The Serpent, the Calf, & the Lamb

בס״ד

The Serpent, the Golden Calf, and the Passover Lamb are all significant animal-symbols used and mentioned in the Bible, especially the Torah. What is the commonality between them all? They were all worshipped as idols by humans.

The Serpent

The talking Serpent in the Garden of Eden is the first animal among the three. This Serpent is associated with Satan, the archenemy of G-D and HIS people. Fascinatingly, the Hebrew word for ‘Serpent,’ נחש, has the same numerical value as that of ‘Messiah’ (358), the one who is foretold to fix the deception of the Serpent.

Yeshua compared himself to another serpent mentioned in the Bible, the Bronze Serpent.

“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up,”

-‭‭John‬ ‭3:14‬ ‭

The Bronze Serpent which Moses lifted up was the cure for the serpents who G-D sent to judge the rebellious children of Israel in the Wilderness. The Hebrew word for ‘Bronze,’ נחשת, has the same root as the word ‘Serpent,’ נחש. So the judgement and the salvation for the children of Israel both came from the same source, the Serpent, just as the first sin came through the Serpent and the cure comes through the Messiah, which has the same numerical value.

“Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, “We have sinned, for we have spoken against the L-RD and against you; pray to the L-RD that HE take away the serpent from us.” So Moses prayed for the people. Then the L-RD said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and it shall be that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, shall live.” So Moses made a bronze serpent, and put it on a pole; and so it was, if the serpent had bitten anyone, when he looked at the bronze serpent, he lived.”

‭‭-Numbers‬ ‭21:7-9‬

Unfortunately, this Bronze Serpent became an idol for the children of Israel…

“He [Hezekiah] removed the high places and broke the sacred pillars, cut down the wooden image and broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made; for until those days the children of Israel burned incense to it, and called it Nehushtan. He trusted in the L-RD G-D of Israel, so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor who were before him. For he held fast to the L-RD; he did not depart from following HIM, but kept HIS commandments, which the L-RD had commanded Moses.”

-‭‭II Kings‬ ‭18:4-6‬ ‬‬

King Hezekiah, who was one of the kings closest to fulfilling the role of and prophecies about the Messiah, broke down the Bronze Serpent, which Israel made an idol since the days of Moses! G-D’s medium of salvation became an idol…

Marc Chagall

The Golden Calf

We see a very similar instance with the sin of the Golden Calf.

The worship of the Golden Calf, found in Parashat Ki Tisa, came exactly between the instructions of G-D to build the Tabernacle in Parashat Terumah and Tetzaveh and the actual construction of the Tabernacle in Parashat Vayakhel and Pekudei. Instead of building the Tabernacle as G-D had commanded, the people used their gold to build an idol.

The Golden Calf was made, not as a replacement for G-D, but as a replacement for Moses.

Now when the people saw that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain, the people gathered together to Aaron, and said to him, “Come, make us gods that shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.””

-‭‭Exodus‬ ‭32:1‬

The man who G-D used as a redeemer became an idol to the people of Israel, who made a golden calf as his replacement when he was absent. Here again, we see people making an idol out of G-D’s medium of salvation.

When Moses saw this outrageous idolatry, he smashed the Tablets and ground the calf, mixing it with water and forcing the Israelites to drink it. They had to consume the false god.

“So Moses’ anger became hot, and he cast the tablets out of his hands and broke them at the foot of the mountain. Then he took the calf which they had made, burned it in the fire, and ground it to powder; and he scattered it on the water and made the children of Israel drink it.

-Exodus 32:19b-20

This brings us to the last of the three animals worshipped as gods…

The Passover Lamb

The Torah tells us that the Egyptians worshipped the lamb as god, that’s why they abominated shepherds, who killed lambs. This is similar to how Hindus today don’t eat or kill cows, which they deem sacred and related to the divine.

“that you shall say, ‘Your servants’ occupation has been with livestock from our youth even till now, both we and also our fathers,’ that you may dwell in the land of Goshen; for every shepherd is an abomination to the Egyptians.”

-Genesis 46:34

“And Moses said, “It is not right to do so, for we would be sacrificing the abomination of the Egyptians to the L-RD our G-D. If we sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians before their eyes, then will they not stone us?”

-Exodus 8:26

The shepherd and the sacrificing of lambs was an abomination to the Egyptians, because the lamb was divine to them. When the Israelites sacrificed the Passover lamb in full public view of the Egyptians, they risked their own lives by sacrificing the god, the idol of the Egyptians. Not only that, but G-D himself says that the Ten Plagues were each judgments upon the various gods of the Egyptians.

“For I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the L-RD. Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.”

-Exodus 12:12

So here we see that the final gods for the L-RD to execute judgment upon before the exodus from Egypt were the lamb and the firstborn sons. We see that even Pharaoh’s firstborn son was especially mentioned as a target of this final plague.

“And it came to pass at midnight that the L-RD struck all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive who was in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of livestock.”

-Exodus 12:29

Why were the firstborn killed, including the King of Egypt’s, as an execution against the gods of Egypt?

Because the greatest idol for every person is itself the human being created in G-D’s image, either a great, beautiful other – or the self.

Pharaoh, as a powerful man and the king of Egypt, was considered by Egyptians to be himself a god, or equal with the gods. He obviously considered himself to be a god by refusing the true G-D. His firstborn was in line not only to become king, but to become an equal with the gods. So why is this plague associated with the sacrifice of the Passover Lamb? Why are the judgments of the lamb and firstborn inextricably linked?

In the New Testament, Yeshua is called both the Passover Lamb and the Firstborn.

“Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Messiah, our Passover, was sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”

-Paul in 1 Corinthians 5:7-8

“Again, the next day, John stood with two of his disciples. And looking at Yeshua as he walked, he said, “Behold the Lamb of G-D!”

-John 1:35-36

“For whom HE foreknew, HE also predestined to be conformed to the image of HIS son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.

-Romans 8:29

Yeshua was crucified on Passover as the Passover Lamb and the firstborn son. Just like when Moses ascended and did not return, Yeshua’s followers made an idol to replace him after he ascended (See post, “Jesus Is the Antichrist”). Just as Yeshua compared himself to the Bronze Serpent, G-D’s medium of salvation who was later made into an idol by the people, Yeshua is compared to the Passover Lamb, the god of the Egyptians.

One of the reasons and lessons why Yeshua was crucified during Passover is so that we do not make an idol out of the man, the Messiah, the Redeemer like Moses, and make him god in place of or next to, in Yeshua’s own words, “the only true G-D” (John 17:3). The Messiah is G-D’s means of salvation, just like Moses, the Bronze Serpent, and the Passover Lamb, but he must not be confused with the ultimate Savior – G-D HIMSELF. In fact, Yeshua’s name itself means, ‘G-D is the Savior!’ He is the firstborn son “among many brethren” and we are to become like him, not to worship him as an untouchable, inimitable god.

“Beloved, now we are children of G-D; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when he [Messiah] is revealed, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. And everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.”

-1 John 3:2-3

This is why Yeshua said,

Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to my Father; but go to my brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, and to my G-D and your G-D.’

-John 20:17b

And,

“Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the helper [the spirit of truth] will not come to you…”

-John 16:7a

Moses broke the first Tablets at the same time he destroyed the Golden Calf. Yeshua embodied G-D’s Torah as the “Word made flesh,” who was broken at his first coming and will return again. Just as Moses made the people drink the smashed golden calf, Yeshua told his disciples to eat the Passover matzah and drink the wine in remembrance of his broken body and shed blood. Paul says that those who do not eat the Passover properly, “without discerning the body,” bring judgment against themselves,

“For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Yeshua on the night [of Passover] when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way he took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”  For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup [of Passover], you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be answerable for the body and blood of the Lord. Examine yourselves, and only then eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For all who eat and drink without discerning the body, eat and drink judgment against themselves. For this reason many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.”

-1 Corinthians 11:23-30

In the first Passover, the people were told not to break the bones of the lamb. When Yeshua was tortured and crucified at Passover, it is written that none of his bones were broken.

“They shall leave none of it until morning, nor break one of its bones. According to all the ordinances of the Passover they shall keep it.”

-Numbers 9:12

“Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who was crucified with him. But when they came to Yeshua and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out. And he who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you may believe. For these things were done that the Scripture should be fulfilled, “Not one of his bones shall be broken.””

-John 19:32-36

In Hebrew, the same root and word for, ‘bones’ (עצמות), is the same as the Hebrew word for, ‘essence’ (עצמות). Though the pagan idol was sacrificed like Yeshua was crucified, the essence, or the true inner core was preserved, just like Joseph’s Egyptian facade decayed in Egypt while his bones, or essence, were returned to the Land and People of Israel upon the Exodus.

Only when we sacrifice the pagan, idolatrous shell, can we preserve the true essence of who Yeshua was as a Jew and receive back the Firstborn, the King of Israel.

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