Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Staff of Adonai

The lore that speaks of the magician's staff or wand is well-known in our society. We are familiar with the fairy godmother, the White Witch, Professor Dumbledore, Gandalf the Grey, Merlin, and countless others. But where did the legendary Type of the magic staff come from? In the tradition of freemasonry staves were used during rituals of the Craft. Medieval tales of Faërie used them as instrumental tools in their magery. Circe of the Odyssey used a wand to transform Odysseus's men into animals. In Pharaonic Egypt magic wands were placed in tombs along with amulets and other toilette articles for the souls of the dead to use.

Thus we see the magic staff spoken of through history. And yet there is no where that it is spoken of so powerfully as in the Bible.

It was first to be spoken of in regard to one of the Three Patriarchs. By faith Jacob, when dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, bowing in worship over the head of his staff. He prophesied to Judah, 'The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from his loins, until Shiloh comes; and to Him shall be the expectation of the nations.' This was fulfilled in David, who defeated Goliath with his sling and his staff, and whose staff of rulership will never be broken.

Moses, however, was the master of the staff. He was, perhaps, the first archetype of the 'wizard', with his robe and beard and staff. The staff was made the primary tool with each of the miracles that Adonai empowered Aaron and Moses to perform in rescuing the Hebrews. Adonai empowered the rod of Aaron to turn into a serpent, to eat the magic staves of the Egyptian magicians, to turn the water of the Nile into blood, to invoke thunder and hail and fire out of the heavens, to bring up gnats from the dust, to call Darkness over Egypt, and finally, to divide the Red Sea. God commanded Moses to take the staff with him on his journey, as an important tool of His power. It was with this that he struck the Rock of Horeb and brought forth water. He was commanded to throw a branch into the waters of Marah in order to cleanse the waters of bitterness.

In Exodus 17, when Moses sent Joshua to fight the Amalekites, Moses said to Joshua, 'Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.' And it was so that when Moses held up the staff Israel prevailed, but when he let down his hands, Amalek prevailed. When Moses' hands grew heavy, Aaron and Hur supported his hands, so that his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. And so Israel prevailed over Amalek.

In Numbers 17, Adonai commands Moses to make a staff for each of the tribes of Israel, write their names upon them, and then put them before the Ark of the Testimony in the Tabernacle of Testimony. Adonai said, 'So it shall be the man I choose, his staff will blossom; thus will I remove the murmurings of the children of Israel which they murmur against you.' It was the staff of Aaron and the House of Levi that blossomed out and produced ripe almonds, thus choosing that Tribe as the priesthood of Adonai. Adonai then commanded that Aaron's staff be kept as a permanent sign before the Ark of the Covenant.

Shortly thereafter, when the Israelites were perishing for thirst, Adonai commanded Moses to 'Take the staff; and you and your brother Aaron gather the congregation together. Speak to the rock before them, and it will give its waters.' When Moses strikes the rock with the staff instead of speaking to it, Adonai punishes him for not following His commandment to hold the staff and speak to the rock as an animate spirit.

The Prophets also carried staves of power. In the Book of Kings, when a child lies dead, Elisha tells his servant Gehazi, 'Prepare yourself, take my staff in your hand and be on your way. If you meet anyone, you will not greet him. And if anyone greets you, you will not answer him. You shall lay my staff on the face of the child.' Elisha expects that the power of his staff will be sufficient to bring the child back to life. When Gehazi proves incapable of performing the miracle, Elisha prays, lays on the child seven times, and thus breathes life into the child.

Even the Angel of Yahweh carried a staff of power. In the story of Gideon (Judges 6-7), Yahweh commands Gideon to 'Take the meat and the unleavened bread and lay them on this rock, and pour out the broth.' Gideon does so. "Then the Angel of Yahweh stretched out the end of the staff that was in his hand and touched the meat and the unleavened bread; and fire rose out of the rock and consumed the meat and the unleavened bread. And the Angel of Yahweh departed out of his sight."

Our God is a God of wonders.

Even though I walk through the valley

of the shadow of death,

I shall fear no evil, for thou art with me.

Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.

As a footnote, the 'Rod of Aaron' is a subject of much interest in Rabbinical and Christian legends. The Jewish Encyclopedia states:

'[The] legend of the rod as given by the Syrian Solomon in his "Book of the Bee" has Christian characteristics. According to it the staff is a fragment of the Tree of Knowledge, and was successively in the possession of Shem, of the three Patriarchs, and of Judah, just as in the Jewish legend. From Judah it descended to Pharez, ancestor of David and of the Messiah. After Pharez's death an angel carried it to the mountains of Moab and buried it there, where the pious Jethro found it. When Moses, at Jethro's request, went in search of it, the rod was brought to him by an angel. With this staff Aaron and Moses performed all the miracles related in Scripture, noteworthy among which was the swallowing up of the wonder-working rods of the Egyptian Posdi. Joshua received it from Moses and made use of it in his wars (Josh. viii. 18); and Joshua, in turn, delivered it to Phinehas, who buried it in Jerusalem. There it remained hidden until the birth of Jesus, when the place of its concealment was revealed to Joseph, who took it with him on the journey to Egypt. Judas Iscariot stole it from James, brother of Jesus, who had received it from Joseph. At Jesus' crucifixion the Jews had no wood for the transverse beam of the cross, so Judas produced the staff for that purpose. This typological explanation of Moses' rod as the cross is not a novel one. Origen on Exodus (chap. vii.) says: "This rod of Moses, with which he subdued the Egyptians, is the symbol of the cross of Jesus, who conquered the world." Christian legend has preserved the Jewish accounts of the rod of the Messiah and made concrete fact of the idea.'

You can visit this link for more information on the legends of the Staff of God.


Anonymous said...

I am so glad Camille that you are back posting your insights on the Bible. You have collaged the accounts of Adonai’s staffs very well. It is interesting to find things in books that they have taken from the Bible. J.R.R. Tolkien, was one author that did that a lot. I wish that Tolkien did not call the good leaders like Gandalf a wizard, since in all the accounts that the Bible mentions “wizard” they were evil and an abomination to God. I think he could of called them something else, like prophets, which have even more power through God.
Deuteronomy 18:9-15
When thou art come into the land which the Lord the God giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations. There shall no be found among any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass thru the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the Lord: and because of all the abominations the Lord thy God doth drive them out from before thee. Thou shalt be perfect with the Lord thy God. For these nations, which thou shalt possess, hearkened unto observers of times, and unto diviners: but as for thee, the Lord thy God hath not suffered thee so to do. The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken;
I was thrilled that I was able to see the final performance of FASA, it was sensational! I was sorry that we did not get to be at Steak n’ Shake for last hurrahs and byes.

Love, Katie

Briana Mahoney said...

That was an excellent post, and so applicable to the times in which we are living. I think that it is so important for Christians to understand how powerful God is. It seems like they read those old stories where God did wondrous works, but go about their daily lives “having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.” This lethargic Christianity seems to have given a place in our generation to a great emphasis on witchcraft (Harry Potter etc.). People were made with a need for supernatural power. When the world doesn’t see it in Christianity, they turn elsewhere. As they will eventually find out, the powers of evil are far inferior to God’s power, as shown by Moses’ rod eating up the other rods, and many other examples.
Oh how I long for “jedi” Christians. It seems like too many people take the attitude of Luke Skywalker (if they get that far) looking at his sunken ship in the Dagoba System. He couldn’t lift it out of the mire because he didn’t believe the force could do it. He looked at the size and decided that it was just too big. We need to be able to look at the prophets of old (Yoda :)) and realize that God wasn’t just able to do miracles thousands of years ago; but that if we have faith the size of a mustard seed we could move mountains. As Jesus said in John 14:12 “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father .“ I have heard so many people talk about trusting God. They usually sigh and wince and say, “I guess I’ll just have to trust God.” in sort of a despairing voice, like they are using it as their last resort; and by the tone you would think they were trusting their lives to an inexperienced child most likely to screw something up. No wonder they don’t see God show himself strong. How many miracles He performed and said, “because of your faith”. “ But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Heb 11:6. I pray that God’s people will recognize and trust the power and wisdom of God, and that the world will see and turn to Him; and that we will have a return of the spirit of “The Staff of Adonai”.

Camille Rose Wolaver said...

Hello Katie & Briana!

I so completely agree with both of you. It is very sad that the world has gutted Christianity of so much wonder and in return has vested all that is dark with miraculous powers. The works of Yahweh are utterly spectacular!