Aaron’s rod was Moses’ shepherd staff. They both used this same rod to perform miracles. Aaron’s rod is also called the “rod of God” (Exodus 4:20) and was an instrumental tool in the events leading to the pharaoh’s release of the Israelites.
When God first asked Moses to go to Egypt and talk to the Pharaoh to deliver the Israelites, Moses answered, “What if they will not believe me or listen to what I say? For they may say, ‘The LORD has not appeared to you.’” The LORD said to him, “What is that in your hand?” And he said, “A staff.” Then He said, “Throw it on the ground.” So he threw it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from it. But the LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand and grasp it by its tail”—so he stretched out his hand and caught it, and it became a staff in his hand— “that they may believe that the LORD, the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you” (Exodus 4:1-5).
Moses did as the Lord commanded before Pharaoh and the rod turned into a snake and devoured the fake snakes of the pharaoh’s magicians. Thus, the superiority of the Lord’s power was demonstrated (Ex 7:8–13). But Pharaoh hardened his heart and didn’t listen to the Lord.
So, God asked Moses to announce that he would smite the waters of the Nile with the staff in his hand to turn it into blood (Exodus 7:15-18). This supernatural act was done by Aaron, who took Moses’ staff and stretched out his hand over the waters (v. 19-20). Later, Aaron’s rod was also used to inflict the plagues of frogs (Ex 8:1–15) and gnats or lice (Ex 8:16–19).
After the Exodus, Moses used the rod again to perform the mighty act of splitting the Red Sea. For the Lord commanded Moses, “lift up your rod, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it. And the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea” (Exodus 14:16). As a result the Israelites crossed safely to the other side. But when the Egyptian army pursued after them to destroy them, the Lord told Moses “Stretch out your hand over the sea, that the waters may come back” (v. 26) and all the Egyptian army drowned into the sea. And the Israelites were free at last from the Egyptian bondage.
Aaron’s rod was placed into the Ark of the Covenant as a memorial to the mighty deeds of God in delivering His children from slavery: “And the LORD said to Moses, “Bring Aaron’s rod back before the Testimony, to be kept as a sign against the rebels, that you may put their complaints away from Me, lest they die” (Numbers 17:10).
In His service,
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