20:17 What is that in thy right hand, O Moses?
When Moses heard the address, “Surely I am thy Lord,” the ruling power of awe began to attack and he fell into bewilderment and confoundedness. Because of the force of that awe, ease did not remain in its place. His body was not able to bear it with patience, and his heart was not able to busy itself with intellect. The Lord of the Worlds attended to his heart with the call of gentleness; He began speaking about his staff. He said, “What is that in thy right hand, O Moses?”
He said, “It is my staff” [20:18].
The command came, “Throw it down, O Moses! [20:19]. Throw down this staff concerning which you say that it is your staff.”
Moses threw it down and it became a snake. When he saw that the snake aimed to come after him, he was frightened and fled. The call came, “Take it, and fear not! [20:21]. O Moses, pick up the snake and do not fear. This is that very staff of which you spoke, claiming it was your staff. O Moses, what do you have to do with making claims? The men of the road make no claims and ascribe nothing to themselves.”
It was the attribute of Moses' own being and the traces of his claim that turned toward him in that Presence, for the claims of mortal nature were still staining his innate disposition. The stain appeared with the claim my staff, so it was said to him, “O Moses, there is still something of egoism in you.” It was a mercy from the Real to Moses that He said, “What is that in thy right hand, O Moses?,” for the claim appeared from his makeup, and then he was made aware of it. He left the claim behind and shook the dust from the cloak of his sinlessness.