|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
17:1-7 It is an instance of the grace of God, that, having wrought divers miracles to punish sin, he would work one more to prevent it. Twelve rods or staves were to be brought in. It is probable that they were the staves which the princes used as ensigns of their authority; old dry staves, that had no sap in them. They were to expect that the rod of the tribe, or prince, whom God chose to the priesthood, should bud and blossom. Moses did not object that the matter was sufficiently settled already; he did not undertake to determine it; but left the case before the Lord.
Verse 3. - Thou shalt write Aaron's name upon the rod of Levi. There was no tribe prince of Levi, and it is not probable that either of the three chiefs of the sub-tribes (Numbers 3:24, 30, 55) was called upon to bring a rod. This rod was, therefore, provided by Moses himself, and inscribed by him with the name of Aaron, who stood by Divine appointment (so recently and fearfully attested) above all his brethren. For the significance of the act cf. Ezekiel 37:16-28. For one rod... for the head of the house of their fathers. For Levi, therefore, there must be, not three rods inscribed with the names of the chiefs, but one only bearing the name of Aaron, as their common superior.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And thou shalt write Aaron's name upon the rod of Levi,.... Or upon the rod that was for the tribe of Levi; the name of "Aaron" was to be written, not the word "Levi", or a "Levite", as Josephus (e); for that would not have decided the controversy about the priesthood, which chiefly lay between the Levites and the family of Aaron, who were of the same tribe:
for one rod shall be for the head of the house of their fathers; one rod for the head or prince of every tribe, every prince representing his own tribe he was the head of, and the rod the prince; and though the tribe of Levi was divided into two families, the family of the priests, and the family of the Levites; yet, as Jarchi observes, they were but one tribe, and so one rod for them, as for the other tribes.
(e) Antiqu. l. 4. c. 4. sect. 2.
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