Israel Antiquities Authority, Jerusalem

WILY TEMPTER. In Genesis 3, the serpent is described as being “more crafty than any other wild animal.” While the serpent is depicted as a trickster in this passage, it was often a symbol of regeneration or immortality in the ancient Near East. This 5-inch-long copper serpent was uncovered at Timna (in southern Israel) inside a 13th- or 12th-century B.C.E. Midianite temple. The serpent is partially gilded with remnants of gold tape still wrapped around its head. Many draw parallels between the Timna serpent and the bronze serpent described in Numbers 21:9 that Moses fashioned and placed on top of a pole to cure the Israelites of their snakebites.