By Maria Merola
© Copyright Double Portion Inheritance, September 2009
Many have misunderstood the mysterious account of the bronze serpent on the pole in Numbers 21:8-9. And yet, the entire gospel message was clearly being illustrated through this event, wherein the nation Yisra’el would to look upon, the one whom they would later pierce, so that they might live and not die. As humans, it goes against our finite understanding, when we ponder the reasons why Elohiym would instruct Moses to fashion an image that would later-on become an idol that needed to be destroyed by King Hezekiah in 2nd Kings 18:4. However, this all the more explains why the Almighty wants us to look upon something that would remind us of “The sting of sin and death” (1st Corinthians 15:55-56), to bring us to repentance.
Reading Zacharyahuw (Zechariah) 12:10 in my Paleo Pictograph esword, the word “ME” is not there in the Hebrew text, but the Aleph & Taw is there instead! The entire chapter of Zacharyahuw (Zechariah) 12, YaHuWaH is speaking of himself in the “first person” (singular), and this is what he says:
“They shall LOOK UPON ME [ALEPH & TAW] whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for HIM as one mourns for his only Son!”
This means that YaHuWaH himself, became the Son, the ALEPH & TAW, and was pierced for us!
In Bamidbar (Numbers) 21, the entire chapter is about the children of Yisra’el murmuring and complaining against YaHuWaH and his servant Mosheh. To punish them, YaHuWaH sent “FIERY SERPENTS” to bite them.
But what does this mean? Were these snakes literally on fire?
For many years, I had often wondered what this phrase “fiery serpents” means, as I envisioned snakes that literally had flames emanating off of their skin. However, the English translators did the best they could with the Hebrew text, without fully understanding the meaning. It wasn’t until years later, (when modern medicine discovered that snake venom causes it’s victims to feel as if they are literally on fire), that the meaning of the fiery serpents became clear to me. So you see, it was not the snakes that were on fire in Numbers 21!
This phrase “fiery serpents” is poetic language for the phrase “poisonous snake,” as clearly defined in the Hebrew Concordance:
#H8314 saraph saw-rawf' from 8313; burning, i.e. (figuratively) poisonous (serpent); specifically, a saraph or symbolical creature (from their copper color):--fiery (serpent), seraph.
Therefore this word has more than one meaning in Hebrew:
1.) Something that burns or is burning.
2.) A poisonous serpent whose victims feel as if they are on fire.
3.) A six-winged Seraphim that looks as if it is on fire, because it radiates the light of YaHuWaH at the throne in heaven.
Here are a few examples of the way the word “saraph” is used elsewhere in Scripture:
Bereshiyth (Genesis) 11:3 And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn [saraph] them throughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter.
Bamidbar (Numbers) 19:5 And one shall burn [saraph] the heifer in his sight; her skin, and her flesh, and her blood, with her dung, shall he burn.
Judging from the context of Numbers 21, it is easy to see that the instructions that Yah had given to Moses was to fashion an image of these poisonous serpents, and to set it up on a pole as a “sign” of their future savior!
What do we need to be saved from? Who was the first one that caused humanity to sin in the garden? It was obviously the serpent!
And what will our fate be if we continue to obey the serpent?
Our Messiah told us that the Lake of Fire has been prepared for the devil and his angels:
Mattithyahuw (Matthew) 25:41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, you CURSED, into EVERLASTING FIRE, prepared for the devil and his angels.
If we obey the serpent, we will end up burning in everlasting fire!
Thankfully, there is only one antidote for the serpent’s bite. We know that the antidote for the curse of sin and death is the Sacrificed Lamb!
Recently, scientists have discovered that the blood of lambs contains an antidote against poisonous snake venom Sheep’s Blood Provides Rattlesnake Anti-venom.
Now we can begin to understand why YaHuWaH commanded Mosheh to make an image of a “saraph nachash” (a fiery serpent). It’s because he wanted Yisra’el to be reminded of the first sin in the garden, and how it brought the curse of sin and death upon humanity. He also wanted them to see a prophetic picture of their future savior who would “Became a curse for us,” so that he could destroy the power of the serpent.
In Numbers 19, YaHuWaH gave us an ordinance to burn [saraph] a perfect Red Heifer, which would later become a prophetic picture of our Messiah, as seen in the Aleph (the head of the bull or an ox). Whenever the nation of Yisra’el had shed innocent blood, the Red Heifer ordinance was to be enacted by the Priests in the Temple.
The slain Red Heifer was to be “BURNED” or SARAPH!
The Ashes of the Red Heifer was for the cleansing of the altar, and for those who had shed innocent blood, or who those had touched a dead body.
In Numbers 21:8-9, the Aleph, Waw & Taw is right next to the word “pole,” and it is also in front of the phrase “SHALL LOOK UPON!”
The Bronze Serpent on the Pole is therefore a prophetic picture of our Messiah who “BECAME SIN FOR US, WHO KNEW NO SIN!” (see 2nd Corinthians 5:21).
In this next verse, the word “POLE” means a “SIGN!”
Bamidbar (Numbers) 21:8 And YHWH said unto Mosheh, Make you a Seraph [FIERY SERPENT] and put it upon ALEPH, WAW & TAW [AS A SIGN] POLE: and it shall come to pass, that everyone that is bitten, SHALL LOOK UPON ALEPH, WAW & TAW and LIVE.
Bamidbar (Numbers) 21:9 And Mosheh made a SERPENT OF BRASS [NACHASH NECOSHETH], and put it upon a pole [AS A SIGN], and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten ALEPH & TAW [MAN/ADAM], when he BEHELD THE SERPENT OF BRASS, HE LIVED!
*Note: The KJV says “any man” in Numbers 21:9. However the word “any” is not there in the text!
Therefore it should say: “If the serpent had bitten man [iysh or Adam], when he BEHELD [LOOKED UPON] the serpent of brass he lived!”
Why a serpent of brass? How does one make a serpent of brass? To make an image, the copper/bronze must be BURNED IN THE FIRE!
This is a picture of the fiery serpent being devoured/destroyed in the fire!
Therefore, the image of the “BRONZE SERPENT ON THE POLE,” was a prophetic picture of our Messiah Yahuwshuwa who “BECAME A CURSE FOR US” (see Deuteronomy 21:3 & Galatians 3:13).
The Serpent in the garden was “CURSED” above all animals on the earth, because he tempted Eve, and she ate of the “Tree of Knowledge of Good & Evil.” She in turn, gave to her husband, and by ONE MAN (Adam) SIN ENTERED THE WORLD! (see Romans 5:12).
The Apostle Yahuwchanon (John) accurately saw the bronze serpent on the pole as a prophetic picture of our Messiah, for the Hebrew translation of John 3:14 shows us the Aleph & Taw again!
Yahuwchanon (John) 3:14 And as Mosheh LIFTED UP [ALEPH & TAW] THE SERPENT in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up.
The serpent was lifted up on the Taw, or the cross, as a prophetic “sign” for Yisrael, and for us today. As a matter of fact, the Hebrew word for “pole” in Numbers 21:8-9 also means “a sign, a signal.”
Something else that I find rather interesting is that the Hebrew word for “eat” in Genesis chapter 3, is as follows:
#H398 'akal aw-kal' a primitive root; to eat (literally or figuratively), burn up, consume, devour (-er, up), dine, eat (-er, up), feed (with), food, freely, wise (-deed, plenty), (lay) meat.
If eating (akal) can also mean to burn, how can we look at the account in Genesis 3 with new eyes?
Bereshiyth (Genesis) 3:6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat [burn], and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat [burn].
Bereshiyth (Genesis) 3:12 And the man said, The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat [burn].
Bereshiyth (Genesis) 3:13 And the YHWH Elohiym said unto the woman, What is this that you have done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat [burn].
Bereshiyth (Genesis) 3:14 And YHWH Elohiym said unto the serpent, Because you have done this, you are CURSED above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon your belly shall you go, and dust shall you eat [burn] all the days of your life.
The word “dust” in the above passage is also described as the material that YaHuWaH used to create mankind:
Bereshiyth (Genesis) 2:7 And YHWH Elohiym formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.
#H6080 `aphar aw-far': a primitive root: meaning either to be gray or perhaps rather to pulverize; used only as denominative from 6083, to be dust:--cast (dust).
#H6083 `aphar aw-fawr' from 6080; dust (as powdered or gray); hence, clay, earth, mud:--ashes, dust, earth, ground, morter, powder, rubbish.
As humans, we are created from the dust of the earth, and part of the curse, is that the serpent would have to “eat dust,” which can also mean to “devour or destroy” humanity!
Aleph Keefa (1st Peter) 5:8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour.
Ultimately, that old serpent, the devil wants to see us burn alive in the lake of fire for all of eternity. I am reminded of what the Apostle Shaul (Paul) wrote in 1st Corinthians 7, when he used the word “burn” to describe desire or lust:
Aleph Qorintiym (1st Corinthians) 7:9 But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn.
The Greek Concordance defines the word “burn” as follows:
#H4448. puroo poo-ro'-o from 4442; to kindle, i.e. (passively) to be ignited, glow (literally), be refined (by implication), or (figuratively) to be inflamed (with anger, grief, lust):--burn, fiery, be on fire, try.
Yisrael was often described as burning with desire or lust for their idols (Numbers 11:34; Psalm 106:14).
Tehilliym (Psalm) 106:14 But lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, and tempted Elohiym in the desert.
In Romans 1:27, the Apostle Shaul (Paul) describes the sin of homosexuality:
Romans 1:27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.
It now becomes evident that the burning of fiery serpent on the pole, has a much deeper meaning than what many of us have originally thought. We can see that the word “saraph” (burning or fiery) pertains to the sensation that the victims of snake bites experience from the venom or poison. We can also see that the word “saraph” (burning or fiery) pertains to something that literally burns or is devoured, and destroyed, as seen in the word #H398 akal, which means to eat, burn up, consume, devour.
Could this be the reason why our Messiah allowed his body to be destroyed on the cross?
Romiym (Romans) 6:6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.
Can you now see why the Red Heifer had to be completely burned down into ashes, (and then beaten/pulverized into powder by the Levites)? Can you see how this is a picture of how our Messiah redeemed humanity by destroying the nature of the serpent that was passed onto us by the serpent himself? It makes sense that the bronze serpent on the pole was meant to show us the ugliness of our sins, causing us to repent!
For if we do not repent, and allow the nature of the serpent to be destroyed in us, we shall ultimately be cast alive in the Lake of Fire along with the devil and his fallen angels:
Revelation 12:9 And the great dragon was cast out, THAT OLD SEPRENT, called THE DEVIL, and SATAN, which deceives the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.