International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
(Numbers 17 and Hebrews 9:4): Immediately after the incidents connected with the rebellion of Korah, Dathan and Abiram against the leadership of Moses and the priestly primacy of Aaron (Numbers 16), it became necessary to indicate and emphasize the Divine appointment of Aaron. Therefore, at the command of Yahweh, Moses directs that twelve almond rods, one for each tribe with the prince's name engraved thereon, be placed within the Tent of the Testimony. When Moses entered the tent the following day, he found that Aaron's rod had budded, blossomed and borne fruit, "the three stages of vegetable life being thus simultaneously visible." When the miraculous sign was seen by the people, they accepted it as final; nor was there ever again any question of Aaron's priestly right. The rod was kept "before the testimony" in the sanctuary ever after as a token of the Divine will (Numbers 17:10). The writer of Hebrews, probably following a later Jewish tradition, mentions the rod as kept in the Holy of Holies within the ark (Hebrews 9:4; compare 1 Kings 8:9). See PRIEST, III.
(maqqel, maTTeh, shebheT; rhabdos): Little distinction can be drawn between the Hebrew words used for "rod" and "staff." Maqqel is the word used in Genesis 30:37; for the twigs of poplar put by Jacob before his sheep, and in Jeremiah 1:11 of the "rod of an almond-tree." MaTTeh is used of a rod in the hand, as the "rods" of Moses and of Aaron (Exodus 4:2; 7:9, etc.). ShebheT is used, but sometimes also maTTeh, of the rod used for correction (Exodus 21:20 2 Samuel 7:14 Proverbs 10:13; Proverbs 13:24 Isaiah 10:5, etc.). In Psalm 23:4 ("Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me"), however, shebheT is the shepherd's rod, figurative of divine guidance and care. In Ezekiel 21:10, 13, the word stands for the royal scepter. In the New Testament "rod" is used of a rod of correction (1 Corinthians 4:21), Aaron's rod (Hebrews 9:4), a ruler's rod "of iron" (severity, as in Revelation 2:27; Revelation 12:5; Revelation 19:15), a measuring rod (Revelation 11:1).