As a point of reference, I hope we can all agree that the text is relatively straightforward on who Eve's husband was.
(NASB unless otherwise specified)
Genesis 2: 21ff
21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. 22 The Lord God [t]fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. 23 The man said,
“This is now bone of my bones,
And flesh of my flesh;
She shall be called Woman,
Because she was taken out of Man.”
24 For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.
25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.
Genesis 3:20 Now the man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all the living.
This seems pretty straightforward. Adam and Eve are man and woman, and husband and wife- at least concerning Genesis 2 and 3.
3:1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?”
We don't have much to go on here, but we can see who "the serpent" is NOT based on a clear reading of Genesis 3. He is NOT God Almighty, he is NOT Adam, and he is NOT Eve. We know he is NOT Eve because he argues with Eve and convinces her to disobey God. We know he is NOT God because he counsels her to do exactly the OPPOSITE that God counsels her to do. ("You SHALL surely die" vs "You shall NOT surely die" is pretty clearly an opposed direction.) We know he is NOT Adam because the blame for the incidents rolls downhill, and Adam, Eve AND serpent are each punished as a consequence of what DID happen.
3:6 When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.
If it had been that Adam had been the one counseling her, things would have been different. He would have argued from their connection, and HE would have given HER to join HIM, using peer pressure to induce spousal conformity (by doing it, she was staying with him since he was doing it, and not going away from her husband.) Instead, we see her taking action, and then getting HIM to join HER.
There is no textual connection to suggest that Adam and serpent are one person. In fact, the only thing that can be used to suggest that is the thinness of detail concerning "the serpent." That is, we have questions as to who he is, what he is, why he is there, and what he is doing. So, someone who has a pet theory can discard what it DOES say and decide to read into what it says, and ignore what it DOES say to advance a pet theory. But, "the serpent" is treated as a separate being by God, when consequences are handed out, and there's nothing unclear about that. Adam is confronted, he blames Eve (and God for giving him Eve), and Eve blames "the serpent". (Interestingly, God never asks "the serpent" why he did what he did, which could be a different discussion.)
3:11 And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12 The man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate.” 13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” And the woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” 14 T
Again, pretty clear. Everybody blamed someone else, and Adam said Eve talked him into it- and Eve said nothing about being talked into it by "her husband" or "the man" or "Adam" or anything that would clearly point to Adam as being the one who convinced her.
14 The Lord God said to the serpent,
“Because you have done this,
Cursed are you more than all cattle,
And more than every beast of the field;
On your belly you will go,
And dust you will eat
All the days of your life;
15 And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her seed;
He shall bruise you on the head,
And you shall bruise him on the heel.”
16 To the woman He said,
“I will greatly multiply
Your pain in childbirth,
In pain you will bring forth children;
Yet your desire will be for your husband,
And he will rule over you.”
17 Then to Adam He said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat from it’;
Cursed is the ground because of you;
In toil you will eat of it
All the days of your life.
18 “Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you;
And you will eat the plants of the field;
19 By the sweat of your face
You will eat bread,
Till you return to the ground,
Because from it you were taken;
For you are dust,
And to dust you shall return.”
Looks like there were 3 beings held responsible, and 3 beings punished. "'The serpent" was punished, then Eve was punished, then Adam was punished. "The serpent" was made in enmity of "the woman", while Adam was still her husband as declared in Genesis 2. In fact, at the end of both Genesis 2 and 3, we get different perspectives on them being sent out together. I imagine someone can concoct a lengthy idea of spouses "hating" each other and being sentenced to stay married to each other, but let's be honest about how far one has to read into what's there for that.
Now, for those people wanting to discuss my exact wording and saying that I said that God punished all of them, I'd like to point out that the short read points in the same direction either way- 3 beings being punished, God outlining the punishments, and 3 punishments being levied. Whether or not God is administering them is really not the issue there- and the text supports either position there.
As for saying "the serpent" was UNQUESTIONABLY a literal animal, I'd say there was a lot to question that. We have a being that can carry on convincing arguments and outsmart a human in a debate. At the end of it, he's not robbed of his ability to do any of that. So, this was a being who could do that before, AND still do that after. If we want to speak LITERALLY- as a modern reader- we would say this was obviously NOT meant to be an animal, since he spoke as one smarter than them, and retained the ability to do so. Not a human, but not an animal. The first 3 chapters do NOT make it clear EXACTLY who he is, nor what he IS (we know what he is NOT.)
All right, why, then, do we get the references to things sounding like an actual snake? It's an extended metaphor. We do that nowadays with our figures of speech, and few people would argue this is not to be done.
("Senator Bedfellow, let me read you from our biography of you." "No, you're out to get me." "Senator, that's not true. The press is your friend." "Oh, all right then, read an excerpt to me over the phone." "Sure thing. 'Leaving a trail of slime whereve...' *phone disconnects as the Senator hangs up*" )
People liken someone to an animal in an unflattering way, then continue the figure when speaking of that person. We do that nowadays. (I do that here, in fact, but not in an unflattering way.) It's considered fine when we do it, and I've never been corrected when I've done it here. However, we suppose that they never did it a long, long time ago. They had language, so it should not be a shocker that they could have figurative speech.
We have a "serpent" who will be cursed beyond any cattle or domestic animal, forced to "go on his belly" (humiliated), and made to "eat dust" (eating dirt is humiliating). One who insists this is a literal serpent may ask why it says he will be forced to eat "dust" when ancient people knew what animals ate, so they knew that serpents didn't literally eat dust- they are carnivores. (They didn't need to learn that in school- they learned that through simple observation.) So, either they were told to believe something they knew was factually untrue, or a point was being made figuratively. Me, I think a point was being made figuratively.
Yes, I think it's possible to misunderstand that, but there is probably little in print that is not open to misunderstanding, especially for someone determined to read into it. Genesis 1-3 is not an exception to this.
Some other time, I'll get back to this "father means" business.