Genesis 3:1 (ESV) "Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” ... 4 "But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”The serpent said things! It verbalized it's thoughts! In order to speak, the snake processed information. We know that because he was crafty (v. 1) and then spoke in words which revealed its craftiness (v. 2 and 4)! The snake reasoned with Eve, and it truly out-smarted her because her own mind was changed.
I always just presumed that Satan put the words in the serpent's mouth. That made sense to me. What came to me, though, was that Eve wasn't surprised at all that the serpent could speak. I find that peculiar unless there was a reason for it.
Was the animal truly a snake? In Hebrew it is transliterated nachash - a snake or serpent which everyone knows is an animal. Likewise, the snake made a sound by "saying" (amar). What we have here is in fact a talking animal. Likewise, the animal could think. However, they obviously were not created in the image of God, but to be company with each other, and with Adam.
Adam was to have dominion over the animals. He was their ruler because he had something they didn't have. Adam was created in the image of God - Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Adam's likeness was mind, body and soul which corresponds to God's attributes. Animals have minds, however rudimentary; and bodies, but since they were not created in the image of God, they were without souls. Souls are the container for the Holy Spirit which Jesus called the cup.
Animals were a little different, then, but the difference was important. Animals were made to serve mankind. They are pretty much another kind of angel, but short-lived ones. What made them angels, so to speak, was their ability to speak. They brought Adam messages of adoration, I'm guessing. In those days, just as it will be in heaven, the lion and lamb were at peace with each other, and with man.
Adam ruled the animals with justice and fairness. There was no fear because there was no killing. Adam's diet was herbs, we know from Genesis 2. I can just hear Adam say, "Fear not, because I am with you!"
Therefore, my point is that the norm in the Garden of Eden was that animals could talk. Eve wasn't surprised that the snake was speaking, and Adam wasn't surprised when Eve told her that the snake said things. Just imagine, if it had been unusual, Adam would have had Eve committed to the sixth floor in Eden because she would have been thought to be a crazy woman. Adam accepted her story with no need for an explanation.
When did animals quit speaking? It was after Adam and Eve sinned.
Jubilees 3:27 "And on that day on which Adam went forth from the Garden, he offered as a sweet savior an offering, frankincense, galbanum, and stacte, and spices in the morning with the rising of the sun from the day when he covered his shame. 28 And on that day was closed the mouth of all beasts, and of cattle, and of birds, and of whatever walks, and of whatever moves, so that they could no longer speak: for they had all spoken one with another with one lip and with one tongue. "Jublilees is not canon, but it supports Scripture and explains how the snake talked to Eve and why she was not surprised. When Adam sinned, the animals all ceased to speak. Perhaps that was done by limiting their cognition because we know that the serpent spoke because it was crafty. I'm sure the penalty for craftiness was the removal of high level thought patterns, and the tongue is merely a device for making thoughts audible.
It's obvious that animals still think. However, their level of speech is not capable of Hebrew, what Jublilees explains was the original tongue, not modern Hebrew, but whatever it was before it became what it is today. Imagine your own dog speaking angelic Hebrew! Perhaps animals will in heaven, but unfortunately our animals won't go to heaven because they have no souls. The animals there will be spiritual messengers just like the angels who will speak Hebrew to Adam and us. God will create them to be our heavenly friends and contribute to our happiness, and we shall again have dominion over them.
There were talking animals in Paradise on earth. Surprise! And there will be talking animals in Paradise in the Kingdom of God. What's more, we won't find that strange at all!
We should love the animals because their original purpose was to serve mankind. They are pretty much like us too, minus the soul and intelligence, but sometimes I even wonder about that!
Was the snake the enemy of Adam? I propose that one of the Malikim - bad angels, had deceived the snake. Perhaps the snake had eaten of the tree and he did not die. Perhaps it was then that the animals lost their souls, if they ever had one. I think not, though, because scripture never said that they were crated in God's image.
On the other hand, it may have been the Malikim who merely used the snake as a mouthpiece. After all, Adam knew who they were, but he trusted the snake.
I wish this commentary was truth. It just seems from scripture that it's the case. Am I right? Let's wait and see.