Numbers 17:6
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.
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Numbers 17:6. The rod of Aaron was among their rods — Was laid up with the rest, being either one of the twelve, as the Hebrews affirm, or the thirteenth, as others think.

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.The whole number of rods was twelve exclusive of Aaron's, as the Vulgate expressly states. 6. the rod of Aaron was among their rods—either one of the twelve, or, as many suppose, a thirteenth in the midst (Heb 9:4). The rods were of dry sticks or wands, probably old, as transmitted from one head of the family to a succeeding. i.e. Was laid up with the rest, being either one of the twelve, as the Hebrews affirm, or the thirteenth, as others think.

And Moses spake unto the children of Israel,.... What the Lord had bid him say unto them concerning the rods, which they hearkened unto and observed:

and everyone of their princes gave him a rod apiece, for each prince one; every prince of the several tribes, and so a rod for every tribe, as well as for each prince:

according to their father's houses, even twelve rods; there being twelve tribes named after their fathers, or the patriarchs, the twelve sons of Jacob; and Joseph having two tribes which sprung from him, called after his two sons Ephraim and Manasseh, there were twelve rods besides that of Aaron; and so the Vulgate Latin version renders the words with the next clause,"and there were twelve rods besides the rod of Aaron;''in all thirteen; though the Jews say there were but twelve with it, allowing but one rod for Joseph, under whom were comprehended Ephraim and Manasseh, and reckoning the tribe of Levi one of the twelve so Aben Ezra observes, that the rod of Levi was among the twelve and Joseph had but one rod:

and the rod of Aaron was among their rods: in the middle of them, and was so placed, as Jarchi thinks, that it might not be said, because it was put on the side of the Shechinah or divine Majesty, therefore it budded; but being in the middle of them there could be no difference in that respect.

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 {c} of Aaron was among their rods.

(c) Though Joseph's tribe was divided into two in the distribution of the land, yet here it is but one and Levi makes a tribe.

6. the staff of Aaron was in the midst of their staves] We are perhaps to think of the thirteen staves as stuck into the ground and standing erect, Aaron’s staff being the middle one.

Verse 6. - And the rod of Aaron was among the rods. As there was no prince from whom this rod could have come, and as there were twelve rods without it, this must mean that Moses did not keep Aaron's rod separate (which might have caused suspicion), but let it be seen amongst the others. Numbers 17:6Moses 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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