8 Apr. Numbers 16:41-17:11

8 Apr. Aaron saves the people of Israel

“The next day all the Israelites complained against Moses and Aaron and said, ‘You have killed the LORD’s people.’”

“When the people gathered to complain against Moses and Aaron, they turned towards the Meeting Tent, and the cloud covered it. The glory of the LORD appeared… The LORD said to Moses, ‘Move away from these people so I can destroy them quickly.’ So Moses and Aaron bowed face down."

“Then Moses said to Aaron, ‘get your [incense] pan, and put fire from the altar and incense in it. Hurry to the people and remove their sin. The LORD is angry with them; the sickness has already started.’”

“So Aaron did as Moses said. He ran to the middle of the people… [and] offered the incense to remove their sin. He stood between the dead and the living, and the sickness stopped there. But 14,700 people died from that sickness, in addition to those who died because of Korah…”

“The LORD said to Moses, ‘Speak to the people of Israel and get twelve walking sticks from them – one from the leader of each tribe. Write the name of each man on his stick, and on the stick from [the tribe of] Levi, write Aaron’s name… Put them in the Meeting Tent in front of the Ark of the [Covenant] Agreement, where I meet with you. I will choose one man whose walking stick will begin to grow leaves; in this way I will stop the Israelites from always complaining against you...’”

“The next day, when Moses entered the Tent, he saw that Aaron’s stick (which stood for the family of Levi) had grown leaves. It had even budded, blossomed and produced almonds. So Moses brought out to the Israelites all the walking sticks from the LORD’s presence…”

“Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Put Aaron’s walking stick back in front of the Ark of the [Covenant] Agreement. It will remind these people who are always turning against me to stop their complaining against me so they won’t die.’ So Moses observed what the LORD commanded him.”

          (Numbers 16:41- 17:11)



The repercussions of the Levites’ rebellion against Aaron continued in today’s reading. After Korah, the ring-leader, and his family were killed by an earthquake as the ground opened up underneath them, the 250 Levites who had rebelled were struck down by a ‘fire from God’ (see Numbers 16:35). We’re not told what this ‘fire’ was, but it may have been a deadly plague.

If so, the plague spread quickly to other Israelites camping closely together in their armed encampment. Moses not only recognised God’s anger directed against the rebel Levites, but also saw the spread of this sickness (see Numbers 16:46) as a further sign of God’s displeasure on other complaining Israelites.

Once again, Moses quickly intervened to cleanse the people of their sin and to reverse God’s judgement on them. He instructed Aaron to make an offering of incense to God for the sins of the people (see Leviticus 16:11-12), and, following this, the plague subsided.

In order to re-establish Aaron’s authority following the death of the rebel Levites, God instructed Moses to take twelve walking sticks from the leaders of each tribe. Aaron’s staff was to be included as he was the leader of the tribe of Levi. Walking sticks or staffs were symbols of leadership, as each leader used his staff to marshal the people as they marched out of the camp (in the same way as a military band leader today uses his mace to lead his musicians).

The staves were left overnight in the Tent of Meeting. In the morning, Aaron’s staff had blossomed and produced almonds. This was seen as a sign that God would continue to bless Aaron’s leadership.

In the following chapter, Aaron was given new instructions about the duties of priests and Levites. God emphasised that the Levites must be kept firmly under Aaron’s control, and they were not to do the duties reserved for Aaron’s sons, the priests (see Numbers 18:1-4).

In Chapter 19, Moses and Aaron were given instructions on the ‘water of cleansing’ prepared from the ashes of a red heifer, and used by the Israelites to ‘wash away’ sins.

The photo (by Joneikifi) shows the monument to Aaron on the summit of Jabal Harun (Mount Aaron) near Petra in Jordan.

You can read more about the rebellion against Moses and Aaron @ https://www.thebiblejourney.org/biblejourney2/26-the-journey-continues-from-sinai-to-moab/korah-leads-a-rebellion-against-moses/

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