The family of Aaron is established as the true priesthood. The Lord had already established Aaron’s right and that of his descendants to the priesthood by honoring his incense and prayer and staying the plague. He further authenticated this ministry by offering an additional sign that would silence the congregation.
The Budding Of Aaron’s Rod
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Tell the people of Israel that each of their tribal chiefs is to bring you a wooden rod with his name inscribed upon it. Aaron’s name is to be on the rod of the tribe of Levi. Put these rods in the inner room of the Tabernacle where I meet with you, in front of the Ark. I will use these rods to identify the man I have chosen: for buds will grow on his rod! Then at last this murmuring and complaining against you will stop!” Numbers 17:1-5 TLB
The Lord instructed Moses to speak to the Israelites and get twelve rods from them, one from each tribal leader. The rod was an indication of leadership in the home and tribe. Each man needed to write his name on the rod. And this included Aaron, who would write his name on the rod from the tribe of Levi. Each rod would be placed inside the tent of meeting before the sacred ark and remain there overnight. A branch detached from a tree loses its connection with life and will die. But God would provide nourishment to the rod he would choose to represent Israel through the priesthood.
Moses’ Instructions To The People
So Moses gave the instructions to the people, and each of the twelve chiefs (including Aaron) brought him a rod. He put them before the Lord in the inner room of the Tabernacle, and when he went in the next day, he found that Aaron’s rod, representing the tribe of Levi, had budded and was blossoming, and had ripe almonds hanging from it!
When Moses brought them out to show the others, they stared in disbelief! Then each man except Aaron claimed his rod. Numbers 17:6-9 TLB
The next day Aaron’s rod had not only sprouted but had budded, blossomed and produced almonds. The Lord performed this miracle through divine omnipotence and silenced the opponents. The budded rod also represented a fruit-bearing priesthood, one appointed by God. Later God would select another priesthood, that of Melchizedek. The almond tree bears fruit the earliest of all other trees in Israel. The people could not answer a word because anything that could be said the Lord had spoken through this miraculous sign.
The Lord told Moses to place Aaron’s rod permanently beside the Ark as a reminder of this rebellion. He was to bring it out and show it to the people again if there were any further complaints about Aaron’s authority; this would ward off further catastrophe to the people. So Moses did as the Lord commanded him.
But the people of Israel only grumbled the more. “We are as good as dead,” they whined. “Everyone who even comes close to the Tabernacle dies. Must we all perish?” Numbers 17:10-13 TLB
The Lord commanded the people to put Aaron’s rod in front of the Testimony as a reminder to the rebellious. The series of events associated with Korah’s rebellion now settled into the hearts of the people. They anguished over what had happened and even despaired of their lives. But they were taught a vital lesson. Although they would engage in other forms of rebellion, they would never again question Aaron’s priesthood.
Holman Old Testament Commentary