17:4 You must place them 1 in the tent of meeting before the ark of the covenant 2 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, 3 according to their tribes 4 – 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. 5
1 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.
2 tn The Hebrew text simply reads “the covenant” or “the testimony.”
3 tn Heb “a rod for one leader, a rod for one leader.”
4 tn Heb “the house of their fathers.”
5 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).
6 tn Here too the deictic particle (“and behold”) is added to draw attention to the sight in a vivid way.
7 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).