Numbers 21:8

And the LORD said unto Moses, Make you a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looks upon it, shall live.
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George Leo Haydock

AD 1849
Brazen. Hebrew, "fiery. "But in the following verse, it is said to have been "of brass. "We might translate, "make a seraph, and fix it upon a standard "(Calmet) in which form it would resemble one suspended on a cross. It was placed at the entrance of the tabernacle. (St. Justin Martyr, First Apology) Ezechias afterwards destroyed it, because it was treated with superstitious honours, 4 Kings xviii. 4. Thus the best things are often abused. (Haydock) God commands this image to be erected, while he forbids all images of idols. (Worthington) By comparing the different passages of Scripture, we may discern the true import of them. Pictures may often prove very useful and instructive. They serve the ignorant instead of books. But then the ignorant must be carefully instructed not to treat them with improper respect, as St. Gregory admonishes. And is not the same caution requisite for those who read even the word of God, lest they wrest it to their own destruction, as both the unlearned and the unstable frequently do, 2 Peter iii. 16. If every thing must be rejected which is liable to abuse, what part of the creation will be spared? The Bible, the sacraments, all creatures must be laid aside. For we read, (Romans viii. 20, 22,) the creature was made subject to vanity every creature groaneth. (Haydock) It is probable that Moses represented on the standard, such a serpent, as had been the instrument of death. This was not intended for a charm or talisman, as Marsham would impiously pretend. (Chron. x. p. 148.) Such inventions proceed from the devil; and the Marsi were famous for curing the bites of serpents, by giving certain plates of brass. (Arnob. ii.) See Psalm lviii. 5. But this image was set up by God's express command; and the Book of Wisdom (xvi. 5, 7) assures us, that the effect was entirely to be attributed to him, the figure of a brazen serpent being rather calculated to increase than to remove the danger. (Kimchi; Muis) Hence Jonathan well observes, that only those were healed who raised their hearts to God. (Calmet)

Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation - 2 Peter 1:20

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