Crushing the Serpent's Head
The depiction of Mary with the serpent’s head under her feet is taken from
Genesis 3:15 in the Vulgate, the Latin translation of the Scriptures. In the New
American Bible this verse reads: “I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and hers; He will strike at your head, while you
strike at his heel” (Genesis 3:15).
According to this translation it is not the woman, but “He” – that is, the
woman’s offspring – who crushes the serpent’s head. This agrees with other Bible
translations, including the new version of the the Vulgate on the Vatican’s
website, and more importantly, with the original Hebrew text.
This passage is known as the protoevangelium, the first proclamation of the
gospel, and it a great encouragement to God’s people.
The serpent deceived Eve and our first parents fell in sin. Maybe the devil
thought that he had permanently ruined God’s good creation and that he had
sealed humanity’s doom.
God quickly intervened and declared war on him. The devil and his seed would be
engaged in a conflict with the woman and her seed. The seed of the woman is
Jesus, born of the virgin Mary, who came to earth to destroy the works of the
The decisive battle was fought at Calvary. The devil bruised Christ’s heel. In
that dark hour Christ was betrayed, oppressed and crucified. But the inflicted
wound did not take long to heal. On the third day the Lord Jesusrose
victoriously over sin, death and the devil.
In the same battle the devil received the mortal blow. He had one destructive
weapon against us, namely his accusation before God that we are guilty and
therefore we should perish with him. As long as humanity was burdened with
guilt, all people were slaves of Satan. But by his sacrifice on the cross Christ
made reparation for the sins of his people and obtained their freedom. Their
enemy was disarmed and he cannot accuse them any longer. Christ has crushed the
God’s people will be buffeted for some time by their defeated enemy, but not for
long: “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet” (Romans 16:20).
Christ’s triumph is their victory too! Satan will be cast into the lake of fire
The first woman, Eve, listened to the serpent’s lie. God’s children do not. The
Lord gives them a new heart so that they respond obediently to God’s Word, just
as Mary did: “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to
your word” (Luke 1:38).
Moreover, they understand that God had eternally planned their redemption
through the suffering of his Son, “he was pierced for our transgressions; he was
crushed for our iniquities” (Isaiah 53:5). The serpent’s vicious attack on the
woman’s seed resulted in their liberation.
Glory to God for this wonderful picture that the Scriptures portrays of Christ
crushing the serpent’s head under his feet. Let us give thanks and praise God
for the hope and victory we have in him.