I was re-reading my favorite piece of scripture, Psalms 22, from a copy of the Geneva translation, and found myself interpreting the English translation of 22.6 with some distinct difference after studying some Anglo-Saxon words. 22.6 is as follows (Geneva Bible):
But I am a worm, and not a man: a shame of men, and the contempt of the people.
Almost all early modern English translations use the word "worm" (the original Hebrew is תוֹלַעַת, but that is not relevant to this question)
Now onto my question: According to OED the word "worm" initially meant:
worm (n.) Old English wurm, variant of wyrm "serpent, snake, dragon, reptile," (...)As an insult meaning "abject, miserable person" it dates from Old English.
This question speaks on the matter further.
This is intriguing to me, since with the meaning of "wyrm" as in "serpent" and "dragon", I, instinctively, think of "that old serpent, called the devil" from Revelation 12.9 and 20.2
12.9 And the great dragon, that old serpent, called the devil and Satan, was cast out, Which deceiveth all the world: he was even cast into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
This got me to thinking, might the "serpent" meaning of "wyrm" have been known to the early-English translators? (Tyndale, Bancroft, those for Bishops and Geneva, etc.) And thus is there a chance they may have been alluding to the word "worm" not only as the more literal meaning of being base and meek upon the colossal feet of men, but also as in the miserable and despised Devil, who as Milton put it best: "Me miserable! which way shall I fly Infinite wrath, and infinite despair? Which way I fly is Hell; myself am Hell;"--Thus when the psalm says "I am a worm, and not a man" he is as base as a serpent of hell (lower than any living thing). The serpent might certainly be seen as "the contempt of the people" and "a shame" since it was the "ancestor" of all serpents who condemned human-kind in the loss of Eden, and yet is it not miserable? When God condemned the serpent, who in many biblical 15th-century paintings has arms, and sometimes even legs, to slither on its belly?
3.14 Then the Lord God said to the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field: upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life.
THIS IMAGE MIGHT BE CONSIDERED SOMEWHAT DISTURBING (I mean not to offend anyone, just to give evidence on why a serpent might be miserable for losing its arms and legs:) The Fall of Adam and Eve, Hugo van der Goes 1470
So, my question is: hypothetically, could the early English translators of the bible have had the old-English meaning of "wyrm" in mind? Otherwise stated, would the old-English meaning still have been known or relevant enough with the Tudorian, Elizabethan, and Jacobean English-language mind, that a double-meaning might have been possible?
Just for the sake of it, the Genevan footnote reads
And seeming most miserable of all creatures(...)
If this question seems more fitting for Literature I would agree on having it migrated. But since this is an etymological question, my gut told me EL&U would be ideal.