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ChukatRead / Listen to Portion
The LORD sent fiery serpents among the people and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died. Why did God use snakes to punish Israel? Rashi explains that God chose snakes for two reasons. It all points back to the serpent in the Garden of Eden.
The purification paradox hints toward Messiah who became unclean in order to cleanse. Human uncleanness and iniquity did not cling to Him. He stepped out from the tomb in perfect purity. He shed the mortal form, and with it He shed ritual impurity. The unclean grave clothes, tainted with the contamination of death, He left behind.
In John 3, Yeshua told Nicodemus that no one has ascended to heaven, but that He will be lifted up because He descended from heaven. Then He explains, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up.” In this context, His words seem to point toward His ascension.
One traditional teaching about Aaron says that when husbands and wives quarreled, they would seek out Aaron. He would counsel them with words of peace and bring reconciliation to their relationship. He was so adept at making peace between husbands and wives that he had many children named after him.
Paul seems to have this entire ceremony in view when he rhetorically asks, “If the dead are not raised at all, why then are they baptized for them?” (1 Corinthians 15:29). In other words, if the dead are not raised, why practice the ritual washing of the body, which requires a person conducting the washing to immerse himself? Why concern oneself with according honor to the corpse at all if the dead are not raised?