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
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 F25 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 F26, 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 F1 says, this kind of serpent kills with thirst; Aristotle F2 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.
F18 De Animal. l. 10. c. 13.
F19 Bibliothec. l. 3. p. 180.
F20 Herodot. Euterpe, sive, l. 2. c. 15. Aelian. de Animal. l. 2. c. 38. Mela, l. 3. c. 9. Solin. Polyhistor, c. 45. & alii.
F21 Thalia, sive, l. 3. c. 109.
F23 Euterpe, sive, l. 2. c. 76.
F24 Hierozoic. par. 2. l. 3. c. 13. col. 423.
F25 Polyhist. c. 45.
F26 Apud Scheuchzer, Physic. Sacr. vol. 2. p. 386.
F1 Polyhist. c. 40.
F2 Hist. Animal. l. 8. c. 29.