Numbers 17:1-12 – Aaron’s Blooming Staff


Numbers 17:1-12


Among the staffs of all the leaders placed in the tent, only Aaron’s is found to bloom, thus showing that he has been chosen by God.


The story follows another account of the people’s rebellion against Moses and Aaron, which results in a great number of deaths. God’s judgment is coming to pass: the older generation is dying out (Numbers 16:41-50). Now, God will demonstrate to the recalcitrant people that Aaron is indeed God’s chosen priest. The staffs of each tribe are placed before God, with Aaron’s name written on the staff of Levi to demonstrate to all the connection between Aaron and the priestly house. (In Hebrew, matteh means both “staff” and “tribe.”) Already on the next day, Aaron’s staff put forth buds, blossomed, and bore ripe almonds (the blooming staff is a common motif in ancient stories).We have already seen wonderful events associated with Aaron’s rod during the plagues of Egypt (Exodus 7:8-8:19). Now, his living rod indicates that God has chosen him as priest. This means, among other things, that he can approach the tabernacle to perform the rituals and sacrifices needed for the good of the people. Because of the holiness of God’s presence, ordinary people cannot do this, as they recognize in fear in vv. 12-13.