Tag Archives: Numbers

Between the Lines: Pentecost 8: July 22, 2012

Text: Mark 6:30-34, 53-56

Corcovado jesus

Corcovado Jesus
(Photo credit: @Doug88888)

… and begged him that they might touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were healed.

Mark’s description of the fringe of Jesus‘ cloak makes clear he is writing about a man serious about his Jewish faith. Such a cloak fringe is required in the Moses tradition: you shall make tassels on the four corners of the cloak with which you cover yourself (Deuteronomy 22:12); The Lord said to Moses: Speak to the Israelites, and tell them to make fringes on the corners of their garments throughout their generations and to put a blue cord at each corner. You have the fringe so that, when you see it, you will remember all the commandments and do them… (Numbers 15:37-39). Continue reading


Between the Lines: Lent 4: March 18, 2012

Text:  Numbers 21:4-9

“We have sinned by speaking against the Lord and against you; pray to the Lord to take away the serpents from us.”

The Christological Symbol (Brazen Serpent Scul...

Image via Wikipedia

It strikes me that God doesn’t give the people what they want. They ask for the serpents to be taken away, and instead, God tells Moses in effect to make the serpent even more present to them.

When in your life have you wanted to be relieved of some person or situation that was proving troublesome, only to find yourself even more confronted? How did you respond? What did you learn?

– Andy Kille



Bible Workbench: Lent 4: March 22, 2009

From a reader:

Numbers 21:4-9
Moses in the Wilderness

“Using whatever materials are at hand— art supplies, stuff in the kitchen drawer, odds and ends on your desk— create a bronze serpent pole on your kitchen table or beside your bed or on the bookshelf, or atop the bathroom cabinet. Keep it in sight these days and wonder how what it symbolizes might be a source of healing and life to you.” (BWB 16:3, p. 56)

A "bronze serpent"

The people are focused on everything that is wrong and want someone to blame. Naturally, Moses and God become the targets. Then as some are bitten by snakes and die, they panic.

Moses, of course, is the middle man and catches it from both sides. However, God is lenient and gives him the task of making a bronze serpent to mount on a stick. This is no easy task as bronze is the product of a commercial environment, and, if memory serves me, these Israelites left Egypt with only the clothes on their backs and are now in the wilderness. But not to be deterred Moses presses on. What happens? He thinks about something other than these complaining, bickering Israelites. He becomes creative, works out his more immediate problem, and somehow comes up with a bronze serpent on a stick. This project took him away from the huge problem of moving this group to the promised land to a short term goal which he could accomplish in a reasonable time. Better mental health for Moses.

Second, snake bite victims are assured that if they look at the serpent on a stick they will not die. Again the shift of attention is a healthy move for them as well as if, in effect, they said, “Down, down, down, Blood Pressure; chill, Adrenaline. Antibodies, do your stuff.” Obviously, changing the way they reacted to snake bite had a positive effect.

Ruth Zepeda, St. Mark’s Cathedral, Shreveport, LA