Numbers 17:1-7 The Lord instructed Moses to get staffs from all the chiefs according to their fathers’ houses (12 staffs) and have them write their name on the staff. Aaron did the same (in place of the name LEVI). The staffs were to be placed before the Lord in the tent of meeting before the testimony. The staff that sprouts buds shall be the man the Lord has chosen to head the priesthood and put an end to the grumbling.
Numbers 17:8-13 The next morning, Moses went into the tent of the testimony and noted that Aaron’s staff sprouted, produced blossoms, and bore ripe almonds. Moses brought out all the staffs and gave them back to the chiefs as proof. The Lord instructed Moses to put Aaron’s budded staff before the 10 commandments written on stone inside the ark of the covenant as a sign for the rebels, that they may end their grumblings or they will surely die. The people of Israel replied that they will all perish if they come near the tabernacle.
Notes: God had exceeded the demands of the test, so there would be no uncertainty of the fact that Aaron had been chosen as high priest. Finally, the people realized their sin in challenging Aaron’s role. The people’s fear of going near to God led to a reaffirmation of the priesthood of Aaron and his sons. The mediatorial role of the Aaronite high priests foreshadows the even greater role of Christ, the ultimate high priest.