- Included in Eastons: Yes
- Included in Hitchcocks: No
- Included in Naves: No
- Included in Smiths: Yes
- Included in Websters: Yes
- Included in Strongs: No
- Included in Thayers: No
- Included in BDB: No
(Heb. nahash; Gr. ophis), frequently noticed in Scripture. More than forty species are found in Syria and Arabia. The poisonous character of the serpent is alluded to in Jacob's blessing on Dan (Genesis 49:17; see Proverbs 30:18, 19; James 3:7; Jeremiah 8:17). (See ADDER.)
This word is used symbolically of a deadly, subtle, malicious enemy (Luke 10:19).
The serpent is first mentioned in connection with the history of the temptation and fall of our first parents (Genesis 3). It has been well remarked regarding this temptation- "A real serpent was the agent of the temptation, as is plain from what is said of the natural characteristic of the serpent in the first verse of the chapter (3:1), and from the curse pronounced upon the animal itself. But that Satan was the actual tempter, and that he used the serpent merely as his instrument, is evident (1) from the nature of the transaction; for although the serpent may be the most subtle of all the beasts of the field, yet he has not the high intellectual faculties which the tempter here displayed.
2. In the New Testament it is both directly asserted and in various forms assumed that Satan seduced our first parents into sin (John 8:44; Romans 16:20; 2 Corinthians 11:3, 14; Revelation 12:9; 20:2)." Hodge's System. Theol., ii. 127.
Unfit for food
The wound of, miraculously healed by looking upon the brazen serpent, set up by Moses
Mentioned in Solomon's riddle
The seventy endued with power over
The Hebrew word nachash is the generic name of any serpent. The following are the principal biblical allusions to this animal its subtlety is mentioned in (Genesis 3:1) its wisdom is alluded to by our Lord in (Matthew 10:18) the poisonous properties of some species are often mentioned, see (Psalms 58:4; Proverbs 25:32) the sharp tongue of the serpent is mentioned in (Psalms 140:3; Job 20:16) the habit serpents have of lying concealed in hedges and in holes of walls is alluded to in (Ecclesiastes 10:8) their dwelling in dry sandy places, in (8:10) their wonderful mode of progression did not escape the observation of the author of (Proverbs 30:1) ... who expressly mentions it as "one of the three things which were too wonderful for him." ver. 19. The art of taming and charming serpents is of great antiquity, and is alluded to in (Psalms 58:5; Ecclesiastes 10:11; Jeremiah 8:17) and doubtless intimated by St. James, (James 3:7) who particularizes serpents among all other animals that "have been tamed by man." It was under the form of a serpent that the devil seduced Eve; hence in Scripture Satan is called "the old serpent." (Revelation 12:9) and comp. 2 Corinthians 11:3 Hence, as a fruit of the tradition of the Fall, the serpent all through the East became the emblem of the spirit of evil, and is so pictured even on the monuments of Egypt. It has been supposed by many commentators that the serpent, prior to the Fall, moved along in an erect attitude. It is quite clear that an erect mode of progression is utterly incompatible with the structure of a serpent; consequently, had the snakes before the Fall moved in an erect attitude they must have been formed on a different plan altogether. The typical form of the serpent and its mode of progression were in all probability the same before- the Fall as after it; but subsequent to the Fall its form and progression were to be regarded with hatred and disgust by all mankind, and thus the animal was cursed above all cattle," and a mark of condemnation was forever stamped upon it. Serpents are said in Scripture to "eat dust," see (Genesis 3:14; Isaiah 65:25; Micah 7:17) these animals which for the most part take their food on the ground, do consequently swallow with it large portions of sand and dust. Throughout the East the serpent was used as an emblem of the evil principle, of the spirit of disobedience and contumacy. Much has been written on the question of the "fiery serpents" of (Numbers 21:6,8) with which it is usual to erroneously identify the "fiery flying serpent" of (Isaiah 14:29) and Isaiah 30:6 The word "fiery" probably signifies "burning," in allusion to the sensation produced by the bite. The Cerastes , or the Naia haje , or any other venomous species frequenting Arabia, may denote the "serpent of the burning bite" which destroyed the children of Isr'l. The snake that fastened on St. Paul's hand when he was at Melita, (Acts 28:5) was probably the common viper of England, Pelias berus . (See also ADDER; ASP] When God punished the murmurs of the Isr'lites in the wilderness by sending among them serpents whose fiery bite was fatal, Moses, upon their repentance, was commanded to make a serpent of brass, whose polished surface shone like fire, and to set it up on the banner-pole in the midst of the people; and whoever was bitten by a serpent had but to look up at it and live. (Numbers 21:4-9) The comparison used by Christ, (John 3:14,15) adds a deep interest to this scene. To present the serpent form, as deprived of its power to hurt, impaled as the trophy of a conqueror was to assert that evil, physical and spiritual, had been overcome, and thus help to strengthen the weak faith of the Isr'lites in a victory over both. Others look upon the uplifted serpent as a symbol of life and health, it having been so worshipped in Egypt. The two views have a point of contact, for the serpent is wisdom . Wisdom, apart from obedience to God, degenerates to cunning, and degrades and envenoms man's nature. Wisdom, yielding to the divine law, is the source of healing and restoring influences, and the serpent form thus became a symbol of deliverance and health; and the Isr'lites were taught that it would be so with them in proportion as they ceased to be sensual and rebellious. Preserved as a relic, whether on the spot of its first erection or elsewhere the brazen serpent, called by the name of Nehushtan , became an object of idolatrous veneration, and the zeal of Hezekiah destroyed it with the other idols of his father. (2 Kings 18:4) [NEHUSHTAN]
SER'PENT, noun [Latin serpens, creeping; serpo, to creep.]
1. An animal of the order of Serpentes, [creepers, crawlers, ] Of the class of Amphibia. Serpents are amphibious animals, breathing through the mouth bymeans of lungs only; having tapering bodies, without a distinct neck; the jaws not articulated, but dilatable, and withour feet, fins or ears. Serpents move along the earth by a winding motion, and with the head elevated. Some species of them are viviparous, or rather ovi-viviparous; others are oviparous; and several species are venomous.
2. In astronomy, a constellation of the northern hemisphere, containing, according to the British catalogue, sixty-four stars.
3. An instrument of music, serving as a base to the cornet or small shawm, to sustain a chorus of singers in a large edifice. It is so called for its folds or wreaths.
4. Figuratively, a subtil or malicious person.
5. In mythology, a symbol of the sun.
Serpent stones or snake stones, are fossil shells of different sizes, found in strata of stones and clays.
(LXX. "deadly," Vulg. "burning"), Numbers 21:6, probably the naja haje of Egypt; some swift-springing, deadly snake (Isaiah 14:29). After setting out from their encampment at Ezion-gaber, the Israelites entered on a wide sandy desert, which stretches from the mountains of Edom as far as the Persian Gulf. While traversing this region, the people began to murmur and utter loud complaints against Moses. As a punishment, the Lord sent serpents among them, and much people of Israel died. Moses interceded on their behalf, and by divine direction he made a "brazen serpent," and raised it on a pole in the midst of the camp, and all the wounded Israelites who looked on it were at once healed. (Comp. John 3:14, 15.) (See ASP.) This "brazen serpent" was preserved by the Israelites till the days of Hezekiah, when it was destroyed (2 Kings 18:4). (See BRASS.)
SERPENTA'RIA, noun A plant, called also snake root; a species of Aristolochia.
SERPENTA'RIUS, noun A constellation in the northern hemisphere, containing seventy-four stars.
SERPENT-CUCUMBER, noun A plant of the genus Trichosanthes.
SER'PENT-EATER, noun A fowl of Africa that devours serpents.
SER'PENT-FISH, noun A fish of the genus Taenia, resembling a snake, but of a red color.
SER'PENTINE, adjective [Latin serpentinus, from serpens.]
1. Resembling a serpent; usually, winding and turing one way and the other, like a moving serpent; anfractuous; as a serpentine road or course.
2. Spiral; twisted; as a serpentine worm of a still.
3. Like a serpent; having the color or properties of a serpent.
Serpentine tongue, in the manege. A horse is said to have a serpentine tongue, when he is constantly moving it, and sometimes passing it over the bit.
Serpentine verse, a verse which begins and ends with the same word.
SER'PENTINE-STONE, either shades and spots resembling a serpent's skin. Serpentine is often nearly allied to the harder varieties of steatite and potstone. It prisents two varieties, precious serpentine, and common serpentine.
SER'PENTIZE, verb transitive To wind; to turn or bend, first in one direction and then in opposite; to meander
The road serpentized through a tall shrubbery. Barrow, Trav. in Africa.
SER'PENTS-TONGUE, noun A plant of the genus Ophioglossum.