Aaron's rod

Aaron's rod refers to any of the staves carried by Moses's brother, Aaron, in the Torah. The Bible tells how, along with Moses's rod, Aaron's rod was endowed with miraculous power during the Plagues of Egypt that preceded the Exodus. There are two occasions where the Bible tells of the rod's power.

Figures Aarons rod budding
Aaron's rod budding

Biblical references

Tissot The Rod of Aaron Devours the Other Rods
James Tissot, The Rod of Aaron Devours the Other Rods

In the culture of the Israelites, the rod (Hebrew: מַטֶּהmaṭṭeh) was a natural symbol of authority, as the tool used by the shepherd to correct and guide his flock (Psalm 23:4). Moses's rod is, in fact, cited in Exodus 4:2 as carried by him while he tended his sheep; and later (Exodus 4:20) becomes his symbol of authority over the Israelites (Psalm 2:9, Psalm 89:32, Isaiah 10:24 and 11:4, Ezekiel 20:37). The rods of both Moses and Aaron were endowed with miraculous power during the Plagues of Egypt (Exodus 7:17, 8:5, 8:16-17, 9:23, and 10:13); God commanded Moses to raise his rod over the Red Sea when it was to be parted (Exodus 14:16) and in prayer over Israel in battle (Exodus 17:9); Moses brings forth water from a stone using his rod (Exodus 17, Numbers 20:11).

Aaron's rod, however, is cited twice as exhibiting miraculous power on its own, when not physically in the grasp of its owner. In Exodus 7 (Parshat Va'eira in the Torah), God sends Moses and Aaron to the Pharaoh once more, instructing Aaron that when the Pharaoh demands to see a miracle, he is to "cast down his rod" and it will become a serpent. When he does so, the Pharaoh's sorcerers counter by similarly casting down their own rods, which also become serpents, but Aaron's rod swallows them all. "The Pharaoh's heart is stubborn" and he chooses to ignore this bit of symbolic warning, and so the Plagues of Egypt ensue. Notably, this chapter begins with God telling Moses, "Behold, I have made you as God to the Pharaoh and your brother Aaron will be your prophet." As God transmits his word through his prophets to his people, so Moses will transmit God's message through Aaron to the Pharaoh. The prophet's task was to speak God's word on God's behalf. He was God's "mouth". (Exodus 4:15-16)

Hirschvogel The Blossoming of Aarons Rod
The Blossoming of Aaron's Rod, etching by Augustin Hirschvogel

In Numbers 17, Korah's rebellion against Moses' proclamation of the tribe of Levi as the priesthood has been quashed and the entire congregation's ensuing rebellion has resulted in a plague, ended only by the intercession of Moses and Aaron. In order to "stop the complaints" of the Israelites, God commands that each of the Twelve Tribes provide a rod; and only that of the tribe chosen to become priests will miraculously sprout overnight. Aaron provides his rod to represent the tribe of Levi, and "it put forth buds, produced blossoms, and bore ripe almonds" (Numbers 17:8), as an evidence of the exclusive right to the priesthood of the tribe of Levi. In commemoration of this decision it was commanded that the rod be put again "before the testimony" (Numbers 17:10).[1]

A book of the Christian Bible seems to assert (Hebrews 9:4) that the rod was kept in the Ark of the Covenant.[1]

In Rabbinical literature

The Bible ascribes similar miraculous powers to the Rod of Aaron and to the staff of Moses (compare, for example, Exodus 4:2 et seq. and 7:9). The Haggadah goes a step further, and entirely identifies the Rod of Aaron with that of Moses.[1] Thus, the Midrash Yelammedenu states that:

the staff with which Jacob crossed the Jordan is identical with that which Judah gave to his daughter-in-law, Tamar (Genesis 32:10, 38:18). It is likewise the holy rod with which Moses worked (Exodus 4:20, 21), with which Aaron performed wonders before Pharaoh (Exodus 7:10), and with which, finally, David slew the giant Goliath (I Samuel 17:40). David left it to his descendants, and the Davidic kings used it as a scepter until the destruction of the Temple, when it miraculously disappeared. When the Messiah comes it will be given to him for a scepter in token of his authority over the heathen.[1]

It was made of sapphire, weighed forty seahs (a seah = 10.70 pounds), and bore the inscription דצ״ך עד״ש באח״ב, which is composed of the initials of the Hebrew names of the Ten Plagues (Tan., Waëra 8, ed. Buber).[1]

However, according to that selfsame Jewish Encyclopedia article, the authors acknowledge that this prior reference by Buber confuses the two rods. Later, the article states: "A later Midrash (Num. R. xviii. end) confuses the legends of the rod that blossomed with those of the rod that worked miracles, thus giving us contradictory statements. There exists a legend that Moses split a tree trunk into twelve portions, and gave one portion to each tribe."

According to this account, everything fits into place. Moses' royal staff was the regal rod that belonged to Adam, but Aaron's stick was just that.

Haggadic modification

Legend has still more to say concerning this rod. God created it in the twilight of the sixth day of Creation (Pirkei Avoth 5:9, and Mekhilta, Beshallaḥ, ed. Weiss, iv. 60), and delivered it to Adam when the latter was driven from paradise. After it had passed through the hands of Shem, Enoch, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob successively, it came into the possession of Joseph. On Joseph's death the Egyptian nobles stole some of his belongings, and, among them, Jethro appropriated the staff. Jethro planted the staff in his garden, when its marvelous virtue was revealed by the fact that nobody could withdraw it from the ground;(the sword in the stone) even to touch it was fraught with danger to life. This was because the Ineffable Name of God was engraved upon it.[1]

When Moses entered Jethro's household he read the Name, and by means of it was able to draw up the rod, for which service Zipporah, Jethro's daughter, was given to him in marriage. Her father had sworn that she should become the wife of the man who should be able to master the miraculous rod and of no other (Pirḳe R. El. 40; Sefer ha-Yashar; Yalḳ. Exodus 168, end). It must, however, be remarked that the Mishnah (Pirkei Avoth v. 9) as yet knew nothing of the miraculous creation of Aaron's Rod, which is first mentioned by the Mekilta (l.c.) and Sifre on Deuteronomy (Berakhot xxxiii. 21; ed. Friedmann, p. 355).[1]

This supposed fact of the supernatural origin of the rod explains the statement in the New Testament (Hebrews 9:4) and Tosefta, Yoma, iii. 7 (it is to be interpreted thus according to Bava Batra 14a), that Aaron's Rod, together with its blossoms and fruit, was preserved in the Ark. King Josiah, who foresaw the impending national catastrophe, concealed the Ark and its contents (Tosefta, Sotah, 13a); and their whereabouts will remain unknown until, in the Messianic age, the prophet Elijah shall reveal them (Mekhilta l.c.).[1]

A later Midrash (Numbers R. xviii. end) confuses the legends of the rod that blossomed with those of the rod that worked miracles, thus giving us contradictory statements. There exists a legend that Moses split a tree trunk into twelve portions, and gave one portion to each tribe. When the Rod of Aaron produced blossoms, the Israelites could not but acknowledge the significance of the token.[1]

Christian use

Schnorr von Carolsfeld Bibel in Bildern 1860 060
Aaron's Staff Buds, 1860 woodcut by Julius Schnorr von Karolsfeld
Unicorn annunciation
Hunt of the Unicorn Annunciation (c. 1500) from a Netherlandish book of hours. In the hortus conclusus, Gideon's fleece is worked in, and the altar at the rear has Aaron's rod that miraculously flowered in the centre. Both are types for the Annunciation.[2]

The account of the blossoming of Aaron's Rod contained in Clement's first letter to the Corinthians (ep. 43) is quite in haggadic-midrashic style, and must probably be ascribed to Jewish or, more strictly speaking, Jewish-Hellenistic sources. According to that account, Moses placed upon each of the twelve staffs the corresponding seal of the head of a tribe. The doors of the sanctuary were similarly sealed, to prevent anyone from having access to the rods at night.[1]

The miraculous flowering of the rod was also considered a type of the Incarnation of Christ and his Virgin Birth, and appears in scenes of the Annunciation to Mary.[2]

In the Ethiopian fourteenth-century text of the Kebra Nagast, Aaron's rod is broken in three and probably a symbol of the Trinity: "The rod of Aaron which sprouted after it had become withered though no one watered it with water, and one had broken it in two places, and it became three rods being [originally only] one rod."[3]

In modern literature

D. H. Lawrence entitled a novel Aaron's Rod in 1922. This book describes a flautist, Aaron Sissons, and his experiences as he journeys through a Europe exhausted by the First World War. The biblical eponymous reference, with the flute representing a magic rod, is intended to be ironic.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainSinger, Isidore; et al., eds. (1901–1906). "Aaron's rod". The Jewish Encyclopedia. New York: Funk & Wagnalls.
  2. ^ a b Schiller, Gertrud; Selgman, Janet (1971). Iconography of Christian art. Vol.1, Christ's incarnation, childhood, baptism, temptation, transfiguration, works and miracles. London: Lund Humphries. p. 54. OCLC 59999963.
  3. ^ Budge, Sir Ernest Alfred Wallis (1922-01-01). The Queen of Sheba & Her Only Son Menyelek: Being the History of the Departure of God & His Ark of the Covenant from Jerusalem to Ethiopia, and the Establishment of the Religion of the Hebrews & the Solomonic Line of Kings in that Country : a Complete Translation of the Kebra Nagast with Introduction. M. Hopkinson.

External links

  • Jasher 77 A history of the sapphire stick from Adam to Moses is given in the Book of Jasher.
Aaron's Rod (novel)

Aaron's Rod is a novel by D. H. Lawrence, started in 1918 and published in 1922.

Aaron's rod (disambiguation)

Aaron's rod refers to any of the staffs carried by Moses' brother, Aaron, in the Old Testament of the Bible.

Aaron's rod may also refer to:

Aaron's Rod (novel), a book by D. H. Lawrence

Aaron ben Moses Teomim

Aaron ben Moses Teomim was a Czech-Polish rabbinical scholar; born about 1630, probably in Prague, where the Teomim-Fränkel family, from Vienna, had settled; died in Chmielnik, Poland, July 8, 1690. In 1670 he was called as rabbi to Worms, where he succeeded Moses Samson Bacharach. Prior to this he had been a preacher at Prague. In a serious illness which overcame him on Passover evening, 1675 he vowed he would write a commentary on the Haggadah if he should be restored to health. On his recovery he published this commentary under the title "Maṭṭeh Aharon" (Aaron's Rod), Frankfort-on-the-Main, 1678. Another work, "Bigde Aharon" (Aaron's Vestments), homilies on the Pentateuch, was published after the author's death at Frankfort-on-the-Main, 1710. His "Glosses on Shulḥan 'Aruk, Ḥoshen Mishpaṭ" remained in manuscript. Responsa of his are found in the collections of Yair Bacharach, "Ḥawwot Yair," and in those of Eliakim Goetz b. Meir of Hildesheim, "Eben ha-Shoham." In 1677 Aaron received a call to Lissa in Poland, which he declined; but in 1690 he accepted a call to the rabbinical seat of Cracow. He was there but three months when a Polish nobleman, probably in order to blackmail the congregation, ordered his arrest in Chmelnik, whither he had gone to attend the congregational Meeting of the Four Lands (Arba' Araẓot). On Sabbath, July 8, 1690, he was arrested, placed on horseback, and hurried to prison. He fell off the horse several times and was as often remounted. Before the jail was reached he had died of fright and ill-treatment. He was buried at Pintchov.

In his rabbinical works, Teomim uses typical pilpulistic methodology. His scholastic discourses are in accordance with the vogue of that age. That his theories, as exhibited in his treatment of the Haggadah, were appreciated by his contemporaries, is proved by the fact that his Haggadah was reprinted three times: at Amsterdam, in 1695; at Frankfort-on-the-Main, in 1710; at Amsterdam, in 1712.

A severe criticism of Teomim's Mateh Ahron was written by Yair Bacharach, and was published posthumously in the first volume of "Bikkurim," a periodical edited by Naphtali Keller.

Ark of the Covenant

The Ark of the Covenant (Hebrew: אָרוֹן הַבְּרִית, Modern: Arōn Ha'brēt, Tiberian: ʾĀrôn Habbərîṯ), also known as the Ark of the Testimony, is a gold-covered wooden chest with lid cover described in the Book of Exodus as containing the two stone tablets of the Ten Commandments. According to various texts within the Hebrew Bible, it also contained Aaron's rod and a pot of manna. Hebrews 9:4 describes: "The ark of the covenant [was] covered on all sides with gold, in which was a golden jar holding the manna, and Aaron's rod which budded, and the tablets of the covenant."The biblical account relates that, approximately one year after the Israelites' exodus from Egypt, the Ark was created according to the pattern given to Moses by God when the Israelites were encamped at the foot of biblical Mount Sinai. Thereafter, the gold-plated acacia chest was carried by its staves while en route by the Levites approximately 2,000 cubits (approximately 800 meters or 2,600 feet) in advance of the people when on the march or before the Israelite army, the host of fighting men. When carried, the Ark was always hidden under a large veil made of skins and blue cloth, always carefully concealed, even from the eyes of the priests and the Levites who carried it. God was said to have spoken with Moses "from between the two cherubim" on the Ark's cover. When at rest the tabernacle was set up and the holy Ark was placed in it under the veil of the covering, the staves of it crossing the middle side bars to hold it up off the ground.


A crosier (also known as a crozier, paterissa, pastoral staff, or bishop's staff) is a stylized staff carried by high-ranking Roman Catholic, Eastern Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Anglican, and some Lutheran, United Methodist and Pentecostal prelates. Other typical insignia of many of these prelates are the mitre, the pectoral cross, and the episcopal ring. A crosier staff is a part of the tradition of Jewish Christianity.

George Gillespie

George Gillespie (21 January 1613 – 17 December 1648) was a Scottish theologian.


Jehoiarib (Hebrew: יְהוֹיָרִיב‎ Yehōyārîḇ, "Yahweh contends") was the head of a family of priests, which was made the first of the twenty-four priestly divisions organized by King David.(1 Chr. 24:7)

Joash (high priest)

Joash (Hebrew: יוֹאָשׁ‎ Yō’āš, "Yah is strong") was the fourth High Priest of Solomon's Temple. Josephus wrote that after Azariah his son 'Joram' became the new High Priest. The third name in the High Priest family line of 1 Chr. 5:30-40 (6:4-15 in other translations) is 'Johanan'.

Madonna of Nicolas van Maelbeke

The Madonna of Nicolas van Maelbeke was a large but now lost hinged triptych attributed to Jan van Eyck, thought to have been completed late in his career, perhaps his final work. It is known today through a replica dating to 1757–60, and several near contemporary silverpoint copies, one by Petrus Christus or his workshop c. 1445 in Vienna, and another by an unknown artist, probably a member of his workshop, which is now in the Germanisches Nationalmuseum in Nuremberg. The original was commissioned by Nicolas Maelbeke for the Saint Martin monastery in Ypres where it was installed in 1445. That the donor is present in the central panel is unusual; typically in mid-15th century triptychs he or she would be in an accompanying wing.

The drawings are perfunctory copies of the type routinely carried out by workshop assistants, who were presumably recording the design for later full oil panels.

In the 18th century copy, the virgin stands in a cathedral with a vaulted ceiling dressed in a scarlet mantle. She holds the Christ Child in her arms as the donor Nicolas Maelbeke kneels before her. He wears a richly embroidered green cope and holds a book of hours in his right hand and a scepter in his left. The wing panels contain scenes related to the Immaculate Conception, including representations of the burning bush, Gideon, Ezekiel and Aaron's rod. When closed, the 18th century copy's exterior wings show a grisaille depiction of the vision of Ara Coeli.

Priestly golden head plate

The priestly crown or frontlet (צִיץ ṣîṣ/tsiyts) was the golden plate or tiara worn by the Jewish High Priest on his mitre or turban whenever he would minister in the Tabernacle or the Temple in Jerusalem.

Priestly tunic

The priestly tunic (Hebrew: כֻּתֹּנֶת‬ kutonet) was as an undergarment or shirt worn by the High Priest and priests when they served in the Tabernacle and the Temple in Jerusalem.

Priestly turban

The priestly mitre or turban (Hebrew: מִצְנֶפֶת‬ mitznefet) was the head covering worn by the High Priest of Israel when he served in the Tabernacle and the Temple in Jerusalem.

R. rosea

R. rosea may refer to:

Rhodinocichla rosea, the rosy thrush-tanager, a bird species

Rhodiola rosea, the golden root, roseroot or Aaron's Rod, a plant species found in cold regions of the world

Rhodostethia rosea, the Ross's gull, a bird species

Romulea rosea, a herbaceous perennial plant species endemic to the western Cape Province in South Africa

Roseomonas rosea, a species of Gram-negative bacteria

Rhodiola rosea

Rhodiola rosea (commonly golden root, rose root, roseroot, Aaron's rod, Arctic root, king's crown, lignum rhodium, orpin rose) is a perennial flowering plant in the family Crassulaceae. It grows naturally in wild Arctic regions of Europe (including Britain), Asia, and North America, and can be propagated as a groundcover. Rhodiola rosea has long been used in traditional medicine for several disorders, notably including treatment of anxiety and depression, but there is little scientific evidence to verify any benefit.

Staff of Moses

The Staff of Moses is a staff mentioned in the Bible and Quran as a walking stick used by Moses. According to the Book of Exodus in the Bible, the staff of (Hebrew: מַטֶּה‎ matteh, translated "rod" in the King James Bible) was used to produce water from a rock, was transformed into a snake and back, and was used at the parting of the Red Sea. Whether or not Moses' staff was the same as that used by his brother Aaron (known as Aaron's rod) has been debated by rabbinical scholars.

Thermopsis villosa

Thermopsis villosa, or Aaron's rod, is an herbaceous plant in the legume family. Its native range is in North America, in the southern Appalachian mountains. It is found elsewhere as an escape from cultivation.

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