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  #1  
Old Dec 6, '07, 3:17 pm
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Deacon Joseph Deacon Joseph is offline
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Default Meaning of The Bronze Serpent?

The Bronze Serpent story in Numbers 21:4-9, wouldn’t that be a type of idiolatry? Wouldn’t it have been better for the people that doubted God to pray and give sacrifice at the Ark of the Covenant? Or was it because the people bitten by the serpents were so weak from the bite, they merely had to show their trust in God by looking at the Bronze Serpent Moses erected?
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  #2  
Old Dec 6, '07, 4:08 pm
iamscifimike iamscifimike is offline
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Default Re: Meaning of The Bronze Serpent?

I think this story goes partly to show just what is and what is not Idolatry when it comes to graven images.
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  #3  
Old Dec 6, '07, 4:16 pm
ryanoneil ryanoneil is offline
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Default Re: Meaning of The Bronze Serpent?

Israel was forbidden to make images of God because God didn't yet reveal himself visibly "in the form of any figure." Had the Israelites depicted God not yet revealed, they might be tempted to worship Him in the form of a beast, bird, reptile or fish, which was a common error of the times. (Deut. 4:16-19) We see that God did reveal himself in visible form as fire flaming out of a bush. (Exodus 3:2-3)

God's commandment "thou shall not make a graven image" is entirely connected to the worship of false gods. (Deut. 5:8) God does not prohibit images to be used in worship, but He prohibits the images themselves to be worshiped. God commands the making of the image of a golden cherubim. This heavenly image, of course, is not worshiped by the Israelites. Instead, the image disposes their minds to the supernatural and draws them to God. (Exodus 25:18-22)

Then God also commands the making of the bronze serpent. The image of the bronze serpent is not an idol to be worshiped, but an article that lifts the mind to the supernatural. (Num. 21:8-9)

If anyone who has been bitten looks at it, he will recover: "and as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that those who believe in him may not perish, but may have life everlasting" (John 3:14-15).

Hope that helps.

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Ryan
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  #4  
Old Dec 6, '07, 5:50 pm
utunumsint utunumsint is offline
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Default Re: Meaning of The Bronze Serpent?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Deacon Joseph View Post
The Bronze Serpent story in Numbers 21:4-9, wouldn’t that be a type of idiolatry? Wouldn’t it have been better for the people that doubted God to pray and give sacrifice at the Ark of the Covenant? Or was it because the people bitten by the serpents were so weak from the bite, they merely had to show their trust in God by looking at the Bronze Serpent Moses erected?
In 2 Kings 18:4 Hezekia destroys the bronze serpent because it was being used in an idolatrous way.

Quote:
4 It was he who removed the high places, shattered the pillars, and cut down the sacred poles. He smashed the bronze serpent called Nehushtan which Moses had made, because up to that time the Israelites were burning incense to it. 5 He put his trust in the LORD, the God of Israel; and neither before him nor after him was there anyone like him among all the kings of Judah.
It had been an object that was venerated in the proper way which had become an object of false worship. I would say this is a good example of the difference between idolatry and veneration. It has to do with intent.

God bless,
Ut
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  #5  
Old Dec 6, '07, 6:12 pm
CalmDownWisWins CalmDownWisWins is offline
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Default Re: Meaning of The Bronze Serpent?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Deacon Joseph View Post
The Bronze Serpent story in Numbers 21:4-9, wouldn’t that be a type of idiolatry? Wouldn’t it have been better for the people that doubted God to pray and give sacrifice at the Ark of the Covenant? Or was it because the people bitten by the serpents were so weak from the bite, they merely had to show their trust in God by looking at the Bronze Serpent Moses erected?
Does anyone know (!?) what the "Bronze Serpent" looked like?

I've always imagined that it was a 2-headed serpent lashed to a vertical pole, which looked remarkably like two arms outstretched with their hands each making a "mouth shape" (like a pair of sock-puppets).

Essentially, like christ on the cross with no "body" and only the arms "stuck together" at the mid-bicep.

Any thoughts?
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  #6  
Old Dec 6, '07, 6:39 pm
CapaxDei CapaxDei is offline
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Default Re: Meaning of The Bronze Serpent?

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Originally Posted by CalmDownWisWins View Post
Does anyone know (!?) what the "Bronze Serpent" looked like?

I've always imagined that it was a 2-headed serpent lashed to a vertical pole, which looked remarkably like two arms outstretched with their hands each making a "mouth shape" (like a pair of sock-puppets).

Essentially, like christ on the cross with no "body" and only the arms "stuck together" at the mid-bicep.

Any thoughts?
I imagine it looked like a snake. But why a serpent at all?
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  #7  
Old Dec 6, '07, 6:54 pm
Joe Kelley Joe Kelley is offline
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Default Re: Meaning of The Bronze Serpent?

My Speculation:

The serpent was the image of their physical ills. By meditating on their ills, the effect of their disobedience, the received forgiveness and cure.

In the OT physical ills are a type for sin. Jesus tells us in John 3:14 that the serpent on the pole is a type for Him on the Cross. Thus, when we meditate on the crucifix, we meditate on the effect of our sins and achieve repentence.

That is why it is important to have a crucifix, not a plain cross, for out meditation. Those who disregard the crucifix lose an important aid to their repentence and forgiveness.
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  #8  
Old Dec 6, '07, 10:46 pm
Clovis Clovis is offline
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Default Re: Meaning of The Bronze Serpent?

God, in the old testament, is known to put certain staples on people whom he has judged. Such as the mark of Cain, or the 'blot out of the book' from the golden calf, or the snake bites, and so on. Certain things humans do make us such and such in God's eyes. And we carry a burden for it. In this since we are trapped in a miserable inertia, at least for a time, until redemption.

(Samuel Beckett, a intellectual and theological playwright and novelist, named one of his characters in 'Waiting for Godot' Estragon. And 'Estragon' is an herb found in Russia that was thought to cure snake bites.)
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  #9  
Old Dec 7, '07, 12:46 pm
CalmDownWisWins CalmDownWisWins is offline
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Default Re: Meaning of The Bronze Serpent?

Quote:
Originally Posted by CapaxDei View Post
I imagine it looked like a snake. But why a serpent at all?
Because they were "inflicted by serpents" by God, and God told Moses to "make a fiery serpent, and put it on a pole, and whoever sees it will be healed" (paraphrased).

Once again, my interpretation is that God CHOSE serpents to inflict "punishment" for the express purpose of creating a precursor "object" that would be recorded in scripture and foreshadow PRECISELY the SHAPE of Christ's arms outstretched on the Cross.

In other words, "LOOK for this SHAPE as a sign of HEALING!".

It also, maybe, to some extent, have been a round-about way of taking the "heat" off of serpents as creatures EXCLUSIVELY associated with evil.

Serpents were created as good creatures (probably) originally, and to get "official" recognition that they can also be used to heal as well as to punish might have been a rather nice gesture.

(( What do I know? Does that seem like something the Magisterium might get annoyed at me about? I'll just have to wait for my "Stop That!" letter in the mail from the Vatican, I suppose. ))
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Old Dec 7, '07, 3:12 pm
war_eagle war_eagle is offline
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Default Re: Meaning of The Bronze Serpent?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Deacon Joseph View Post
The Bronze Serpent story in Numbers 21:4-9, wouldn’t that be a type of idiolatry? Wouldn’t it have been better for the people that doubted God to pray and give sacrifice at the Ark of the Covenant? Or was it because the people bitten by the serpents were so weak from the bite, they merely had to show their trust in God by looking at the Bronze Serpent Moses erected?
I think you're reading too much into it.

Everything in the Bible points to something else in the Bible and, in the Bible, we have what are commonly known as "types and shadows".

The bronze serpent was a foreshadowing of the coming Christ.
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  #11  
Old Dec 8, '07, 1:32 am
zagjames zagjames is offline
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Default Re: Meaning of The Bronze Serpent?

Quote:
Originally Posted by CalmDownWisWins View Post
Does anyone know (!?) what the "Bronze Serpent" looked like?

I've always imagined that it was a 2-headed serpent lashed to a vertical pole, which looked remarkably like two arms outstretched with their hands each making a "mouth shape" (like a pair of sock-puppets).

Essentially, like christ on the cross with no "body" and only the arms "stuck together" at the mid-bicep.

Any thoughts?

The symbol of medicine comes from this immage in scripture (and the wings on the staff may have a little greek myth thrown in, but why throw out the baby with the bath water?). So while this obviously is not it exactly or maybe not even close, its what we got. Speculation is fine, since we dont have drawings of the real thing. I just like the judeo-chrisitan symbols that we can find all over our society even when people try to push us christians to the side little reminders are always there ( you cant hide the truth!!!)
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  #12  
Old Dec 8, '07, 7:10 pm
Gottle of Geer Gottle of Geer is offline
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Default Re: Meaning of The Bronze Serpent?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Deacon Joseph View Post
The Bronze Serpent story in Numbers 21:4-9, wouldn’t that be a type of idiolatry? Wouldn’t it have been better for the people that doubted God to pray and give sacrifice at the Ark of the Covenant? Or was it because the people bitten by the serpents were so weak from the bite, they merely had to show their trust in God by looking at the Bronze Serpent Moses erected?
## They were bitten by serpents - so they looked at one. The brazen serpent has an apotropaic function - it is looked to, in order to keep away the evil it resembles. Making the artificial serpent is a way of controlling the activity of the real ones - by looking for help to the artificial serpent, the effects of the real ones can be cancelled out. By making an image, one is able to have power over the thing imaged, & so, over what it represents - one is controlling one's environment

Or, God sends the serpents to plague them, & also provides the cure: rather as Apollo in a different culture) was both a sender of plague, & a healer. Gods can be very ambiguous figures.
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  #13  
Old Dec 10, '07, 7:04 am
MH84 MH84 is offline
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Default Re: Meaning of The Bronze Serpent?

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Originally Posted by war_eagle View Post
I think you're reading too much into it.

Everything in the Bible points to something else in the Bible and, in the Bible, we have what are commonly known as "types and shadows".

The bronze serpent was a foreshadowing of the coming Christ.
How can you say he is reading too much into the passage when you just go out and say the bronze serpent is the foreshadowing of Christ?

Btw, I have heard that the staff/serpent that the Israelites looked upon and were saved from the illness, was the prefiguring of people looking upon the Jesus on the cross and being saved from their sins.
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  #14  
Old Dec 10, '07, 12:10 pm
Joe Kelley Joe Kelley is offline
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Default Re: Meaning of The Bronze Serpent?

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Originally Posted by MH84 View Post
How can you say he is reading too much into the passage when you just go out and say the bronze serpent is the foreshadowing of Christ?

Btw, I have heard that the staff/serpent that the Israelites looked upon and were saved from the illness, was the prefiguring of people looking upon the Jesus on the cross and being saved from their sins.
See John 3:14
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  #15  
Old Dec 10, '07, 11:16 pm
MH84 MH84 is offline
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Default Re: Meaning of The Bronze Serpent?

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Originally Posted by Joe Kelley View Post
See John 3:14
I forgot that Jesus said this Himself.

War eagle your statement was correct.
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