The sign of the serpents (Wis 16:5-16:7)

“When the terrible rage of wild beasts

Came upon your people,

They were being destroyed

By the bites of writhing serpents.

Your wrath did not continue to the end.

They were troubled for a little while

As a warning.

They received a symbol of deliverance

To remind them of your law’s command.

The ones who turned toward it

Were saved,

Not by the thing that he saw,

But by you,

The Savior of all.”

This is a reference to Moses and the bronze serpent in Numbers, chapter 21. The Israelites, after Yahweh had sent poisoned snakes to them, repented. These wild terrible snakes were biting and killing the Israelites. However, Yahweh put a stop to it. This was then seen as a symbol of God’s deliverance for his people. They were reminded to keep the laws. Those who turned to the law’s commandments (ἐντολῆς νόμου σου·) would be saved by the Savior of all (πάντων σωτῆρα), God.

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