Sunday, December 31, 2006

Worshipping the Bronze Snake

I picked up a copy of the "Absolute Beginner's Guide to the Bible" (Tom Head, Que Publishing, 2006) from the local library the other day. All sorts of fascinating little tidbits.

Remember the bronze snake that Moses made in Deuteronomy 21:4-9? It eventually found its way to the Temple, where it became an object of veneration for the Israelites. During King Hezekiah's reforms, he smashed up this idol:
In YHWH's opinion [Hezekiah] was a good king; he kept to the standards of his ancestor David. He got rid of the local fertility shrines, smashed the phallic stone monuments, and cut down the sex-and-religion Asherah groves. As a final stroke he pulverized the ancient bronze serpent that Moses had made; at that time the Israelites had taken up the practice of sacrificing to it—they had even dignified it with a name, Nehushtan (The Old Serpent).
2 Kings 18:3-4

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