Chapter 17

NUMBERS CHAPTER 17

The Budding of Aaron’s Staff

    • The Lord gave Moses the following instructions: “Talk to the Israelites and have the leader of each tribe (a total of 12) bring you his staff. Write each leaders name on his staff and write Aaron’s name on the staff representing the tribe of Levi. Bring all of these staffs into the Tabernacle and place them in front of the Ark where you and I meet. I will cause the staff of the man that I choose to sprout. This will put an end to the Israelites’ complaints about you.”

      • Guzik notes, “A rod was a symbol of authority, because shepherds would use a rod to guide and correct the sheep (Psalm 23:4)…In gathering rods, and inscribing each with the name of a tribe, and on Levi’s rod inscribing Aaron’s name, God would declare which tribe possessed priestly authority by choosing one of the rods. This was the issue at hand in light of Korah’s rebellion…This did not mean that after this, the children of Israel would never complain again. But God, having demonstrated more than sufficient evidence to the murmurers, would no longer regard their murmuring. Indeed, He would then judge their murmuring.”

    • Moses did just as the Lord had commanded. The next day, when Moses went back to the Ark where he had placed the staffs, he saw that Aaron’s staff (which represented the tribe of Levi) had sprouted, grew buds, blossomed into flowers, and produced almonds! Moses brought all the staffs out for the Israelites to see. Everyone saw them and each tribal leader took back his own staff.

      • HCSB commentary aptly addresses some skeptics’ claims regarding the miracle of Aaron’s rod, “Critics have dubbed this incident ‘folklore’ or ‘myth,’ based upon a similar theme in Greek literature (the budding of the club of Heracles). Others have labeled the story an aetiology, a tale made up to explain the presence of a staff of almond wood in the Jerusalem temple of the second temple period (see Hebrews 9:4). The motive for this ‘explanation’ is political self-justification by the late Aaronic priesthood. Such efforts to explain away accounts of the miraculous depend on a bias against supernaturalism in general and the historicity of the text in particular.”

    • Then the Lord said to Moses, “Put Aaron’s staff back in front of the Ark to stay permanently to serve as a warning to rebels not to complain against Me or they will die.” Moses obeyed.

      • Guzik writes, “This was a place where a “small” miracle would have been convincing. After all, God could have merely made a little green sprout come forth from Aaron’s rod alone, and that would have – or should have – been enough…But God gave, as in the words of Acts 1:3, many infallible proofs, to demonstrate His approval of Aaron’s leadership. God gives us more than enough evidence; our problem is a lack of willingness to see what He has made clear…This was a dramatic scene. Each murmurer from the different tribe took his rod, and clearly saw that his had not budded or borne fruit, and that Aaron’s had…The rod of Aaron was to be kept as a museum piece, to remind the children of Israel that God had chosen a priesthood, and nothing would change that – Aaron’s priesthood would always be Aaron’s priesthood.”

      • Guzik touches on an extremely important point which Jews often cite regarding Jesus’ ability to be our “High Priest.” Since Jews do not recognize the New Testament, they still believe that the Old (or Mosaic) Covenant is still in force. In fact, many Mosaic law-keeping sects which self-identify as Christian also believe that Christians are still bound by the Mosaic Covenant (or Law) today. However, according to Mosaic Law, Jesus cannot qualify to be our High Priest because He is not a Levite- much less a Levite descended from the order of Aaron. The book of Hebrews addresses this issue fully. As Guzik writes, “If God demonstrated His choice of Aaron and his descendants as priests for Israel, how can Jesus be our high priest, as Hebrews 2:17 says? Because Jesus is a high priest of the order of Melchizedek, not Aaron (Hebrews 7).” Hebrews 7 states that a change in the priesthood necessitated a change in the law (Hebrews 7:12). This fact is the death knell for the theological position that Christians are still bound by Mosaic Law. Matthew 5:17-18 states that Jesus has not come to abolish the law or the prophets, but to fulfill them. And, that not a single letter of the law will be void until all has been fulfilled. Law-keepers argue that all has not been fulfilled, therefore the law is still applicable. However, Hebrews 7 clearly states that quite a significant portion of the Mosaic Law- the entire priesthood- has in fact ceased to be valid. Therefore, the “all” Jesus’ references in this passage must have been fulfilled, because this portion (at the very least) has indeed passed away from the law. The “all” was Jesus’ death and resurrection. We are no longer under the Mosaic Law- not any part of it. We are under a new law, a New Covenant- the Law of Christ.

    • Then the Israelites said to Moses, “We’re doomed! We will all die because anyone who goes near the Tabernacle will die. Will we all die?”

      • Guzik notes, “This shows they the people of Israel were clearly convicted of their sin. They now clearly knew that it was wrong to rebel against the leadership of Aaron.”