17:1 1 The Lord spoke to Moses: 17:2 “Speak to the Israelites, and receive from them a staff from each tribe, 2 one from every tribal leader, 3 twelve staffs; you must write each man’s name on his staff. 17:3 You must write Aaron’s name on the staff of Levi; for one staff is for the head of every tribe. 4 17:4 You must place them 5 in the tent of meeting before the ark of the covenant 6 where I meet with you. 17:5 And the staff of the man whom I choose will blossom; so I will rid myself of the complaints of the Israelites, which they murmur against you.”
17:6 So Moses spoke to the Israelites, and each of their leaders gave him a staff, one for each leader, 7 according to their tribes 8 – twelve staffs; the staff of Aaron was among their staffs. 17:7 Then Moses placed the staffs before the Lord in the tent of the testimony. 9
17:8 On the next day Moses went into the tent of the testimony – and 10 the staff of Aaron for the house of Levi had sprouted, and brought forth buds, and produced blossoms, and yielded almonds! 11 17:9 So Moses brought out all the staffs from before the Lord to all the Israelites. They looked at them, 12 and each man took his staff.
17:10 The Lord said to Moses, “Bring Aaron’s staff back before the testimony to be preserved for a sign to the rebels, so that you may bring their murmurings to an end 13 before me, that they will not die.” 14 17:11 So Moses did as the Lord commanded him – this is what he did.
[17:4] 5 tn The verb is the Hiphil perfect of נוּחַ (nuakh, “to rest”), and so “to set at rest, lay, place, put.” The form with the vav (ו) consecutive continues the instruction of the previous verse.
[17:7] 9 tn The name of the tent now attests to the centrality of the ark of the covenant. Instead of the “tent of meeting” (מוֹעֵד, mo’ed) we now find the “the tent of the testimony” (הָעֵדֻת, ha’edut).
[17:8] 11 sn There is no clear answer why the tribe of Levi had used an almond staff. The almond tree is one of the first to bud in the spring, and its white blossoms are a beautiful sign that winter is over. Its name became a name for “watcher”; Jeremiah plays on this name for God’s watching over his people (1:11-12).