Asp (see Snake).

Bible occurrence: (Hebrew pethen) Deu 32:33; Job 20:14, 16; Isa 11:8; Rom 3:13.

This was probably the very deadly Egyptian cobra (Naja haje) which the Egyptians worshipped as uraeus. It is small serpent that gives a very poisonous bite which gives a quick death, as if in sleep.

There are three kinds of asps, the Chersea, Chelidonia, and the Ptyas, of which the last is most deadly [Brown]. The venom of an asp kills by causing sleep, thirst, or loss of blood. Immediately after the bite the person loses his sight, the part bitten swells, and a moderate pain is felt in the stomach. It is said that there is no cure except by cutting off the bitten limb immediately.

The peace and security of the Messiah’s kingdom is seen in a child playing on the opening hole to the asp’s home (security in the presence of great danger which has been controlled).

Wicked men are compared to asps because of their subtlety and carnality (lying in the filth of the earth), and because of their gradual murdering of themselves and others with a cruel venom, bitter gall, and the destructive poison of sin. Asps are mute, hearing no sound, and these wicked men like asps, hear not our Saviour.

Source: [DCox]

Hebrew Pethen, a kind of serpent, whose poison is of such rapid operation, that it kills almost the instant it penetrates, without a possibility of remedy. It is said to be very small, not more than a foot in length. Forskal supposes it to be the Baetan, or Coluber Lebetina of Linaeus; but the true asp of the ancients seems to be unknown. It is frequently mentioned by ancient writers; but in such an indefinite manner, that it is impossible to ascertain the species with precision. It is mentioned in De 32:33; Job 20:14, 16 Ps 58:4; 91:13; Isa 11:8; Jer 8:17; Ro 8:13. A traveler in the desert south of Judah describes it as still infested with serpents; and adds as an instance, “One day we saw in our path an asp. A foot long. Coiled up in the attitude of springing. Our Arabs killed it, saying it was exceedingly venomous.”


(Heb. pethen), Deut. 32:33; Job 20:14, 16; Isa. 11:8. It was probably the Egyptian cobra (Naja haje), which was very poisonous (Rom. 3:13; Gr. aspis). The Egyptians worshipped it as the _uraeus_, and it was found in the desert and in the fields. The peace and security of Messiah’s reign is represented by the figure of a child playing on the hole of the asp. (See ADDER)


(pethen (Deut 32:33; Job 20:14; Job 20:16; Isa 11:8); aspis (Ro 3:13)); Any poisonous snake, or even poisonous snakes in general, would satisfy the context in all the passages cited. Pethen is also translated ADDER (which see) in Ps 58:4; Ps 91:13. Most authors have supposed the Egyptian cobra (Naia haje, L.) to be the snake meant, but while this is widely distributed throughout Africa, its occurrence in Southern Palestine seems to rest solely on the authority of Canon Tristram, who did not collect it.
There are Other poisonous snakes in Palestine, any one of which would satisfy the requirements of these passages. See SERPENT. While the aspis of classical Greek literature may well have been the Egyptian cobra, it is to be noted that Vipera aspis, L., is confined to central and western Europe.

Alfred Ely Day



The word is pethen: it has been identified with the naja haje, a snake that has the power of expelling its deadly poison to some distance, which has caused the Dutch colonists at the Cape to call them the spitting snake. Its ‘cruel venom’ is used symbolically to describe the wine of the wicked (Deut. 32:33: cf. Rom. 3:13), and the inward misery of those who are secretly wicked, Job 20:14, 16. In the millennium a child will play harmlessly at its hole. Isa. 11:8.


• A venomous serpent
Deut 32:33; Job 20:14; Job 20:16; Isa 11:8; Rom 3:13

• Venom of, illustrates:

– The speech of the wicked
Ps 140:3; Rom 3:13

– Injurious effects of wine
Deut 32:33; Prov 23:32

• Deprived of venom, illustrates conversion
Isa 11:8-9


(Heb. pethen), translated (adder in) (Psalms 58:4; 91:13) Probably the Egyptian cobra, a small and very poisonous serpent, a dweller in the holes of walls, (Isaiah 11:8) and a snake upon which the serpent-charmers practiced their art.


Deu 32:33 (a) The effect of liquor on the soul is compared to the poison that comes from the bite of the serpent. It contaminates the blood, it affects every part of the body, it ends in death.

Job 20:14 (a) The feeling expressed by Job caused his friends to say that he was feeding from the poison that comes from the snake. Job was considering and meditating in his heart the things that were bitter, harsh and evil in his life.

Rom 3:13 (b) This refers to the teaching and the ministry of false religious teachers whose doctrines are of the Devil. The messages which come from their mouths are as poison and they damage those who hear them. (See also Mat 3:7).