Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible
back to: Numbers
Book: Numbers
Chapter: 17

Twelve rods laid up before the Lord. (1-7) Aaron's rod buds,
and is kept for a memorial. (8-13)

1-7 It is an instance of the Grace of God, that, having wrought
divers miracles to punish Sin, he would work one more to prevent
it. Twelve rods or staves were to be brought in. It is probable
that they were the staves which the princes used as ensigns of
their authority; old dry staves, that had No sap in them. They
were to expect that the rod of the Tribe, or Prince, whom God
chose to the priesthood, should bud and blossom. Moses did not
object that the matter was sufficiently settled already; he did
not undertake to determine it; but left the case before the

8-13 While all the other rods remained as they were. Aaron's
rod became a living Branch. In some places there were buds, in
others blossoms, in others Fruit, at the same time; all this was
miraculous. Thus Aaron was manifested to be under the special
blessing of Heaven. Fruitfulness is the best evidence of a
Divine Call; and the plants of God's setting, and the boughs cut
off them, will flourish. This rod was preserved, to take away
the murmurings of the people, that they might not die. The
design of God, in all his providences, and in the memorials of
them, is to take away Sin. Christ was manifested to take away
Sin. Christ is expressly called a rod out of the stem of Jesse:
little prospect was there, according to human views, that he
should ever flourish. But the dry rod revived and blossomed to
the confusion of his adversaries. The people cry, Behold, we
die, we perish, we all perish! This was the language of a
repining people, quarrelling with the Judgments of God, which By
their own pride and obstinacy they brought upon themselves. It
is very wicked to fret against God when we are in affliction,
and in our distress thus to trespass yet more. If we die, if we
perish, it is of ourselves, and the blame will be upon our own
heads. When God Judges, he will overcome, and will oblige the
most obstinate gainsayers to confess their folly. And how great
are our mercies, that we have a clearer and a better
Dispensation, established upon better promises!