Don Isaac Abravanel (1437-1508) was a preeminent Jewish thinker, scholar, and prolific Biblical
commentator. Chapter 17 finds the Hebrews trudging along desert dunes, increasingly becoming road
weary. Unbearable thirst made them more than cantankerous; they totally lost it.

“And God said unto Moses: Pass on before the people, and take with
you the elders of Israel, and your staff wherewith you smote the river,
and take in your hand, and go. Behold I will stand before you there upon
the rock in Horeb and you shall smite the rock, and there shall come
water out of it, that the people may drink. And Moses did so in the sight
of the elders of Israel.”

God came to fix matters. He instructed Moses to take his staff, and perform a miracle with it. A tap with
the rod on rock would cause water to flow, fresh water with which to supply Moses’ brethren. Bible
students are not strangers to the miracles wrought by the staff of Moses.

Abravanel wonders: What ever happened with Moses’ staff? To expand the discussion, we know that
after Aaron passed away, the staff he used to perform miracles had been ceremoniously placed next to
the Ark of Testimony for good safekeeping. There it rested together with the jar that contained heaven-
sent manna. Moreover, Aaron’s staff had a prominent place next to a container of anointing oil. During
the period of Jewish kings, King Josiah hid these holy artifacts, along with the Holy Ark.

But, when it comes to the staff of Moses, the Bible is mum. So is Jewish tradition. Not a word. Not a

Abravanel shares his hypothesis. He believes that when Moses ascended Mount Nebo – to die there –
he had brought his staff with him. Together, the prophet and the staff of God were buried. Neither, the
Bible makes explicit, will ever be found and unearthed.

The Creator would not sanction any mortal to wield the hallowed staff. This is testimony to Moses’
greatness, and uniqueness. Just as no man will ever reach his prophetic achievement, and just as no
man will ever perform such wonders, so too did Heaven decree that no man will ever lay his hand on the
staff of Moses.

See Abravanel’s World for the full discussion.