The Snake: Avoid the Deception

Book Title: De Bykorf des Gemoeds : Honing zaamelende uit allerley Bloemen / Vervattende over de Honderd konstige Figuuren ; Met Godlyke Spreuken En Stichtelyke Verzen, Door Jan Luiken

Author: Luiken, Jan, 1649-1712

Image Title: The Snake: Avoid the Deception

Scripture Reference:

Description: A man talks to a large hissing snake that slithers to the side of him. In the background is a landscape with a wide river bordered by mountains. The Dutch artist and poet Jan Luiken (1649-1712), whose initials are at the lower right, was responsible for drawing and etching this emblem, as well as for the poem that accompanies it (below). The attendant Scripture text is Matthew 7:15-16.

Where Water was earlier,
There Water would surely come again.

When I see thee before my eyes,
Then I am reminded, how that old Snake,
Deceived my mother Eve,
And frightened all her children.
That Snake, which from the pit of Hell,
Clothed with thy body,
Knew how to present its Blackness so white,
That I still eat from the aftertaste:
But, in addition, I think again,
Of the great Salvation promised by God,
How that wished for Snake-destroyer
Would put his foot on its head.
That did not fail, at the right time:
Now it depends on us,
That afterward we do not again from the side,
Follow its lead.
But that we, after such a great lesson,
Take heed of the hidden venom,
Which like a Vulture with Pigeon-feathers,
Presents itself under a beautiful apppearance.
Be gone world with thy attractive pleasure,
In all thine pleasant structure,
Hides the Devil’s trap,
To pull us into Hell.
Wisdom has the highest value,
When clothed in insignificance,
As He himself was on Earth,
When He opened Heaven.

(Translation by Josephine V. Brown, with editorial assistance from William G. Stryker)

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