From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [1]

The word ῥάβδος is translated ‘sceptre’ in  Hebrews 1:8 and ‘rod’ in  Hebrews 9:4,  1 Corinthians 4:21,  Revelation 2:27, etc. In  Hebrews 11:21, ‘Jacob … worshipped [leaning] upon the top of his staff.’ The reference is to the act of the patriarch when he received the solemn oath of Joseph, that he would bury him with his fathers (‘Israel bowed himself upon the bed’s head,’  Genesis 47:31). In Hebrews the words are an exact quotation from the Septuagint. The difference of translation has arisen from the different ways of vocalizing מטּה. The Septuagintread it as מַטָּה, ‘staff,’ and the Massoretes as מִטָּה, ‘bed.’ The question is, Which is the more likely to be right? The date of the Septuagintis uncertain (see Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible (5 vols), article‘Septuagint’), and the rise of the Massoretic system of vocalization is even more obscure (see Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible (5 vols)iv. 730a). It is not improbable that the Septuagintgives an earlier and more correct interpretation. The phrase ‘bed’s head’ is both curious and difficult. It suggests ideas which are associated with an early Victorian ‘four-poster,’ and are quite out of place in relation to a bed in the East (see Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible (5 vols), article‘Bed’). Usually the bed was laid on the floor or on a low platform, but sometimes a slight portable frame was used ( 2 Samuel 3:31). There is a reference to the head of a bed in  1 Samuel 19:13, The bed’s head may simply mean the place where the pillow was laid. Dillmann and Driver (Comm. on Genesis) accept the reading of the Massoretic text. To get over the difficulty, Cheyne (Encyclopaedia Biblica, article‘Staff’) suggests that ראש, ‘head,’ should be read as צָרָשׂ, ‘couch.’ There is no difficulty of interpretation if the Septuagintis followed: Jacob may have stood up to receive the oath of Joseph. Equally it may be said that there is no difficulty if the bed or couch had an end which might be called its ‘head,’ and that Jacob leaned upon it. It is impossible to decide whether ‘staff’ or ‘bed’ is right, but the fact that the Septuagintis the oldest commentary on the Hebrew Bible makes its reading the more probable.

Literature.-Comm. on Genesis by A. Dillmann (1897), S. R. Driver (Westminster Com., 1904), and J. Skinner (International Critical Commentary, 1910) in loc.; F. Rendall, Com. on Hebrews, 1883; Encyclopaedia Biblica, article‘Staff’; Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible (5 vols), articles ‘Bed,’ ‘Rod,’ ‘Sceptre’; Smith’s Dict. of the Bible, article‘Staff’; C Geikie, Hours with tits Bible, new ed. vi. [1884] 28n.

John Reid.

Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types [2]

 Exodus 12:11 (c) The Lord's people are pilgrims in this land of sin, sorrow and death. The staff is a sign or a figure of this transient character. It means that the friend was ready for the journey, and prepared to go. We are not to take the place of being citizens here as a finality in our lives.

 Psalm 23:4 (c) The rod is for the enemies, while the staff is for the protection and restfulness of the Christian. The staff represents GOD's promises and the loving care of the Shepherd on which we lean and repose with confidence.

 Isaiah 3:1 (b) The staff represents the means of protection and provision for Israel. Because of their disobedience the Lord is promising that He will remove all such blessings from that rebellious nation.

 Isaiah 9:4 (c) We may learn from this that the Lord promised to His people complete deliverance from the burdens imposed by oppressing conquerors, the neighboring nations, so that they would be set free from oppression. Since the coming of Christ is prophesied in verse6, we probably may believe that He is teaching us that because the Saviour comes into the life, the soul is set free from the bondage of Satan and the oppressing power of sin.

 Isaiah 10:5,  Isaiah 10:15 (c) In this case the staff represents the Assyrian who would be used by the Lord to punish His people Israel. However, He would not permit the Assyrians to boast of their power and victories, for they were only an instrument in the hand of a righteous GOD.

 Isaiah 14:5 (b) The broken staff tells the story of the power of GOD to conquer the enemies of Israel, and to prevent them from injuring His people.

 Isaiah 30:32 (c) We may learn from this strange passage that the Lord will conquer the Assyrians, and in every place where this enemy has conquered Israel the suffering shall be replaced with the blessing of GOD, and with musical instruments.

 Jeremiah 48:17 (b) Moab had been a very strong, vigorous nation occupying a beautiful site. Now GOD's wrath was poured out upon that city, their armies whipped, their strongholds captured.

 Ezekiel 29:6 (a) Israel had leaned on Egypt for support, but Egypt failed them and did not give the succour and help that Israel expected.

 Hosea 4:12 (b) Evidently Israel was depending upon idols for help, and was following the counsel which they received from their divinations. These counsels led them into evil paths.

 Zechariah 11:10-14 (b) These two staves indicate "authoritative rule and abounding resources." The stave called "beauty" represents GOD's infinite love and wonderful grace toward His people Israel. He broke this staff to show Israel He was now no longer intending to deal with them kindly, but rather with severity. The breaking of the other staff, bands, revealed that He would now cease giving the necessary resources to these two countries and refuse to further provide for them, or protect them.

Webster's Dictionary [3]

(1): ( n.) An arbor, as of a wheel or a pinion of a watch.

(2): ( n.) The five lines and the spaces on which music is written; - formerly called stave.

(3): ( n.) Plaster combined with fibrous and other materials so as to be suitable for sculpture in relief or in the round, or for forming flat plates or boards of considerable size which can be nailed to framework to make the exterior of a larger structure, forming joints which may afterward be repaired and concealed with fresh plaster.

(4): ( n.) A pole, stick, or wand borne as an ensign of authority; a badge of office; as, a constable's staff.

(5): ( n.) A long piece of wood; a stick; the long handle of an instrument or weapon; a pole or srick, used for many purposes; as, a surveyor's staff; the staff of a spear or pike.

(6): ( n.) Hence: A body of assistants serving to carry into effect the plans of a superintendant or manager; as, the staff of a newspaper.

(7): ( n.) An establishment of officers in various departments attached to an army, to a section of an army, or to the commander of an army. The general's staff consists of those officers about his person who are employed in carrying his commands into execution. See Etat Major.

(8): ( n.) The grooved director for the gorget, or knife, used in cutting for stone in the bladder.

(9): ( n.) A pole upon which a flag is supported and displayed.

(10): ( n.) A series of verses so disposed that, when it is concluded, the same order begins again; a stanza; a stave.

(11): ( n.) The round of a ladder.

(12): ( n.) A stick carried in the hand for support or defense by a person walking; hence, a support; that which props or upholds.

King James Dictionary [4]

Staff n. plu. G., a bar, a rod. The primary sense is to thrust, to shoot. See Stab.

1. A stick carried in the hand for support or defense by a person walking hence, a support that which props or upholds. Bread is the proverbially called the staff of life.

The boy was the very staff of my age.

Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.  Psalms 23 .

2. A stick or club used as a weapon.

With forks and staves the felon they pursue.

3. A long piece of wood a stick the long handle of an instrument a pole or stick, used for many purposes. 4. The five lines and the spaces on which music is written. 5. An ensign of authority a badge of office as a constables staff. 6. The round of a ladder. 7. A pole erected in a ship to hoist and display a flag called a flag-staff. There is also a jack-staff, and an ensign-staff. 8. In military affairs, an establishment of officers in various departments, attached to an army. The staff includes officers not of the line, as adjutants, quarter-masters, chaplain, surgeon, &c. The staff is the medium of communication from the commander in chief to every department of an army. 9. A stanza a series of verses so disposed that when it is concluded, the same order begins again.

Cowley found out that no kind of staff is proper for a heroic poem, as being all too lyrical.

10. Stave and staves, plu. of staff. See Stave.

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [5]

STAFF . See Rod, Sceptre.

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [6]

(usually מִטֶּה , מִקֵּל , or שֶׁבֶט ; Άβδος ; all designating a Stick ) . The use of rods and staffs was as various with the ancient Israelites as with us. Men and animals were goaded with them ( Exodus 21:20 [comp. Sirach 33, 27];  Numbers 22:27;  1 Samuel 17:43;  2 Samuel 7:14;  Proverbs 10:13;  Proverbs 13:24;  Isaiah 9:3), (See Bastinado); fruit was beaten with them from the trees ( Judges 6:11;  Ruth 2:17;  Isaiah 28:27), especially olives (q.v.). Old and infirm people carried them as supports or for defense ( Exodus 21:19;  Zechariah 8:4 [see the monograph of Canz, De Pedo Servatoris, Tub. 1750]), also travelers ( Genesis 32:10;  Exodus 12:11;  2 Kings 4:29;  Matthew 10:10;  Mark 6:8). (See Walk). A baton, like a ring, was often a sign of rank ( Genesis 38:18;  Genesis 38:25; comp. Herod. 1, 19; Bonomi, Nineveh, p. 197); sometimes inscribed with the owner's name (Wilkinson, Anc. Egypt. 2, 347); and especially a badge of office ( Exodus 4:2 sq.; exe 7:9 sq.;  Numbers 20:8;  Numbers 21:18;  Judges 5:14;  1 Samuel 14:27;  Psalms 110:2;  Micah 7:14). (See Scepter). The shepherd carried a staff, which he used not only as a support in climbing hills, but for the purpose of beating bushes and low brushwood in which the flocks strayed, and where, snakes and other reptiles abounded. It may also have been used for correcting the shepherd dogs and keeping them in subjection (Van Lennep, Bible Lands, p. 188). (See Shepherd).

In  Hebrews 11:21 it is cited as an example of faith that the dying Jacob "worshipped [leaning] upon the top of his staff" ( Προσεκύνησεν Ἐπὶ Τὸ Ἄκρον Τῆς Άβδου Αὑτοῦ ), a statement which Romanists have sometimes appealed to as sanctioning the worship of images, on the pretense that the patriarch's staff bore a carved head (after the Vulg. Adoravit Fastigium Baculi Sui ) . These words are simply quoted from the Sept. at  Genesis 47:31, where the Greek translator has mistaken מַטָּה , Bed, for מִטֶּה , Staff, as is obvious from the parallel passage (49:33). The phrase merely indicates a reverential posture such as David assumed ( 1 Kings 1:47). See Zeibich, De Jacobo Ad Caput Scipionis Adorante (Ger. 1783). (See Jacob).

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [7]

staf  : Many Hebrew terms are represented by this word. The "staves" of the ark translate the word בּד , badh , literally, "a part," hence, branch, bar, etc. (  Exodus 25:13 ,  Exodus 25:14 ,  Exodus 25:15 ,  Exodus 25:27 ,  Exodus 25:28 , etc.). Other words, as maṭṭeh , maḳḳēl , shēbhet , used of the staff in the hand, the shepherd's staff, figuratively , "staff of bread" ( maṭṭeh ,  Ezekiel 4:16;  Ezekiel 5:16;  Ezekiel 14:13 ), as indispensable for support of life, are dealt with under Rod (which see). The New Testament word is ῥάβδος , rhábdos ( Matthew 10:10 parallel   Luke 9:3;  Hebrews 11:21 ). See also Sceptre .