By In Theology

The Seed and the Serpent: Genesis 3:15 fulfilled in Exodus, Part 1

Guest Post by Jacob Gucker

If Moses wrote the Pentateuch and it is one continuous story, readers might expect the prophecy of Genesis 3:15 concerning the seed of the woman bruising the serpent’s head to be fulfilled some time before the end. This post argues for a near fulfillment of this prophecy in the birth of Israel as a nation and the crushing of Pharaoh in the Red Sea. Part one will deal with the “seed of the woman” facet of the prophecy and part two will deal with “crushing the Serpent’s head.”

Exodus is primarily about the birth of God’s son. Israel is the national son of God born out of slavery in Egypt at Passover and into the house of Yahweh. Passover was an exchange of “sons of the herd” for firstborn sons, and Israel is the firstborn of a planned new creation. Whereas Genesis has a theme of birth despite barrenness, Exodus begins with outright fruitfulness, though it is overshadowed by the dragon who waits to devour.

Keith Bodner’s An Ark on the Nile shows from Exodus 1-2 that Moses’ rescue from the Nile is a recapitulation of Noah’s Ark. It looks back to Noah’s rescue from the primordial waters of the flood even as it foreshadows Israel’s rescue from the waters of the Red Sea. Noah’s Ark was not built for seaworthiness but as a floating temple that anticipates the Mosaic Tabernacle that will go with Israel through the wilderness.[1]

Bodner highlights the important role of women who are the only protagonists in the beginning to go up against Pharaoh. Moses’ father is silent and the elders of Israel take no action. There are the vigorous Hebrew women who give birth quickly, the midwives who resist Pharaoh’s decree to throw every Boy into the Nile, Moses’ mother who hid her good son for three months, Moses’ sister who stationed herself to watch what would become of her brother, Pharaoh’s daughter who seems to be willing to defy her father, and the maidservants who go with her to bathe. They share in drawing Moses from the waters of the Nile in his little Ark. They are a corporate woman bringing forth a singular “seed” to be the covenantal head of the nation that will be born. In bringing Moses forth from the waters they participate in bringing the nation forth from bondage.

Bodner argues that Miriam and Pharaoh’s daughter play more significant roles than modern readers might think. He posits that Miriam is a shrewd mediator who speaks so as to suggest to Pharaoh’s daughter that an adoption is in order. He notes that Miriam is referred to here as an Almah, indicating that she too is capable of bearing children. He suggests that she is a “rhetorical midwife” in Moses’ new birth[2]. Taking the initiative here, Miriam seems to guide Pharaoh’s daughter and will have a similar role with the women of Israel at the Red Sea.

The naming of Moses brings the Egyptian princess into the tradition of phonetic naming that began with Eve naming Cain. She names him Moses because it sounds like the Hebrew word for “to draw out.” But there is more to his name because it is etymologically Egyptian, based upon the verbal stem msy which means “to be born” and the noun ms means “son.”[3]  Pharaoh’s daughter is participating in bringing forth the seed of the woman. This anticipates God including gentile women at numerous points in the long story of bringing forth the Messiah. Although Mary is the special maidservant chosen to bear the Son of God, all of the women in the Messianic genealogy are participants.

The serpent crippled Israel by hard labor and by Pharaoh’s heinous decree, but this seed will crush the serpent’s head. Part two will show how Pharaoh, the head of Egpyt, is the embodiment of the serpent in the book of Exodus.

Jacob Gucker is a librarian at BMA Theological Seminary in Jacksonville, Texas. He lives with his wife and baby daughter at Preacher’s End Farm where she raises vegetables and pastures chickens and he looks up from his books to help out.

[1] Keith Bodner, An Ark on the Nile: Beginning of the Book of Exodus (Oxford University Press, 2016).

[2]Bodner, Keith. “The Waters of Chaos.” In An Ark on the Nile: Beginning of the Book of Exodus. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016. Oxford Scholarship Online, 2016. doi: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198784074.003.0005.

[3]Ibid.

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