Theologians have labeled Gen.3.15 “The Protoevangelium” (first gospel). This promise, prophecy, and judgment sets the stage for the outworking of redemption by the incarnation of Christ: Because God’s children are human beings—made of flesh and blood—the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had the power of death. (Heb.2.14 NLT).
Judgment in The Garden of Eden
And I will cause enmity between you [the serpent] and the woman.
And between your seed and her seed.
He [Christ] will pierce your head, and you will pierce his heel. (Gen.3.15)
The Hebrew word “pierce” can also mean “bruise” or “crush” which is how some translators have rendered the phrase. The same word is used in both actions of the verse. “Pierce” is the best usage here since it describes the action of snakes, agreeing with the metaphor. Also, Ps.22.16: They have pierced my hands and feet. Both actions speak of a death blow since a snakebite is venomous while a crushed head is obvious. The curse is given in its logical order not the chronological sequence. Christ will ultimately crush Satan but in order to save humanity, Christ had to die. Jesus rose from the dead and henceforth has the keys of death (to unlock eternal life to all who trust Him).
The resurrected Christ taught the two disciples on the road to Emmaus: Wasn’t it necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and enter into his glory?” Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things written about himself in all the scriptures. (see Lk. 24.13-35 NET). The first verse in “Moses” was probably the Gen.3.15 prophecy.
Here are some artifacts which harken back to Gen.3.15:
Mesopotamian cylinder seals are small cylinders, generally made of stone and pierced through from end to end so that they could be worn on a string or pin. The surface of the cylinder was carved in intaglio (cut into the stone) with a design, so that when rolled on clay the cylinder would leave a continuous impression of the design, reversed and in relief. Cylinder seals were invented around 3500 BC in southern Mesopotamia (now Iraq) or south-western Iran, and were used as an administrative tool, as jewellery and as magical amulets until around 300 BC. Cylinder seals were linked to the invention of cuneiform writing on clay, and when this spread to other areas of the Near East, the use of cylinder seals spread too. (Courtesy British Museum)
Due to the nature of these seals being very hard material, they usually survive burial undamaged by layers of debris.
The shape and size of cylinders seals, the type of material used and the designs carved into the surface varied according to period and area. Many ancient clay seal impressions have survived on tablets, envelopes and sealings: small pieces of clay applied to doors and containers, including jars, baskets, sacks, leather bags and wooden boxes. However, these are often incomplete. The designs on the many thousands of surviving cylinder seals are best studied from modern impressions or rollings of the seals on clay or some other soft material. It is these modern impressions which are here shown alongside the ancient cylinder seals. (Courtesy British Museum)
(Courtesy British Museum)
Above is a seal with its impression in clay. This one features Adam, Eve, the tree of forbidden fruit, and the serpent. It is significant to note that all of these cylinder seals were produced by Gentiles and are also appropriate since the Gentiles share in the promise of the Deliverer who would crush the serpent’s head in Gen.3.15. This impression in clay seems to portray the serpent coiled somewhat under Adam’s chair. Notice Adam reaching his hand in a receptive manner.
(Courtesy British Museum)
The above impression has all the elements of the Genesis story: A king treading a horned dragon with limbs, a woman picking fruit from a tree, an additional figure who may be a depiction of Adam. This seal is truly amazing and undoubtedly refers to the Promised Seed of the woman from Gen.3.15.
Observe the elements in this clay impression (Allard Pierson Museum): A man standing on a serpent (ironically his head is a cross), other snakes (some appear dismembered), scorpions, and a turtle. Christ gives this power to His disciples to metaphorically trample the enemy in Lk. 10.19: Behold, I have given you the authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing will ever harm you (Lexham).