Sumerian Serpent.jpg

The “serpent of brass” is a serpent idol to which magical powers were attributed (Num. 21-9). It is reported that there was a similar idol in the temple at Jerusalem which was not removed until it was broken in pieces by King Hiskia (Hezekiah) of Judah, who reigned around 700 B.C. (2 Kings 18-4). The serpent idol naturally reminds us of the Sumerian serpent staff on a vase dedicated to the god of life Ningizidda. It reminds us, too, of the Aesculapius’s staff of a later phase of Classical Antiquity as well as of the numerous serpents of Ancient Egypt. Already at the beginning of this century a German scholar, H. Gressmann, had asserted that the “brazen serpent” in the Bible must have been taken over from the Midianites with whom the Israelites were in contact during the journey through the desert.

Werner Keller. The Bible as History. Bantam Books. New York. 1982. p.146-147.