We are familiar with the copper snake in chapter 21 of Parshas Chukkas used to remedy the Bnei Yisrael when bitten by the snakes sent to punish them.

Recently I was made aware of a Greek mythological figure named Asclepious who was a healer with a snake on a stick from where this symbol has become popular in the American medical field, see https://history.stackexchange.com/questions/19125/why-is-the-snake-or-asp-the-primary-logo-of-medicinal-organisations/19126?noredirect=1#comment49549_19126

In one of the comments to my assumed wrong answer, someone suggests a common source myth for both the Torah and the Greeks.

There have been many ideas raised where certain stories in the Torah were specifically chosen so as to eradicate the belief in these ideas from the minds of the people, and prove that Hashem is running the world. The a Malbim has quite a few of these ideas in the geneology listed in Bereishis. Chaim Navon says the Taninim mentioned in Bereishis were also to combat the ancient belief that the world was created by a giant serpent.

Does anyone say that Hashem chose this snake on a stick symbol, what was perhaps a common healing occult artifact to prove that He is the only healer, not any other being with a snake on a stick?

  • 2
    I don't see any reason not to believe that the Greeks took it from the Jews. After all, they did force us to translate the entire Torah into Greek. – Moshe Katz Jan 28 '15 at 3:05
  • @Moshe this myth of theirs is dated to around the time of Mattan Torah. The translating didn't happen for many centuries afterwards. – user6591 Jan 28 '15 at 3:07
  • I wasn't saying that the Greeks definitely got it from the translation, just pointing out that there have been historical interactions. But, more importantly, does the Greek myth exist in writings from the period, or is it later scholars' writing something they claim about that period? If that is the case, them it could indeed have come from the later translation. – Moshe Katz Jan 28 '15 at 3:12
  • @Moshe True. It could be. I have no problem saying they got it from us either. Im not posting it as a bible critique question. Just an interesting fact that might belong on a list of other anti-myths. Maybe. That's why i asked. – user6591 Jan 28 '15 at 3:20
  • I don't get what you're trying to say – Shmuel Brin Jan 29 '15 at 0:02

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