Numbers 17:10
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.
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(10) Bring Aaron’s red again before the testimony.—Better, Put back (literally, make to return) Aaron’s rod . . . It is not stated here that the rod was put within the ark. Nor is it so stated in Exodus 16:33 with regard to the pot of manna. Neither of these was within the ark when it was brought into Solomon’s temple (1Kings 8:9); but this statement is by no means inconsistent with that contained in Hebrews 9:4, inasmuch as the assertion that there was nothing but the tables of the law in the ark at that time does not prove that there were not other things in it at an earlier period, and may be thought to suggest the inference that such was actually the case. The Jews have a tradition that when King Josiah ordered the ark to be put in the house which King Solomon built, the rod of Aaron and the pot of manna and the anointing oil were hidden with the ark, and that at that time the rod of Aaron had buds and almonds.

Numbers 17:10. To be kept for a token — It is probable, the buds, and blossoms, and fruit, (all which could never have grown together, but by miracle,) continued fresh, the same power which produced them in a night, preserving them for ages.

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!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. 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. For if after all these warnings and prohibitions, backed with such miracles and judgments, they shall usurp the priesthood, they shall assuredly die for it.

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.

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 {e} murmurings from me, that they die not.

(e) Grudging that Aaron should be high priest.

10. Put back the staff of Aaron] Cf. Hebrews 9:4.

the sons of rebellion] A common Heb. idiom to express a quality or characteristic; cf. 2 Samuel 3:34; 2 Samuel 7:10; 2 Samuel 12:6 (marg.); Proverbs 31:5 (marg.). ‘House of rebellion’ is found very frequently in Ezek. as a designation of the house of Israel.

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. Numbers 17:10Moses carried out this command. And when he went into the tabernacle the following morning, behold Aaron's rod of the house of Levi had sprouted, and put forth shoots, and had borne blossoms and matured almonds. And Moses brought all the rods out of the sanctuary, and gave every man his own; the rest, as we may gather from the context, being all unchanged, so that the whole nation could satisfy itself that God had chosen Aaron. Thus was the word fulfilled which Moses had spoken at the commencement of the rebellion of the company of Korah (Numbers 16:5), and that in a way which could not fail to accredit him before the whole congregation as sent of God.

So far as the occurrence itself is concerned, there can hardly be any need to remark, that the natural interpretation which has lately been attempted by Ewald, viz., that Moses had laid several almond rods in the holy place, which had just been freshly cut off, that he might see the next day which of them would flower the best during the night, is directly at variance with the words of the text, and also with the fact, that a rod even freshly cut off, when laid in a dry place, would not bear ripe fruit in a single night. The miracle which God wrought here as the Creator of nature, was at the same time a significant symbol of the nature and meaning of the priesthood. The choice of the rods had also a bearing upon the object in question. A man's rod was the sign of his position as ruler in the house and congregation; with a prince the rod becomes a sceptre, the insignia of rule (Genesis 49:10). As a severed branch, the rod could not put forth shoots and blossom in a natural way. But God could impart new vital powers even to the dry rod. And so Aaron had naturally no pre-eminence above the heads of the other tribes. But the priesthood was founded not upon natural qualifications and gifts, but upon the power of the Spirit, which God communicates according to the choice of His wisdom, and which He had imparted to Aaron through his consecration with holy anointing oil. It was this which the Lord intended to show to the people, by causing Aaron's rod to put forth branches, blossom, and fruit, through a miracle of His omnipotence; whereas the rods of the other heads of the tribes remained as barren as before. In this way, therefore, it was not without deep significance that Aaron's rod not only put forth shoots, by which the divine election might be recognised, but bore even blossom and ripe fruit. This showed that Aaron was not only qualified for his calling, but administered his office in the full power of the Spirit, and bore the fruit expected of him. The almond rod was especially adapted to exhibit this, as an almond-tree flowers and bears fruit the earliest of all the trees, and has received its name of שׁקד, "awake," from this very fact (cf. Jeremiah 1:11).

God then commanded (Numbers 17:10, Numbers 17:11) that Aaron's rod should be taken back into the sanctuary, and preserved before the testimony, "for a sign for the rebellious, that thou puttest an end to their murmuring, and they die not." The preservation of the rod before the ark of the covenant, in the immediate presence of the Lord, was a pledge to Aaron of the continuance of his election, and the permanent duration of his priesthood; though we have no need to assume, that through a perpetual miracle the staff continued green and blossoming. In this way the staff became a sign to the rebellious, which could not fail to stop their murmuring.

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