Brass — which is an alloy of copper and zinc, was not known till the thirteenth century. What is designated by this word in Scripture is properly copper (Deut. 8:9). It was used for fetters (Judg. 16:21; 2 Kings 25:7), for pieces of armour (1 Sam. 17:5, 6), for musical instruments (1 Chr. 15:19; 1 Cor. 13:1), and for money (Matt. 10:9).
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.)