Understanding the Old Testament

Aaron's Rod

(All quotations are from the New American Standard Bible translation)

Korah’s rebellion represented a dangerous threat to Moses’ leadership, even after Korah and his followers were gone, because the peoples’ underlying grievances against Moses and Aaron remained—and indeed, had multiplied.

Many were angry about Moses’ prophecy that they would die in the wilderness without reaching the Promised Land (Numbers 16:12-14). Some may have blamed Moses for their defeat against the Amalekites and Canaanites, since Moses and the Ark had not gone with them (Numbers 14:41-45). They certainly blamed Moses for the deaths of Korah and his rebel followers (Numbers 16:41), and probably for the deaths of almost 15,000 more from a plague (Numbers 16:46-49). Moses’ leadership appeared to have led only to defeat, death, and despair.

Yet God’s next miracle centered around the leadership of Aaron, not Moses, which implies that the grievance which most concerned the Lord was that of Korah, who challenged Aaron’s preferential status as priest (Numbers 16:8-10). Recall that Korah argued that “all the congregation are holy.” (Numbers 16:3) The Lord was about to show them that not all are chosen.

At the Lord’s direction, Moses instructed Aaron and eleven other tribal leaders to select a rod and write their names on them. Then all twelve rods were placed inside the Tent of Meeting, in front of the Ark. Moses predicted that the rod of the Lord’s choice would sprout (Numbers 17:5). The next day, Aaron’s rod “had sprouted and put forth buds and produced blossoms, and it bore ripe almonds.” (Numbers 17:8)

After Aaron’s rod was shown to the people as a sign of the Lord’s choice of Aaron as priest, it was returned to its place next to the Ark. (Numbers 17:10-11)

Hebrews 9:4 tells us that Aaron’s rod was one of three items which were kept in the Ark, the other two being a golden jar containing manna and the tablets on which the Ten Commandments were inscribed.

.Questions to ponder or discuss: It almost goes without saying that God loves all of us. Yet in His wisdom He often chooses a single individual to carry out His purposes—for example, Moses, King David, any of the prophets, and Paul. Why do you think He chooses individuals rather than pairs, groups, or committees? What do you think God looks for in making such choices?

Copyright 2017 by Don Davidson

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