The Hidden Secret of the Serpent





The story of the copper serpent presents a well-known theological difficulty, put by the Sages and cited by Rashi in his commentary on Numbers 21:8: “Can a snake cause death or give life?” That is to say, did the stylized serpent have autonomous power to heal people of snake bites? The explanation given was that the power to cause death or give life lay not in the snake but in the power of faith in the Lord, in He who gave us the commandments, to heal the sick. In other words, we are not dealing here with magic but with the will of G-d to bring about a cure by means of the copper snake.

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