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Holman Bible Dictionary

Fiery Serpent

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God used snakes of fiery appearance or burning bite to teach His people. The Hebrew word for burning or fiery is the same as for seraphim in Isaiah 6:1 but refers to different kinds of creatures. To punish the Israelites for complaining about their lot in the wilderness, God sent fiery serpents among them. As a result, many died. The serpents were natural residents of the wilderness ( Deuteronomy 8:15 ). Subsequently, God directed Moses to make a representation of a fiery serpent and place it on a pole. The brass serpent made by Moses became the means of healing for those who had been bitten by the fiery serpents but had not died. Jesus used this to point to His own fate of being lifted up on a cross (John 3:14 ). Compare John 12:32 . See Numbers; Moses .

Isaiah used the fear of snakes to warn complacent Philistines that God would raise up a more fearful enemy who could be compared only to a serpent (saraph ) which flew or darted (Isaiah 14:29 NIV). Compare Isaiah 30:6 .

Copyright Statement
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.

Bibliography Information
Butler, Trent C. Editor. Entry for 'Fiery Serpent'. Holman Bible Dictionary. 1991.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, October 25th, 2020
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30
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