Let's examine the Nehustan, the serpent on the staff that Moses was told by God to use to heal the Israelites; the Rod of the Greek god Asklepios, and the Staff of Hermes the Caduceus.
Numbers 21:4–9, The Bronze Serpent
4 And they journeyed from mount Hor by the way of the Red sea, to compass the land of Edom: and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way. 5 And the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for [there is] no bread, neither [is there any] water; and our soul loatheth this light bread.
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.
What is a Seraph?
"fiery serpent" = "seraph nachash" or "ha-ne-cha-sim" "ha-se-ra-phim"
Nahcash - the same word used for the serpent in the Garden of Eden
Seraphim - used as the name for certain angels
Isa. 14:29 - 29Rejoice not thou, whole Palestina, because the rod of him that smote thee is broken: for out of the serpent's root shall come forth a cockatrice, and his fruit [shall be] a fiery flying serpent.
Isaiah 30:6 - 6The burden of the beasts of the south: into the land of trouble and anguish, from whence [come] the young and old lion, the viper and fiery flying serpent, they will carry their riches upon the shoulders of young asses, and their treasures upon the bunches of camels, to a people [that] shall not profit [them].
Seraph traditionally means "fiery serpent".
Herodotus (2:75; 3:109) also states that in his day people told of the existence of flying serpents in the Arabian desert.
It probably had wings, for so serafim are described in the Bible
King Hezekiah breaks the Nehustan into pieces
The copper serpent of Moses remained in existence for nearly 700 years, but King Hezekiah had it destroyed.
2 Kings 18:4
4He removed the high places, and brake the images, and cut down the groves, and brake in pieces the brasen serpent that Moses had made: for unto those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it: and he called it Nehushtan.
It was probably located in the Temple court in Jerusalem, and the people still thought it had power.
Relationship between Christ and the Nehustan
The Relationship between Christ and the serpent on the pole is mentioned in the book of John. It was not that Christ was like a serpent in any regard, but rather, that He took on our sins, so on the cross, He was a representation of sins.
The Serpent on the staff was also a representation of sin to the Israelites. It was lifted up before them so they would see their sin and repent!
13 And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, [even] the Son of man which is in heaven. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: 15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Serpent = sin on the pole
Christ -> took on sin, put on the cross
Christ's death as reversing the curse that came through the serpent that bewitched Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden.
Rod of Ascelpius
Asclepius is the Greek god of Healing.
Roman god Vediovis.
He is the son of Apollo and the nymph Coronis.
While Coronis burned on the funeral pyre, Apollo felt pity and rescued the unborn child from the corpse. Asclepius was taught about medicine and healing by the wise centaur Cheiron
Zeus killed him because he felt he threatened the immortality of the gods.
In the Iliad, Homer mentions Asceplius only as a skillful physician and the father of two Greek doctors at Troy, Machaon, and Podalirius; in later times, however, he was honoured as a hero and eventually worshiped as a god.
Asclepius was frequently represented standing and dressed in a long cloak with bare breast; his usual attribute was a staff with a serpent coiled around it. This staff is the only true symbol of medicine.
Pergamum, hometown of the god Asklepios
Rev 2, Message to the Church in Pergamum
12 And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges; 13 I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, [even] where Satan's seat [is]: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas [was] my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.
Rick Renner, A Light in the Darkness, a study of the seven churches of Asia Minor
The people of Pergamum were known as the “Temple-keepers of Asia.” The city had three temples dedicated to the worship of the Roman emperor, another for the goddess Athena, and the Great Altar of Zeus, the king of the Greek gods. Many scholars believe this altar is the “Throne of Satan” mentioned in the book of Revelation.
The city also had a healing center called the Asklepion
this was a cross between a hospital and a health spa
Patients entered through an underground tunnel. Then they drank a sedative, and spent the night in the dormitories of the Asklepion, while non-poisonous snakes crawled around them all night. They were told that the serpent-god Asklepios would speak to them in their dreams and give them a diagnosis.
“It was believed that the snakes carried the healing power of Asklepios,” and if a snake slithered across you while you were sleeping at night, that was a divine sign that healing power was coming to you.”
Antipas, bishop of Pergamum
Rev 2:13 "in those days wherein Antipas [was] my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth"
According to Christian tradition, John the Apostle ordained Antipas as bishop of Pergamon during the reign of the Roman emperor Nero. The traditional account goes on to say Antipas was martyred during the reign of Nero (54-68),
The method of execution suffered by Antipas.
“They would take the victim, place him inside the bull, and they would tie him in such a way that his head would go into the head of the bull. Then they would light a huge fire under the bull, and as the fire heated the bronze, the person inside of the bull would slowly begin to roast to death. As the victim would begin to moan and to cry out in pain, his cries would echo through the pipes in the head of the bull so it seemed to make the bull come alive.”
Medical symbol... has snakes, a pole, and wings
The original oath, from 400 BC...
"I swear by Apollo the physician, and Aesculapius, and Health, and All-heal, and all the gods and goddesses, that, according to my ability and judgment, I will keep this Oath..."
Caduceus, the Staff of Hermes
The Rod of Asclepius symbol is often confused with the Caduceus, symbol of commerce associated with the Greek god Hermes.
The English word comes from the Latin caduceus, which echoes the ancient Greek kèrix, translated as herald.
- herald or staff, from the Hebrew in the OT
The word was mainly used to indicate the rod assigned to the Greek god Hermes as herald (messenger) of the gods and patron of commerce.
This rod was represented with two wings on the top and two snakes to symbolize diligence and prudence, two characteristics very necessary in trading activities.
Hermes was a god of transitions and boundaries. He was protector and patron of travelers, herdsmen, invention, and trade.
Star of Life
The Star of Life was originally designed by the American Medical Association (AMA) in 1963 as the Universal Medical Identification Symbol. The symbol was promoted by the American Red Cross and rapidly adopted worldwide as an emergency medical symbol.
World Health Organization
WHO logo, uses the staff of Hermes
Azimuthal equidistant projection map
I have studied the Bible for over 40 years. I focus on the Scripture itself, and study the surrounding writings with the same veracity. Bringing literary and historical context to Bible study.