- Et ait dominus ad serpentem.
- Ubi dat poenas pro peccato. Et debito procedit ordine: quia sicut peccaverunt, ita secundum ordinem puniuntur.
- Quia fecisti hoc, ideo maledictus eris.
- Aliqui exponunt literam istam moraliter, referendo ad mores. Vel ad malitiam Diaboli, exponendo mystice non literaliter. Tamen credo quod potest literaliter exponi de serpente vero. Nam ex facto isto est animal generi humano odiosum: quia fuit primae praevaricationis instrumentum. Unde sicut signum crucis est Diabolo odiosum, quia fuit instrumentum quo Christus exhibuit nobis nostrae liberationis beneficium: ita similiter serpens est apud homines maledictus, quia fuit talis maledictionis instrumentum.
- Unde est maledictus super omnes bestias terrae.
- Et licet sit animal venenosum, tamen ex eventu isto est redditum magis odiosum. Quare autem est punitus serpens, cum non sit animal quod habeat liberum arbitrium? Dicendum quod illud fuit ad ostensionem divinae justitiae, et scandalum vitandum, ne videretur quod Deus peccatum alicujus naturae intellectualis dimitteret impunitum: ideo sicut fuerat in eo aliqua similitudo intellectualis, quia scilicet loquebatur: ita esset in eo aliqua similitudo poenae inflictae pro peccato.
- Quod autem sequitur, super pectus tuum gradieris, et terram comedes omnibus diebus vitae tuae,
- quidam exponunt et dicunt quod serpentes tunc ibant et incedebant erecti, et vescebantur fructibus, vivebantque de terrae nascentibus, sicut recitat Magister in historiis. Unde quod super suum pectus gradiantur, habent ex ista sententia, non ex natura. Hoc autem frivolum videtur. Nam nos non videmus quod habeant pedes vel instrumenta quibus possent incedere erecti, cum pars eorum ultima sit in fine debilior ad totum corpus, et ita illud ei non possit inniti. Ideo dico quod aliqua incommoda sunt quae habent serpentes ex ista sententia, sicut quod est maledictus et horribilis redditus ex isto facto, et ex facti consideratione fidelibus, et ex instinctu aliquo per divinam justitiam et ordinationem complantato in omnibus forte, sicut etiam est sequens poena quae ponitur consequenter cum dicitur: inimicitias ponam inter te et mulierem. Aliqua autem sunt incommoda quae habuit ante, sicut ista, super pectus tuum gradieris, et terram comedes. Et ista ponuntur et replicantur ut ex hoc aggraventur alia, et appareat major poena, sicut major est afflictio addita infirmo quam sano.
- Inimicitias ponam inter te et mulierem.
- Ad literam credo quod ex aliquo instinctu facto in muliere a Deo, habet quemdam horrorem et imaginationem quasi naturalem ad ipsum serpentem. Unde fit ut mulieres magis nitantur istam speciem exterminare, et caput suum conterere. Vel aliter dici potest, quod mulier ex natura habeat, sicut sexus infirmus, quod ista venenosa horreat, quod ante non horrebat in statu innocentiae: et tunc hoc habebat ex speciali dono divinae gratiae, quod poterat certitudinaliter istorum nocumenta vitare, ac ideo non curabat ista persequi: sicut etiam ex natura complexionis nunc patitur in partu mulier, tamen ex gratia Dei non pateretur in statu innocentiae. Ideo ex culpa quae istam gratiam privavit, est ista poena. Item poterat esse quod aliquid erat in animalibus brutis, et aliqua impressio qua homini obediebant et parebant. Ista autem omnia cessaverunt per hominis culpam. Animalia enim fuerunt suis naturalibus passionibus relicta, et mulier fuit omni gratia destituta: et gratia gratum faciente, et omni alia gratis data. Ideo ex peccato factae sunt inimicitiae isto modo inter serpentem et mulierem.
- Unde dicitur: ipsa conteret caput tuum, et tu insidiaberis calcaneo illius.
- Quod dictum est secundum literam; quia serpens ambulat super pectus, insidiatur calcaneo, sicut parti sibi propinquae, ad quam facilius potest attingere: et ipsa conteret caput tuum. Quia aliquid haerens terrae, de facili potest ipsum terere.
- And the Lord God said to the serpent.
- Where He gives punishement for the sin. And He proceeds in order : as they sinned, so in order they are punished.
- Because thou hast done this thing, thou art cursed
- Some expose this letter morally, referring to behaviour. Or to the malice of the Devil, exposing mystically, not literally. Even se, I think it can be literally exposed about the real serpent. For from this act, the animal is odious to human kind: since it was instrumental in the first prevarication. Whence, as the sign of the Cross is odious to the Devil, since it was the instrument by which Christ gave us the benefice of our liberation: so similarily the serpent is cursed among men, since it was instrument for such a malediction.
- Whence it is cursed among all cattle, and beasts of the earth.
- And though the animal be venomous, even so from this event it is rendered more odious. But why was the serpent punished, when it be no animal having free will? One should say that that was to show forth divine justice and avoid scandal, so that it should not seem that God forgives sin by any intellectual nature unpunished: so, as there had been in it some similarity to an intellectual nature, namely since it was talking: so there should be in it some similarity to a punishment inflicted for sin.
- But what follows, upon thy breast shalt thou go, and earth shalt thou eat all the days of thy life,
- some expose and say that serpents were then walking and going forth upright, and eating fruits and living of what was born of the ground, as the Master recites in the histories. Whence, that they are walking on their breast, they have of this sentence, not from nature. But this seems frivolous. For we do not see they have feet or instruments by which they would be able to go forth uprightly, since their last part be weaker in the end to all the body, and this it cannot uphold it. Therefore I say that some incommodity that serpents have of this sentence, as that it is cursed and rendered horrid from this act, and from its consideration to the faithful, and from some instinct by divine justice and ordination strongly complanted in all, as also is the following punishment which is posed thereafter when it is said: I will put enmities between thee and the woman. But some are incommodities which it had before, as this, thou shalt crawl in they breast and eat dust. And these are posed and replicated so that therefrom the other punishment should be aggravated and appear greater, since a greater affliction is added on the infirm than on the healthy.
- I will put enmities between thee and the woman [and thy seed and her seed]
- To the letter I think that from some instinct God put in woman, she has a kind of so to speak natural horror and imagination to the serpent itself. Whence it comes that women more tend to exterminate this species and to crush its head. Or otherwise it can be said, that woman from nature has, as from weaker sex, that she is horrified by these venomous things, which before she had not been horrified of in the state of innocence: and then she had of a special gift of divine grace, that she could with certainty avoid the harms of these, and therefore did not care to persecute them: as also from the nature of her complexion now the woman suffers in childbirth, but by grace of God she would not suffer in the state of innocence. Therefore, from a guilt which deprived of this grace is this punishment. Likewise coud have been that something was in brute animals and some impression by which they obeyed and were submitted to man. But all this ceased by the guilt of man. Animals were relinquished to their natural passions, and woman was destituted from all grace: both of grace rendering pleasing [to God], and of all grace freely given. Thus, from sin were these enmities made this way between the serpent and the woman.
- Whence it is said: she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel.
- Which is said according to the letter; since the serpent walks on its breast, it lies in wait for the heel, as the part most close to itself, to which it can as easily as possible attain: and she shall crus thy head. Since it is something clung to the ground, it is easy to crush it.
The work from which this is taken is:
Postilla in libros Geneseos
I disagree with "ignoti autoris" and consider it an early work of St Thomas.
He is using "iste, ista, istud" for "hic, hec, hoc", which is easily a beginners' fault in Latin, if your maternal tongue has for "hic, hec, hoc" sth like "este, esta, esto" or "questo, questa" - and St Thomas was from southern part of Italy.
He is also seemingly (at least from here) giving an exposé over the very literal sense of Genesis to exclusion of moral and mystical ones.
But the mystical and prophetical meaning of the text, he was far from denying : it is about the Blessed Virgin Mary and Her total enmity ("enmities") against the Devil. Meaning, there was not room for even one moment of peaceful submission to him, not room for one moment of the state of sin in Her blessed life.
She was always crushing his head by not sinning, she was always crushing his head by obeying God.
St Thomas certainly knew that, but left this to be said by his superiors, as I think it might be from back when he was just studying.
Hans Georg Lundahl
Feast of Immaculate Conception
of the Blessed Virgin Mary