Day 69: The bronze serpent

Numbers 21:4-9 The bronze serpent is an example of God requesting or permitting an image that pointed allegorically to the meaning of Christ’s Redemption. The bronze serpent, which appeared to resemble the serpent that symbolizes sin and evil, did not in itself affect the cure of the snakebite victims; rather, the power of God cured them. Christ took upon himself the sins of ALL PEOPLE as if he had sinned himself and hung on the Cross to save us. Hence, Christ refers to this episode with the following words: “Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life” (Jn 3:14-15). (CCC 613-618, 2130)

Deuteronomy 22:13-30 While these regulations reflect a certain inequality between men and women customary in the ancient world, they represent a considerable advance in protecting the rights and dignity of women. In adultery, both the man and the woman are to be stoned; in the rape of a betrothed woman, the man would be punished by death. (CCC 2356, 2380-2381)

Psalm 102 This psalm speaks about the MYSTERY OF TIME. Human life, no matter how long one lives, is short relative to eternity. This reflection was prompted by the need to rebuild Jerusalem after the Babylonian Captivity of the Jewish People. Jerusalem was in ruins, its wall in rubble, its Temple destroyed, and its general infrastructure nonfunctional. People from neighboring nations had moved in and settled on the land. There was much work to be done. The psalmist knew that he would not see Jerusalem rebuilt in his lifetime, but he trusted that God would see to it that his city and his Temple would be restored to their former glory. His children and grandchildren would enjoy the fruits of the hard labor that he would barely start before his death. Even in the desolation of post-exilic Judah, there was the ultimate hope for the future, which would usher in the Messiah who would save his people. (CCC 212)

Key Event 28: Bronze Serpent (Numbers 21:4-9)

The people again lose faith and rebel, complaining about the lack of food and water (Num 21:5). In response, God sends serpents that bite the people. After the people repent, God instructs Moses to set up a bronze serpent so that all who look upon it may live (Num 21:9). Jesus interprets this event as PREFIGURING himself (TYPOLOGY!!), lifted up on the Cross so that all who believe in him may live (see Jn 3:14).

Ok so...What is the BOOK OF THE WARS OF THE LORD?? (Numbers 21:14)

WARS OF THE LORD, BOOK OF (סֵ֖פֶר מִלְחֲמֹ֣ת יְהוָ֑ה). One of the several books no longer extant (in existence) which are mentioned in the OT and which played an important, if somewhat obscure, part in Israel’s literary history. It is cited by name and quoted in Numbers 21:14f. to substantiate the narrator’s statement concerning the boundary cut by the deep ravines of the Arnon between Moab and Ammon. The quotation as it stands is obscure (the syntax is apparently incomplete and nothing is known of the names Waheb and Suphah) and sheds little light on the character of the book itself. It is a plausible conjecture, however, that vv. 17f. and 27-30 are drawn from the same source, not only because of their proximity to the first quotation, but in the case of 27-30 because of the occurrence of a number of identical place names as well as the suitability of the taunt itself for the content of the book as suggested by its title.

Evidently the book consisted of a number of victory songs written to be sung in celebration of the triumphs of Yahweh in the conquest of Canaan by Israel. That Yahweh was “a man of war” (Exod 15:3) who brought Israel victory in battle was a fact the nation loved to commemorate in song.

What is apparently another book of this type is the Book of Jashar (or “the Upright”) mentioned and quoted in Joshua 10:12f. and 2 Samuel 1:18ff. What relationship may exist between these two books (or are they the same book?) and certain other unidentified poetical quotations in the OT (e.g., Exod 15:1-18; Judg 5; LXX 3 Kings 8:53) can no longer be determined.

Questions of the date and authorship of this book remain shrouded in obscurity but it would seem naturally to derive from the heroic age, and thus to be among the most ancient of Israel’s lit.

Bibliography O. Eissfeldt, The Old Testament: An Introduction (Eng. tr., 1966), 132ff. 

Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven we give you praise and we thank you. We thank you for your Word. We thank you for loving us. We thank you for choosing us. We thank you for showing us your heart, the heart of a father who loves his children. In the midst of this day, Lord, we call out to your name we all upon your name and we ask you, Father, to send us your Holy Spirit in the name of your son, Jesus Christ. As you receive our thanks and as you receive our praise in Jesus’ name, we ask you also to send out your Holy Spirit upon us in Jesus’ name. Amen.”