Numbers 20:8
Take the rod, and gather you the assembly together, you, and Aaron your brother, and speak you to the rock before their eyes; and it shall give forth his water, and you shall bring forth to them water out of the rock: so you shall give the congregation and their beasts drink.
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(8) Take the rod.—It has been supposed by some, from the fact that the rod is represented as being taken “from before the Lord” (Numbers 20:9), that the reference is to the rod of Aaron which was kept “before the testimony” (Numbers 17:10). On the other hand, the natural presumption that the rod was the same as that with which some of the previous miracles in Egypt and those at the Red Sea and at Rephidim had been wrought is confirmed by the facts that the name of Aaron is not mentioned in this verse until after the mention of the rod, and that Moses is said, in Numbers 20:11, to have smitten the rock “with his rod.”

Numbers 20:8-9. Take the rod — That which was laid up before the Lord in the tabernacle; whether it was Aaron’s rod, which was laid up there, (Numbers 17:10,) or Moses’s rod, by which he wrought so many miracles. For it is likely that wonder-working rod was laid up in some part of the tabernacle, though not in or near the ark, where Aaron’s blossoming rod was put. From before the Lord — Out of the tabernacle.20:1-13 After thirty-eight years' tedious abode in the wilderness, the armies of Israel advanced towards Canaan again. There was no water for the congregation. We live in a wanting world, and wherever we are, must expect to meet with something to put us out. It is a great mercy to have plenty of water, a mercy which, if we found the want of, we should more own the worth of. Hereupon they murmured against Moses and Aaron. They spake the same absurd and brutish language their fathers had done. It made their crime the worse, that they had smarted so long for the discontent and distrusts of their fathers, yet they venture in the same steps. Moses must again, in God's name, command water out of a rock for them; God is as able as ever to supply his people with what is needful for them. But Moses and Aaron acted wrong. They took much of the glory of this work of wonder to themselves; Must we fetch water? As if it were done by some power or worthiness of their own. They were to speak to the rock, but they smote it. Therefore it is charged upon them, that they did not sanctify God, that is, they did not give to him alone that glory of this miracle which was due unto his name. And being provoked by the people, Moses spake unadvisedly with his lips. The same pride of man would still usurp the office of the appointed Mediator; and become to ourselves wisdom, righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption. Such a state of sinful independence, such a rebellion of the soul against its Saviour, the voice of God condemns in every page of the gospel.Take the rod - That with which the miracles in Egypt had been performed (Exodus 7:8 ff; Exodus 7:19 ff; Exodus 8:5 ff, etc.), and which had been used on a similar occasion at Rephidim (Exodus 17:5 following). This rod, as the memorial of so many divine interpositions, was naturally laid up in the tabernacle, and is accordingly Numbers 20:9 described now as taken by Moses "from before the Lord." 8. Take the rod—which had been deposited in the tabernacle (Nu 17:10), the wonder-working rod by which so many miracles had been performed, sometimes called "the rod of God" (Ex 4:20), sometimes Moses' (Nu 20:11) or Aaron's rod (Ex 7:12). The rod; that rod which was laid up before the Lord in the tabernacle, as appears from Numbers 20:9. But whether it was Aaron’s rod, which was undoubtedly laid up there, Numbers 17:10, or Moses’s rod, by which he wrought so many miracles, it is not considerable; or whether it was not one and the same rod, which was commonly called Moses’s rod, as here, Numbers 20:11, and elsewhere, and sometimes Aaron’s rod, as Exodus 7:12, which may seem most probable. For it is likely, though not related elsewhere in Scripture, that wonder-working rod, called the rod of God, Exodus 4:20, was laid up in some part of the tabernacle, though not in or near the ark, where Aaron’s blossoming rod for a particular reason was put. Speak ye unto the rock, which will sooner hear and obey my commands than these sottish and stubborn people. Take thy rod,.... The rod of miracles, as the Targum of Jonathan; not the rod of Aaron, miraculous for its blossom and fruit, as some Jewish writers think; but the rod of Moses, with which he had done many wonders in Egypt, and at the Red sea, and in the wilderness, and particularly by smiting the rock at Horeb, when the Israelites wanted water, as they did now:

and gather thou the assembly together, thou, and Aaron thy brother; not only the heads of the people, but the body of them, as many as could be got together to see the miracle, and to receive the benefit of it:

and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes; which was near, but a little way off, within sight, and might be pointed to: it was not the same rock that was smote before; that was in Horeb, this in the extremity of the land of Edom, as Aben Ezra observes; this was to be spoken to, and by a word speaking it would give out water; which was a trial of the faith of Moses and Aaron, as well as of the people, before whom, in a public manner, the rock was to be addressed, as if it was intelligent and all-sufficient:

and it shall give forth his water; not as though there was a fountain of water in it, but that water should flow from it, or God by it give water:

and thou shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock; by speaking to it: so thou shalt give the congregation and their beasts drink; sufficient for them both.

Take the {d} rod, and gather thou the assembly together, thou, and Aaron thy brother, and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes; and it shall give forth his water, and thou shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock: so thou shalt give the congregation and their beasts drink.

(d) With which you did miracles in Egypt and divided the sea.

8. Take the staff] Moses here receives no directions as to what he is to do with the staff: perhaps some clauses which originally contained them have been lost. ‘The staff’ is spoken of as a definite well-known object. In E Moses is represented as using a staff given him by God (Exodus 4:17; Exodus 4:20); but in P the staff is always Aaron’s (Exodus 7:9; Exodus 7:12; Exodus 7:19-20 &c.). In Numbers 20:11 (below), according to the Heb. text, Moses struck the rock with ‘his rod’; but LXX. has ‘the rod.’ במטהו is probably a late scribal error for במטה.

the rock] There is at Kadesh (the modern ‘Ain-el-Ḳadîs) a ‘large single mass, or a small hill, of solid rock’ described by Trumbull (Kadesh-Barnea, 272–4), who established the identity of the place.Verse 8. - Take the rod. The ῤάβδος, or staff of office, with which Moses and Aaron had worked wonders before Pharaoh (Exodus 7:9 sq.), and with which Moses had smitten the rock in Rephidim (Exodus 17:6). This rod had not been mentioned, nor perhaps used, since then; but we might certainly have supposed that the instrument of so many miracles would be reverently laid up in the tabernacle "before the Lord," and, this we find from the next verse to have been the case. Gather thou the assembly together, i.e., by their representatives. Speak ye unto the rock before their eyes. The word used for the rock in this narrative is הַסֶּלַע instead of הַצּוּר, as in Exodus 17. It does not seem that any certain distinction of meaning can be drawn between the words, which are obviously interchanged in Judges 6:20, 21, and are both translated πέτρα by the Septuagint; but the careful use of different terms in the two narratives serves to distinguish them, just as the use of κοφίνους and σπυρίδας by St. Mark (Mark 6:43; Mark 8:8, 19, 20) helps to distinguish the two miracles of feeding the multitude. Sin of Moses and Aaron at the Water of Strife at Kadesh. - In the arid desert the congregation was in want of water, and the people quarrelled with Moses in consequence. In connection with the first stay in Kadesh there is nothing said about any deficiency of water. But as the name Kadesh embraces a large district of the desert of Zin, and is not confined to one particular spot, there might easily be a want of water in this place or the other. In their faithless discontent, the people wished that they had died when their brethren died before Jehovah. The allusion is not to Korah's company, as Knobel supposes, and the word גּוע, "to expire," would be altogether inapplicable to their destruction; but the reference is to those who had died one by one during the thirty-seven years. "Why," they murmured once more against Moses and Aaron, "have ye brought the congregation of God into this desert, to perish there with their cattle? Why have ye brought it out of Egypt into this evil land, where there is no seed, no fig-trees and pomegranates, no vines, and no water to drink?"
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