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Bible Commentaries

Kingcomments on the Whole Bible

Numbers 17

Verses 1-7

Twelve Rods in Front of the Ark

In the killing of the two hundred and fifty rebels, the LORD has shown in judgment who He has chosen for the priesthood. Aaron is the only one accepted with his censer with incense. Now follows another test, not by exercising judgment, but by generating life.

Moses should not take his own staff, but that of Aaron. A staff speaks of authority, of rule (cf. Genesis 49:10). If Moses’ staff had been there, we would have been reminded of discipline and judgment. Aaron’s staff also speaks of authority, but in showing grace, compassion and weakness.

God wants the rods in His sanctuary, close to the source of all authority, and outside the presence of man. God will show whom He has chosen. That is determined in the sanctuary. He also shows what the character of the High Priest is, that He is a great Priest over the house of God and that it depends on His faithfulness.

Verses 8-9

Aaron’s Staff Sprouts

Bringing life out of a dead staff is something only God can do. That Aaron’s staff has sprouted indicates a priesthood in the power of an imperishable life (Hebrews 7:16). It is resurrection life, life that comes from the dead wood of the staff. It is therefore also a life of victory, for life has conquered death. The life that comes from Aaron’s dead staff is not only an unmistakable sign of Aaron’s choice as a priest, but also a significant sign of the true place of the priesthood, which here in type is based on death and resurrection.

Not only life has come, but also fruit. This indicates that fruit only appears in connection with the priesthood God has chosen. The fruit is for the sanctuary. Life is expressed in blossoms and almonds. The almond tree is the tree that blooms after the winter, which wakes up first from hibernation. The Hebrew name for almond means ‘the watchful one’ (cf. Jeremiah 1:11-2 Kings :). This tree is as it were the herald who announces the awakening of abundant upcoming life.

Thus Christ rose from the dead as “first fruits”, followed by “those who are Christ’s at His coming”, these are all who possess Him as their lives (1 Corinthians 15:23). Through His life they are able to produce fruit. All those who have brought their staff are given their staff back, but there is no life in it. Only in the Lord Jesus is life, “who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead” (Romans 1:4). We are dead of ourselves, but in Him is life. In connection with Him we live and will enter life.

Verses 10-13

The Rod of Aaron Kept

The rod must be placed in the ark, near the jar with manna (Hebrews 9:4). We need both the manna and the rod for our journey through the wilderness. The manna represents the life of the Lord Jesus. When we occupy ourselves with Him, feeding ourselves with Him, it gives us strength for our walk. The rod presents Him as the One Who was dead and now lives as the High Priest to pray for us. The rod reminds us on our journey through the wilderness that the source of life can only be found in Christ.

The people do not understand what happened to the rod. They are afraid. It characterizes man who does not understand the grace of God.

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Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Numbers 17". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/numbers-17.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniƫl', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.