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Brazen Serpent

BRAZEN SERPENT. The brazen serpent comes before the reader three times in Scripture. When Israelites were being bitten by fiery serpents in the wilderness, Moses is said to have made a serpent of brass, in response to Jahweh’s instruction, and to have set it on a pole so that those stricken might look upon it and be healed (Num 21:8f.). When, later, the Israelites had converted the brazen serpent into an idol, Hezekiah, in a time of reform, had it broken into pieces. It was called Nehushtan (2 Kings 18:4). The name comes either from the root נָחָשׁ, H5729, serpent, or נְחֹ֫שֶׁת, H5733, brass. The former seems probable in view of the correct reading “and it was called,” referring to the name commonly used for the serpent when it was worshiped. It may also be a play on both words, as in Numbers 21:9 where they are used together. Jesus gave its deeper meaning when referring to His crucifixion (John 3:14f.).

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  • Nehushtan
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