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How Did Moses Build The Bronze Serpent and How Long Did It Take For Him To Do It?

Numbers 21:1-9

And when king Arad the Canaanite, which dwelt in the south, heard tell that Israel came by the way of the spies; then he fought against Israel, and took some of them prisoners.

And Israel vowed a vow unto the Lord, and said, If thou wilt indeed deliver this people into my hand, then I will utterly destroy their cities.

And the Lord hearkened to the voice of Israel, and delivered up the Canaanites; and they utterly destroyed them and their cities: and he called the name of the place Hormah.

And they journeyed from mount Hor by the way of the Red sea, to compass the land of Edom: and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way.

And the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread.

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

Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord, and against thee; pray unto the Lord, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people.

And the Lord said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live.

And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.

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The short answer is - Moses made the bronze serpent the same way all the hundreds of other articles were made such as:

  • Ex 26:11 - bronze clasps for curtains
  • Ex 27:2 - altar overlaed with bronze
  • Ex 27:4 - bronze grating for the altar of burnt offering
  • Ex 26:37, 27:10, 17 - bronze bases for poles
  • Ex 27:18 - tent pegs of bronze
  • Ex 38:8, 40:7 - Bronze laver/basin and its stand
  • Lev 6:28 - bronze pots
  • Num 16:39 - bronze censors
  • Num 16:37 - bronze fire pans

... and so forth.

The source for all this bronze was the offerings of the people who had numerous bronze articles they donated to the service in the tabernacle, Ex 25:3, 35:5, 24, 38:8 (mirrors), 29, etc.

Working in bronze dates to before the flood, Gen 4:22. The reason is not difficult to find - bronze is one of the simplest metals to work because it is (compared most other materials) easy to smelt, soft to hammer, malleable, and with a melting temperature low enough to to be achieved by wood fires.

The bronze snake (Num 21:8, 9) would have been make the same way most such objects were created - by either casting of hammering or a combination of both. The casting molds can be made of either plaster or resin filled sand.

There is no information about how long the manufacturing process took.

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  • Thank you for the answer and In the meantime that Moses was making the bronze serpent, were the snakes still among Israel biting them? – Servant Mar 30 at 18:32
  • @Servant - we are not told - but presumably, the snakes stopped when the people repented., – Dottard Mar 30 at 20:46
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Moses was spending 40 days on the mountain while Aaron made a golden calf as described in Exodus 32:

1 When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, “Come, make us gods a who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.”

2 Aaron answered them, “Take off the gold earrings that your wives, your sons and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me.” 3So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron. 4 He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, “These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.”

At the end of the 40 days, Aaron tried to excuse himself:

22 “Do not be angry, my lord,” Aaron answered. “You know how prone these people are to evil. 23They said to me, ‘Make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.’ 24So I told them, ‘Whoever has any gold jewelry, take it off.’ Then they gave me the gold, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf!

How Did Moses Build The Bronze Serpent and How Long Did It Take For Him To Do It?

The process for making the bronze serpent would be similar to that for making the golden calf. My guess is that it would take some days to make it.

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