New Defender's Study Bible Notes
20:8 Take the rod. This was not the rod of judgment, with which Moses had smitten the rock almost forty years before. Water from that rock had followed them as a perennially flowing stream through all their wilderness wanderings. The rod mentioned here was Aaron’s rod that budded (Numbers 17:10; 20:9), implying resurrection instead of judgment.
20:8 speak ye unto the rock. This rock was a high craggy rock (in Hebrew cela), in contrast to the small rock (in Hebrew tsur), which had been smitten before (Exodus 17:6).
20:11 he smote the rock. Once again the Lord miraculously provided water out of the rock for the horde of Israelites (see note on Exodus 17:6 for the first instance). However, this time Moses disobeyed God by smiting the rock twice instead of speaking to it once. Worse than this, he was now so used to having the Lord perform miracles for the people through him that he took the credit (“must we fetch you water”–Numbers 20:10). It was for this reason that God would not allow him to cross the Jordan. “Ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel” (Numbers 20:12).
20:14 thy brother Israel. The Edomites were descended from Esau, Jacob’s brother.
20:17 the king’s high way. This route has been the major transportation route from Damascus to the Gulf of Aqabah for over three thousand years. It runs through the lands of Edom, Moab and Ammon, somewhat parallel to the Jordan River and the Dead Sea. A modern paved highway more or less follows along the same ancient route.
20:28 Aaron died there. The death of Aaron essentially marked the end of the forty years of wanderings (see Numbers 33:38). Although it is not mentioned, this means that all the other men who had been more than twenty years old when the ten spies brought back their evil report were now dead (Numbers 14:26-35). Thus it was time to resume the planned conquest of Canaan.