Moses and the bronze serpent

This bronze statue of Baruch Maayan is located at the entrance to the hotel Gilgal.
Moses and the Copper Serpent

Most visitors will recognize this statue of Moses, but it is often mistakenly assumed that it illustrates the passage through the Red Sea. The statue captured a lesser known event that occurred during the wanderings of the people of Israel in the desert, described in the Book of Numbers, chapter 21. God tells Moses to make a brass serpent and put it on a staff so that each of the sons of Israel, who will look at him with faith, knew that he would be cured of snake bites.

The scene, embodied in this sculpture, occurred after the long wanderings of the sons of Israel in the desert. They began to complain, grumble and talk about losing faith in the Lord. In the same Lord who brought them out of Egypt, working miracles and sending a sign that appeared to them in the form of a cloud and fire pillar, gave them bread from the sky and water from the rock.

Chapter 21 tells us that the people of Israel were sick of the bread that God gave them from heaven, and the people came out against Moses and the Lord: "Why did they bring us out of Egypt to die in the wilderness?" And then their punishment came: poisonous snakes they began to sting people, and many died. And the Lord said to Moses: "Make yourself a snake and set it on a banner. And stung, looking at him, will remain alive. "

Following the instructions of the Lord, Moses made a brass serpent and placed it on a staff, the very staff with which he performed many miracles before the people of Israel. Everyone who was stung by a snake, looked at a brass serpent, praying for salvation from the Lord with all his heart, and he was healed.

That's why the snake on the staff became an international symbol of medicine. But, as has happened, the symbol of God's salvation became the object of idolatry. For many years the people of Israel worshiped the image of a brass serpent. As it is said in the Second Book of Samuel, 18: 4, Hezekiah, king of Judah, broke it: "He destroyed the brazen serpent Moses made, because until that day the sons of Israel worshiped him and called him Nehushtan."