Often, people say that they can’t believe the serpent in Genesis 3 spoke because they claim animals don’t speak! Well, I wish I could tell that to my sister-in-law’s Blue-Fronted Amazon Parrot that doesn’t stop talking! Many types of parrots talk by mimicking, so it would be illogical to think that God didn’t give this ability to other animals—especially in a perfect world. Speaking human-sounding words and speaking intelligently, however, is not the same. Balaam’s donkey, as the only other example given of animals speaking in Scripture, was specially enabled by the power of God to speak intelligently to Balaam.
Because there is no other place in Scripture that reveals Satan or demons can cause animals to speak, it makes more sense that the serpent could make the sounds capable of speech and Satan used this to his advantage. In essence, Satan likely used this feature that the original serpent had and caused it to say what he wanted.
Although this may sound farfetched, there should be caution about limiting what God did or didn’t do in the perfect Garden. There is a possibility that many other animals had the ability to “speak” before the Curse. Many animals have types of sound-based or mimickry forms of communication today.
The serpent apparently cooperated and was an instrument in the deception and so deserved a punishment, which God justly gave.
But the serpent was “clever” when it spoke. It made sense to the Woman.1 Since Satan was the one who influenced the serpent (Revelation 12:9, 20:2), then it makes sense why the serpent could deliver a cogent message capable of deceiving her. The serpent apparently cooperated and was an instrument in the deception and so deserved a punishment, which God justly gave. This reminds me of Judas, who also received due punishment, even though Satan entered him (Luke 22:3).
Of course today, serpents don’t speak, but the Curse in Genesis 3:14 probably had something to do with this. Recall the physical changes in Genesis 3. Perhaps this is the reason the particular kind of serpent that deceived the Woman did not pass along the ability to speak or may have even become extinct since the Fall.2
The issue of the Woman being shocked when she heard the serpent speak also has a couple of problems. First, everything in the Garden of Eden was new to the first couple—they’d only been alive for a short time. Even a bug, cat, or dinosaur would all be new, so they wouldn’t have been shocked at a talking serpent.
God also programmed language into Adam and Eve (since they were able to speak immediately with God), which would have included some words that describe animals and their capabilities. So it shouldn’t have been shocking to see or hear something for the first time if you’re already “programmed” to know about something like talking animals.