A figure of speech relates to the form in which the words are used. It consists in the fact that a word or words are used out of their ordinary sense, or place, or manner, for the purpose of attracting our attention to what is said. In Genesis chapter three, we have neither allegory, myth, legend, nor fable, but literal historical facts set forth, and emphasized by the use of certain figures of speech. When Satan is spoken of as a ‘serpent’, it is the figure Hypocatastasis or Implication. An implied resemblance or representation.
Other figures of speech are used in Genesis 3:14-15, but only for the same purpose of emphasizing the truth and the reality of what is said. “Thou shalt bruise his heel”, it cannot mean his literal heel of flesh and blood, but suffering, more temporary in character.
“He shall crush thy head”, it means something more than a skull of bone, and brain, and hair. It means that all Satan’s plans and plots, policy and purposes, will one day be finally crushed and ended, never more to mar or to hinder the purposes of God.
This will be effected when Satan shall be bruised under our feet (Romans 16:20). This, again, will not be our literal feet, but something much more real. The bruising of Christ’s heel is the most eloquent and impressive way of foretelling the most solemn events; and to point out that the effort made by Satan to evade his doom, then threatened, would become the very means of insuring its accomplishment; for it was through the death of Christ that he who had the power of death would be destroyed; and all Satan’ power and policy brought to an end, and all his works destroyed.
The history of Genesis chapter three is intended to teach us the fact that Satan’s sphere of activities is in the religious sphere, and not the spheres of crime or immorality; that his battlefield is not the sins arising from human depravity, but the unbelief of the human heart. We are not to look for Satan’s activities today in the newspaper press, or the police courts; but in the pulpit, and in professors’ chairs. Whenever the Word of God is called in question, there we see the trail of that old serpent?
Genesis 3:14-15 - What literal words could portray these literal facts so wonderfully as these expressive figures of speech? It is the same with the other figures used in versus 14, “On thy belly shalt thou go”. This figure means infinitely more than the literal belly of flesh and blood. It paints for the eyes of our mind the picture of Satan’s ultimate humiliation; for prostration was ever the most eloquent sign of subjection. Ps. 44:25 denotes such a prolonged prostration and such a depth of submission as could never be conveyed or expressed in literal words.
What literal words could portray these literal facts so wonderfully as these expressive figures of speech?