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Christ and the Serpent

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  • Christ and the Serpent

    I'm up late at night pondering this. In Genesis 3, the snake is attributed to Satan who tempts Adam and Eve.

    However, in Numbers 21:9 it reads:

    "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."

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brazen_serpent

    The Brazen Serpent is called the Nehushtan.

    This event and symbol is also mentioned in The Book of Mormon

    "Yea, did he [Moses] not bear record that the Son of God should come? And as he lifted up the brazen serpent in the wilderness, even so shall he be lifted up who should come."
    (Helaman 8:14)

    "And now, my brethren, I have spoken plainly that ye cannot err. And as the Lord God liveth that brought Israel up out of the land of Egypt, and gave unto Moses power that he should heal the nations after they had been bitten by the poisonous serpents, if they would cast their eyes unto the serpent which he did raise up before them, and also gave him power that he should smite the rock and the water should come forth; yea, behold I say unto you, that as these things are true, and as the Lord God liveth, there is none other name given under heaven save it be this Jesus Christ, of which I have spoken, whereby man can be saved." (2 Nephi 25: 20)

    "Behold, he was spoken of by Moses; yea, and behold a type was raised up in the wilderness, that whosoever would look upon it might live. And many did look and live." (Alma 33:19)

    The Brazen Serpent is often depicted as two snakes coiled with wings above their heads.


    The Aztecs have a feathered serpent creator god named Quetzalcoatl

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quetzalcoatl

    The article mentions that in Aztec lore Quetzalcoatl is the patron god of priesthood and knowledge and is connected to the planet Venus! (Quetzalcoatl being the Morning Star and Xolotl, his twin, being the Evening Star and the god of fire and death) It also mentions that sometimes Quetzalcoatl is depicted as a bearded white man.

    In 3 Nephi 11-28, the Book of Mormon tells of the descent of the Lord Jesus Christ to the American continent and His subsequent teachings to the people there.

    Coincidence?

    Perhaps the two coiled snakes of the Nehushtan represent the conflict between the opposing twin brothers of good and evil being Jesus (Quetzalcoatl) and Lucifer (Xolotl) while the feathered wings represent the triumph of the Savior and His life giving mercy to those who believe in Him. That is my guess.

    Apparently there are two versons of the "brazen serpent"

    Hermes holds the brazen serpent with the two snakes and wings:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caduceus

    Asclepius holds the brazen serpent with a single snake around a pole - a mystical Greek symbol used for healing.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rod_of_Asclepius

    Apparently there are many interpretations for this symbol and its variants.

    It is hard not to believe that the Israelites and the Greeks influenced one another's religious beliefs and practices.

    I don't know if Dr. Dahesh has mentioned anything relating to this. If anyone has any insight, please share.

  • #2
    Doctor Dahesh wrote a story revealing that, when a snake bites and delivers a mortal wound, it does so by Divine mandate. In other words, think of the snake a an executor of divine justice on Earth.

    Once again, not "THE" executor, but "AN" executor...

    In "Conversation between Two Snakes" in Strange Tales and Wondrous Legends, two snakes —one poisonous, the other non-poisonous— are having a conversation...

    Early on in the story, the poisonous snake — totally without provocation — inflicts a deadly bite upon a young woman.

    The woman is rushed to the hospital but, alas, it is too late.

    Meanwhile, the non-poisonous snake blames the poisonous snake and tells it "This young lady didn't try to harm you, in fact, she didn't even feel our presence, so why did you kill her?"

    The poisonous snake replies:

    "Hold on and you will tell you the real story."

    And the poisonous snake explains that GOD has given them their poison TO PUNISH whoever DESERVES PUNISHMENT.

    Furthermore, the snake explains that poisonous snakes CAN SENSE who merits the poison, and who must not be harmed.

    And that is a true sense that GOD has endowed snakes with—and of which PEOPLE ARE UNAWARE.

    And the poisonous snake goes on to say that in Genesis it was written:

    "And the snake was the wisest of the animals and the crawlers." (Other translations of the Bible may say "The serpent was the craftiest..." ) In any case, the poisonous snake, quoting the Genesis passage in Arabic, explains what that passage meant, and which in a nutshell can be summarized as follows:

    That the Creator has placed in the body of the snake the wisdom to allow them to identify who merits divine justice.
    Last edited by Johnson; 05-05-2008, 11:22 AM.

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    • #3
      Serpents and Divine Justice

      Some interesting quotes from LDS history that shed some light on and support this idea:

      "Monday 26th [May, 1834; on Zion's Camp] In pitching out tents we found three prairie rattle snakes on the ground and were about to kill them. Brother Joseph prevented us saying: "When will the lion lie down with the lamb and the venom of the serpent cease while men seek to destroy and waste the flesh of beasts; waging a continual war against reptiles, let man first get rid of his destructive propensities and then we may look for a change in the serpent's disposition." We then carried the serpents across the creek on sticks. During the journey we did not kill snakes or any kind of game unless we needed it."

      "Memoirs of George A. Smith," typescript copy, BYU Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Provo, Utah, 15.


      "He [Joseph Smith] entertained us much by the recital of two dreams the which he had received not long before, one, In which he saw himself pitched into a dry well by Wm and Wilson Law who had previously tied his hands behind him; while struggling to get up and near the top he discovered Wilson tackled by a ferocious wild beast in an adjoining wood, crying for his help while nearer to him still was William with outstretched tongue; blue in the face, and the green poison forced out of his mouth by the coiling of a huge serpent around his body, relaxing its embrace occasionally and thereby enabling him to cry aloud "Oh brother Joseph come and save me or I die." To which he reply'd as he had done to a similar request from his brother Wilson, "I cannot, for you have tied my hands behind me." Ere long however his guide finding him there released and comforted the Prophet while the others met the just retribution of the demerit."


      Dan Jones, "The Martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum Smith, 1855," Written by Dan Jones to Thomas Bullock, 20 January 1855, LDS Church Archives, Salt Lake City, Utah.


      "And these signs shall follow them that believe— In my name they shall do many wonderful works; In my name they shall cast out devils; In my name they shall heal the sick; In my name they shall open the eyes of the blind, and unstop the ears of the deaf; And the tongue of the dumb shall speak; And if any man shall administer poison unto them it shall not hurt them; And the poison of a serpent shall not have power to harm them." (D&C 84:65-62)



      "Martin Harris having boasted to the brethren that he could handle snakes with perfect safety, while fooling with a black snake with his bare feet, he received a bite on his left foot. The fact was communicated to me, and I took occasion to reprove him, and exhort the brethren never to trifle with the promises of God. I told them it was presumption for any one to provoke a serpent to bite him, but if a man of God was accidentally bitten by a poisonous serpent, he might have faith, or his brethren might have faith for him, so that the Lord would hear his prayer and he might be healed; but when a man designedly provokes a serpent to bite him, the principle is the same as when a man drinks deadly poison knowing it to be such. In that case no man has any claim on the promises of God to be healed."

      Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 vols., 2d ed., edited by B. H. Roberts (Salt Lake City, Utah: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1932-51), 2:95-96.


      From the Bible:

      "And though they hide themselves in the top of Carmel, I will search and take them out thence; and though they be hid from my sight in the bottom of the sea, thence will I command the serpent, and he shall bite them:" (Amos 9:3)

      Also from the Book of Mormon:

      "And there came forth poisonous serpents also upon the face of the land, and did poison many people. And it came to pass that their flocks began to flee before the poisonous serpents, towards the land southward, which was called by the Nephites Zarahemla.
      And it came to pass that there were many of them which did perish by the way; nevertheless, there were some which fled into the land southward.
      And it came to pass that the Lord did cause the serpents that they should pursue them no more, but that they should hedge up the way that the people could not pass, that whoso should attempt to pass might fall by the poisonous serpents."

      (Ether 9:31-33)

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      • #4
        I've come across this video that compares the legends of ancient cultures and suggests the meaning behind the snake symbol.

        By Intelligent Design
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H_3IlRqtc7s

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        • #5
          I think there are many parallels in many cultures of the stories and symbolisms we know from the Old Testament. A good book to read is "Fingerprints of the Gods"by Graham Hitchcock... plenty there to ponder and go "hmmmmm..."

          One passage I remember is that in ancient Chinese civilization there is a legend of a large clay pot that is made to save man and animals from rising waters that never seem to stop... coincidence? I think not...

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