Is Dust the Serpent's Food?

From the Differentiator magazine:
Vol. 18 New Series October, 1956 No. 5

Gen. 3:14: And dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life.Isa. 65:25: And dust (shall be) the serpent's meat.Mic. 7:17: They shall lick the dust like a serpent.

Do these statements mean that the serpent subsists upon dust as its food? There is not the slightest need to think so. Nor is there any need to take the statements in a figurative sense, as did Dr. Bullinger in his Companion Bible (Appendix No. 19). He said, "This is not true to the letter, or to fact, but it is all the more true to truth." He added, "It tells of constant, continuous disappointment, failure, and mortification."

Is it likely, however, that the serpent would make this singular distinction between "fact" and "truth"? What must the serpent have understood by the sentence passed upon it?

The solution to our problem is to be found in Gen. 3:17. "Cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shall thou eat (of) it all the days of thy life. . .." Note carefully the italic word "of," which is not found in the Hebrew. Actually the Hebrew only says, "In sorrow shalt thou eat it. . .

"Now we may be assured that Mankind does not eat the ground, any more than the serpent eats dust. Man lives on that which comes of the ground. The serpent eats of that which comes of the dust or soil. Man eats out of that which he can walk over; the serpent eats out of that which it crawls among.

Micah 7:17 comes to our help here, saying that some, like the serpent, shall lick the dust. The meaning of Isa. 65:25 is that "as for the serpent, dust (or soil) (shall be) what it devours." There is every right to take the word for "dust" here as meaning dusty; "as for the serpent, what it devours shall be dusty."

The Greek version reads in Gen. 3:14, "earth shalt thou eat all the days of thy life," while in v. 17 it reads, "in sorrows shalt thou eat it (Le. the earth) all the days of thy life." The usual construction would be to insert the word for "from" (Heb. min; Gk. apo), but here the absence of this word shews that Adam was to eat what the ground stood for, or produced; while the serpent was to eat what the soil stood for, or produced.

In any case, even though the serpent does eat dust, there is not the slightest ground in the Scriptures for thinking that this is its sole food. The serpent licks the soil, devours some of it in the process, but lives upon very various and different forms of food, as is well known.

Alexander Thomson

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Listing of Articles

Who is our God? Chapter 1
Who is our God? Chapter 2
Who is our God? Chapter 3
Who is our God? Chapter 4
Who is our God? Chapter 5
Who is our God? Chapter 6
Who is our God? Chapter 7
Who is our God? Chapter 8
Who is our God? Chapter 9
Who is our God? Chapter 10
Who is our God? Chapter 11
Who is our God? Chapter 12
Who is our God? Chapter 13
Who is our God? Chapter 14
Who is our God? Chapter 15
Who is our God? Chapter 16
Who is our God? Chapter 17
A Female Deity?
Acts 7:15 & 16
All Things
Amos 3:6
An Answer to the Challenge of Hell
Angels & Men One Species?
An Interesting New Version
Are You an Ambassador?
Are You a Pillar?
Are You a Witness for Jehovah?
Are You an Israelite? Chapter 1
Are You an Israelite? Chapter 2
Are You an Israelite? Chapters 3 & 4
A Special Resurrection?
Baptized for the Dead?
"Beloved" or "Loveable"?
Brotherly Love
Book Review
Colossians 1:23
Common or Unclean?
Common Sense
Did Paul Visit Spain?
Did the Lord give up His Flesh?
"Divine" Fire?
Doctoring the Holy Scriptures
Does God know Everything?
Does God will Everything?
Does your Spiritual Life seem Unreal?
Did God hate Esau?
Earth our Future Home?
Emphasis in the Scriptures
English more Archaic than Ancient Hebrew?
Ephesians 1:23
Erroneous Translations
Gleanings from A.T.
Heaven our Homeland
How is Christ God's "Word"?
How many were Crucified?
In the Christ All Shall Be Made Alive
Is Dust the Serpent's Food?
Is the Devil Impersonal?
Isaiah 26:14,19
James 4:5
Jehovah's Theocratic Organization
Jesus the Saviour
John 19:29
The Kingdom of the Hebrews
Leave it with God
Men or Mortals?
Misplaced Ingenuity
New Light on the Second Death
None Other Things
Objective Value of Prayer
Other or Different
Our Advocate
Paul's Chain
Paul the Sensitive
Paul versus James
Prevailing Prayer
Problems of Translation: I Cor. 7:21
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Psalm 66:18
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth
Rogues and Rascals
Rom 9 & 10: Human Freedom & Human Choice
Romans 9:14-24
Romans 9:30 to 10:21
II Corinthians 5:16
II Peter 3:10
Seven Wicked Spirits
Shall We See God?
Sir, We would see Jesus
Should we fear God?
The Bloody Husband
The Cherubim of Glory
The Corinthian Error
The Cunning Manager
The Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah
The Designation of Jesus as "God"
The Disruption Fallacy
The Disruption Fallacy #2
The Eighth of Proverbs
The Eleven "Generations" of Genesis
The Elohim
The Ends of the Eons
The Eternal Saviour-Judge
The Eternity of Hell Torments
The First Christian Convention
The Four Gospels
The Gentiles in Ephesians
The Greek Definite Article
The Hardening of Pharoah's Heart
The Hebrew Conception of Time
The Hebrews Epistle
The Hebrew Terms Rendered 'For Ever'
The Hope of Israel
The Life of Prayer
The Lord Jesus Revealing the Heart of God
The Lord's Relatives
The Lordly Supper
The Meaning of Ta Panta
The Ministry of Women Parts 1 & 2
The Ministry of Women Parts 3 & 4
The "Penalty of Sin"
The Poor in Spirit
The Primeval Laws
The Primeval Laws #2
The Problem of Evil
The Quality of Divine Love
The Rich Man and Lazarus
The Serpent of Genesis 3
The Soul and the Spirit
The Talmud of the Jews Parts 1 & 2
The Talmud of the Jews Parts 3 & 4
The Translation of Acts 28:25
The Trial of the Lord
The Truth of the Bible
The Two Seeds
The Works of Henry Clay Mabie, D.D.
"Three Days and Three Nights"
Translator's Incentive
Truthfulness and Mercy
Try the Spirits
Unto Eternity and Further
We have all been Wrong
What did Peter do?
What does Olethros mean?
What Happened to Jephthah's Daughter?
What is Destruction?
What is the Flesh?
What is the Sin unto Death?
Whence "Eternity"?
Who are the Saints?
Who is Jehovah?
Who Shall Deliver Me?
Why Pray?
Why the "Lake" of Fire?
Will God Punish?
Will the Lord Come for Us?
Will the Man of Lawlessness be Killed?


The Differentiator Revisited 2009