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Rod or Staff?

"The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want; He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters; He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of my enemies; Thou anointest my head with oil, my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for ever." (Psalm 23:1-6 RSV)

Aaron's Rod In Bible History, two of the most important tools of a Shepherd were the rod and staff. The rod was a stick about a yard/meter long with a knob on one end, while the staff, or "shepherd's crook," looked somewhat like a modern cane, although sometimes longer.

While they were technically two different tools, there is often very little difference between the original Hebrew words for them. In fact, for example, the very same Hebrew word, pronounced mat-taw, is translated sometimes as rod, and at other times as staff, even within the same translation. An example from the traditional King James version:

  • "And he said, What pledge shall I give thee? And she said, Thy signet, and thy bracelets, and thy staff [mat-taw] that is in thine hand." (Genesis 38:18 KJV)

  • "And thou shalt take this rod [mat-taw] in thine hand, wherewith thou shalt do signs." (Exodus 4:17 KJV)

As is so often the case, various translations also use different words for the same original word e.g. for Exodus 7:12, the King James Version (KJV) and the Revised Standard Version (RSV) use rod, while the New American Standard Bible (NASB) and New International Version (NIV) use staff.

In the case of Aaron's rod, or Aaron's Staff, which was used by Aaron and Moses before Pharaoh and after the Exodus, the object shown in the illustration above has the shape of a rod (no "crook" on the end), but the length of a staff (a rod was usually shorter). We do know that his rod, or staff, was no longer than about 43 inches - otherwise it would not have been possible to place it in The Ark Of The Covenant, which was that length (Exodus 25:10).

Fact Finder: Did Moses use a rod/staff in the parting of the Red Sea?
Exodus 14:16
See also Where Did They Cross The Sea? and Is This How The Red Sea Parted?


This Week's Bible Quiz

1. Who was older, Moses or Aaron?

2. Was King David the oldest or youngest son in his family?

3. Ephraim and Manasseh became the progenitors of two Tribes Of Israel just like Jacob's actual sons. Were they nephews or grandsons of Jacob?

4. Was the Egyptian woman who raised Moses the sister or daughter of Pharaoh?

5. Was Lot the brother or nephew of Abraham?

6. Who was the firstborn son of Jacob/Israel, whose mother was Leah?

7. Who was the youngest son of Jacob/Israel, whose mother was Rachel?

8. Who was the only daughter of Jacob/Israel?

9. Who was older of the brothers, Isaac or Ishmael?

10. Who was older of the brothers, Jacob or Esau?

For the answers to this March 21 2000 quiz, see the Bible Quiz Answers Page


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