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Tuesday, July 23rd, 2024
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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Bible Commentaries
Numbers 17

Kretzmann's Popular Commentary of the BibleKretzmann's Commentary

Verses 1-5

The Command Concerning the Rods

v. 1. And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,

v. 2. Speak unto the children of Israel, and take of every one of them a rod according to the house of their fathers, of all their princes according to the house of their fathers twelve rods; write thou every man's name upon his rod. This was in accordance with the rule that the oldest son of a father's house, that is, of a patriarchate, within a tribe was considered a prince. For the member of each tribe that held this position one rod was to be chosen. These rods were small branches or twigs of trees that grew in the neighborhood, probably all, like that of Aaron, such as were taken from almond-trees.

v. 3. And thou shall write Aaron's name upon the rod of Levi, for according to the rule Aaron was the prince of the tribe of Levi; for one rod shall be for the head of the house of their fathers. Since the tribe of Levi is here mentioned for the purposes of God's object, the chances are that Ephraim and Manasseh were in this case considered as one tribe, the tribe of Joseph.

v. 4. And thou shalt lay them, the rods, up in the Tabernacle of the Congregation before the testimony, in the Most Holy Place, before the Ark of the Covenant, where I will meet with you.

v. 5. And it shall come to pass that the man's rod whom I shall choose shall blossom, the Lord's aim being to counteract any further murmuring of the people against the priesthood of Aaron by this miracle; and I will make to cease from Me the murmurings of the children of Israel whereby they murmur against you. To increase the effect of the miracle Moses was carefully to guard against fraud by writing the name of each prince on the rod which represented his tribe.

Verses 6-13

The Miraculous Budding of Aaron's Rod

v. 6. And Moses spake unto the children of Israel, and every one of their princes gave him a rod apiece, for each prince one, according to their fathers' houses, even twelve rods; and the rod of Aaron was among their rods. All this was thus done in the view of all the princes to preclude all possibility of fraud and to make the test fair in every respect.

v. 7. And Moses laid up the rods before the Lord in the Tabernacle of Witness, this name of the Sanctuary being singularly appropriate here, for God intended to bear witness to His servant.

v. 8. And it came to pass that on the morrow Moses went into the Tabernacle of Witness; for he, as God's representative, had charge of the test; and, behold, the rod of Aaron for the house of Levi was budded, and brought forth buds, and bloomed blossoms, and yielded almonds. In one night, therefore, had been brought about what ordinarily takes weeks and months, for the buds developed into shoots, brought forth blossoms, and developed into the mature fruit.

v. 9. And Moses brought out all the rods from before the Lord unto all the children of Israel, for they were to be convinced by personal inspection ; and they looked, and took every man his rod. Here was an overwhelming proof of God's direct interposition, and the Lord, in the most unmistakable manner, designated Aaron as His servant in the office of the high priest. The priesthood of Aaron was to remain in power until the coming of the true and eternal High Priest, Jesus Christ.

v. 10. And the Lord said unto Moses, Bring- Aaron's rod again before the testimony, to be kept for a token against the rebels, against the children of rebellion, against any persons that were filled with dissatisfied notions and with false ambitions over against the chosen priest of the Lord; and thou shall quite take away their murmurings from Me that they die not. Even in this instance the Lord had the welfare of His people in mind, in guarding against their own foolishness.

v. 11. And Moses did so; as the Lord commanded him, so did he. The rod of Aaron with which the Lord had performed a miracle was kept in the Ark of the Covenant, Hebrews 9:4.

v. 12. And the children of Israel spake unto Moses, saying, Behold, we die, we perish, we all perish. This new miracle had filled them with such awe that they were filled with the terror of death.

v. 13. Whosoever cometh anything (in any way) near unto the Tabernacle of the Lord shall die, as the result of Korah's rebellion had plainly shown; shall we be consumed with dying? In their present state of mind they felt that there was no grace and mercy with the Lord any more. This excessive fear of death, although not a fruit of faith, still served to keep the people in submission to the will of the Lord. The rod of Aaron which budded is a type of the eternal priesthood of Christ, who is able to save those that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them, Hebrews 7:24-25.

Bibliographical Information
Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Numbers 17". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kpc/numbers-17.html. 1921-23.
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