Friday, January 01, 2010

THE Serpent

Serpent is a word of Latin origin (serpens, serpentis) which is ultimately derived from the Sanskrit term serp, that is normally substituted for "snake" in a specifically mythic or religious context, in order to distinguish such creatures from the field of biology.

Hebrew Bible
In the Hebrew Bible (the Tanakh) of Judaism, the speaking Serpent (nachash) in the Garden of Eden brought forbidden knowledge, but was not identified with Satan in the Book of Genesis. Nor is there any indication there in Genesis that the Serpent was a deity in his own right, aside from the fact that the Pentateuch is not teeming with talking animals.

1"Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God has made," ( Genesis 3:1)

Moses lifts up the brass snake, curing the Israelites from Snake Bites. Hezekiah called the snake Nehushtan though he was cursed for his role in the Garden, this was not the end of the Serpent, who continued to be venerated in the folk religion of Judah and was tolerated by official religion until the in time of king Hezekiah. The Book of Numbers provides an origin for an archaic bronze serpent associated with Moses, with the following narrative:

6 "And the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the
people; and much people of Israel died.
7 "Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD, and against thee; pray unto the LORD, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people.
8 And the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he Looketh upon it, shall live. 9 And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived." ( Numbers 21:6-9 KJV)


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