2987.) Numbers 17

17. Almond-tree-bloss

An almond tree in bloom near Heidelberg, Germany.

Numbers 17   (CEV)

Aaron’s Walking Stick Blooms and Produces Almonds

1The LORD told Moses:

2-3Call together the twelve tribes of Israel and tell the leader of each tribe to write his name on the walking stick he carries as a symbol of his authority.

A rod (the CEV calls it “walking stick”) was a symbol of authority, because shepherds would use a rod to guide and correct the sheep (Psalm 23:4).

Moses, as a shepherd, had a rod in his hand when tending sheep in the wilderness (Exodus 4:2); this rod later became known as the rod of God — a symbol of the authority God gave to Moses (Exodus 4:20).

This same rod demonstrated Moses’ authority in action, by miraculously becoming a serpent, and then becoming a rod again (Exodus 7:9-10), by turning the waters of the Nile into blood (Exodus 7:17), by bringing forth plagues of frogs (Exodus 8:5), lice (Exodus 8:16-17), hail (Exodus 9:23), and locusts (Exodus 10:13). God commanded Moses to raise the rod over the Red Sea when it was to be parted (Exodus 14:16), the rod was raised in prayer over Israel in victorious battle (Exodus 17:9), the rod struck the rock and brought forth water (Numbers 20:11). The rod is a picture of God’s authority over man (Psalm 2:9, 23:4, 89:32; Isaiah 10:24; 11:4, Ezekiel 20:37); Jesus, in His divine authority, is given the title “the Rod” (Isaiah 1:11; Micah 6:9); the rod is an emblem of an apostle’s authority in the church (1 Corinthians 4:21).

–David Guzik

Make sure Aaron’s name is written on the one from the Levi tribe, then collect all the sticks.

4Place these sticks in the tent right in front of the sacred chest where I appear to you. 5I will then choose a man to be my priest, and his stick will sprout. After that happens, I won’t have to listen to any more complaints about you.

6Moses told the people what the LORD had commanded, and they gave him the walking sticks from the twelve tribal leaders, including Aaron’s from the Levi tribe. 7Moses took them and placed them in the LORD’s sacred tent.

8The next day when Moses went into the tent, flowers and almonds were already growing on Aaron’s stick.

17. almond-blossom

Blossoms of an almond tree

Some scholars think that some parts were in bud, other parts were in bloom, and other parts had fruited, all at the same time.

If God demonstrated His choice of Aaron and his descendants as priests for Israel, how can Jesus be our high priest, as Hebrews 2:17 says? Because Jesus is a high priest of the order of Melchizedek, not Aaron (Hebrews 7).

9Moses brought the twelve sticks out of the tent and showed them to the people. Each of the leaders found his own and took it.

10But the LORD told Moses, ” Put Aaron’s stick back! Let it stay near the sacred chest as a warning to anyone who might think about rebelling.

Hebrews 9:1-4 (NIV)

Now the first covenant had regulations for worship and also an earthly sanctuary. A tabernacle was set up. In its first room were the lampstand, the table and the consecrated bread; this was called the Holy Place. Behind the second curtain was a room called the Most Holy Place, which had the golden altar of incense and the gold-covered ark of the covenant. This ark contained the gold jar of manna, Aaron’s staff that had budded, and the stone tablets of the covenant.

If these people don’t stop their grumbling about me, I will wipe them out.” 11Moses did what he was told.

12The Israelites cried out to Moses, ” We’re done for 13and doomed if we even get near the sacred tent!”

16. Aaron's rod

This blooming plant is called Aaron’s rod.

from Numbers,
by Dennis T. Olson

The community of Israel has discovered that God’s power in their midst is experienced either as threat or promise, death or life. Two visual aids are set up in the sanctuary for future remembrance by succeeding generations of the danger and the blessing associated with approaching God’s presence. One visual aid is the bronze covering of the altar made from the charred fire pans. The rebels had used the bronze fire pans to offer fire to God without priestly mediation, and they had died in a fiery holocaust. The altar covering of bronze is a cold, metallic, and lifeless reminder of death (16:39-40). The second visual aid displayed in the sanctuary is the budding, blossoming, fruit-bearing staff of Aaron. It signifies the blessing power of God’s holy presence as conveyed through the Aaronic priesthood that gives life and bears fruit among God’s sinful people. These two visual signs capture both the potential power of death and the power of life that flow from God’s presence in the midst of God’s people.



The International Standard Version translates verse 12 this way: Then the Israelis told Moses, “We’re sure to die! We’re all going to perish—all of us!”  Well, yes, we are all sure to die! But we must not let the dread of dying overcome our passion for living, especially since we have God’s promises and wonderful examples from Scripture and our own acquaintances to guide us! Be encouraged!  Lift up your eyes to that “great crowd of witnesses”  around you, cheering you on, inviting you on — for Christ’s sake!  HERE  is Sara Groves and “When the Saints.”  Lyrics follow below.

Lord I have a heavy burden of all I’ve seen and know
It’s more than I can handle
But your word is burning like a fire shut up in my bones
and I cannot let it go

And when I’m weary and overwrought
with so many battles left unfought

I think of Paul and Silas in the prison yard
I hear their song of freedom rising to the stars
And when the Saints go marching in
I want to be one of them

Lord it’s all that I can’t carry and cannot leave behind
it often overwhelms me
but when I think of all who’ve gone before and lived the faithful life
their courage compels me
And when I’m weary and overwrought
with so many battles left unfought

I think of Paul and Silas in the prison yard
I hear their song of freedom rising to the stars

I see the shepherd Moses in the Pharaoh’s court
I hear his call for freedom for the people of the Lord

And when the Saints go marching in
I want to be one of them
And when the Saints go marching in
I want to be one of them

I see the long quiet walk along the Underground Railroad
I see the slave awakening to the value of her soul

I see the young missionary and the angry spear
I see his family returning with no trace of fear

I see the long hard shadows of Calcutta nights
I see the sister standing by the dying man’s side

I see the young girl huddled on the brothel floor
I see the man with a passion come and kicking down the door

I see the man of sorrows and his long troubled road
I see the world on his shoulders and my easy load

And when the Saints go marching in
I want to be one of them
and when the Saints go marching in
I want to be one of them
I want to be one of them
I want to be one of them
I want to be one of them


Contemporary English Version (CEV) Copyright © 1995 by American Bible Society

Images courtesy of:
almond tree in flower.  http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/pictures/2009/4/15/1239810803983/Blossom-Almond-tree-bloss-011.jpg
almond blossoms.   http://www.mooseyscountrygarden.com/gardening-articles/almond-blossom.jpg
Aaron’s rod flower.  http://farm1.static.flickr.com/46/171565607_7188f4c642.jpg?v=0


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