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.
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.