#255. Where is Aaron’s budding rod placed: in front of the Ark of Testimony OR in it? (Num 17:25 vs Heb 9:4)

There appears to be conflating traditions concerning where Aaron’s budding rod was relegated.

In the Priestly narrative of Numbers 17, Aaron’s budding rod is set in front of the Ark of Testimony before Yahweh’s throne seat (#159; #226) to serve as “a sign to rebels.”

But when the author of Hebrews six centuries later duplicates this tradition while speaking of the first Temple, he places Aaron’s budding rod in the Ark!

He also—and I missed this in our Exodus contradictions—places the the omer of manna collected in the manna story in the Ark too, rather than in front of the Ark as stated in Exodus 16:34.

Lastly, the Hebrews’ account then states that the Tablets of the Covenant were also in the Ark. This too conflates with the Priestly traditions since in P what are placed in the Ark of Testimony are the Tablets with the instructions of building the Tabernacle! See #156.

Finally, both 1 Kings 8:9 and 2 Chr 5:10, which reproduces the account in Kings, contradict the account in Hebrews. For both these texts state that: “There was nothing in the Ark save the two Tables of stone which Moses put there at Horeb.” This matches both the Elohist tradition now in Exodus and the Deuteronomic tradition.

Why then did the author of Hebrews change this? Minor oversight on his part? Or did he change this on purpose to express a personal agenda of some sort? My initial response is to say neither: most likely he was reproducing a 1st century CE oral tradition that had veered somewhere in its transmission from the written text. — just a guess.

Posted in Numbers, Old vs New Testament | 3 Comments

3 Responses to #255. Where is Aaron’s budding rod placed: in front of the Ark of Testimony OR in it? (Num 17:25 vs Heb 9:4)

  1. John Kesler says:

    At 9:3-4, the author of Hebrews claims that the golden altar of incense was kept in the Holy of Holies, which is at variance with Exodus 30:6 and 40:26:

    Hebrews 9:3-4
    3Behind the second curtain was a tent called the Holy of Holies. 4In it stood the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant overlaid on all sides with gold, in which there were a golden urn holding the manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant…

    Exodus 30:1,6, 40:16,26
    1 You shall make an altar on which to offer incense; you shall make it of acacia wood….6You shall place it in front of the curtain that is above the ark of the covenant, in front of the mercy-seat that is over the covenant, where I will meet you.

    16 Moses did everything just as Yahweh had commanded him….26He put the golden altar in the tent of meeting before the curtain…

    The author also claims that the jar of manna is gold, a detail not found in the MT of Exodus 16:33-34, but which is in the LXX. Given all this, I think that any of your possibilities, or some combination, is possible.

  2. Paul D. says:

    Thanks, that was a good one!

  3. Paul D. says:

    Another contradiction you might have missed involves the circumstances of the Ark’s creation. In Exodus 37, the Ark is made by the craftsman Bezalel, a Judahite handpicked by Yahweh. However, Deuteronomy 10 has a briefer (probably earlier) tradition in which Moses himself makes the Ark while on the mountain.

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