Numbers 21

  1. The journey continues, only this time the journey’s trip is interrupted by an occasion of snakes. The king of Arad was taken, the king of the Amorites was taken, and the king of Bashan was overcome. In this reading we are introduced to what some call one of the “lost books” of the Bible. However, there is nothing to that; all that it likely is pertains to some collection of ancient popular songs/poems (it is interesting and unfortunate that some take a speck of information and build a mountain of speculation).
  2. The account of the rebellious activity of some simply follows the pattern that has been before (21:4-9). Unfortunately many of the Israelites made a value judgment (again) on that which the Lord provided. To ask about coming out of Egypt was to ask why to be removed from a better land than they are yet in and then going toward. Moreover, note the response to that which the Lord provided as physical sustenance (21:5). The nature of the “fiery” serpents is generally thought to be in the bite. “The poison in their fangs made their victims feel as if they were burning” (Chumash, p. 851). The remedy to the nasty bite and pains that followed was to look upon the copper (or bronze) serpent. Unless one did as much, no healing was forthcoming.
  3. Application: When the Lord said that unless one is born again of water and spirit there is no new birth. Thus, if one would desire the Lord’s remedy to spiritual sickness and death, he will reply with obedience from the heart.