Bamidbar (Numbers) 16:1–18:32
As we read the book of Numbers, we find a common thread of the children of Israel complaining against and challenging God and His elected leaders — Moses, Aaron, and Joshua. This week’s portion opens with yet another challenge, about which I have previously written in the blog, Korach. Korach, the great grandson of Levi (and cousin of Moses and Aaron), led a rebellion against Moses and Aaron. After the account of the rebellion of Korach we find that the entire assembly of Israel rebelled against Moses and Aaron, and this time the wrath of God burned against them. Both Moses and Aaron had an amazing heart for their people, and as leaders, they demonstrated incredible humility by interceding on behalf of the people. In this week's Scripture portion, we even see Aaron risking his own purity as he stood between the dead and the living (Numbers 16:48 in the English Bibles and 17:13 in the Hebrew one).
There’s another interesting occurrence in this week’s parasha that I’d like to focus on in this blog, which is Aaron’s rod:
Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the sons of Israel, and get from them a rod for each father’s household: twelve rods, from all their leaders according to their fathers’ households. You shall write each name on his rod and write Aaron’s name on the rod of Levi; for there is one rod for the head of each of their fathers’ households. You shall then deposit them in the tent of meeting in front of the testimony, where I meet with you.It will come about that the rod of the man whom I choose will sprout. Thus I will lessen from upon Myself the grumblings of the sons of Israel, who are grumbling against you.” Moses therefore spoke to the sons of Israel, and all their leaders gave him a rod apiece, for each leader according to their fathers’ households, twelve rods, with the rod of Aaron among their rods. So Moses deposited the rods before the LORD in the tent of the testimony.
Now on the next day Moses went into the tent of the testimony; and behold, the rod of Aaron for the house of Levi had sprouted and put forth buds and produced blossoms, and it bore ripe almonds. Moses then brought out all the rods from the presence of the LORD to all the sons of Israel; and they looked, and each man took his rod. But the LORD said to Moses, “Put back the rod of Aaron before the testimony to be kept as a sign against the rebels, that you may put an end to their grumblings against Me, so that they will not die.” Thus Moses did; just as the LORD had commanded him, so he did.
Then the sons of Israel spoke to Moses, saying, “Behold, we perish, we are dying, we are all dying! Everyone who comes near, who comes near to the tabernacle of the LORD, must die. Are we to perish completely? ”
Numbers 17:1–13 (17:16–28 In the Hebrew Bible)
Here we see that God, once again, affirms His choice of leader, who He has elected to lead the people. This is especially important because we know that this entire parasha has to do with Korach and his people questioning God’s elect, allowing their greed and pride to lead them into rebellion.
However, one verse in this account grabbed my attention:
Now on the next day Moses went into the tent of the testimony; and behold, the rod of Aaron for the house of Levi had sprouted and put forth buds and produced blossoms, and it bore ripe almonds.
Numbers 17:8 (17:23 in Hebrew)
It was Aaron’s rod that had sprouted, bringing forth buds and blossoms, which then bore ripe almonds. God instructed Moses to put it in the Tent of Meeting, before the testimony as this was as a sign and remembrance of those who rebelled against them, and a warning to others to not follow in their footsteps.
The writer to the Hebrews also mentions Aaron’s staff in Hebrews 9:1–5:
Now even the first covenant had regulations of divine worship and the earthly sanctuary. For there was a tabernacle prepared, the outer one, in which were the lampstand and the table and the sacred bread; this is called the holy place. Behind the second veil there was a tabernacle which is called the Holy of Holies, having a golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, in which was a golden jar holding the manna, and Aaron’s rod which budded, and the tables of the covenant; and above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat; but of these things we cannot now speak in detail.
Why might the writer to the Hebrews specifically include this in his letter? I personally believe that this piece of wood that brought fruit is connected to an amazing prophecy that speaks of the Messiah:
“Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, and a branch from his roots will bear fruit.”
Just as it was in the time of Moses and Aaron, when the children of Israel rejected God’s elected one, so it was with Yeshua our Messiah. Israel, as a whole, rejected and still rejects Yeshua as God’s elected, anointed One. However a day will come when all of Israel will acknowledge Him as the shoot which will spring from the stem of Jesse.
Let’s continue to pray for this day!
Did you know? — Lone Soldier
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