The 1901 Jewish Encyclopedia
A rod which, in the hands of Aaron, the high priest, was endowed with miraculous power during the several plagues that preceded the Exodus. In this function the rod of Moses was equally potent. Upon two occasions, however, the singular virtue of spontaneous power, when not in the grasp of its possessor, was exhibited by Aaron's Rod. At one time it swallowed the rods of the Egyptian magicians, and at another it blossomed and bore fruit in the Tabernacle, as an evidence of the exclusive right to the priesthood of the tribe of Levi (see
—In Rabbinical Literature:
The Bible ascribes similar miraculous powers to the Rod of Aaron and to the staff of Moses (compare, for example, Exodus 4:2 et seq. and 7:9). The Haggadah goes a step further, and entirely identifies the Rod of Aaron with that of Moses. Thus the Midrash Yelamdenu (Yalḳ. on Ps. ex. § 869) states that
"the staff with which Jacob crossed the Jordan is identical with that which Judah gave to his daughter-in-law, Tamar (Genesis 32:10 , 38:18 ). It is likewise the holy rod with which Moses worked (Exodus 4:20,21 ), with which Aaron performed wonders before Pharaoh (Exodus 7:10 ), and with which, finally, David slew the giant Goliath (1Samuel 17:40 ). David left it to his descendants, and the Davidic kings used it as a scepter until the destruction of the Temple, when it miraculously disappeared (). When the Messiah comes it will be given to him for a scepter in token of his authority over the heathen."That so wonderful a rod should bear external signs of its importance is easily to be understood. It was made of sapphire, weighed forty seahs (a seah = 10.70 pounds), and bore the inscription , which is composed of the initials of the Hebrew names of the Ten Plagues (Tan., Waëra 8, ed. Buber).
(From the Sarajevo Haggadah.)
A later Midrash (Num. R. 18: confuses the legends of the rod that blossomed with those of the rod that worked miracles, thus giving us contradictory statements. There exists a legend that Moses split a tree trunk into twelve portions, and gave one portion to each tribe. When the Rod of Aaron produced blossoms, the Israelites could not but acknowledge the significance of the token. The account of the blossoming of Aaron's Rod contained in Clement's first letter to the Corinthians ( Ephesians 43 ) is quite in haggadic-midrashic style, and must probably be ascribed to Jewish or, more strictly speaking, Jewish-Hellenistic sources. According to that account, Moses placed upon each of the twelve staffs the corresponding seal of the head of a tribe. The doors of the sanctuary were similarly sealed, to prevent any one from having access to the rods at night. This legend of the rod as given by the Syrian Solomon in his "Book of the Bee" ("Anecdota Oxoniensia, Semitic Series," vol. i. part ii.) has Christian characteristics. According to it the staff is a fragment of the Tree of Knowledge, and was successively in the possession of Shem, of the three Patriarchs, and of Judah, just as in the Jewish legend. From Judah it descended to Pharez, ancestor of David and of the Messiah. After Pharez's death an angel carried it to the mountains of Moab and buried it there, where the pious Jethro found it. When Moses, at Jethro's request, went in search of it, the rod was brought to him by an angel. With this staff Aaron and Moses performed all the miracles related in Scripture, noteworthy among which was the swallowing up of the wonder-working rods of the Egyptian Posdi. Joshua received it from Moses and made use of it in his wars (Joshua 8:18 ) and Joshua, in turn, delivered it to Phinehas, who buried it in Jerusalem. There it remained hidden until the birth of Jesus, when the place of its concealment was revealed to Joseph, who took it with him on the journey to Egypt. Judas Iscariot stole it from James, brother of Jesus, who had received it from Joseph. At Jesus' crucifixion the Jews had no wood for the transverse beam of the cross, so Judas produced the staff for that purpose ("Book of the Bee," Syr. ed., pp. 50-53 Eng. ed., pp. 50-52). This typological explanation of Moses' rod as the cross is not a novel one. Origen on Exodus (chap. vii.) says: "This rod of Moses, with which he subdued the Egyptians, is the symbol of the cross of Jesus, who conquered the world." Christian legend has preserved the Jewish accounts of the rod of the Messiah and made concrete fact of the idea. Other Western legends concerning the connection of the cross and the rod may be found in Seymour, "The Cross," 1898, p. 83.
The rod is likewise glorified in Mohammedan legend, which, as is usually the case with the Biblical accounts of the Mohammedans, is plainly derived from Jewish sources. The following passage will serve as an illustration:(G. Weil, "Biblische Legenden der Muselmänner," p. 140, Frankfort-on-the-Main, 1845) "Moses flung his staff upon the ground, and instantly it was changed into a serpent as huge as the largest camel. It glared at Pharaoh with fire-darting eyes, and lifted his throne to the ceiling. Opening its jaws, it cried aloud, 'If it pleased Allah, I could not only swallow up the throne with thee and all that are here present, but even thy palace and all that it contains, without any one perceiving the slightest change in me'".L. G.
These files are public domain.
Singer, Isidore, Ph.D, Projector and Managing Editor. Entry for 'Aaron's Rod'. 1901 The Jewish Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tje/a/aarons-rod.html. 1901.