Cylinder Seals of Mesopotamia

Admittedly, most of the thousands of extant seals do not refer to biblical truths. Some do reflect the historical truth however and this is another way God kept the hope of a Savior alive in human hearts. God did not have to save any, instead He demonstrated His great love by Christ dying an excruciating death on the cross for all mankind if they would receive His gift of life.

Due to the nature of these seals being very hard material, they more easily survive burial and are small enough to be undamaged by layers of debris. Here are some more seals and modern impressions from them in a personal picture from the Allard Pierson Museum of the University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

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Gen.3.15

I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; 

He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.

This verse is a curse on the serpent for deceiving the woman into eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil thereby causing her to become a sinner. Many theologians think that when Adam took the fruit from Eve and also ate it that they died spiritually. Initially the first pair were innocent but without eternal life which presumably would have been theirs had they passed this test. Now however, their sin nature was evident since they hid from God when He visited them in the evening.

All Adam’s and Eve’s offspring also subsequently share their progenitors’ fallen nature: 

“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.” (Eph. 2.1-3 TNIV)

God in His grace clothed Adam’s and Eve’s nakedness and cursed the serpent (not snakes per se but the entity behind this particular serpent: the devil). The curse formula is given in somewhat cryptic terms but Satan was aware that his head would someday be crushed by a human supernaturally born of a woman. Satan, it is thought, searched out aspects of this divine human in the scriptures so to thwart the Messiah in some way. during Christ’s temptation, the devil quoted from Psalm 91:  Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:

He will command his angels concerning you,
and they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. (Mt.4.6 NIV)
This quotation is from Psalm 91.12. The very next verse is the promised Seed’s retribution on the devil: “You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent.” (vs.13)
The promise of this divine man is all of mankind’s hope and is reflected clearly, I believe, in some cylinder seals from Mesopotamia in the Fertile Crescent just north of the Promised Land. Abraham was called from Mesopotamia and given the promise that: “and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” (Gen.12.3b NIV).

Mesopotamian Cylinder Seals

(Courtesy British Museum)

Here is a seal (on the right) with the impression in clay. This one features Adam, Eve, the tree of forbidden fruit, and the serpent.

It is significant to note that all these cylinder seals were produced by Gentiles and appropriate also since the Gentiles share in the promise of the deliverer who would crush the serpent’s head given 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.

Gen.3.15 cylinder seal II

Gen.3.15 cylinder seal II

(courtesy of The British Museum)

This 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 lesser figure who may depict Adam.

This seal is truly amazing and undoubtedly refers to the Promised Seed of the woman from Gen.3.15.