ChristianAnswers.Net WebBible Encyclopedia
This metal is an alloy of copper and zinc. Brass has been known to man since prehistoric times, long before zinc itself was discovered. It was produced smelting copper ore that contained zinc or by melting copper together with calamite, a zinc ore. During this process, the zinc is extracted from the calamite and instantly mixes with the copper. Pure zinc, on the other hand, is too reactive to be produced by ancient metalworking techniques.
The serpent of brass was made by Moses at the command of God (Num. 21:4-9), and elevated on a pole, so that it might be seen by all the people when wounded by the bite of the serpents that were sent to them as a punishment for their murmurings against God and against Moses. It was afterwards carried by the Jews into Canaan, and preserved by them till the time of Hezekiah, who caused it to be at length destroyed because it began to be viewed by the people with superstitious reverence (2 Kings 18:4). (See NEHUSHTAN.)