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Numbers 17

Aaron's Rod Buds

1 Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,
2 "Speak to the sons of Israel, and get from them a rod for each father's household: twelve * rods, from all their leaders according to their fathers' households. You shall write each name on his rod,
3 and write Aaron's name on the rod of Levi; for there is one rod for the head of each of their fathers' households.
4 "You shall then deposit them in the tent of meeting in front of 1the testimony, where * I meet with you.
5 "It will come about that the rod of 2the man whom I choose will sprout. Thus I will lessen from upon Myself the grumblings of the sons of Israel, who are grumbling against you."
6 Moses therefore spoke to the sons of Israel, and all their leaders gave him a rod apiece, for each leader according to their fathers' households, twelve * rods, with the rod of Aaron among their rods.
7 So Moses deposited the rods before the LORD in 3the tent of the testimony.
8 Now on the next day Moses went into the tent of the testimony; and behold, 4the rod of Aaron for the house of Levi had sprouted and put forth buds and produced blossoms, and it bore ripe almonds.
9 Moses then brought out all the rods from the presence of the LORD to all the sons of Israel; and they looked, and each man took his rod.
10 But the LORD said to Moses, "Put back the rod of Aaron 5before the testimony to be kept as a sign against the 6rebels, that you may put an end to their grumblings against * Me, so that they will not die."
11 Thus Moses did; just as the LORD had commanded him, so he did.
12 Then the sons of Israel spoke to Moses, saying, "7Behold, we perish, we are dying, we are all dying!
13 "8Everyone who comes near, who comes near to the tabernacle of the LORD, must die. Are we to perish completely?"

Numbers 17 Commentary

Chapter 17

Twelve rods laid up before the Lord. (1-7) Aaron's rod buds, and is kept for a memorial. (8-13)

Verses 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.

Verses 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!

Cross References 8

  • 1. Ex 25:16, 21, 22; Numbers 17:7
  • 2. Numbers 16:5
  • 3. Numbers 1:50, 53; Numbers 9:15
  • 4. Ezekiel 17:24; Hebrews 9:4
  • 5. Numbers 17:4
  • 6. Deuteronomy 9:7, 24
  • 7. Isaiah 6:5
  • 8. Numbers 1:51

Footnotes 3

Chapter Summary


In this chapter the priesthood of Aaron is further confirmed and established by the budding and blossom of his rod, as it lay among the princes of the several tribes, when theirs did not, Nu 17:1-9; which rod of Aaron was ordered to be laid up before the ark, as a token against the rebels, and to put an end to all murmurings against Aaron for the future; which was accordingly done, Nu 17:10,11; upon which the people expressed their fear of perishing because of their sins, Nu 17:12,13.

Numbers 17 Commentaries

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