Two Kinds of Staves

We’ve covered the water, and The Rock, but there’s another element present here at Rephadim: the staff.  Just like there’s more than one word for ‘rock’ there’s more than one Hebrew word translated as “staff” and which staff is being used makes a subtle difference in what’s being taught. 

Exodus 17:5“And YHWH said to Moses, “Pass on before the people, taking with you some of the elders of Israel, and take in your hand THE STAFF with which you struck the Nile, and go. Behold, I will stand before you there on The Rock at Horeb, and you shall strike The Rock, and water shall come out of it, and the people will drink.” And Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel.”  

The context here tells us a lot about this staff—in Hebrew, metteh (Strongs H4294).  This is also the first time since just before Pesach that “the elders” have been mentioned.  Before and after the striking of The Rock, we are told how important it is that the elders are nice and close, and that the people are watching.  This word metteh is also the same word for ‘tribe’, it’s translated as ‘tribe’ hundreds of times—so ultimately this type of staff represents authority, and Yah has been using this particular staff since the burning bush to show His own authority.  Yah is also using this same staff to prove that He’s chosen Moses as His stand-in for this particular rescue and re-education mission.  A careful look back at Exodus will reveal something surprising.  Most of the miracles happening in Egypt seem to be happening with just this one staff (called ‘The Staff of God’ in Exodus 4:20) however that one staff was passed back and forth between Aaron and Moses.  If there were two staves, then this one smacking the rock certainly was Aaron’s staff, just in Moses’ hand. (Aaron’s staff was the one that made the Nile turn to blood in Exodus 7:19).  

In back-to-back chapters now we’ve seen important Holy mementos being collected. First the manna, which eventually gets put into the Ark of the Covenant—and now Aaron’s staff, which eventually joins it.  Again, this staff represents Yah’s authority, and it’s meaning evolves to specifically represent the bloodline of Aaron’s Holy authority as Yah’s High Priest on earth. We don’t know how many elders went up on The Rock with Moses, but we can see a progression of shared authority from the burning bush to this moment.  First, Moses alone is given the authority of YHWH, then Moses and Aaron share that authority. Here at The Rock, it’s Moses plus the elders. Next Shabbat we’ll see this growth of authority continue to Joshua, then eventually to 70 elders. In Numbers 11:17, these same elders get filled with the Holy Spirit!  

How amazing and applicable to us that YHWH’s desire is to SHARE His authority. 

The primary take-away of these lessons on ‘The Way to Shavuot’ is that we need to learn and manifest the HEART of Yah in our own lives if we ever hope to wield His Kingdom authority properly.  This indeed is the point of the entire Torah.

Now is a good time to mention the OTHER famous ‘staff’ in Scripture, even though it’s not mentioned here at Rephaim. This one is called a makkel (Strongs H4731) and it seems to represent the humble beginnings of NEW authority. It is certainly not a common word, but this staff has very prominent prop placement.  Jacob is the first to use it in preparation for his personal Exodus from Laban, and appropriate to what it represents, it’s made from fresh, young, wood.  In Genesis 30:37, he peeled stripes in this sapling “rod” and it miraculously becomes the vehicle for the growth of Jacob’s flocks.  This is Jacob’s turn-around moment and when he truly claims his new found authority in Yah. This subtle foreshadowing of the bigger Exodus is made obvious by the makkel’s next mention. “In this manner you shall eat it: with your belt fastened, your sandals on your feet, and your STAFF in your hand. And you shall eat it in haste. It is YHWH’s Pesach.” (Exodus 12:11)  

One last famous makkel appearance: “Then he [young David] took his STAFF in his hand and chose five smooth stones from the brook and put them in his shepherd’s pouch. His sling was in his hand, and he approached the Philistine…And the Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with STICKS?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods.” (1 Samuel 17:40,43)  The five stones always get sole credit (five often represents the Torah) and the word for stones is also crucial, but those stones gained their power only as combined with Holy authority.  The combination is what brings down giants.  Once you see the importance of this particular STICK, I hope that you’ll never see this story the same way again.  

So regardless if we are holding a makkel or a metteh we, as His redeemed people, are being invited to wield Yah’s powerful authority responsibly.  That means we do it with the proper spirit as well within the guidelines of His law.  

Tomorrow we’ll look at what happens when that authority is abused…with a flash-forward to the other (not so good) ‘water from a rock’ event in numbers 20. 

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