred writers in a figurative sense to express the evil tempers of ungodly men; that malignity which, as bishop Horne says, is "the venom and poison of the intellectual world" (comp. De 32:33; Job 20:14,16).
It is not possible to say with any degree of certainty what particular species of serpent is intended by the Hebrew word; the ancient versions do not help us at all, although nearly all agree in some kind of serpent, with the exception of the Chaldee paraphrase, which understands a spider by akshub, interpreting this Hebrew word by one of somewhat similar form (עִכָּבַישׁ, akkabish). The etymology of the term is not ascertained with sufficient precision to enable us to refer the animal to any determinate species. Gesenius derives it from two Hebrew roots (עָכִשׁ , akash, "to turn backward," and עָקִב, "to lie in wait"), the combined meaning of which is "rolled in a spire and lying in ambush;" a description which would apply to almost any kind of serpent.
The number of poisonous serpents with which the Jews were acquainted was in all probability limited to some five or six species, and it is not improbable that the akshub may be represented by the Toxicoa of Egypt and North Africa. At any rate, it is unlikely that the Jews were unacquainted with this kind, which is common in Egypt and probably in Syria. SEE ADDER.
4. Pethen (פֶּתֶן, from an obsolete root prob. signifying to twist or to be strong; Sept. ἀσπίς, δράκων, βασιλίσκος), The Hebrew word occurs in the six following passages: De 32:33; Ps 58:5;. 91:13; Job 20:14,29; Isa 11:8. It is expressed in the passages from the Psalms by "adder" in the text of the A.V. and by "asp" in the margin; elsewhere the text of the A.V. has "asp" as the representative of the original word pethen.
That some kind of poisonous serpent is denoted by the Hebrew word is clear from the passages quoted above. We further learn from Ps 58:5 that the pethen was a snake upon which the serpent charmers practiced their art. In this passage the wicked are compared to "the deaf adder that stoppeth her ear, which will not hearken to the voice of charmers, charming never so wisely;" and from Isa 11:8, "the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp," it would appear that the pethen was a dweller in holes of walls, etc. The question of identity is one which it is by no means easy to determine. Bochart contributes nothing in aid to a solution when he attempts to prove that the pethen is the asp (Hieroz. 3, 156), for this species of serpent, if a species be signified by the term, has been so vaguely described by authors that it is not possible to say what known kind is represented by it. The term asp in modern zoology is generally restricted to the Vipera aspis of Latreille; but it is most probable that the name, among the ancients, stood for different kinds of venomous serpents. Solinus (c. 27) says, "plures diversaeque sunt aspidum species;" and AElian (N. Anim. 10, 31) asserts that the Egyptians enumerate sixteen kinds of asp. Bruce thought that the asp of the ancients should be referred to the cerastes, while Cuvier considered it to be the Egyptian cobra (Naja haje). Be this, however, as it may, there can be little doubt that the Hebrew name pethen is specific, as it is mentioned as distinct from akshub, shephiphon, tsiphoni, etc., names of other members of the Ophidia.
Oedman (Vermisch. Samml. 10, 81) identifies the pethen with the Coluber lebetinus, Linn., a species described by Forskal (Desc. Anim. p. 15). Rosenmüller (Not, ad Hieroz. 3, 156), Dr. Lee (Heb. Lex. s.v. פּתן), Dr. Harris (Nat. Hist. of Bible, art. "Asp"), Col. H. Smith (Encyc. Bib. Lit, art. "Serpent"), believe that the pethen of Scripture is to be identified with the Coluber boetan of Forskal. Oedman has no hesitation in establishing an identity between the C. lebetinus and the C. boetan; but from Forskal's descriptions it is most probable that the two species are distinct. The whole argument that seeks to establish the identity of the C. boetan with the pethen of Scripture is based entirely upon a similarity of sound. Rosenmüller thinks that the Arabic word boetan ought to be written poetan, and thinks there can be no doubt that this species represents the pethen of Scripture. Oedman's argument, also, is based on a similarity of sound in the words, though he adduces an additional proof in the fact that, according to the Swedish naturalint quoted above, the common people of Cyprus bestow the epithet of kouphe (κοῦφη), "deaf," upon the C. lebetinus. He does not, however, believe that this species is absolutely deaf, for he says it can hear well. This epithet of deafness attributed to the C. lebetinus Oedman thinks may throw light on the passage in Ps 58:5, about "the deaf adder." As regards the opinion of Rosenmüller and others who recognize the pethen under the boetan of Forskal,. it may be stated that, even if the identity is allowed, we are as much in the dark as ever on the subject, for the C. boetan of Forskal has never been determined. If C. boetan be the same as C. lebetinus, the species denoted may be the Echis arenicola (Toxicoa) of Egypt (Catalogue of Snakes in Brit. Mus. 1, 29). Probably all that naturalists have ever heard of the C. boetan is derived from two or three lines of description given by Forskal. "The whole body is spotted with black and white; it is a foot in length, and of the thickness of two thumbs; oviparous; its bite kills in an instant, and the wounded body swells." The evidence afforded by the deaf snake of Cyprus, and adduced in support of his argument by Oedman, is of no value whatever; for it must be remembered that audition in all the Ophidia is very imperfect, as all the members of this order are destitute of a tympanic cavity. The epithet "deaf," therefore, so far as relates to the power all serpents possess of hearing ordinary sounds, may reasonably be applied to any snake. Vulgar opinion in many countries attributes "deafness" to the adder; but it would be very unreasonable to infer from thence that the common adder (Pelias berus) is identical with the "deaf adder" of the 58th Psalm. Vulgar opinion in Cyprus is of no more value in the matter of identification of species than vulgar opinion elsewhere. A preliminary proof; moreover, is necessary for the argument. The snake of Cyprus must be demonstrated to occur in Egypt or the Holy Land: a fact which has never yet been proved, though. as was stated above, the snake of Cyprus (C. lebetinus) may be the same as the Echis arenicola of North Africa.
Very absurd are some of the explanations which commentators have given of the passage concerning the "deaf adder that stoppeth her ears;" the rabbi Solomon (according to Bochart, 3, 162) asserts that "this snake becomes deaf when old in one ear; that she stops the other with dust, lest she should hear the charmer's voice." Others maintain that "she applies one ear to the ground and stops the other with her tail." That such errors should have prevailed in former days, when little else but foolish marvels filled the pages of natural history, is not to be wondered at, and no allusion to them would have been made here if this absurd error of "the adder stopping her ears with her tail" had not been perpetuated in our own day. In Bythner's Lyre of David, p. 165 (Dee's translation, 1847), the following explanation of the word pethen, without note or comment, occurs: "Asp, whose deafness marks the venom of his malice, as though impenetrable even to charms; it is deaf of one ear, and stops the other with dust or its tail, that it may not hear incantations." Dr. Thomson also (Land and Book, 1, 221) seems to give credence to the fable when he writes: "There is also current an opinion that the adder will actually stop up his ear with his tail to fortify himself against the influence of music and other charms." It is not then needless to observe, in confutation of the above error, that no serpent possesses external openings to the ear. The true explanation of Ps 58:5 is simply as follows: There are some serpents, individuals of the same species perhaps, which defy all the attempts of the charmer — in the language of Scripture such individuals may be termed deaf. The point of the rebuke consists in the fact that the pethen was capable of hearing the charmer's song, but refused to do so. The individual case in question was an exception to the rule. If, as some have supposed; the expression "deaf adder" denoted some species that was incapable of hearing, whence it had its specific name, how could there be any force in the comparison which the psalmist makes with wicked men? Serpents, though, comparatively speaking, deaf to ordinary sounds, are no doubt capable of hearing the sharp, shrill sounds which the charmer produces either by his voice or by an instrument; and this comparative deafness is, it appears to us, the very reason why such sounds as the charmer makes produce the desired effect in the subject under treatment. As the Egyptian cobra is more frequently than any other species the subject upon which the serpent charmers of the Bible-lands practice their science, as it is fond of concealing itself in walls and in holes (Isa 11:8), and as it is not impossible that the derivation of the Hebrew word pethen has reference to the expanding powers of this serpent's neck when irritated, it appears to us to have at least as good a claim to represent the pethen as the very doubtful species of Coluber boetan, which on such slender grounds has been so positively identified with it. SEE SERPENT CHARMING.
5. Epheh (אֵפַעֶה; Sept. ὄφις, ἀσπίς, βασιλίσκος) occurs in Job 20:16; Isa 30:6; Isa 54:5, in all of which passages the A.V. has "viper." There is no scriptural allusion by means of which it is possible to determine the species of serpent indicated by the Heb. term, which is derived from a root which signifies "to hiss." Shaw (Trav. p. 251) speaks of some poisonous snake which the Arabs call leffah (el-effah): "it is the most malignant of the tribe, and rarely above a foot long." Jackson also: (Morocco, p. 110) mentions this serpent; from his description it would seem to be the Algerine adder (Echidna arietans var. Mauritanica). The snake (ἔχιδνα) that fastened on Paul's hand when he was at Melita (Ac 28:3) was probably the common viper (Pelias bertus), which is widely distributed throughout Europe and the islands of the Mediterranean, or else the Vipera aspis, a not uncommon species on the coasts of the same sea. See VIPER.
6. Tsepha, or Tsiphoni (צַפעוֹנַי צֶפִע; Sept. ἔκγονα ἀσπίδων, κεράστης), occurs five times in the Hebrew Bible. In Pr 23:32 it is translated "adder," and in the three passages of Isaiah quoted above, as well as in Jer 8:17, it is rendered "cockatrice." The derivation of the word from a root which means "to hiss" does not help us at all to identify the animal. From Jeremiah we learn that it was of a hostile nature, and from the parallelism of Isa 11:8 it appears that the tsiphoni was considered even more dreadful than the pethen. Bochart, in his Hieroz. (3, 182, ed. Rosenmüller), has endeavored to prove that the tsiphoni is the
basilisk of the Greeks (whence Jerome in Vulg. reads regulus), which was then supposed to destroy life, burn up grass, and break stones by the pernicious influence of its breath (comp. Pliny, H.N. 8, 33); but this is explaining an "ignotum per ignotius." The whole story of the basilisk is involved in fable, and it is in vain to attempt to discover the animal to which the ancients attributed such terrible power. It is curious to observe, however, that Forskal (Descr. Animal. p. 15) speaks of a kind of serpent (Coluber holleik is the name he gives it) which he says produces irritation on the spot touched by its breath; he is quoting, no doubt, the opinion of the Arabs. Is this a relic of the basiliskan fable? This creature was so called from a mark on its head, supposed to resemble a kingly crown. Several serpents, however, have peculiar markings on the head — the varieties of the spectacle cobras of India, for example — so that identification is impossible. As the Sept. makes use of the word basilisk (Ps 90:13; Ps 91:13 A.V.), it was thought desirable to say this much on the subject. The basilisk of naturalists is a most forbidding looking yet harmless lizard of the family Iguanidoe, order Sauria. In using the term, therefore, care must be taken not to confound the mythical serpent with the veritable Saurian. Basilisk is an indefinite English name, which belongs to no identified serpent, and now appears only in the works of ancient compilers and heralds, where it is figured with a crest, though there is no really crested or frilled species known to exist in the whole Ophidian order. Crested serpents occur, it is true, on Greek and Etruscan vases; but they are invariably mythological representations, probably derived from descriptive rumors of the hooded najas, cerastes, and perhaps muroenoe; the first of these having what may be likened to a turbaned, the other to a coronated head, and the third fins at the operculum. But it is from the apparently crowned form that the denominations of basilisk and regulus were derived. SEE BASILISK.
It is possible that the tsiphoni may be represented by the Algerine adder (Clotho Mauritanica), but it must be confessed that this is mere conjecture. Dr. Harris, in his Natural History of the Bible, erroneously supposes it to be identical with the Rajah zephen of Forskal, which, however, is a fish (Trigon zephen, Cuv.), and not a serpent. SEE COCKATRICE.
7. Shephiphon (שׁפַיפֹן; Sept. ἐγκαθήμενος) occurs only in Ge 49:17, where it is used to characterize the tribe of Dan: "Dan shall be a serpent by the way, an adder in the path, that biteth the horse's heels, so that his rider shall fall backwards." Various are the readings of the old versions in this passage: the Samaritan interprets shephiphon by "lying in wait;" the Targums of Jonathan, of Onkelos, and of Jerusalem, with the Syriac, "a basilisk" (חורמן, churmon, destructive) The Arabic interpreters Erpenius and Saadias have "the horned snake;" and so the Vulg. cerastes. The Sept., like the Samaritan, must have connected the Hebrew term with a word which expresses the idea of "sitting in ambush." The original word comes from a root (שָׁפִŠ) which signifies "to prick," "pierce," or "bite."
The habit of the shephiphon alluded to in Jacob's prophecy — namely, that of lurking in the sand and biting at the horse's heels — suits the character of a well known species of venomous snake, the celebrated horned viper, the asp of Cleopatra (Cerastes Hasselquistii), which is found abundantly in the sandy deserts of Egypt, Syria, and Arabia. The Hebrew word shephiphon is no doubt identical with the Arabic siffon. If the translation of this Arabic word by Golius be compared with the description of the cerastes in the British Museum, there will appear good reason for identifying the shephiphon of Genesis with the cerastes of naturalists: "Siffon, serpentis genus leve, punctis maculisque distinctum" — "a small kind of serpent marked with dots and spots" (Golius, Arab. Lex. s.v.). "The cerastes (Cerastes Hasselquistii) is brownish white, with pale-brown, irregular unequal, spots" (Catalogue of Snakes in Brit. Mus. 1, 29). It is not pretended that the mere fact of these two animals being spotted affords sufficient ground, when taken alone, for asserting that they are identical, for many serpents have this character in common; but when taken in connection with what has been adduced above, coupled with the fact that this spotted character belongs only to a very few kinds common in the localities in question, it does at least form strong presumptive evidence in favor of the identity of the shephiphon with the cerastes. The name of cerastes is derived from a curious horn like process above each eye in the male (and occasionally, it would seem, in the female likewise), which gives it a formidable appearance. Bruce, in his Travels in Abyssinia, has given a very accurate and detailed account of these animals. He observes that he found them in great numbers in those parts which were frequented by the jerboa, and that in the stomach of a cerastes he discovered the remains of a jerboa. He kept two of these snakes in a glass vessel for two years without any food. Another circumstance mentioned by Bruce throws some light on the assertions of ancient authors as to the movement of this snake; AElian (De Anim. 15, 13), Isidorus, AEtius, have all recorded of the cerastes that, whereas other serpents creep along in a straight direction, this one and the hoemorrhous (no doubt the same animal under, another name) move sideways, stumbling, as it were, on either side (and comp. Bochart). Let this be compared with what Bruce says, "The cerastes moves with great rapidity and in all directions, forwards, backwards, sideways; when he inclines to surprise any one who. is too far from him, he creeps with his side towards the person," etc. The words of Ibn-Sina, or Avicenna, are to the same effect. It is right, however, to state that nothing unusual has been observed in the mode of progression of the cerastes in the gardens of the Zoological Society; but, of course, negative evidence in the instance of a specimen not in a state of nature does not invalidate the statement of so accurate an observer as Bruce. The celebrated John Ellis seems to have been the first Englishman who gave an accurate description of the cerastes (see Philosoph. Transact. 1760). Hasselquist minutely describes it (Itin. p. 241, 365). The cerastes is extremely venomous; Bruce compelled one to scratch eighteen pigeons upon the thigh as quickly as possible, and they all died nearly in the same interval of time. It averages from twelve to fifteen inches in length, but is occasionally found larger. It belongs to the family Viperidoe, order Ophidia. This is a dangerous species, usually burrowing in sand near the holes of jerboas, and occasionally in the cattle paths; for there are now few or no ruts of cart wheels, where it is pretended they used to conceal themselves to assault unwary passers. It is still common in Egypt and Arabia.
Another kind of horned serpent is the Eryx cerastes of Daudin, also small, having no movable poison fangs, but remarkable for two very long back teeth in the lower jaw, which pass through the upper jaw, and appear in the shape of two white horns above its surface. It is known to the Egyptian Arabs by the name of harbagi, which may be a distortion of οὐβαῖος in Horapollo, and is classed by Hasselquist among slowworms, because in form the tail does not taper to a point. Its colors are black and white marblings, and the eyes are lateral and very near the snout. See ASP.
8. Tsimmaon (צַמָּאוֹן, De 8:15) appears to be a serpent, though rendered by drought" in the A.V. and others, so called because of the intolerable thirst occasioned by its bite. If this translation be correct, it will form in modern nomenclature one of the genus Hurria, and subgenus Dipsas or Bongarus. But no species of this division of snakes has yet been found in Western Asia, albeit there are several in India; and Avicenna locates the Torrida dipsas in Egypt and Syria; whereupon Cuvier remarks that Gesner's figure of Dipsas belongs precisely to the subgenus here pointed out. As one of the colubrine family, it should not be venomous; but the last mentioned writer remarks that several of these are regarded in their native localities with great dread; and on examination it is found that, although they have no erectile tubercular fangs, with a poison bag at the roots, there is on the long back teeth a groove, and a large gland at the base of the maxilla, which it is not unlikely contains, in some at least, a highly venomous poison. SEE DROUGHT.
9. Zochel (זוֹחֵל, literally a crawler) occasionally stands (De 32:24," serpent;" Mic 7:7," worm") as a general term for the serpent tribe. See WORM.
10. Tannin (תִּנַּיַן, "serpent," Ex 7:9-10,12; elsewhere usually "dragon") seems in the above instances to denote a venomous reptile (De 32:33); but of a vague character. SEE SEA MONSTER.
11. The usual and proper term for "serpent" in the New Test. Is ὄφις, a snake of any kind; but once (Jas 3:7) ἑρπετόν (elsewhere "creeping thing") is thus rendered. More specific terms, noticed above, are ἀσπίς, ἔχιδνα, δράκων. II. Scientific Classification and Characteristics. —
1. Systematical nomenclators and travelers enumerate considerably more than forty species of serpents in Northern Africa, Arabia, and Syria. Of these it is scarcely possible to point out with certainty a single one named in the Bible, where very few descriptive indications occur beyond what in scientific language would now be applied generically. It is true that, among the names of the list, several may be synonyms of one and the same species; still none but the most recent researches give characters sufficient to be depended upon, and as yet nothing like a complete herpetology of the regions in question has been established. For, snakes being able to resist a certain degree of cold, and also the greatest heat, there are instances of species being found, such as the hajes, precisely the same, from the Ganges to the Cape of Good Hope; others, again, may be traced from Great Britain to Persia and Egypt, as is instanced in the common viper and its varieties. Instead, therefore, of making vain efforts at identifying all the serpents named, it will be a preferable course to assign them to their proper families, with the exception of those that can be pointed out with certainty; and in so doing it will appear that even now species of importance mentioned by the ancients are far from being clearly established.
Serpents may be divided generally into two very distinct sections — the first embracing all those that are provided with movable tubular fangs and poison bags in the upper jaw; all regarded as ovo-viviparous, and called by contraction vipers: they constitute not quite one fifth of the species hitherto noticed by naturalists. The second section, much more numerous, is the colubrine, not so armed, but not therefore always entirely innocuous, since there may be in some cases venomous secretions capable of penetrating into the wounds made by their fixed teeth, which in all serpents are single points, and in some species increase in size as they stand back in the jaws. The greater part, if not all of these comparatively innocuous species are oviparous, including the largest or giant snakes, and the pelamis and hydrophis, or water serpents, among which several are venomous.
If we are right in the above identification, one class of serpents, the cobra tribe, may be regarded as the type of the most venomous in the East. The genus Naja — Haridi (?) of Savary — is distinguished by a plaited head, large, very venomous fangs, a neck dilatable under excitement, which raises the ribs of the anterior part of the body into the form of a disk or hood, when the scales, usually not imbricated, but lying in juxtaposition, are separated, and expose the skin, which at that time displays bright iridescent gleams, contrasting highly with their brown, yellow, and bluish colors. The species attain at least an equal, if not a superior, size to the generality of the genus viper; are more massive in their structure; and some possess the faculty of self inflation to triple their diameter, gradually forcing the body upwards into an erect position, until, by a convulsive crisis, they are said suddenly to strike backwards at an enemy or a pursuer. Capt. Stevens, of the Royal Marines, in order to ascertain the truth of the universal report concerning the mode of striking back ascribed to the serpent, had a quill introduced into the vent of one lying dead on the table, and blown into. The skin distended till the body rose up nearly all its length; he then caused the experiment to stop, from the alarming attitude it assumed.
2. Among the various tribes of animals which are inimical to man, there is none that can compare with the venomous snakes for the deadly fatality of their enmity: the lightning stroke of their poison fangs is the unerring signal of a swift dissolution, preceded by torture the most horrible. The bite of a vigorous serpent has been known to produce death in two minutes. Even where the consummation is not so fearfully rapid, its delay is but a brief prolongation of the intense suffering. The terrible symptoms are thus described: A sharp pain in the part, which becomes swollen, shining, hot, red, then livid, cold, and insensible. The pain and inflammation spread, and become more intense; fierce shooting pains are felt in other parts, and a burning fire pervades the body. The eyes water profusely; then come swoonings, sickness, and bilious vomitings, difficult breathing, cold sweats, and sharp pains in the loins. The skin becomes deadly pale or deep yellow, while a black watery blood runs from the wound, which changes to a yellowish matter. Violent headache succeeds, and giddiness, faintness, and overwhelming terrors, burning thirst, gushing discharges of blood from the orifices of the body, intolerable fetor of breath, convulsive hiccoughs, and death.
The agent of these terrible results is an inodorous, tasteless, yellow fluid, secreted by peculiar glands seated on the cheeks, and stored for use in membranous bags, placed at the side of each upper jaw, and enveloping the base of a large, curved, pointed tooth, which is tubular. These two teeth, or fangs, are capable of being erected by a muscular apparatus under the power of the animal, when they project at nearly a right angle from the jaw.
The manner in which the deadly blow is inflicted is remarkable, and is alluded to in Scripture. When the rage of the snake is excited, it commonly throws its body into a coil more or less close, and raises the anterior part of its body. The neck is now flattened and dilated, so that the scales, which ordinarily lie in close contact, are separated by wide interspaces of naked skin. The neck is bent more or less back, the head projecting in a horizontal position. In an instant the whole fore part of the animal is launched forward towards the object of its anger, the erected tooth is forcibly struck into the flesh, and withdrawn with the velocity of a thought. No doubt the rage which stimulates the action calls forth an increased action of the poison glands, by which the store sac is filled with the secretion. The muscular contraction which gives the rapid blow compresses at the same instant the sac; and as the acute point of the fang enters the flesh, the venom is forced through the tubular center into the wound.
3. Scripture History. — It was under the form of a serpent that the devil seduced Eve; hence in Scripture Satan is called "the old serpent" (Re 12:9, and comp., 2Co 11:3). On this metaphorical use of the word, see the Jour. of Sac. Lit. Jan. 1852, p. 351 sq.; comp. Biblioth. Sacra, Jan. 1864.
The part which the serpent played in the transaction of the fall must not be passed over without some brief comment, being full of deep and curious interest. First of all, then, we have to note the subtlety ascribed to this reptile, which was the reason for its having been selected as the instrument of Satan's wiles, and to compare with it the quality of wisdom mentioned by our Lord as belonging to it, "Be ye wise as serpents" (Mt 10:16). It was an ancient belief, both among Orientals and the people of the Western world, that the serpent was endued with a large share of sagacity. The Hebrew word עָרוּם, translated "subtile," though frequently used in a good sense, implies, it is probable, in this passage, "mischievous and malignant craftiness," and is well rendered by Aquila and Theodotion by πανοῦργος, and thus commented upon by Jerome, "Magis itaque hoc verbo calliditas et versutia quam sapientia demonstratur" (see Rosenmüller, Schol. ad loc.). The ancients give various reasons for regarding serpents as being endued with wisdom, as that one species, the cerastes, hides itself in the sand and bites the heels of animals as they pass, or that, as the head was considered the only vulnerable part, the serpent takes care to conceal it under the folds of the body. Serpents have in all ages been regarded as emblems of cunning craftiness. The particular wisdom alluded to by our Lord refers, it is probable, to the sagacity displayed by serpents in avoiding danger. The disciples were warned to be as prudent in not incurring unnecessary persecution.
It has been supposed by many commentators, that the serpent, prior to the fall, moved along in an erect attitude, as Milton (P.L. 9, 496) says —
Not with indented wave Prone on the ground, as since, but on his rear, Circular base of rising folds that tower'd Fold above fold, a surging maze."
Comp. also Josephus (Ant. 1, 1, 4), who believed that God now for the first time inserted poison under the serpent's tongue, and deprived him of the use of feet, causing him to crawl low on the ground by the undulating inflections of the body (κατὰ τῆς ἰλυσπώμενον). Patrick (Comment. ad loc.) entertained the extraordinary notion that the serpent of the fall was a winged kind (saraph), and Adam Clarke has been the laughing stock of exegetes ever since for maintaining that the serpent of the garden was an orang-outang (Comment. ad loc.).
It is quite clear that an erect mode of progression is utterly incompatible with the structure of a serpent, whose motion on the ground is so beautifully effected by the mechanism of the vertebral column and the multitudinous ribs, which, forming as it were so many pairs of levers, enable the animal to umove its body from place to place; consequently, had the snakes before the fall moved in an erect attitude, they must have been formed on a different plan altogether. It is true that there are saurian reptiles, such as the Saurophis tetradactylus and the Chamoesaura anguina of South Africa, which in external form are very like serpents, but with quasifeet; indeed, even in the boa constrictor, underneath the skill near the extremity, there exist rudimentary legs. Some have been disposed to believe that the snakes before the fall were similar to the Saurophis. Such a hypothesis, however, is untenable, for all the fossil Ophidia that have hitherto been found differ in no essential respects from modern representatives of that order: it is, moreover, beside the mark, for the words of the curse, "upon thy belly shalt thou go," are as characteristic of the progression of a saurophoid serpent before the fall as of a true ophidian after it. There is no reason whatever to conclude, from the language of Scripture, that the serpent underwent any change of form on account of the part it played in the history of the fall. The sun and the moon were in the heavens long before they were appointed "for signs and for seasons, and for days and for years." The typical form of the serpent and its mode of progression were, in all probability, the same before the fall as after it; but subsequent to the fall its form and progression were to be regarded with hatred and disgust by all mankind, and thus the animal was cursed "above all cattle," and a mark of condemnation was forever stamped upon it. There is no necessity to show how that part of the curse is literally fulfilled which speaks of the "enmity" that was henceforth to exist between the serpent and mankind; and though, of course, this has more especial allusion to the devil whose instrument the serpent was in his deceit, yet it is perfectly true of the serpent. Few will be inclined to differ with Theocritus (Id. 15, 58) —
τὸν ψυχρὸν ὄφιν ταμάλιστα δεδοίκω Ε᾿κ παιδός.
Serpents are said in Scripture to "eat dust" (see Ge 3:14; Isa 55:13; Mic 7:17); these animals, which, for the most part, take their food on the ground, do consequently swallow with it large portions of sand and dust (see Thomson, Land and Book, 2, 332).
IV. Mythology. — As already seen, scriptural evidence attests the serpent's influence on the early destinies of mankind; and this fact may be traced in the history, the legends, and creeds of most ancient nations. It is far from being obliterated at this day among the pagan, barbarian, and savage tribes of both hemispheres, where the most virulent and dangerous animals of the viviparous class are not uncommonly adored, but more generally respected, from motives originating in fear; and others, of the oviparous race, are suffered to abide in human dwellings, and are often supplied with food, from causes not easily determined, excepting that the serpent is ever considered to be possessed of some mysterious superhuman knowledge or power. Hence, besides real species, ideal forms, taken from the living, but combining other or additional properties, occur, at the most early periods, as metaphorical types, in fable and history, and in the hieroglyphics and religious paintings of many nations. Such are the innumerable fables in Hindu lore of Nagas and Naga kings; the primeval astronomy which placed the serpent in the skies, and called the Milky Way by the name of Ananta and Sesha Naga; the pagan obscure yet almost universal record of the deluge typified by a serpent endeavoring to destroy the ark, which astronomy has likewise transferred to the skies in the form of a dragon about to devour the moon, when, in an eclipsed state, it appears in the form of an amphipromnos or crescent-shaped boat; and, strange as it may seem, lunar eclipses still continue to be regarded in this character, and to excite general apprehension in Central Africa as well as in China, in the South Sea Islands as well as in America. SEE DRAGON. The nations of the North once believed in the Jormunds Gander, or Kater serpent of the deep; and they, together with the Celts and Basques and all Asia, had legends of the Orm, the Paystha, the dragon guardian of riches, brooding on gold in caverns deep below the surface of the earth, or lying in huge, folds on dreary and extensive heaths. These fables were a residue of that antique dragon worship which had its temples from High Asia and Colchis to the north of Great Britain, and once flourished both in Greece and Northern Africa — structures with avenues of upright stones of several miles in length, whereof the ruins may still be traced at Carnak in Brittany, Abury in Wiltshire, and Redruth in Cornwall — the two last mentioned more particularly showing their connection with the circle constituting a form of the mundane egg, which again was an emblem of the deluge and the ark. The Hesperian, Colchian, and Lernaean dragons are only Greek legends of the same doctrine, still more distorted, and affording ample proof how far the pagan world had departed from the simplicity of scriptural truth, from the excessive use of metaphorical descriptions and fanciful symbols. In Egypt, the early center of ophiolatry, this debasing service was so deeply rooted that a Christian sect of heretics, called Ophitae, or, according to Clemens Alexandrinus, Ophiani, arose in the 2d century of our era. As an emanation of the Gnostics, their errors are particularly noticed by Tertullian, and form a signal instance of human perverseness ingeniously misleading itself and others by the abuse of symbols; yet, when the anguine type did not pass into long, distorted legends, it is evident, from the brazen serpent raised by Moses in the wilderness, that it was correctly appreciated by' the people as a sign, not in itself a power, of divine aid; and that its true symbolical meaning did not escape even pagan comprehension appears from profane history, in Meissi, the good serpent, being likewise properly understood by the Egyptians, until idolatry distorted all the national reminiscences, and the promise of what was not fully revealed till the Savior appeared on earth was obliterated. Ob, Oub, the Coptic Hof, Obion in Kircher, was, however, the general name for serpents in Egypt; and Kneph, or Cnuphis, or Ih-Nuphi, the good genius, always figured as the Nachash or Thermuth, is, therefore, the same as Naga Sahib, or lord serpent of India, and still a personification of the vanquisher of the deluge — Vishnu and many others being pagan denominations of Noah. In this sense the good genius Cnuphis was a type of the Savior of men, and called by them the spirit pervading nature, the creator from whose mouth proceeded the mundane egg; being referred, after the loss of the true interpretation, to any typical form of the patriarch, the events of the deluge and the creation, thus confounding the operations of the Almighty with the ministry of his servant. (See Deane, The Worship of the Serpent traced throughout the World [Lond. 1833].) SEE SERPENT WORSHIP.
There was, however, another idolized snake of the great destroyer Python tribe, which devour even each other; it is represented on Egyptian monuments bearing a mummy figure on its tail, and gliding over a seated divinity with an egg on the head, while human sacrifice by decapitation is performed before it. This serpent is so carefully drawn that we recognize the Thaibanne, Ophites Thebanus, which grows to twelve or more feet in length, is still found in Upper Egypt, and is a congener, if not the same as Python tigris albicans, the great snake even at present worshipped in Cutch: it may be the Aphophis of the Egyptians. To descant further on this subject would lead us too far from our purpose; but the Egyptian Python here noticed, changing its character from being a type of the deluge to that of an emblem of the ark carrying the spirit of human life within or upon it, was not without its counterpart in England, where lately, in digging out the deep, black mud of a ditch, a boat-shaped Python, carrying the eight Eones (?) or Noachidae, has been discovered, with emblems that denote them to be the solar regenerators of mankind. Thus, as is ever the case in polytheistical legends, the type disappears through multiplied transitions and the number of other symbols and personifications characterized by the same emblem. It was so in this instance, when the snake form was conferred also on abstractions bearing the names of divinities, such as Ranno, Hoph, Bai, Hoh or Hih, and others.
The asserted longevity of the serpent tribe may have suggested the representation of the harmless house snake biting its tail as typical of eternity; and this same quality was, no doubt, the cause why this animal, entwined round a staff, was the symbol of health and the distinctive attribute of the classical AEsculapius and Hygeia. There are species of this genus common to Palestine and the southern parts of continental Europe. They were domesticated in Druidical and other pagan sanctuaries, and were employed for omens and other impostures; but the mysterious Ag or Hagstone was asserted to be produced by the venomous viper species. With such powers of destroying animal life, and with an aspect at once terrible and resplendent, it may easily be imagined how soon fear and superstition would combine, at periods anterior to historical data, to raise these monsters into divinities, and endeavor to deprecate their wrath by the blandishments of worship; and how design and cupidity would teach these very votaries the manner of subduing their ferocity, of extracting their instruments of mischief, and making them subservient to the wonder and amusement of the vulgar by using certain cadences of sound which affect their hearing, and exciting in them a desire to perform a kind of pleasurable movement that may be compared to dancing. Hence the Nagas of the East, the Hagworms of the West, and the Haje have all been deified, styled agathodoemon, or good spirit; and figures of them occur wherever the superstition of pagan antiquity has been accompanied by the arts of civilization.
"Almost throughout the East," writes Kalisch (Hist. and Crit. Comment. Genesis 3, 1) "the serpent was used as an emblem of the evil principle, of the spirit of disobedience and contumacy. A few exceptions only can be discovered. The Phoenicians adored that animal as a beneficent genius; and the Chinese consider it as a symbol of superior wisdom and power, and ascribe to the kings of heaven (tien-hoangs) bodies of serpents. Some other nations fluctuated in their conceptions regarding the serpent. The Egyptians represented the eternal spirit Kneph, the author of all good, under the mythic form of that reptile; they understood the art of taming it, and embalmed it after death; but they applied the same symbol for the god of revenge and punishment (Tithrambo), and for Typhon, the author of all moral and physical evil; and in the Egyptian symbolical alphabet the serpent represents subtlety and cunning, lust and sensual pleasure. In Greek mythology it is certainly, on the one hand, the attribute of Ceres, of Mercury, and of AEsculapius, in their most beneficent qualities; but it forms, on the other hand, a part of the terrible Furies, or Eumenides: it appears in the form of a Python as a fearful monster, which the arrows of a god only were able to destroy; and it is the most hideous and most formidable part of the impious giants who despise and blaspheme the power of Heaven. The Indians, like the savage tribes of Africa and America suffer and nourish, indeed, serpents in their temples, and even in their houses. They believe that they bring happiness to the places which they in habit; they worship them as the symbols of eternity, but they regard them also as evil genii, or as the inimical powers of nature, which is gradually depraved by them, and as the enemies of the gods, who either tear them to pieces or tread their venomous head under their all-conquering feet. So contradictory is all animal worship. Its principle is, in some instances, gratitude, and in others fear; but if a noxious animal is very dangerous, the fear may manifest itself in two ways — either by the resolute desire of extirpating the beast, or by the wish of averting the conflict with its superior power: thus the same fear may, on the one hand, cause fierce enmity, and, on the other, submission and worship." See, on the subject of serpent worship, Vossius, De Orig. Idol. 1, 5; Bryant, Mythology, 1, 420- 490: it is well illustrated in the apocryphal story of "Bel and the Dragon;" comp. Steindorf; De Ο᾿φιολατρείᾷ; Winer, Bib. Realwört. 2, 488.
From a modification, perhaps, of this idea of a tutelary genius, in Egypt and other Oriental countries a serpent was the common symbol of a powerful monarch. It was embroidered on the robes of princes and blazoned on their diadems to signify their invincible might; and that, as the wound inflicted by them is incurable, so the fatal effects of royal displeasure were neither to be averted nor endured.
The evil spirit in the form of a serpent appears in the Ahriman, or lord of evil, who, according to the doctrine of Zoroaster, first taught men to sin under the guise of this reptile (Zendavesta [ed. Kleuk.], 1, 25; 3, 84; see Rus, De Sepente Seductore non Naturali sed Diabolo [Jen. 1712], and Grapius, De Tentatione Evoe et Christi a Diabolo in Assumpto Corpore Facta [Rostoch. 1712]). But compare the opinion of Dr. Kalisch, who (Comment. on Genesis 3, 14, 1-5) says "the serpent is the reptile, not an evil demon that had assumed its shape.... If the serpent represented Satan, it would be extremely surprising that the former only was cursed, and that the latter is not even mentioned.
It would be entirely at variance with the divine justice forever to curse the animal whose shape it had pleased the evil one to assume." According to the Talmudists, the name of the evil spirit that beguiled Eve was Sammael (סִמָּאֵל): "R. Moses ben-Majemon scribit in More (lib. 2, c. 30), Sammaelem inequitasse serpenti antique et seduxisse Evam. Dicit etiam nomen hoc absolute usurpari de Satana, et Sammaelem nihil aliud esse quam ipsum Satanam" (Buxtorf, Lex.-Talm. col. 1495).
It is of more importance to remark that in the traditions of most pagan nations, which have been embodied in their mythology, the serpent appears as the enemy of man, and a triumph over this enemy is usually described as the greatest achievement of a popular deity. The Egyptian Horus is frequently represented piercing the head of some terrific serpent with his spear. From this source the Greeks and Romans adopted the fable of Apollo and the serpent Python, which is thus narrated by Ovid:
"Of new monsters earth created more Unwillingly, but yet she brought to light Thee, Python, too, the wondering world to fright And the new nations with so dire a sight: So monstrous was his bulk, so large a space Did his vast body and long train embrace. Him Phoebus basking on a bank espied, And all his skill against the monster tried; Though every shaft took place, he spent the store Of his full quiver, and 'twas long before The expiring serpent wallowed in his gore." Lok, one of the favorite heroes of the Northern mythology, is represented as a destroyer of serpents, and a legend similar to the classic story just quoted represents him as destroying a monstrous serpent with his hammer or mace. The similarity of all these accounts to the scriptural narrative is obvious; but a still more striking parallel has been discovered in the Mexican mythology by baron Humboldt. He says:
"The group represents the celebrated serpent woman Chinacohuatl, called also Quilaztli, or Tonacacihua, 'Woman of our flesh;' she is the companion of Tonacatenetli. The Mexicans considered her as the mother of the human race, and after the god of the celestial paradise, Ometenetli, she held the first rank among the divinities of Anahual. We see her always represented with a great serpent. Other paintings exhibit to us a feather headed snake cut in pieces by the great spirit Tezcatlipoca, or by the sun personified, the god Tonatinh. These allegories remind us of the ancient traditions of Asia. In the woman and serpent of the Aztecs we think we perceive the Eve of the Shemitic nations, in the snake cut in pieces the famous serpent Raliya, or Kalinaga, conquered by Vishnu when he took the form of Krishna. The Tonatiuh of the Mexicans appears also to be identical with the Krishna of the Hindus, recorded in the Bhagavata-Purana, and with the Mithras of the Persians. The most ancient traditions of nations go back to a state of things when the earth, covered by bogs, was inhabited by snakes and other animals of gigantic bulk. The beneficent luminary, by drying up the soil, delivered the earth from these aquatic monsters. Behind the serpent, who appears to be speaking to the goddess Chinacohuatl, are two naked figures; they are of different color, and seem to be in the attitude of contending with each other. We might be led to suppose that the two vases which we see at the bottom of the picture, one of which is overturned, is the cause of this contention. The serpent woman was considered at Mexico as the mother of two twin children. These naked figures are, perhaps, the children of Chinacohuatl. They remind us of the Cain and Abel of Hebrew tradition." An extraordinarily clear tradition of the agency of the serpent in the fall has lately been brought to light in the Assyrian tablets, being the story of the water dragon as read by the late George Smith (Chaldoean Account of Genesis, p. 91):
"The dragon, which in the Chaldean account of the creation leads man into sin, is the creature of Tiamat, the living principle of the sea and of chaos, and he is the embodiment of the spirit of chaos, or disorder, which was opposed to the deities at the creation of the world. It is clear that the dragon is included in the curse after the fall, and that the gods invoke on the head of the human race all the evils which inflict humanity. Wisdom and knowledge shall injure him (line 22); he shall have family quarrels (line 23); he shall submit to tyranny (line 24); he will anger the gods (line 25); he shall not eat the fruit of his labor (line 26); he shall be disappointed in his desires (line 27); he shall have trouble of mind and body (lines 29 and 31); he shall commit future sin (line 32). No doubt subsequent lines continue these topics, but again our narrative is broken, and it only reopens where the gods are preparing for war with the powers of evil, which are led by Tiamat, which war probably arose from the part played by Tiamat in the fall of man." SEE SNAKE.