Numbers chapter 17

Aaron’s staff.



Note: We are using a translation consistent with Protestants and the Orthodox. The Catholic version of this chapter is quite different.





VERSE 1. The LORD spoke to Moses, saying,


VERSE 2. “Speak to the children of Israel, and take rods from them, one for each fathers’ house, of all their princes according to their fathers’ houses, twelve rods. Write each man’s name on his rod.

take rods from them. The word “rod” means “staff.”

one for each fathers’ house. They will get a staff from the leader of each of the twelve tribes.

Write each man’s name on his rod. The name of the leader will be written on his staff.


VERSE 3. You shall write Aaron’s name on Levi’s rod. There shall be one rod for each head of their fathers’ houses.


VERSE 4. You shall lay them up in the Tent of Meeting before the covenant, where I meet with you.

The staffs were placed in the tabernacle, in front of the Testimony (the most holy place).


VERSE 5. It shall happen that the rod of the man whom I shall choose shall bud. I will make the murmurings of the children of Israel, which they murmur against you, cease from me.”

shall bud. The staff of the legitimate priestly tribe will sprout like a tree.

the murmurings of the children of Israel. Complaining is kryptonite to the superpower of our faith. And it is offensive to the LORD God.

Some people are always complaining. Or arguing. Those are destructive habits. They harm the individual. And the community. They need to STOP. Read more »


VERSE 6. Moses spoke to the children of Israel; and all their princes gave him rods, for each prince one, according to their fathers’ houses, a total of twelve rods. Aaron’s rod was among their rods.


VERSE 7. Moses laid up the rods before the LORD in the Tent of the Testimony.


VERSE 8. On the next day, Moses went into the Tent of the Testimony; and behold, Aaron’s rod for the house of Levi had sprouted, budded, produced blossoms, and bore ripe almonds.

Aaron’s rod. The staff of Aaron had not only sprouted. And it had budded and blossomed and produced almonds


VERSE 9. Moses brought out all the rods from before the LORD to all the children of Israel. They looked, and each man took his rod.


VERSE 10. The LORD said to Moses, “Put back the rod of Aaron before the covenant, to be kept for a token against the children of rebellion; that you may make an end of their complaining against me, that they not die.”

that they not die. The staff of Aaron will be retained in the tabernacle, in front of the Testimony (the most holy place).

There, it will serve as a reminder to the people.

It will remind them to not complain, lest the LORD God destroy them from the face of the earth.


VERSE 11. Moses did so. As the LORD commanded him, so he did.


VERSE 12. The children of Israel spoke to Moses, saying, “Behold, we perish! We are undone! We are all undone!


VERSE 13. Everyone who keeps approaching the LORD’s tabernacle, dies! Will we all perish?”

Will we all perish. Characteristically, the people overreact. They assumed the presence of the staff will forever endanger anyone who even came close to the tabernacle.



The Catholic version of this chapter is quite different from Protestant and Orthodox versions. We used a translation consistent with Protestants and the Orthodox.

However, four verses found only in a Catholic translation of this chapter stand out to us. Here they are, along with our comments:


VERSE 10. Remove yourselves from this community, that I may consume them at once. But they fell prostrate.

they fell prostrate. Moses stands out as the great intercessor, the “prayer warrior” acting on behalf of his nation.

As the grumbling community is being obliterated, he drops to the ground, prostrate in prayer.

Moses the prayer warrior foreshadows Jesus Christ interceding for us at the Right Hand of God the Father


VERSE 11. Then Moses said to Aaron, “Take your censer, put fire from the altar in it, lay incense on it, and bring it quickly to the community to make atonement for them; for wrath has come forth from the LORD and the plague has begun.”

make atonement for them. Moses sends Aaron the priest to stop the slaughter.

Aaron stands out as the great High Priest.


VERSE 12. Obeying the order of Moses, Aaron took his censer and RAN IN among the community, where the blow was already falling on the people. Then, as he offered the incense and made atonement for the people, (NAB translation)

offered the incense and made atonement for the people. Aaron RUNS into the midst of the guilty and offers the sacrifice that takes away their sin.


VERSE 13. standing there between the living and the dead, the scourge was checked. (NAB translation)

between the living and the dead. Like a great hero, Aaron took what may well have been his Last Stand, positioning himself “between the living and the dead.”

Aaron’s offering of incense saved the lives of millions of people.

Aaron the priest foreshadows Jesus Christ and his once-for-all sacrifice for all the sins of all people for all time, saving our lives for all eternity.


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Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations on this page are from the World English Bible and the World Messianic Edition. These translations have no copyright restrictions. They are in the Public Domain.


Author: todd

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