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AH-64D Saraf / "Fiery Snake"

In October 1999 the Government of Israel requested a possible sale for remanufacture of 24 AH-64A APACHE helicopters to AH-64D model aircraft, 12 AN/APG-78 AH-64D Longbow Fire Control Radar, 12 APR-48A Radar Frequency Interferometer, 56 T-700-GE-701C engines, 24 Target Acquisition Designation Sight/Pilot Night Vision Sensor (TADS/PNVS), 480 AGM-114L3 HELLFIRE II laser guided missiles, spare and repair parts, support equipment, publications and technical documentation, personnel training and training equipment, U.S. Government and contractor technical support and other related elements of logistics support. The estimated cost is $508 million.

This proposed sale contributed to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a friendly country which had been and continued to be an important force for political stability and economic progress in the Middle East. Israel desired these articles to fulfill their strategic commitments for self-defense, with coalition support, in the region. The sale upgraded its anti-armor day/night missile capability, provide for the defense of vital installations and provide close air support for the military ground forces. Israel, which already had APACHE helicopters in its inventory, will have no difficulty absorbing these helicopters.

The saraf, the fiery snake, is so called because the venom of a snake is hot, it burns. The snake is called saraf, "the fiery serpent," as it says, "[When the people in the wilderness spoke out against God,] God sent the fiery serpents, [and they bit the people]" (Bemidbar 21:6). Isaiah 14:29 King James Bible "Rejoice not thou, whole Palestina, because the rod of him that smote thee is broken: for out of the serpent's root shall come forth a cockatrice, and his fruit shall be a fiery flying serpent." That is, he wills the Philistines not to rejoice because the Jews are diminished in their power, for their strength will be greater than it ever was. Assurance is given of the destruction of the Philistines and their power.

Yeshayahu (30:6) [Isaiah 30:6] addresses the Jewish kings who sought to form a military alliance with Egypt against Assyria: "They load animals to [travel to] the south; to the land of trouble and anguish, from where the young and the old lion come, the viper and the fiery flying serpent (saraf)..." The appellation "fiery snake," saraf, does not necessarily refer to a fire-breathing snake; it could refer to a poisonous snake, whose venom "burns" people. The description of these snakes "flying" likewise may not refer to that which is usually understood by the term but rather jumping, as Rashi explains: "They are a type of snake, and it is not that they possess wings with which to fly, but rather that they jump and leap very far."

All other snakes were said to fly from the sound of its hissing; and instead of trailing along like other serpents the basilisk raised its body nearly erect. These snakes were offshoots of the primeval serpent [in Gan Eden]. The mythical king of the serpents, the basilisk, or cockatrice, is a creature that burns everything it approaches. The only way to kill a basilisk is by holding a mirror in front of its eyes, while avoiding to look directly at it. The moment the creature sees its own reflection, it will die of fright. In the event of the cockatrice getting the all-important first look, it will dart venom from its eyes, deadly enough to kill any living creature. The wyvern and the cockatrice and the basilisk (which, like the Gorgon Medusa, can strike a man dead by the mere glance of the eye) are remarkable for conforming to the invariable vertebrate standard of no more than two pairs of limbs, whether legs, wings, or fins. The basiliskos, or little king, is derived from "Basilisk", a diminutive from "basileus" (king).

No animal, perhaps, has been the subject of so great a number of prejudices as the basilisk (the regulus, or little king of serpents, commonly called the cockatrice). The most ancient authors have spoken of the basilisk, as of a serpent which had the power of striking its victim dead by a single glance. Others have pretended that it could not exercise this faculty, unless it first perceived the object of its vengeance before it was itself perceived by it. Pliny assures us that the serpent named basilisk has a voice so terrible, that it strikes terror into all other species, that it thus chases them from the spot which it inhabits, and of which it retains the sole and undisputed dominion.

The cockatrice is sometimes mentioned in the Authorised Version of the Bible, with an adder generally as the alternative translation (cp. Jer. viii. 17, Prov. xxiii. 32 (margin), Is. xi. 8, lix. 5, xiv. 29). The Revised Version uses the word basilisk either in the text or margin of these passages. The chief characteristic of the basilisk or cockatrice in the Bible is its bite or sting. The word "saraph' is a primitive root; to be (causatively, set) on fire -- (cause to, make a) burn((-ing), up) kindle, X utterly. New American Standard Bible [NASB] Word Usage frequency is: brought (1), burn (35), burn it as he burned (1), burned (70), burns (5), completely burned (1), made (1), undertaker (1).

If these fables had reference to any real animal, it is probable that it was a species somewhat similar to the cobra de capello, or the asp viper. Both are accustomed to erect a very considerable part of the body, though not to move forward in this way. It is highly probable that the basilisk of the ancients was merely a creature of fiction.

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Page last modified: 11-07-2011 15:38:34 ZULU