Numbers 20:8 MEANING

Numbers 20:8
(8) Take the rod.--It has been supposed by some, from the fact that the rod is represented as being taken "from before the Lord" (Numbers 20:9), that the reference is to the rod of Aaron which was kept "before the testimony" (Numbers 17:10). On the other hand, the natural presumption that the rod was the same as that with which some of the previous miracles in Egypt and those at the Red Sea and at Rephidim had been wrought is confirmed by the facts that the name of Aaron is not mentioned in this verse until after the mention of the rod, and that Moses is said, in Numbers 20:11, to have smitten the rock "with his rod."

Verse 8. - Take the rod. The ῤάβδος, or staff of office, with which Moses and Aaron had worked wonders before Pharaoh (Exodus 7:9 sq.), and with which Moses had smitten the rock in Rephidim (Exodus 17:6). This rod had not been mentioned, nor perhaps used, since then; but we might certainly have supposed that the instrument of so many miracles would be reverently laid up in the tabernacle "before the Lord," and, this we find from the next verse to have been the case. Gather thou the assembly together, i.e., by their representatives. Speak ye unto the rock before their eyes. The word used for the rock in this narrative is הַסֶּלַע instead of הַצּוּר, as in Exodus 17. It does not seem that any certain distinction of meaning can be drawn between the words, which are obviously interchanged in Judges 6:20, 21, and are both translated πέτρα by the Septuagint; but the careful use of different terms in the two narratives serves to distinguish them, just as the use of κοφίνους and σπυρίδας by St. Mark (Mark 6:43; Mark 8:8, 19, 20) helps to distinguish the two miracles of feeding the multitude.

20:1-13 After thirty-eight years' tedious abode in the wilderness, the armies of Israel advanced towards Canaan again. There was no water for the congregation. We live in a wanting world, and wherever we are, must expect to meet with something to put us out. It is a great mercy to have plenty of water, a mercy which, if we found the want of, we should more own the worth of. Hereupon they murmured against Moses and Aaron. They spake the same absurd and brutish language their fathers had done. It made their crime the worse, that they had smarted so long for the discontent and distrusts of their fathers, yet they venture in the same steps. Moses must again, in God's name, command water out of a rock for them; God is as able as ever to supply his people with what is needful for them. But Moses and Aaron acted wrong. They took much of the glory of this work of wonder to themselves; Must we fetch water? As if it were done by some power or worthiness of their own. They were to speak to the rock, but they smote it. Therefore it is charged upon them, that they did not sanctify God, that is, they did not give to him alone that glory of this miracle which was due unto his name. And being provoked by the people, Moses spake unadvisedly with his lips. The same pride of man would still usurp the office of the appointed Mediator; and become to ourselves wisdom, righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption. Such a state of sinful independence, such a rebellion of the soul against its Saviour, the voice of God condemns in every page of the gospel.Take thy rod,.... The rod of miracles, as the Targum of Jonathan; not the rod of Aaron, miraculous for its blossom and fruit, as some Jewish writers think; but the rod of Moses, with which he had done many wonders in Egypt, and at the Red sea, and in the wilderness, and particularly by smiting the rock at Horeb, when the Israelites wanted water, as they did now:

and gather thou the assembly together, thou, and Aaron thy brother; not only the heads of the people, but the body of them, as many as could be got together to see the miracle, and to receive the benefit of it:

and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes; which was near, but a little way off, within sight, and might be pointed to: it was not the same rock that was smote before; that was in Horeb, this in the extremity of the land of Edom, as Aben Ezra observes; this was to be spoken to, and by a word speaking it would give out water; which was a trial of the faith of Moses and Aaron, as well as of the people, before whom, in a public manner, the rock was to be addressed, as if it was intelligent and all-sufficient:

and it shall give forth his water; not as though there was a fountain of water in it, but that water should flow from it, or God by it give water:

and thou shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock; by speaking to it: so thou shalt give the congregation and their beasts drink; sufficient for them both.

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