Nu 17:1-13. Aaron's Rod
2-5. Speak unto the children of
Israel—The controversy with Moses and Aaron about the
priesthood was of such a nature and magnitude as required a decisive
and authoritative settlement. For the removal of all doubts and the
silencing of all murmuring in the future regarding the holder of the
office, a miracle was wrought of a remarkable character and permanent
duration; and in the manner of performing it, all the people were made
to have a direct and special interest.
take of every one … princes … twelve
rods—As the princes, being the oldest sons of the chief
family, and heads of their tribes, might have advanced the best claims
to the priesthood, if that sacred dignity was to be shared among all
the tribes, they were therefore selected, and being twelve in
number—that of Joseph being counted only one—Moses was
ordered to see that the name of each was inscribed—a practice
borrowed from the Egyptians—upon his rod or wand of office. The
name of Aaron rather than of Levi was used, as the latter name would
have opened a door of controversy among the Levites; and as there was
to be one rod only for the head of each tribe, the express appointment
of a rod for Aaron determined him to be the head of that tribe, as well
as that branch or family of the tribe to which the priestly dignity
should belong. These rods were to be laid in the tabernacle close to
the ark (compare Nu 17:10 and Heb 9:4), where a divine token was promised that
would for all time terminate the dispute.
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.
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.
10. Bring Aaron's rod again before the testimony,
to be kept for a token against the rebels—For if, after all
admonitions and judgments, seconded by miracles, the people should
still rebel, they would certainly pay the penalty by death.
12, 13. Behold, we die, we perish—an
exclamation of fear, both from the remembrance of former judgments, and
the apprehension of future relapses into murmuring.
13. cometh any thing near—that is,
nearer than he ought to do; an error into which many may fall. Will the
stern justice of God overtake every slight offense? We shall all be
destroyed. Some, however, regard this exclamation as the symptom or a
new discontent, rather than the indication of a reverential and
submissive spirit. Let us fear and sin not.