197. Among the most ancient people, who were celestial men, by the "serpent" was signified circumspection, and also the sensuous part through which they exercised circumspection so as to be secure from injury. This signification of a "serpent" is evident from the Lord's words to His disciples:
Behold, I send you forth as sheep into the midst of wolves; be ye therefore prudent as serpents, and simple as doves (Matt. 10:16). And also from the "brazen serpent" that was set up in the wilderness, by which was signified the sensuous part in the Lord, who alone is the celestial man, and alone takes care of and provides for all; wherefore all who looked upon it were preserved.