The Israelites left Mount Hor and started to venture northwards towards Atharim. The king of Arad saw them coming and decided it might be fun to attack them. The assault was successful, and his army came away with some fresh Israelite captives. This gave the Israelites the perfect excuse to destroy all of his cities.
2 The Israelites prayed to the Lord, ‘If you allow us to defeat the king of Arad and his people, we promise to lay waste to his cities.’
‘That sounds like a great idea!’ chuckled God.
3 So, the Israelites conquered Arad, burned the cities to the ground, and named the place Hormah, which means, ‘kidnap our people, will you?’
4 Suddenly, God decided to teleport them back to Mount Hor, so that they could take a route around Edom via the Red Sea.
5 The Israelites didn’t take kindly to being abruptly blinked to a different location, so they went to Moses to complain. ‘What the fuck was that about?’ they screamed. ‘First, we have had to wander in this wilderness with no food or water, except for the manna, which is absolutely delicious, and now God is teleporting us around without warning!’
‘I know, but the Lord works in mysterious ways,’ replied Moses.
‘We’re getting tired of that excuse!’ retorted the Israelites.
6 The Lord overheard them complaining, so he sent some venomous snakes to bite them. He laughed his arse off as the people ran around in a panic. Some of them even died, which was hilarious!
7 ‘For fuck’s sake!’ the people cried to Moses. ‘Ask God to stop it! We promise not to complain anymore!’
So, Moses got down on his knees and prayed to God, ‘Please Lord, they’ve learnt their lesson.’
‘Lesson?’ asked the Lord. ‘What lesson?’
‘The one you’re trying to teach them by sending the snakes,’ groaned Moses.
‘What? No. I was just bored,’ giggled the Lord. ‘Erm… I mean… yeah, that will teach them!’
‘So, are you going to take the snakes away?’
8 ‘No! Why would I do that?’ spat the Lord. ‘Look, I have an idea that will be really funny. Make a bronze snake and put it on a pole, and then anyone who was bitten can look at it.’
‘And they’ll be cured?’
‘No, you can taunt them with it,’ sniggered the Lord. ‘Think about it. What’s the last thing somebody who’s just been bitten by a venomous snake would want to see?’
‘Another snake…’ moaned Moses.
‘Can’t you make it cure them?’ begged Moses. ‘We’ve lost so many people on this trip!’
The Lord heaved a big sigh and said, ‘Fine! But make it look as though you’re just doing it to taunt them.’
9 So, Moses made a bronze snake, put it on a pole, and named it Nehushtan, which means ‘Mr Snakey’. And he took the snake around to all of the surviving snakebite victims to cure them.