How satan twisted Moses' brazen serpent into the rod of Asclepius

In around 1400 BC, Moses led the Israelites into the wilderness. They had been released from slavery by powerful acts of God, including ten plagues and parting the Red Sea to aid their escape. (Exodus 1-15)

However, it wasn't long before the Israelites grumbled. They were sick of manna, they wanted an easier life, they wanted to get there. (Numbers 20:4). So they grumbled some more, against Moses and against God.

God heard their grumbles.

Wiki CC, Moses and the Brazen Serpent, Sebastien Bourdon
"Then the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died. And the people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord and against you. Pray to the Lord, that he take away the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people. And the Lord said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole, and everyone who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live.” So Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on a pole. And if a serpent bit anyone, he would look at the bronze serpent and live." (Numbers 21:6-9)

As with everything, God had a purpose. Jesus explained it to Nicodemus.

"And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life." (John 3:14-15).

And as with everything, satan is busy, too.

By 700BC or so, satan had encouraged the Israelites to worship the brazen idol, rather than worship the God to whom it pointed. Worse, the Israelites had actually named the idol! They called it 'Neshutan.'

"He removed the high places and broke the pillars and cut down the Asherah. And he broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for until those days the people of Israel had made offerings to it (it was called Nehushtan).” 2 Kings 18:4

Hezekiah removed them, which pleased God, but it was too late. The idol worship had taken root. By ~460 BC Cult of Asclepius was well underway. To the Greeks, and then the Romans and finally Europe, Asclepius became a god, represented as a man holding a rod with a serpent twined around it. This is actually the pale memory of the actual brazen serpent curled around the rod Moses held, where the Israelites were to look at the serpent lifted high and be healed, but since the world hates the bible, the truth, and anything to do with Jesus, they easily fell into the myth that it was Asclepius. He became known as “Asclepius savior,” in a brazen attempt to remove the righteous place of Jesus in saving souls and bodies.
The serpentine cross sculpture (the Brazen Serpent Monument)
atop Mount Nebo was created by Italian artist Giovanni Fantoni.
It is symbolic of the bronze serpent created by Moses in the wilderness
(Numbers 21:4–9) and the cross upon which
Jesus was crucified (John 3:14). Wiki CC photo
The Greek Island of Kos seems to be ground zero for the largest of the Asclepius cult followers, with a close second a HUGE cult temple at Pergamum. Remember the church at Pergamum? That Pergamum.

After 400BC or so, Asclepion complexes sprung up, monumental temples with a sanctuary, spas, baths, dormitories, patient intake, and a hall of records. (I.e., scrolls and marble carvings of patients who were served and who got healed)

Hippocrates is said to have received his medical training at an asclepieion on the isle of Kos. Prior to becoming the personal physician to the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, Galen treated and studied at the famed asclepieion at Pergamon. (source)

Asclepius was HUGE in the ancient world. Worship of Asclepius was such a part of Greek life that the false god remained on the Greek currency until 2001 when Greek money was replaced by the Euro.

The reverse side of the 10,000-drachma note, showing Asklepios,
the god of healing, with his symbol, the staff with a serpent coiled around it.
Beside him, a healing scene depicts a sacred snake licking or biting
the right shoulder of a sleeping patient. Source
Here is how the Asclepius worship went:

In honor of Asclepius, a particular type of non-venomous snake was often used in healing rituals, and these snakes – the Aesculapian Snakes – crawled around freely on the floor in dormitories where the sick and injured slept. These snakes were introduced at the founding of each new temple of Asclepius throughout the classical world. From about 300 BC onwards, the cult of Asclepius grew very popular and pilgrims flocked to his healing temples (Asclepieia) to be cured of their ills. Ritual purification would be followed by offerings or sacrifices to the god (according to means), and the supplicant would then spend the night in the holiest part of the sanctuary – the abaton (or adyton). Any dreams or visions would be reported to a priest who would prescribe the appropriate therapy by a process of interpretation.

Satan sure can twist things, and make them seem complicated and spiritual at the same time. The Gospel is so simple. Moses' directions from God as to what to do to be saved was so simple. (Look at the lifted up serpent and be saved).

I mentioned Hippocrates a moment ago. You might know the Hippocratic Oath, an oath doctors swear by to this day. It first appeared around 400BC at the time the Asclepius worship got going. The Oath is one of the oldest binding documents in history. In its original version it read:

"I swear by Apollo, the healer, Asclepius, Hygieia, and Panacea, and I take to witness all the gods, all the goddesses, to keep according to my ability and my judgment, the following Oath and agreement:"

Today, the modified Hippocratic oath doesn't make the speaker swear allegiance to Asclepius but instead worships science.

"I swear to fulfill, to the best of my ability and judgment, this covenant: I will respect the hard-won scientific gains of those physicians in whose steps I walk, and gladly share such knowledge as is mine with those who are to follow."

I also said a moment ago that Pergamon is mentioned in the bible, and that the largest mainland Asclepion hospital-temple sanctuaries were located there. It is thought by bible scholars that one reason Jesus called the city of Pergamos in the book of Revelation, the place where satan's throne is located, could be because of the Asclepion there. Wikipedia describes the main feature of Pergamos:

Three kilometers south of the Acropolis at , down in the valley, there was the Sanctuary of Asclepius (also known as the Asclepium), the god of healing. The Ascelpium was approached along a 820 meter colonnaded sacred way. In this place people with health problems could bathe in the water of the sacred spring, and in the patients' dreams Asclepius would appear in a vision to tell them how to cure their illness. Archeology has found lots of gifts and dedications that people would make afterwards, such as small terracotta body parts, no doubt representing what had been healed. Galen, the most famous doctor in the ancient Roman Empire and personal physician of Emperor Marcus Aurelius, worked in the Ascelpium for many years. Notable extant structures in the Asclepium include:
  • the Roman theater
  • the North Stoa
  • the South Stoa
  • the Temple of Asclepius
  • a circular treatment center (sometimes known as the Temple of Telesphorus)
  • a healing spring
  • an underground passageway
  • a library
  • the Via Tecta (or the Sacred Way, which is a colonnaded street leading to the sanctuary) and
  • a propylon

Wikipedia Rod of Asclepius

"I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is..." (Revelation 2:13)

Rod of Asclepius is used by 62% of all medical professionals. As I drove home today, thinking about how to write this blog essay, I pass by my town's fire department and an emergency vehicle was parked in the lot. The side of the vehicle was emblazoned with this symbol.

We are grateful to know Jesus, the only deity one should look to in order to be saved. Asclepius might be everywhere today, but Jesus soon will return to erase all the false gods, AND worshiped rightly.

Charles Spurgeon preached about the rod of Moses in a sermon called "The Mysteries of the Brazen Serpent". He said,

But the picture blackens; we must have deeper shades to paint it. Behold the people after they were bitten! Can you picture their writhings and contortions when the poison of the serpent had infected their veins? We are told by the old writers that these serpents when they bit caused vehement heat, so that there was a pain throughout the body, as if a hot iron had been sent along the veins. Those who had been bitten had a great thirst; they drank incessantly, and still cried for water to quench the burnings within. It was a hot fire which was lit in the fountain, and which ran through every nerve and every sinew of the man; they were racked in pain, and died in most fearful convulsions.

Now my brethren, we cannot say that sin instantly produces such an effect as this upon the men who are the subjects of it; but we do affirm, that, let sin alone, and it will develop itself in miseries far more extreme than ever the bite of the serpent could have caused. ...

And now comes THE REMEDY. The remedy of the bitten Israelites was a brazen serpent; and the remedy for sinners is Christ crucified. 

But remember, that much as those who heard of the brazen serpent might have despised it, yet there was no other means of cure. And, now hear me for one moment, while I tell the whole story of salvation. Men, brethren, and fathers, we are born of a sinful generation, and we have ourselves increased our guilt, for us there is no hope; do what we may, we cannot save ourselves.

"Could our zeal no respite know,
Could our tears for ever flow,
All for sin could not atone."

But brethren, Christ Jesus, God's eternal Son, came into this world, and was born of the virgin Mary, he lived a doleful life of misery, and at last he died a death accompanied by unutterable pangs—that was the punishment of the sins of those who, as penitents, come to Christ. If you this day so repent, and put your trust in Jesus, you have in your trust and repentance a sure proof that Christ was punished for you.


  1. Excellent article, Elizabeth!

    The Brazen Serpent Monument atop Mount Nebo that you included a photograph of is quite striking...I think it's fitting to show the serpent/Satan climbing the cross to the Son of God, whom he sought to defeat. If the original meaning was to relate the bronze serpent to Christ, I think that is fitting as well, since the bronze serpent was a foreshadowing of Christ.

    As an art object, I think this is meaningful and edifying. But it's to our shame that men are always looking for a substitute for Christ to worship.

    1. thank you! I loved the sculpture too. and I really loved your last sentence.

  2. So dear brother how would you explain the Sumerian serpent and the staff called as (Ningishzida) which is also a serpent and staff which predates the Moses and copper serpent by 1000 years. My name is Isaac I am loosing faith please help me.

    1. I would say either you believe the word of God as given to us, or you don't. I would say that you are looking for a reason to lose your faith and doubt God. Pray for Him to convert you.

    2. That is called a caduceus. And that is two serpents not one. The serpents represent wisdom, when they are two reflecting each other that means opposition.One wisdom vs. another. One serpent represents God and the other Satan. Of course we know the end to that, it will not be a war that lasts forever. Remember God is God of all the nations so he always has power over them even if satan and his demons control that nation, since it is God who gives permission. Also remember that one way or another pagans and nations held some truth of God but since satan was in charge it had some errors.Like the sumerians named God after other gods, hence they were demons who just wanted to be worshipped. So they told their prophets or spiritual people truth and lies. Like they told the truth about the flood but lied about who did it and how long it happened.They did that to decieve them into thinking they have power and they can do as they please if they don't obey. They pretty much copy God, like it says in the scripture Satan masquerades as an angel of light.
      God bless.

  3. Hi Isaac. Please know that I am not preaching at you, I simply do not know everything about where you are coming from and I want to cover this, as far as possible, top to bottom.

    First, most important, pray for more faith and reassurance and for the help of the Holy Spirit to help you discern.

    Secondly, faith takes time to grow, so don't trade it easily for "knowledge" without thoroughly considering the real big picture.

    I want to consider the copper serpent itself before addressing your question. Perhaps you came across Ningishzida whilst looking into the copper serpent, or the Rod of Asclepius? In the case of the copper serpent, Jesus tells us "just as the serpent was lifted up" and straight away we might think - why of all things a serpent? I believe that although there may be others, like the serpent representing sin, the simplest reason is the context of its being made. Fiery serpents were sent by God to discipline the Israelites for murmuring and lack of faith. When the Israelites acknowledged their sin, God gave them a way out. Having acknowledged that they did wrong, all they had to do, despite the snakes on the ground, was look up and they would live. A mortal human has sin "crouching at the entrance" and like the serpents it's payload is death. All we have to do is first, acknowledge our sin before God and then "look up", that is away from the earth to the instrument of Gods salvation, Jesus, who conquered the world, sin and death on our behalf. It is an act of trust to stop trusting in the physical and look to the spirit.

    Now, on Ningishzida - it does predate Moses, but the symbols are really quite different. Ningishzida is represented by TWO serpents coiled around a rod. This is more akin to the staff of Hermes - which you may not be surprised to know symbolises deception amongst other things. He is "God of the Underworld", his mother is Ereshkigal, who is in essence Queen of the Dead, his descendants include Gilgamesh, who is Nimrod and he is also "Lord of the Good Tree". Who do you think it might represent? - and here is why we should not be surprised.

    Where did you first learn about a spiritual war? Genesis 3 - right? And also about the serpent and the 2 seeds? It should not surprise a believer that the serpent is found everywhere you look in the mixed up mythology of this world and nearly always associated with one or more of the following - deception, wisdom/knowledge, the sun/moon or highest deity, the world/life tree, the underworld, regeneration (you will not die?). This does not run contrary to the bible, it confirms the bible. Everywhere in the world you look, the serpent stares right back.

    Here are some more examples -
    Mayan vision serpent, associated with the "world tree" and granting access to the spirit realm
    Wadjet - a serpent deity of Egypt, draped over the Sun/Ra
    Jörmungandr - the "world serpent" that grew to big for Midgard (heaven), was cast out, who will end mankind and is the nemesis of Thor who is supposedly the defender of mankind

    and finally, the symbol of Hermes used now by medical science, a symbol of deception which has replaced the single coiled serpent of Asclepius, representing healing - does that seem strange?

    I would say that physical rational evidence of what Gods word says is all around us and ramping up all the time.

    Can I also just say that you also have to remember, the chief means of transmitting knowledge in the past, was not writing, but oral. Therefore, that we find something written down earlier than the bible, does not make it the ultimate source of that information by default. Similarly, if we find a symbol such as the sun claimed by the serpent, it does not mean that the Sun belongs to him.

    I hope some of that is helpful to you.

  4. Thank you for this article.
    It's amazing that the originally known serpent in the garden climbed up a tree to eventually cause a judgment against mankind ( Gen.3) ...and it was thus prophetcally thru Moses (Num. 21) that a serpent was lifted to show a judgment taken back from man (if they gazed upon it after having been snake bit), how God the Father was setting a sign to Israel (& later the rest of mankind) that He was providing an easy way to live...even tho the reason for getting snake bit was our fault...(easy for us, but it cost God the Father dearly). Jesus, per His own words in John 3:15, would take our judgment, yet in doing so, judge the original serpent from a tree. (See Col.2:14-15).
    As to the alleged pre date to Moses of another serpent on a pole...I've too often seen ancient historical "facts" changed drastically. 1000 years b4 Moses puts that way before the flood of Noah. The devil is a copy cat & a liar. A lot of dating that far back has conjecture mixed, bcuz its not based upon all evidence of history, rather upon the bit of history uncovered ... Historians, archaeologists, etc. every time a body of evidence is uncovered, change their views, change believed dating, sometimes quite drastically, from what had been taught.
    It's very safe to lean wholly on the accuracy of God's Word, as so often the more that gets uncovered keeps confirming the scriptures, even timeliness.

    Isaac, your faith is not to be rested upon historical evidence that exists...that is ever shifting ground bcuz it is often taught the a filter of existing bias, is hardly ever at all presented to us as pure raw data...opinions, however professionally presented, still do not give raw data alone or the totality of historic fact, bcuz there is still so much buried and/or hidden. Your faith into Jesus our Savior is based upon the living reality to you, in you, that you are utterly forgiven by His sacrifice for you & as you on the cros, that He was raised from out of the dead because God declares you righteous for believing, for jumping in with both feet, as it were, into this living faith (Rom 4:24). No one, no alleged body of historical evidence, can ever rob this living reality from your heart. When Jesus is proclaimed & taught in your ears, when He is being unveiled from the scriptures in His resurrection glory, your heart will burn w living faith, even as it was for the two who walked unknowingly w Jesus on the road to Emmaus (see Luke 24:13 to the end).
    You are greatly loved by the Father, Isaac.

  5. First very first snake on a pole (tree) was satan in the garden of Eden.

    The first snake on a stick was in the garden of Eden. All the snakes on a stick are a clear sign of Jesus. Who was bitten by a snake placed on a cross and now- look to him for salvation. It's a beautiful signI guess it just depends how u want to look at it. I tell my kids all over you can find Jesus. I used that sign- which is on ambulances to tell of Jesus.

  6. Bible says it was brass, not bronze.

    1. New International Version
      So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, they lived.

      New Living Translation
      So Moses made a snake out of bronze and attached it to a pole. Then anyone who was bitten by a snake could look at the bronze snake and be healed!

      English Standard Version
      So Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on a pole. And if a serpent bit anyone, he would look at the bronze serpent and live.

      New American Standard Bible
      And Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on the standard; and it came about, that if a serpent bit any man, when he looked to the bronze serpent, he lived.

      Holman Christian Standard Bible
      So Moses made a bronze snake and mounted it on a pole. Whenever someone was bitten, and he looked at the bronze snake, he recovered.


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