Moses and the bronze snake

This statue by Baruch Maayan is featured at the entrance to Hotel Gilgal.
Most guests recognize this statue as Moses but often mistakenly assume that the event portrayed is the crossing of the Red Sea. The statue depicts a less famous account that took place while the Israelites wandered in the wilderness. In this story from the book of Numbers, chapter 21, God instructs Moses to make a bronze snake and put it on the staff so that all who look to it in faith will heal from the plague of snake bites.

The plague struck the people of Israel because of their murmuring and complaining against Moses. Often during their travels in the wilderness, they complained, rebelled and expressed lack of trust in God. The God who delivered them from Egypt with great signs and wonders, who appeared to them in a pillar of fire and cloud, providing them with bread from heaven and water from the rock and who was leading them to a promised land.

In the story told in Numbers chapter 21, the people of Israel were tired of the bread that God brought down from heaven. They were complaining to Moses for food saying: " "Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness?” but as the plague of snakes came upon them the people were dying and cried out in repentance. Then God said to Moses, "Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.”

According to God's instruction, Moses made a bronze snake and set it on the staff, the very staff with which he performed many miracles in the sight of Israel. Anyone dying from a snakebite, who would looked to the bronze snake, seeking out the salvation of God in his heart, will be healed.

This sculpture symbolizes the healing and salvation offered by God to his children when they turn to him in faith and he delivers them even from the results of their sin.

Today the snake on a pole is the international symbol for medicine. However back then this very symbol of God's salvation became an object of worship and idolatry. This fact is recorded in the second book of Kings 18:4.  Hezekiah, king of Israel, destroyed it and broke it into pieces: "He broke into pieces the bronze snake Moses had made, for up to that time the Israelites had been burning incense to it.”
Quality canvas prints of Baruch Maayan's paintings can be purchased at the hotel or by contacting the artist.