Sunday, September 23, 2018

“Who Is on Jehovah’s Side?”

The title comes from Exodus 32:26, where Moses is the speaker. Immediately after asking this pleading question, he declares: “Come to me!” (Revised 2013 NWT) I found this interesting since the previous NWT I grew up on had Moses simply saying: “To me!” Comparing other translations, Byington has: “Whoever is for Jehovah, come here to me!” Additionally, the NET Bible has: “Whoever is for [Jehovah], come to me.” It explains in a footnote: “‘come’ is not in the text, but has been supplied.” It adds: “S. R. Driver suggests that the command was tersely put: ‘Who is for Yahweh? To me!’ (Exodus, 354).”

Thus, the earlier NWT had the terse style of translation of “To me!”, whereas the RNWT has updated this to be smoother, now like other Bibles reading as “Come to me!” I like this much better, for it is so much clearer to me!

The application is also clearer: we must gather to God’s appointed agent(s) for direction, judgment, and salvation.

Image from:

See also:
Moses’ Example


Saturday, September 08, 2018

Serpentine connection?

Asclepius was the Greek god of healing, and his Rod was a staff with a serpent wound around it. While visually similar to the account in Numbers 21:8, 9, it is only coincidental to it as this was an isolated event. If there would be any scriptural origin for the Rod of Asclepius, it would be the account of the “original serpent” who said: “You certainly will not die” while likely mounted on a tree branch; thus the serpentine Rod of life would be a legend harking back to this event in Eden with the claim of not dying. (Genesis 3:4; Revelation 12:9) However, it is only coincidental to this too.

In fact, its actual origin is likely more down-to-earth and less-savory. Regarding the asclepian Rod, a medical doctor reported: “The single serpent staff also appears on a Sumerian vase of c. 2000 B.C. representing the healing god Ningishita [sic: Ningishzida], the prototype of the Greek Asklepios. However, there is a more practical origin postulated which makes sense.” He adds:
In ancient times infection by parasitic worms was common. The filarial worm Dracunculus medinensis aka “the fiery serpent”, aka “the dragon of Medina” aka “the guinea worm” crawled around the victim’s body, just under the skin. Physicians treated this infection by cutting a slit in the patient’s skin, just in front of the worm’s path. As the worm crawled out the cut, the physician carefully wound the pest around a stick until the entire animal had been removed. It is believed that because this type of infection was so common, physicians advertised their services by displaying a sign with the worm on a stick.[1]
This Rod is also similar to the caduceus, a rod carried by the Greco-Roman god Hermes/Mercury that sported wings at the top and two serpents intertwined around it, which is also associated with the medical practice. However, this too has a more profane origin, as the Encyclopedia Britannica notes:
Originally the caduceus was a rod or olive branch ending in two shoots and decorated with garlands or ribbons. Later the garlands were interpreted as two snakes entwined in opposite directions with their heads facing; and a pair of wings, in token of Hermes’ speed, was attached to the staff above the snakes. Its similarity to the staff of Asclepius the healer (a staff branched at the top and entwined by a single serpent) resulted in modern times in the adoption of the caduceus as a symbol of the physician and as the emblem of the U.S. Army Medical Corps.[2]
Thus we are dealing with sets of coincidences. There is nothing here with a Biblical origin; instead, they have mundane and practical origins. This highlights that we must be careful before associating something serpentine with a Bible account.

[1] Blayney, Kieth. The Caduceus vs the Staff of Asclepius (Asklepian)

  • Introductory picture from Instagram user jw_united_in_truth
  • Picture of Moses and the copper serpent on a pole is specifically from My Book of Bible Stories, Story 41: The Copper Serpent, available at