Serpents in the wilderness

Tel Arad is located in the Negev about 20 miles east of Beersheba, and five miles west of the town of Arad.

The biblical account informs us that the king of Arad fought against Israel and took some as captives.

When the Canaanite, the king of Arad, who lived in the Negeb, heard that Israel was coming by the way of Atharim, he fought against Israel, and took some of them captive. (Numbers 21:1).

There is a little park on the west side of modern Arad decorated with wooden sculptures. I assume that the creatures depicted may be typical of the desert region.

Sculptures in the park at Arad, Israel. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Sculptures in the park at Arad, Israel. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

When I see the sculpture of the serpent on the pole I think of the incident in the wilderness when the Israelites spoke against God and against Moses,

Then the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died. (Numbers 21:6 ESV)

The LORD provided a remedy for those who repented of their sin.

7 And the people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD and against you. Pray to the LORD, that he take away the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people. 8 And the LORD said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole, and everyone who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live.” 9 So Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on a pole. And if a serpent bit anyone, he would look at the bronze serpent and live. (Numbers 21:7-9 ESV)

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