Numbers 17:8
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.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(8) Behold, the rod of Aaron for the house of Levi was budded . . . —As the budding of Aaron’s rod was the divinely appointed proof of the establishment of the priesthood in his person and in his posterity, so our Lord proved Himself to be the true High Priest over the House of God by coming forth as “a rod [or shoot] out of the stem of Jesse” (Isaiah 11:1), and as “a root out of a dry ground” (Isaiah 53:2). The miraculous shooting forth of Aaron’s dry rod may be regarded as a type of the mode of the Spirit’s operation in the Church, and more especially in the work of the ministry; “Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts” (Zechariah 4:6).

And yielded almonds.—Better, and brought almonds to maturity, or yielded ripe almonds. The word shaked (almond-tree) is a cognate form of the verb shakadto keep watch. The name is supposed to have been given to the almond-tree because it blossoms at a time when vegetation is lying in the sleep of winter. (See Jeremiah 1:11-12; also, The Land and the Book, p. 319.)

Numbers 17:8. Into the tabernacle — Into the most holy place, which he might safely do under the protection of God’s command, though otherwise none but the high-priest might enter there, and that only once in a year.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!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. 8. Moses went into the tabernacle—being privileged to do so on this occasion by the special command of God. And he there beheld the remarkable spectacle of Aaron's rod—which, according to Josephus, was a stick of an almond tree, bearing fruit in three different stages at once—buds, blossoms, and fruit. Into the tabernacle of witness; into the most holy place, which he might safely do under the protection of God’s command, though otherwise none but the high priest might enter there, and that once in a year.

Yielded almonds; this being, as Josephus with great probability affirms, a staff of an almond tree, as the rest also were. And it came to pass, that on the morrow Moses went into the tabernacle of witness,.... Where none but he could go at any time; this was the day after the rods had been placed there:

and, behold, the rod of Aaron, for the house of Levi; the rod that had Aaron's name upon it, which was to represent the tribe of Levi, of which he was:

was budded, and brought forth buds; knobs of blossom, such that are seen on trees before they open; for the almond tree puts forth its blossoms before its leaves; though the Targum of Jonathan renders it "branches", as do some versions; and some think this is to be understood of its putting out its leaves first, contrary to the nature of the almond tree, and so makes the miracle the greater; thus Ben Melech:

and blossomed blossoms; open flowers or blossoms, such as appear on the almond tree in the spring, and look very beautiful:

and yielded almonds; ripe almonds, in their full perfection, as the Targums of Jerusalem and Jonathan; the latter of which is,"in the same night it perfected and brought forth almonds:''the word used has the signification of weaning, and alludes to children grown up to some ripeness and maturity, Genesis 21:8; the case seems to be this, that in one part of the rod were buds, swelling and just putting out, in another part open flowers quite blown, and in others full ripe fruit: now this clearly showed it to be supernatural, since the almond tree, though quick and early in its production of buds and flowers, yet never has those and ripe fruit on it at the same time; to which may be added, that this was not the time of year the almond tree blossoms; not the spring, but rather autumn, as it should seem, since it was after the affair of the spies and the murmurs of the people on their report; now it was the time of the first ripe grapes, when they went into the land, and they were forty days searching it, and it was after their return the insurrections before recorded were: the design of this was to confirm the priesthood in Aaron's family, and show that it would continue there, in a flourishing condition, and that there would be a succession of priests from him to the time of the Messiah, as there were; and the almond tree having its name in Hebrew from watchfulness and haste, see Jeremiah 1:11; may denote the vigilance of the priests in their office, and the haste punishment makes to come upon such that should oppose them, or usurp the priesthood, as in the case of Uzziah; so Jarchi remarks: this rod of Aaron's may be an emblem of the Gospel ministry of that rod that should come out of Zion, Psalm 110:2; which in the eyes of men is mean and despicable, like a dry stick, but becomes a fruitful one through the power of divine grace; and an almond tree rod may denote the vigilance and watchfulness of Gospel ministers over themselves and others, and their doctrine; and oftentimes whom God puts into the ministry he early calls them by his grace, and frequently makes the first part of their ministry most useful, and fruit is brought forth which remains: moreover, this rod may be considered as a type of Christ; it being a dry rod or stick, may denote the meanness of his descent and appearance in the world, and the unpromising aspect of his being the King, Messiah, and Saviour of men; and being an almond tree rod, may signify his speedy incarnation in the fulness of time, which the Lord hastened; his being the firstborn, and his right to the priesthood, and his vigilance in it; its lying among other rods, and budding, and blossoming, and bringing forth fruit, may point at Christ's assuming the common nature or man, his being cut off by death, his resurrection from the dead, and the fruits arising from thence, justification, peace, pardon, and eternal life; and as Aaron's priesthood was confirmed by the budding, &c. of this rod, so the deity and Messiahship of Christ are, by his resurrection from the dead; See Gill on Hebrews 9:4.

And it came to pass, that on the morrow Moses went into the tabernacle of witness; and, behold, the rod of Aaron {d} for the house of Levi was budded, and brought forth buds, and bloomed blossoms, and yielded almonds.

(d) To declare that God chose the house of Levi to serve him in the tabernacle.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
8. Stories of the vegetation of dried sticks are not uncommon in legend.

Gray (Numb. p. 217) mentions that of ‘Joseph of Arimathea’s stick, which placed in the ground of Weary-all hill, became the miraculous thorn of Glastonbury.’ And he cites other instances.Verse 8. - Was budded: or "sprouted." פָּרַח. And yielded almonds. Rather, "matured almonds." This particular rod had been cut from an almond tree, and it would seem probable that it had on it shoots and flowers and fruit at once, so that the various stages of its natural growth were all exemplified together. The almond has its Hebrew name שָׁקֵד, "awake," from the well-known fact of its being the first of all trees to awake from the winter sleep of nature, and to herald the vernal resurrection with its conspicuous show of snow-white blossoms, which even anticipate the leaves (cf. Ecclesiastes 12:5). Thus the "rod of an almond-tree" (מַקֵּל שָׁקֵד) was shown to the prophet Jeremiah (Jeremiah 1:11) as the evident symbol of the vigilant haste with which the purposes of God were to be developed and matured. It is possible that all the tribe princes had official "rods" of the almond-tree to denote their watchful alacrity in duty, and that these were the rods which they brought to Moses. In any case the flowering and fruiting of Aaron's rod, while it was an unquestionable miracle (for if not a miracle, it could only have been a disgraceful imposture), was a σημεῖον, in the true sense, i.e., a miracle which was also a parable. Aaron's rod could no more blossom and fruit by nature than any of the others, since it also had been severed from the living tree; and so in Aaron himself was no more power or goodness than in the rest of Israel. But as the rod germinated and matured its fruit by the power of God, supernaturally starting and accelerating the natural forces of vegetable life, even so in Aaron the grace of God was quick and fruitful to put forth, not the signs only and promise of spiritual gifts and energies, but the ripened fruits as well. (Or ch.17:16-28). Confirmation of the High-Priesthood of Aaron. - Whilst the Lord had thus given a practical proof to the people, that Aaron was the high priest appointed by Him for His congregation, by allowing the high-priestly incense offered by Aaron to expiate His wrath, and by removing the plague; He also gave them a still further confirmation of His priesthood, by a miracle which was well adapted to put to silence all the murmuring of the congregation.

Numbers 17:1-5

He commanded Moses to take twelve rods of the tribe-princes of Israel, one for the fathers' house of each of their tribes, and to write upon each the name of the tribe; but upon that of the tribe of Levi he was to write Aaron's name, because each rod was to stand for the head of their fathers' houses, i.e., for the existing head of the tribe; and in the case of Levi, the tribe-head was Aaron. As only twelve rods were taken for all the tribes of Israel, and Levi was included among them, Ephraim and Manasseh must have been reckoned as the one tribe of Joseph, as in Deuteronomy 27:12. These rods were to be laid by Moses in the tabernacle before the testimony, or ark of the covenant (Exodus 25:21; Exodus 29:42). And there the rod of the man whom Jehovah chose, i.e., entrusted with the priesthood (see Numbers 16:5), would put forth shoots, to quiet the murmuring of the people. שׁכך, Hiph., to cause to sink, to bring to rest, construed with מעל in a pregnant signification, to quiet in such a way that it will not rise again.

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