Rod of Moses

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ROD OF MOSES, Moses' wonder-working rod. When he drove Jethro's flock into the wilderness of Horeb (Ex. 3:1), the Lord appeared to Moses and ordered him to cast his staff to the ground, and it became a serpent; then he was ordered to seize the serpent by the tail, and it became a rod again (4:1–5). Moses subsequently repeated this and other signs before the Israelites and then before Pharaoh to convince them that he was sent by the Lord. He manipulated the staff in the performance of various miracles in Egypt (Ex. 7:14ff.; 10:13), as well as the splitting of the Sea of Reeds (Red Sea; 14:16), and the producing of water from a rock in the wilderness (Num. 20:9ff.).

[Shlomo Balter]

In the Aggadah

The rod used by Moses in performing his miracles was created during the twilight of the eve of the first Sabbath of creation (Avot 5:6) from a branch of the tree of knowledge in the Garden of Eden (arn, ed. Schechter, 157). On it were engraved the letters of the Ineffable Name (pdrk 19:140a, pdrk 42), the ten plagues inflicted upon the Egyptians, and the patriarchs, matriarchs, and twelve tribes (Targum to Ex. 14:21). The people originally thought that the staff could engender only destruction, since through its agency Moses had brought the plagues upon the Egyptians in Egypt and the Red Sea. When, however, Moses used it to smite the rock at Horeb, they learned that the rod could also produce the blessings of water (Ex. R. 26:2). With the rod, Moses smote and killed Sihon and Og (Deut. R. 11:10). He was also able to chastise the Angel of Death with it when the Angel came to take him (Deut. R. ibid.). In the next world, Moses was rewarded with the scepter which God had employed in the creation of the world. The rod which Moses used in this world was shaped and engraved in the image of this scepter (Midrash Petirat Moshe, in: A. Jellinek, Beit ha-Midrash, 1 (19382), 121).

One opinion identifies the Rod of Moses with the Rod of *Aaron (Yal., Num. 763, Ps. 869).


Ginzberg, Legends, 7 (1938), 328, index s.v.Moses, Rod of.