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A Dictionary of the Bible

W. R. F. Browning


First appears in the Bible in the J story of the creation (Gen. 2: 4–3: 24), as an explanation of human sinfulness. The serpent (not yet identified with Satan or the devil) is the tempter. Aaron was endowed with a power to change his staff into a serpent in order to bring pressure on Pharaoh (Exod. 7: 10). Moses had a ‘bronze serpent’ which possessed properties of healing (Num 21: 4–9), which is referred to again in John 3: 14–15. Paul also had an encounter with a snake, supposed to be poisonous (Acts 28: 1–6), though poisonous snakes are not now thought to have existed in Malta.