The people spoke out against אלהים [Elohim] and Moshe [Moses], 'Why did you take us out of Egypt to die in the desert? There is no bread and no מים [mayim, water]! Our נפש [nephesh, soul] is getting disgusted with this insubstantial food.' [They tired of the manna from God, calling it "tasteless." In other words, they craved sensation, and began to break the Law.]
יהוה [Jehovah] sent שרף [seraph, fiery] נחש [nachash, serpents] against the people, and when they [tempting serpents of Eden] began biting the people, a number of Israelites died.
The people came to Moses and said, 'We have sinned by speaking against יהוה [Jehovah] and you. Pray to יהוה [Jehovah], and have Him take the snakes away from us.'
In synthesis, there are two forms of "serpents:"
- The tempting serpents of Eden who tempt through sensation; those who fall into temptation are bitten, suffer, and "die" [spiritually], or in other words, are cast out of Eden.
- The healing serpent of brass (or brazen serpent), made by raising up an image upon a pole (the spinal column). Compare to Moses facing the Pharoah, and Moses striking the rock with his staff.
Brass is made by combing two metals: copper (feminine) and tin (masculine). This story hides the secret of Alchemy: how to purify base metals and make them pure by raising a serpent (Kundalini, or transmuted sexual energy) upon a staff (the spine).