I would like to know the meaning for God's command to Moses to lift a serpent of brass and set it on a pole in the desert, so that all those who had been bitten by serpents would look at the brass serpent on the pole, be cured and live.
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The Mishnah (Rosh Hashanah 3:8, cited in Rashi to this verse) states:
"Does a snake kill or make live? But rather, this tells us that as long as the Jews looked upward and subjugated their hearts to their Father in Heaven - they would be cured; if not, they would decline."
Ibn Ezra comments that we can't know why G-d specifically told Moshe to make a figure of a snake rather than something else; it was a Divine command beyond our understanding.
Nonetheless, other commentaries do offer possible reasons:
- and I'm sure there are many other possibilities that have been offered, since the Torah's "measure is longer than the earth, and wider than the very ocean" (Job 11:9).
I believe the serpent represented their sin, looking up in obedience meant acknowledging their sin to be healed.