Miriam, Moshe's sister and a prophetess, dies. The portable well which had accompanied the Israelites on her merit, ceased to flow.
Aharon dies. His son, Elazar, is appointed the new High Priest. There is another rebellion over the food and water which is answered by a plague of poisonous snakes. Moshe prays for the people and is instructed by God to put the image of a snake on a high pole. All who saw it would think of God, repent and live.
For Bnei Noah
“Make for yourself a fiery serpent, etc.” the reason why G–d instructed Moses to construct a serpent, the symbol of everything negative since time immemorial, was to demonstrate that this very negative symbol would miraculously heal them from snake bites if used in the proper manner. It is only the Lord Who can use destructive instruments equally well for constructive purposes.*
What we see is that the people get angry with Moshe because they are experiencing problems with their food and water. This anger is punished by bringing snakes that bite them. It is not effectively the serpent that is evil here - for the serpent here only does what it is told - but it shows that the behavior of the people was not positive and immoral. Their behavior caused the snakes to bite because G-d's protection against the snakes was taken away.
The moment the people notice this, they come to and repent. Sincerely intended to correct and improve what you've done wrong. What the people had shown was that they were not sure that there would be enough food and water. Now that they are sick, they must look at the serpent on a stick, with their eyes fixed on the sky. By looking at the serpent, they show that they trust G-d to heal them. More than what we as humanity can learn from it is that G-d - in our eyes sometimes uses negative events/experiences - to bring us to insight and conversion. Great trades in our lives should lead us to put our trust fully in Him.
Brought By Angelique Sijbolts
Angelique Sijbolts is one of the main writers for the Noahide Academy. She has been an observant Noahide for many years. She studies Torah with Rabbi Perets every week. Angelique invests much of her time in editing video-lectures for the Rabbis of the Academy and contributes in administrating the Academy's website in English and Dutch. She lives in the north of the Netherlands. Married and mother of two sons. She works as a teacher in a school with students with special needs. And is a Hebrew Teacher for the levels beginners en intermediate. She likes to walk, to read and play the piano.
*Sefaria: Daat Zkenim on Numbers 21:8:1
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