Aaron's rod

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Aaron's rod refers to any of the staves carried by Moses' brother, Aaron, in the Old Testament of the Bible. The Bible tells how, along with Moses' rod, Aaron's rod was endowed with miraculous power during the Plagues of Egypt which preceded the Exodus. There are two occasions where the Bible tells of the rod's power even when it was not being held by its owner.

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Biblical references

In the culture of the Israelites, the rod would be a natural symbol of authority, as the tool used by the shepherd to correct and guide his flock (Psalm 23:4). Moses' rod is, in fact, cited in Exodus 4:2 as carried by him while he tended his sheep; and later (Exodus 4:20) becomes his symbol of authority over the Israelites (Psalm 2:9, Psalm 89:32, Isaiah 10:24 and 11:4, Ezekiel 20:37). The rods of both Moses and Aaron were endowed with miraculous power during the Plagues of Egypt (Exodus 7:17, 8:5, 8:16-17, 9:23, and 10:13); God commanded Moses to raise his rod over the Red Sea when it was to be parted (Exodus 14:16) and in prayer over Israel in battle (Exodus 17:9); Moses brings forth water from a stone using his rod (Exodus 17, Numbers 20:11).

Aaron's rod, however, is cited twice as exhibiting miraculous power on its own, when not physically in the grasp of its owner. In Exodus 7 (Parshat Va'eira in the Torah), God sends Moses and Aaron to Pharaoh once more, instructing Aaron that when Pharaoh demands to see a miracle, he is to "cast down his rod" and it will become a serpent. When he does so, Pharaoh's sorcerers counter by similarly casting down their own rods which also become serpents, but Aaron's rod/serpent swallows them all. "Pharaoh's heart is stubborn" and he chooses to ignore this bit of symbolic warning, and so the Plagues of Egypt ensue. Notably, this chapter begins with God telling Moses, "Behold, I have made you as God to Pharaoh".

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