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The word nachash is a very elastic term in Hebrew. It can function as a noun, a verb, or an adjective. When nachash functions as a noun it means “snake,” and so the traditional translation is possible—but it yields the contradiction with Ezekiel 28 and Isaiah 14 noted above.4 When nachash serves as a verb it means “to practice divination.”5 That meaning could also be possible in Genesis 3 due to the deception or going on—Lucifer claiming to have the “real” word from God. When a verb receives an article attached to it, the action of the verb is then transformed into a person doing the action. Hence the word ha-nachash would then best be translated “the diviner.” The third option—the adjectival meaning of nachash—is the solution to the contradiction problem. When nachash serves as an adjective, it's meaning is “shining bronze” or “polished” (as in “shiny”). By adding the definite article to the word, ha-nachash would then quite easily mean “the shining one.” Angelic or divine beings are elsewhere described in the Bible as “shining” or luminous, at times with this very word, nachash.6 We often don't think about how common this vocabulary of “shining brilliance” is for angels and other divine beings. The Bible abounds with descriptions of such beings as “flashing” or “as lightning,” or uses the brilliance of jewels to describe the blazing
appearance of such beings. This has important ramifications for solving the “snake” problem.
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