Numbers 21:6
Parallel Verses
New International Version
Then the LORD sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died.

New Living Translation
So the LORD sent poisonous snakes among the people, and many were bitten and died.

English Standard Version
Then the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died.

New American Standard Bible
The LORD sent fiery serpents among the people and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died.

King James Bible
And the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
Then the LORD sent poisonous snakes among the people, and they bit them so that many Israelites died.

International Standard Version
In response, the LORD sent poisonous serpents among the people to bite them. As a result, many people of Israel died.

NET Bible
So the LORD sent poisonous snakes among the people, and they bit the people; many people of Israel died.

GOD'S WORD® Translation
So the LORD sent poisonous snakes among the people. They bit the people, and many of the Israelites died.

Jubilee Bible 2000
And the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and many people of Israel died.

King James 2000 Bible
And the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and many people of Israel died.

American King James Version
And the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died.

American Standard Version
And Jehovah sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died.

Douay-Rheims Bible
Wherefore the Lord sent among the people fiery serpents, which bit them and killed many of them.

Darby Bible Translation
Then Jehovah sent fiery serpents among the people, which bit the people; and much people of Israel died.

English Revised Version
And the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died.

Webster's Bible Translation
And the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and many people of Israel died.

World English Bible
Yahweh sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and many people of Israel died.

Young's Literal Translation
And Jehovah sendeth among the people the burning serpents, and they bite the people, and much people of Israel die;
Parallel Commentaries
Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary

21:4-9 The children of Israel were wearied by a long march round the land of Edom. They speak discontentedly of what God had done for them, and distrustfully of what he would do. What will they be pleased with, whom manna will not please? Let not the contempt which some cast on the word of God, make us value it less. It is the bread of life, substantial bread, and will nourish those who by faith feed upon it, to eternal life, whoever may call it light bread. We see the righteous judgment God brought upon them for murmuring. He sent fiery serpents among them, which bit or stung many to death. It is to be feared that they would not have owned the sin, if they had not felt the smart; but they relent under the rod. And God made a wonderful provision for their relief. The Jews themselves say it was not the sight of the brazen serpent that cured; but in looking up to it, they looked up to God as the Lord that healed them. There was much gospel in this. Our Saviour declared, Joh 3:14,15, that as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so the Son of man must be lifted up, that whatsoever believeth in him, should not perish. Compare their disease and ours. Sin bites like a serpent, and stings like an adder. Compare the application of their remedy and ours. They looked and lived, and we, if we believe, shall not perish. It is by faith that we look unto Jesus, Heb 12:2. Whosoever looked, however desperate his case, or feeble his sight, or distant his place, was certainly and perfectly cured. The Lord can relieve us from dangers and distresses, by means which human reason never would have devised. Oh that the venom of the old serpent, inflaming men's passions, and causing them to commit sins which end in their eternal destruction, were as sensibly felt, and the danger as plainly seen, as the Israelites felt pain from the bite of the fiery serpents, and feared the death which followed! Then none would shut their eyes to Christ, or turn from his gospel. Then a crucified Saviour would be so valued, that all things else would be accounted loss for him; then, without delay, and with earnestness and simplicity, all would apply to him in the appointed way, crying, Lord, save us; we perish! Nor would any abuse the freeness of Christ's salvation, while they reckoned the price which it cost him.

Pulpit Commentary

Verse 6. - Fiery serpents, גְחָשִׁים שְׂרָפִים. Nachash is the ordinary word for serpent. The word saraph which seems to mean "burning one," stands (by itself) for a serpent in verse 8, and also in Isaiah 14:29; Isaiah 30:6. In Isaiah 6:2, 6 it stands for one of the symbolic beings (seraphim) of the prophet's vision. The only idea common to the two meanings (otherwise so distinct) must be that of brilliance and metallic luster. It is commonly assumed that the "fiery" serpents were so called because of the burning pain and inflammation caused by the bite, after the analogy of the πρηστῆρες and καύσωνες of Dioscorus and AElian. But is hardly possible that Isaiah should have used the same word in such wholly dissimilar senses, and it is clear from comparison with Ezekiel's vision of the cherubim (Ezekiel 1:7) that the saraph of Isaiah 6:2 was so called from the burnished luster of his appearance. Even our Lord himself is described in the Apocalypse as having in the highest degree this appearance of glowing brass (Revelation 1:15; Revelation 2:18). It is further clear that the saraph was so named from his colour, not his venom, because when Moses was ordered to make a saraph he made a serpent of brass (or rather copper), with the evident intent of imitating as closely as possible the appearance of the venomous reptile. We may conclude then with some confidence that these serpents were of a fiery red colour, resembling in this respect certain very deadly snakes in Australia, which are known as "copper snakes." Travelers speak of some such pests as still abounding in the region of the Arabah, but it is quite uncertain whether the fiery serpents of that special visitation can be identified with any existing species.

Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

And the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people,.... Of which there were great numbers in the deserts of Arabia, and about the Red sea; but hitherto the Israelites were protected from them by the cloud about them, but sinning, the Lord suffered them to come among them, to punish them; these are called fiery, either from their colour, for in Arabia, as there were serpents of a golden colour, as Aelianus (r) relates, to which the brazen serpent, after made, bore some likeness, so there were others in the same parts of Arabia of a red or scarlet colour, as Diodorus Siculus says (s), of a span long, and their bite entirely incurable; or else they are so called from the effect of them, exciting heat and thirst in those they bit; so Jarchi says, they are so called because they burn with the poison of their teeth: these, very probably, were flying ones, as may seem from Isaiah 14:29 and being sent of God, might come flying among the people and bite them; and such there were in the fenny and marshy parts of Arabia, of which many writers speak (t), as flying from those parts into Egypt, where they used to be met by a bird called Ibis, which killed them, and for that reason was had in great veneration by the Egyptians; and Herodotus (u) says they are nowhere but in Arabia, and also (w) that they of that kind of serpents, which are called Hydri, their wings are not feathered, but like the wings of bats, and this Bochart (x) takes to be here meant:

and they bit the people, and much people of Israel died; for, as before related from Diodorus Siculus, their bites were altogether incurable; and Solinus (y) says, of the same Arabian flying serpents, that their poison is so quick, that death follows before the pain can be felt; and of that kind of serpent, the Hydrus, it is said by Leo Africanus (z), that their poison is most pernicious, and that there is no other remedy against the bite of them, but to cut off that part of the member bitten, before the poison can penetrate into the other parts of the body: the Dipsas, another kind of serpent, which others are of opinion is designed, by biting, brings immediately a thirst on persons, intolerable and almost not extinguishable, and a deadly one, unless help is most speedily had; and if this was the case here it was very bad indeed, since there was no water: Solinus (a) says, this kind of serpent kills with thirst; Aristotle (b) speaks of a serpent some call the sacred one, and that whatsoever it bites putrefies immediately all around it: these serpents, and their bites, may be emblems of the old serpent the devil, and of his fiery darts, and of sin brought in by him, and which he tempts unto, the effects of which are terrible and deadly, unless prevented by the grace of God.

(r) De Animal. l. 10. c. 13. (s) Bibliothec. l. 3. p. 180. (t) Herodot. Euterpe, sive, l. 2. c. 15. Aelian. de Animal. l. 2. c. 38. Mela, l. 3. c. 9. Solin. Polyhistor, c. 45. & alii. (u) Thalia, sive, l. 3. c. 109. (w) Euterpe, sive, l. 2. c. 76. (x) Hierozoic. par. 2. l. 3. c. 13. col. 423. (y) Polyhist. c. 45. (z) Apud Scheuchzer, Physic. Sacr. vol. 2. p. 386. (a) Polyhist. c. 40. (b) Hist. Animal. l. 8. c. 29.

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

6. The Lord sent fiery serpents among the people—That part of the desert where the Israelites now were—near the head of the gulf of Akaba—is greatly infested with venomous reptiles, of various kinds, particularly lizards, which raise themselves in the air and swing themselves from branches; and scorpions, which, being in the habit of lying in long grass, are particularly dangerous to the barelegged, sandaled people of the East. The only known remedy consists in sucking the wound, or, in the case of cattle, in the application of ammonia. The exact species of serpents that caused so great mortality among the Israelites cannot be ascertained. They are said to have been "fiery," an epithet applied to them either from their bright, vivid color, or the violent inflammation their bite occasioned.

Numbers 21:6 Additional Commentaries
Context
The Bronze Serpent
5The people spoke against God and Moses, "Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this miserable food." 6The LORD sent fiery serpents among the people and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died. 7So the people came to Moses and said, "We have sinned, because we have spoken against the LORD and you; intercede with the LORD, that He may remove the serpents from us." And Moses interceded for the people.…
Cross References
1 Corinthians 10:9
We should not test Christ, as some of them did--and were killed by snakes.

Deuteronomy 8:15
He led you through the vast and dreadful wilderness, that thirsty and waterless land, with its venomous snakes and scorpions. He brought you water out of hard rock.

Jeremiah 8:17
"See, I will send venomous snakes among you, vipers that cannot be charmed, and they will bite you," declares the LORD.

Ezekiel 14:15
"Or if I send wild beasts through that country and they leave it childless and it becomes desolate so that no one can pass through it because of the beasts,
Treasury of Scripture

And the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died.

Genesis 3:14,15 And the LORD God said to the serpent, Because you have done this, …

Deuteronomy 8:15 Who led you through that great and terrible wilderness, wherein were …

Isaiah 14:29 Rejoice not you, whole Palestina, because the rod of him that smote …

Isaiah 30:6 The burden of the beasts of the south: into the land of trouble and …

Jeremiah 8:17 For, behold, I will send serpents, cockatrices, among you, which …

Amos 9:3,4 And though they hide themselves in the top of Carmel, I will search …

1 Corinthians 10:9 Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were …

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