And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
Speak unto the children of Israel, and take of every one of them a rod according to the house of their fathers, of all their princes according to the house of their fathers twelve rods: write thou every man's name upon his rod.Compare Ezekiel 37:16 ff.
And thou shalt write Aaron's name upon the rod of Levi: for one rod shall be for the head of the house of their fathers.Thou shalt write Aaron's name upon the rod of Levi - The Levites had taken part in the late outbreak. It was therefore necessary to vindicate the supremacy of the house of Aaron over them; and accordingly his name was written on the rod of Levi, although being the son of Kohath, the second son of Levi (Exodus 6:16 ff), he would not be the natural head of the tribe.
And thou shalt lay them up in the tabernacle of the congregation before the testimony, where I will meet with you.Before the testimony - See Numbers 17:10 note.
And it shall come to pass, that the man's rod, whom I shall choose, shall blossom: and I will make to cease from me the murmurings of the children of Israel, whereby they murmur against you.
And Moses spake unto the children of Israel, and every one of their princes gave him a rod apiece, for each prince one, according to their fathers' houses, even twelve rods: and the rod of Aaron was among their rods.The whole number of rods was twelve exclusive of Aaron's, as the Vulgate expressly states.
And Moses laid up the rods before the LORD in the tabernacle of witness.
And it came to pass, that on the morrow Moses went into the tabernacle of witness; and, behold, the rod of Aaron for the house of Levi was budded, and brought forth buds, and bloomed blossoms, and yielded almonds.Yielded almonds - "Ripened almonds," i. e. "brought forth ripe almonds." The name almond in Hebrew denotes the "waking-tree," the "waking-fruit;" and is applied to this tree, because it blossoms early in the season. It serves here, as in Jeremiah 1:11-12, to set forth the speed and certainty with which, at God's will, His purposes are accomplished. So again the blossoming and bearing of Aaron's rod, naturally impotent when severed from the parent tree, may signify the profitableness, because of God's appointment and blessing, of the various means of grace (e. g. the priesthood, the sacraments), which of themselves and apart from Him could have no such efficacy. Compare Isaiah 4:2; Isaiah 11:1; Isaiah 53:2; Jeremiah 33:5; Zechariah 6:12.
And Moses brought out all the rods from before the LORD unto all the children of Israel: and they looked, and took every man his rod.
And the LORD said unto Moses, Bring Aaron's rod again before the testimony, to be kept for a token against the rebels; and thou shalt quite take away their murmurings from me, that they die not.The testimony - i. e. the two tables of the Law; compare Exodus 25:16 note. No doubt the rod lay in front of the tables within the ark. In the days of Solomon 1 Kings 8:9 there was nothing in the ark save the Two tables. Aaron's rod was probably lost when the ark was taken by the Philistines.
And Moses did so: as the LORD commanded him, so did he.
And the children of Israel spake unto Moses, saying, Behold, we die, we perish, we all perish.A new section should begin with these verses. They are connected retrospectively with Numbers 16; and form the immediate introduction to Numbers 18. The people were terror-stricken by the fate of the company of Korah and by the plague. Presumption passed by reaction into despair. Was there any approach for them to the tabernacle of the Lord? Was there any escape from death, except by keeping aloof from His presence? The answers are supplied by the ordinances which testified that the God of judgment was still a God of grace and of love.
Whosoever cometh any thing near unto the tabernacle of the LORD shall die: shall we be consumed with dying?