“Have you something interesting to tell me?” asked Dr Quinton, as the three second-year lads returned the following day.
“Yes, sir, I think so,” said Larkin. “We followed your instructions. For my part I looked intoGesenius’s Hebrew Lexicon and studied all the cognate words from which NACHASH, the serpent derive. The trouble is that all the information points towards snake-like creatures, with their hissing, cunning, creeping along the ground, with brazen looks and bright eyes. Metaphorically, there was the concept of enchantment, omens and augury. Then of course there was the brass serpent that Moses erected on a pole, called NECHUSHTAN, a word that comes from the same root.”
“Well done! There’s a lot to go on, there. Let’s hold all that in readiness whilst we hear the other two reports.”
“I looked in Hastings, sir,” said Jones. “The contributor seemed to be rather dull and lacking in enthusiasm, or so I thought. He never even gave all the information that Larkin found. So I looked in a single volume Bible Encyclopaedia, and the editor had one good line of thought. Referring to the brazen serpent, he said those who were bitten were cured by simply looking at NECHUSHTAN. Then he quoted Isaiah 45:22.”
At this point Jones flicked open his notebook and read the quote. “Referring to Jesus he said, So that ‘all the ends of the earth’ by ‘looking unto’ Him, may ‘be saved,’ ‘lifted up from the earth,’ and so ‘drawing all men unto Him.’ John 12:32-34. I thought the comprehensiveness of the theology in that collection of quotes was quite awe inspiring.”
“Marvellous!” said Doc, with a look of profound wonder on his aged face. “Simply marvellous.May the name of Jesus be praised in all the earth. . . . . Now how about our last contribution?”
“For my part, sir,” said Baker, “I thought I would ponder on the whole section in Genesis 3, and see whether the words might convey something of further interest. I was struck by what the Lord said to the NACHASH. He said that in future he would go on his belly, which alerted me to the fact that obviously it had not been his usual mode of locomotion beforehand. In the second place, his food would be dust. Now I happen to know that dust is not the food of the snake family. So there must be a figure of speech contained in the Lord’s words.
“Thinking about it, I came to the conclusion that ‘going on his belly’ was a way of expressing total subjugation, and ‘eating dust’ means continual disappointment, and failure to achieve his purposes. I hope that proves to be helpful.”
“Excellent. . . . My word,” said Doc. “You’ve all proved your worth. My refusal to help you became the trigger for some very useful research, didn’t it?”
“Yes, sir,” said Larkin. “It all started off with a laugh, and no further thought as to what was behind it, but we feel that we’ve begun to get our teeth into the matter.”
“But it’s only a beginning, sir, isn’t it?” said Jones. “We all feel as though we’ve only begun to see the depths of Genesis 3, and want to do some further digging.”
“And you shall,” said Doc. “And I promise you’ll find further riches. Come back again in a few days and let me know what else you’ve found.”