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Numbers 17 -- 18: The Test of the Rods
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In Hebrew, "rod" means also tribe. Aaron's rod that budded signaled to Israel that life springs from the consecrated priesthood.

The request for a proof may very well be the poster child of our fallen human nature. Ever since original sin broke the initial harmony and concupiscence disfigured humanity, a proof became the natural means by which we gain trust, or believe. 

But requesting a proof from God is, generally speaking, a bad idea. Not only we run the risk of putting God to the test, but we choke the faculty of faith in us. Faith operates as an inter-personal dialog, an exchange by which we are loved and we learn to love. Faith is build upon the Cross, the ultimate proof of Love. Still, our nature thirst for reassurance, for a consolation, or a sign, and God in his Mercy understands our need and hears us when we ask.

In these chapters, Israel is going through trying times; a crisis of confidence in its institution and leaders. God then intervenes and provides Israel with a clear sign, but what a sign that was. Aaron's rod -- a piece of dead wood -- buds.  Life from the dead, is an unmistakable sign of the Divine for no one else but God is the Lord of life and death and can cause the later to produce the former. 

God reinforces the Levitical priesthood and clarifies their role and jurisdiction. Often then, God will turn the weakness a crisis leaves behind into renewed strength for the entire community.

 

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