So, in my previous Why did God stop using Aaron and his rod?, RHPclass79 said:

A rod, God's rod, Moses' and Aaron's rod are all the same. It is also the rod that budded and was later put in the Arc of the Covenant.

Also, Dan Fefferman said:

Aaron's rod, which seems to have been shared with Moses and was also called "the staff of God," played an important part in the miraculous events leading up to the Exodus.

I had thought that these staffs were separate, but I read The Staff of Moses, on JTS, agreement that they are the same:

Although, in the narrative the staff is referred to variously as belonging to Moses, Aaron and even God (17:9), the Midrash also holds that there is only one staff. Ownership is a function of wielding it (Sh’mot Rabbah 26:3).

These verses talk about Moses' rod which produced miracles: Exodus 4:2, 7:15, 7:20, 9:23, and 10:13.

Exodus 4:2 NKJV

So the Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?”

He said, “A rod.”

Exodus 4:2 implies that Moses already had this rod.

These verses refer to Aaron's rod: Exodus 7:10, 7:12, 7:19, 8:1, and 8:12. Some of these, Aaron is being used to perform miracles.

Exodus 7:10 NKJV

So Moses and Aaron went in to Pharaoh, and they did so, just as the Lord commanded. And Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh and before his servants, and it became a serpent.

Then in Exodus 4:20 and Exodus 17:9 this rod is called “the rod of God.”

Exodus 4:20 NKJV

Then Moses took his wife and his sons and set them on a donkey, and he returned to the land of Egypt. And Moses took the rod of God in his hand.

It seems there may be differing ideas. Were these rods different or the same?


2 Answers 2


They are different staffs. The operative noun here is מַטֶּה (matteh) which occurs as follows:

  • Ex 4:2, 4, 17, 20 is Moses' staff in his hand.
  • Ex 7:8-12 discusses Aaron's staff alone; specifically, "the staff in Aaron's hand"
  • Ex 7:15, 17, 19, 20 is Moses' staff.

As if to reinforce this still further, the English appears to record the same miracle twice about the staff becoming a snake. However, there is an important difference:

  • Moses' staff becomes a snake, nachash, in Ex 4:3
  • Aaron's staff becomes a snake, tannin, in Ex 7:10

Thus, it is obvious that both Aaron and Moses each carried a staff - a very common feature of ancient leaders and prophets.

  • There's two was to say snake? Looks like I need to learn Hebrew already! Thanks for your answer! +1
    – Jason_
    Commented Jan 26 at 1:30

A complicating factor here is the issue of sources. For those that accept the documentary hypothesis, the "P" source is weighted toward Aaron while the "J" source is more pro-Moses. Regarding @Dottard's answer, Ex. 4 is thought to be from the J source while the relevant parts of Ex. 7 are from P. (This link is useful for discerning which verses belong to the various sources.) The hypothetical fact of two different sources also accounts for Ex. 4 calling the snake "nachash" and Ex. 7 calling it "tannin."

The P source is also the hypothetical source of Numbers 7, which gives special prominence not only to Aaron's rod but also to his authority as high priest. The "E" source, meanwhile, is openly critical of Aaron, making him the villain in the story of the Golden Calf. The "P" source's viewpoint ultimately carried the day, as Moses' descendants amounted to little, while Aaron's acted as priests and high priests throughout history.

Conclusion. As the OP shows, my language was not definite regarding the "two staffs" really being one. In fact, I think it may be impossible to reach a definite conclusion on this matter.

  • Woah! This is my first time reading through the OT in depth so a lot is relatively new, though I grew up with these stories. The stuff I'm learning about goes deep! Thank you!
    – Jason_
    Commented Jan 26 at 0:55

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