HEALING AND HISSING SNAKES – LISTENING TO NUMBERS 21:4-9
AbstractThe magical elements of the well-known account of the snake infestation and its remedy by a bronze serpent (Num 21:4-9) have been discussed often in commentaries and individual studies. This article directs attention to aural elements of this story including aural-sympathetic magic, repetition of key words in multiples of typological numbers, onomatopoeic use of snake sounding sibilants, interdialactical word plays, and narrative statements resembling ancient medical prescriptions in content and formulation. These elements, if not merely dramatic embellishments, may indicate that this etiological story served as an incantation for invoking the healing powers of Nehushtan.
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