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introduced. The worship of the serpent at Épidaurus is well known; and Herodotus mentions one kept in the Acropolis of Athens και το όφιν μέγαν, και φύλακα της Ακροπολιος---α large serpent, which was looked upon as the guardian of the place. This animal was a sacred appendage to the representations of many deities; but especially of Thoth, or Hermes, the divine physician. He was by the Grecians stiled Esculapius and in an ancient temple near Sicyon live serpents were maintained, and held in reverence; as they were at Thebes, Memphis, and other places in Egypt. One name given to the sacred serpent was ✦ Thermuthis; and it was made a constant attendant upon Isis: The deities Cneph, Hermes, and Agathodæmon, were all described under this ' emblem; and the serpent itself had the name of the Good Dæmon.
Pausan. 1. 2. p. 175.
L. 8. c. 41. p. 638.
3 Pausan. 1. 2. P. 137.
Serpents also were kept and reverenced at Pella in Macedonia. Lucian. Alexauder, vol. 1. p. 663.
✦ Ælian de Animal. 1. 10. c. 31. 5 Φοινικές αυτο αγαθην δαίμονα καλείσι. ὁμοίως δε και Αιγύπτιοι Kvno sπovoμalso. Euseb. 1. 1. c. x. p. 41.
Of the Serpents in the Wilderness, and of the Brazen Serpent.
Thus much I thought proper to premise concerning the mystical serpent, and the reverence paid to it; as it may serve to illustrate some passages in the sacred history. For it is very certain, that the Israelites were tainted with the idolatry of the Egyptians during their residence among that people. The prophet Ezekiel mentions, that they committed whoredoms in Egypt: and God declares by the mouth of the same prophet, that they persevered in their evil practices after they had left that country. But they rebelled against me, and would not hearken unto me: they did not every man cast away the abominations of their eyes, neither did they forsake the idols of Egypt. Of these idols, one of the most ancient and most honoured, was the serpent. And it is proba ble, that the Israelites, upon account of this idolatry, were punished by the 'Saraphim, or
Ibid. ch. xx. ver. 8.
Ezekiel, ch. xxiii. ver. 3.
3 Numbers, ch. xxi. ver. 6.
I should imagine, that the Cneph, or Caneph, and the Sar-eph, were of the same purport: and that they both denote Bazos, Basiliscus, or royal serpent.
fiery serpents; in consequence of which many were slain. And the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people; and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died. As this sort of worship prevailed so much, it was very proper to punish those apostates who had lapsed into it, by the object of their adoration; at the same time to deter others from giving into it for the future. After this punishment had sufficiently taken place, it pleased God to order a brazen serpent to be made; and to be elevat ed upon a perch or standard; and he directed Moses to tell the people, that whoever looked up to that object should live. And the Lord said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole; and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live.
And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole; and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.
By this the people were taught, that their trust in Thermuthis, Agathodæmon, Hermes, or any serpentine divinity, was vain. All their resource was in another power; who was re
* Numbers, ch. xxi. ver. 8, 9.
. בחשים שרפים
presented before them. But even to this emblem no adoration was to be paid. They were only to look upon it, and be saved. The miracle therefore was well calculated to affect the people before whom it was displayed; and with this we might rest satisfied. But it had certainly a farther allusion; and all the world is concerned in the happy consequences pointed out in this typical representation. It was undoubtedly an intimation of our being cleansed from all taint by our looking up to the person denoted under this emblem; and of our being preserved from utter death. It was not the design of providence to discover fully the meaning of these mysterious and wonderful works, which were exhibited in those days. But to those, who live in more enlightened times, the purport cannot be mistaken. Had it pleased God to have explained his meaning by his prophet upon the spot, I presume, that in express terms it would have amounted to this: "You have been devoted "to serpent-worship; and I punish you by "these very reptiles, which you have idly "adored. You have esteemed the serpent the "emblem of health, life, and divine wisdom; "and under this symbol you have looked up
"to an unknown power, stiled Thoth and Agathodæmon, the benign genius. For these "things you suffer. But I will shew you a more just and salutary emblem, by which "health and life, as well as divine wisdom, are "signified. It is a type of the true Agatho
“ dæmon, that human divinity, the physician
"of the soul; by whom these blessings are one day to accrue. Behold that serpent upon a perch, or cross; whoever looks up “to him, shall be saved from the present ve"nom of the serpent, as well as from pri"meval infection. This is an emblem of that
benign power, that good genius, by whom "the world will be cured of every inherent "evil."
But it may be said,---Can we suppose, that the God of Israel would explain himself by the
This was the opinion of some of the fathers: and particularly of Justin Martyr. Mungov yog die THTH, WS Teosdur, δια τετε, προέφην, εκηρυσσι (Μωσης) δι και καταλύειν μεν την δύναμιν τε Οφεως, τ8 και την παραβασιν ὑπο τε Αδαμ γενεσθαι έργασαμένες εκήρυσσε, σωτηρίαν δε τοις દ πισεύεσιν επι τέτον τον δια τε σημειε τετε (δοικνυμενον) τετ ̓ επί τον σαυρᾶσθαι μελλοντα, απο των δηγμάτων τε οφεως άπερ εισιν Ὧι κακαι reažus. x. T. λ. Dialog. cont. Tryph, § 94. p. 191. Some such word as devuμrvov seems to be wanting.