Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible, by John Wesley, [1754-65], at sacred-texts.com
num 17:2Of every one - Not of every person, but of every tribe. A rod - That staff, or rod, which the princes carried in their hands as tokens of their dignity and authority. Every man's name - Every prince's: for they being the first - born, and the chief of their tribes might above all others pretend to the priesthood, if it was communicable to any of their tribes, and besides each prince represented all his tribe: so that this was a full decision of the question. And this place seems to confirm, that not only Korah and the Levites, but also those of other tribes contested with Moses and Aaron about the priesthood, as that which belonged to all the congregation they being all holy.
num 17:3Aaron's name - Rather than Levi's, for that would have left the controversy undecided between Aaron and the other Levites, whereas this would justify the appropriation of the priesthood to Aaron's family. One rod - There shall be in this, as there is in all the other tribes, only one rod, and that for the head of their tribe, who is Aaron in this tribe: whereas it might have been expected that there should have been two rods, one for Aaron, and another for his competitors of the same tribe. But Aaron's name was sufficient to determine both the tribe, and that branch or family of the tribe, to whom this dignity should be affixed.
num 17:4Before the testimony - That is, before the ark of the testimony, close by the ark. I will meet with you - And manifest my mind to you, for the ending of this dispute.
num 17:6Among their rods - Was laid up with the rest, being either one of the twelve, as the Hebrews affirm, or the thirteenth, as others think.
num 17:8Into the tabernacle - Into the most holy place, which he might safely do under the protection of God's command, though otherwise none but the high - priest might enter there, and that once in a year.
num 17:10To be kept for a token - it is probable, the buds and blossoms and fruit, all which could never have grown together, but by miracle, continued fresh, the same which produced them in a night preserving them for ages.
num 17:12We perish - Words of consternation, arising from the remembrance of these severe and repeated judgments, from the threatening of death upon any succeeding murmurings, and from the sense of their own guilt and weakness, which made them fear lest they should relapse into the same miscarriages, and thereby bring the vengeance of God upon themselves.
num 17:13Near - Nearer than be should do; an error which we may easily commit. Will God proceed with us according to his strict justice, till all the people be cut off?