|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
17:8-13 While all the other rods remained as they were. Aaron's rod became a living branch. In some places there were buds, in others blossoms, in others fruit, at the same time; all this was miraculous. Thus Aaron was manifested to be under the special blessing of Heaven. Fruitfulness is the best evidence of a Divine call; and the plants of God's setting, and the boughs cut off them, will flourish. This rod was preserved, to take away the murmurings of the people, that they might not die. The design of God, in all his providences, and in the memorials of them, is to take away sin. Christ was manifested to take away sin. Christ is expressly called a rod out of the stem of Jesse: little prospect was there, according to human views, that he should ever flourish. But the dry rod revived and blossomed to the confusion of his adversaries. The people cry, Behold, we die, we perish, we all perish! This was the language of a repining people, quarrelling with the judgments of God, which by their own pride and obstinacy they brought upon themselves. It is very wicked to fret against God when we are in affliction, and in our distress thus to trespass yet more. If we die, if we perish, it is of ourselves, and the blame will be upon our own heads. When God judges, he will overcome, and will oblige the most obstinate gainsayers to confess their folly. And how great are our mercies, that we have a clearer and a better dispensation, established upon better promises!
Verse 10. - Before the testimony. By comparison with verse 7 this should mean before the ark in which the "testimony" lay. In Hebrews 9:4, however, the rod is said to have been in the ark, although before Solo-men's time it had disappeared (1 Kings 8:9). We may suppose that after it had been inspected by the princes it was deposited for safer preservation and easier conveyance inside the sacred chest. To be kept for a token against the rebels. Rather, "against the rebellious," literally, "children of rebellion" (cf. Ephesians 2:2, 3). It could only serve as a token as long as it retained the evidences of having sprouted and fruited, either miraculously in a fresh state, or naturally in a withered state. As a fact, however, it does not appear that the lesson ever needed to be learnt again, and therefore we may suppose that the rod was left first to shrivel with age, and then to be lost through some accident.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And the Lord said unto Moses,.... After the rods had been viewed, and every prince took his rod, and full satisfaction was given that the priesthood belonged to Aaron, by the budding and blossoming of his rod, when the rest remained as they were:
bring Aaron's rod again before the testimony; before the ark, in which the testimony or law was; here it was placed and continued, but how long cannot be said with certainty; no doubt for many ages; which increases the wonder, that it should, as it probably did, continue with its buds, blossoms, and fruit on it: the apostle speaks of it, as in the holy of holies, with the ark, the pot of manna, and the tables of the covenant, Hebrews 9:4; the Jews say (f), that when Josiah the king ordered the ark to be laid up in that place which Solomon had built, that it might not be carried with the captives into captivity, as it is said, 2 Chronicles 35:3, "put the holy ark", &c. they hid with the ark the rod of Aaron, and the pot of manna, and the anointing oil, and which were not in the second temple; and they say (g), particularly of Aaron's rod, that at the time it was laid up by Josiah it had its buds and almonds: now this was ordered to be put in the most holy place before the ark:
to be kept for a token against the rebels; to be a token of their sin and wickedness in rebelling against God, his ordinance and ministers; which occasioned this miracle to be wrought, for the confirmation of the priesthood in Aaron's family, which they opposed, and to be a caution to others not to attempt anything against it for the future; so Christ and the Gospel ministry will be swift witnesses against the opposers of him and that; see Malachi 3:5,
and thou shalt quite take away their murmurings from me, that they die not; quite silence all the murmurings of the people with respect to the priesthood being so fully convinced by this miracle of the divine authority Aaron and his family had to exercise the priestly office, and they only, and so such destruction of the people be prevented as had been lately made.
(f) Kimchi in 2 Chronicles 35.3. Maimon. Hilchot. Beth Habechirah, c. 4. sect. 1.((g) T. Hieros. Shekalim, c. 6. fol. 49. 3.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
10. Bring Aaron's rod again before the testimony, to be kept for a token against the rebels—For if, after all admonitions and judgments, seconded by miracles, the people should still rebel, they would certainly pay the penalty by death.
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