What is Aaron's rod
Joseph Smith and his contemporaries lived in a culture of biblical ideas, language, and customs. Some Bible accounts, such as the story of Moses and his brother Aaron, describe how objects, including sticks, are used to demonstrate God's will (see Exodus 7: 9-12 and Numbers 17: 8). Similarly, many Christians in Joseph Smith's day saw the divining rod as a means of revelation. They believed that such a rod could help them find groundwater or minerals.1
The first versions of Revelation in Doctrine and Covenants 8 state that Oliver Cowdery had “the gift of rod working” or “natural rod,” indicating that he had at one point used a dowsing rod. The Lord testified that Oliver Cowdery did indeed have this gift, proclaiming, “There is no power other than the power of God that can make this natural thing work in your hands.” In 1835 Church leaders prepared these Revelation for publication in the Doctrine and Covenants. They referred to Oliver Cowdery's gift as "the gift of Aaron" and thus established a connection with Aaron's staff.2
Other sources also suggest that Oliver Cowdery and also Joseph Smith Sr. and Joseph Smith Jr. may have used divining rods. Revelation, however, gives no indication of the way Oliver Cowdery used his rod, only that he possessed several gifts and this was one of them. In addition, through this revelation, Oliver Cowdery learned how through study, prayer, and with the help of the Holy Ghost, he could obtain the gift of translation.
Jeffrey G. Cannon, "Oliver Cowderyʼs Gift: DC 6, 7, 8, 9, 13", in: Matthew McBride and James Goldberg, eds., Revelations in Context: The Stories behind the Sections of the Doctrine and Covenants, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City 2016, 15–19; see also https://history.lds.org/article/doctrine-and-covenants-oliver-cowdery?lang=deu
"Revelation, April 1829-B [DC 8]," Historical Introduction, josephsmithpapers.org
More information on this subject can be found in the publication listed below. The fact that we refer to or link to this source does not mean that we endorse the author's views or accept liability for the content.
Larry E. Morris, "Oliver Cowdery's Vermont Years and the Origins of Mormonism", BYU Studies, Volume 39, No. 1, 2000, pages 106-129
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