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QUESTION: Why Did Aaron’s Rod Quit Budding?

The following question came to me via the Question Box at our congregation’s web site.

Why did Aaron’s rod quit budding?

That’s an interesting question – but it is not one that for which God has given us an answer. So, your guess might be as good as mine. My guess would be that the need for it to bud ended.

Aaron’s rod budded to show that God had chosen him and his descendants to be the priests in Israel. The story is in Numbers16 and 17:1-11. There had just been a revolt by Korah and others from the tribe of Levi along with Dathan, Abiram, and On from the tribe of Reuben against Moses and Aaron in Numbers 16. There were 250 men in all who said to Moses and Aaron they were taking too much on themselves and that “the whole community is holy…. Why then do you set yourselves above the LORD’s assembly?”

The next day, God called Korah to bring a censor with incense before Him – and He would show whom He had chosen to be priest. The text is not completely clear, but it seems that Korah’s followers took the censors with incense – but fire from the Lord came out and consumed them. Dathan and other Reubenites  refused to take part in the above or to witness it. Moses and the elders of Israel warned everyone to stand back from the tents of these men and said:

If these men die a natural death and experience only what usually happens to men, then the LORD has not sent me. But if the LORD brings about something totally new, and the earth opens its mouth and swallows them, with everything that belongs to them, and they go down alive into the grave, then you will know that these men have treated the LORD with contempt. – Numbers 16:29-30

When Moses said this, the earth opened and swallowed these men with their tents, their families and their possessions.

In spite of this, the next day the entire assembly of Israel had turned against Moses. They  said to him, “You have killed the LORD’s people.” They did not explain how they thought Moses had caused the earth to open up and swallow them – but that’s what they said. I must say, though, that if I really thought Moses could have done that himself, I would have been very careful what I said to him, as I believe most sensible people would.

God brought a plague on the people then, in which many died (see 16:42-50).

Next, God told Moses to have a representative from each tribe bring a rod. Each man was to put his name on his rod. The rods were placed in the Tabernacle in front of the Ark of the Covenant (i.e., “the testimony where I meet with you”), and the rod that would sprout or bud would show whom the LORD had chosen to be His priest.

The next day, when they took the rods to examine them, Aaron’s rod had “budded, blossomed, and produced almonds” (17:8).

God did this to stop the constant murmuring by the others against His chosen priest.

The Lord said to Moses, “Put back Aaron’s staff in front of the Testimony, to be kept as a sign to the rebellious. This will put an end to their grumbling against me, so that they will not die. – Numbers 17:10

This is what Moses did.

When did it stop budding? The story does not say. It was kept, with its buds, sprouts, blossoms, and almonds as a testimony to Israel. It was a constant reminder to Israel that God had chosen Aaron and his family to be His priests.

What happened to it? We simply do not know. If we did, people would have been tempted to worship it, as they later worshiped the brazen serpent Moses lifted up in the wilderness. Eventually, Hezekiah destroyed that serpent, saying “It is a piece of brass!” (See 2 Kings 18:4, Young’s Literal Translation. Most translations have Nehushtan, a Hebrew words that sounds like “bronze” & “snake” and “unclean thing.”)

The need for this rod completely passed away with the passing of the priesthood of Aaron. When Jesus died for our sins, the veil of the Temple was torn from top to bottom, opening the way into the Most Holy Place where the Ark of the Covenant had been kept. Jesus, as the High Priest forever after the order of Melchizedek entered into Heaven, the ultimate and real Holy of Holies where He made His sacrifice for our sins before the throne of God. (See Hebrews 7:11-18; 8:1-6; & 9:11-15).

Did it last from the time of Moses until after Jesus died? I do not know, but I doubt it did.

The only 2 times the staff is mentioned in the Bible after this is in Numbers 20:7-11 where God told them to take this staff from before His Presence and speak to the rock to bring forth water. This was while they were still in the wilderness. Hebrews 9:4 also mentions that the Ark had contained the “jar of manna, Aaron’s staff that had budded, and the stone tablets of the covenant.” There is no indication in Hebrews, though, that the Ark was still present in the Temple. No mention of the Ark being in the Temple is made after 2 Chronicles 35:3 when King Josiah instructed the Levites to “Put the sacred ark in the temple that Solomon son of David king of Israel built.” A few years later, Nebuchadnezzar “carried to Babylon all the articles from the temple of God, both large and small, and the treasures of the king and his officials” (2 Chronicles 36:18). No specific mention of the ark is made here or at the time of the return (see Ezra 1:7-10). Some have speculated about what happened to the ark, but we simply do not know. There are many theories and claims, most of which have very little supporting real evidence.

I hope this will help you in your quest for the truth of God. It is easy for our curiosity to take the place of the real study of the Scriptures in a way that will lead us into a deeper service to God. Perhaps that is why Moses said:

The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law. – Deuteronomy 29:29


One Response

  1. Thanks for the input on Numbers 17. I enjoyed reading on this curious subject.

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