Numbers - 16:1-50

      1 Now Korah, the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, with Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, and On, the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took (men): 2 and they rose up before Moses, with certain of the children of Israel, two hundred fifty princes of the congregation, called to the assembly, men of renown; 3 and they assembled themselves together against Moses and against Aaron, and said to them, "You take too much on yourself, since all the congregation are holy, everyone of them, and Yahweh is among them: why then lift yourselves up above the assembly of Yahweh?" 4 When Moses heard it, he fell on his face: 5 and he spoke to Korah and to all his company, saying, "In the morning Yahweh will show who are his, and who is holy, and will cause him to come near to him: even him whom he shall choose he will cause to come near to him. 6 Do this: take censers, Korah, and all his company; 7 and put fire in them, and put incense on them before Yahweh tomorrow: and it shall be that the man whom Yahweh chooses, he shall be holy. You have gone too far, you sons of Levi!" 8 Moses said to Korah, "Hear now, you sons of Levi! 9 Is it a small thing to you, that the God of Israel has separated you from the congregation of Israel, to bring you near to himself, to do the service of the tabernacle of Yahweh, and to stand before the congregation to minister to them; 10 and that he has brought you near, and all your brothers the sons of Levi with you? and do you seek the priesthood also? 11 Therefore you and all your company are gathered together against Yahweh: and Aaron, what is he that you murmur against him?" 12 Moses sent to call Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab; and they said, "We won't come up: 13 is it a small thing that you have brought us up out of a land flowing with milk and honey, to kill us in the wilderness, but you must also make yourself a prince over us? 14 Moreover you haven't brought us into a land flowing with milk and honey, nor given us inheritance of fields and vineyards: will you put out the eyes of these men? We won't come up." 15 Moses was very angry, and said to Yahweh, "Don't respect their offering: I have not taken one donkey from them, neither have I hurt one of them." 16 Moses said to Korah, "You and all your company go before Yahweh, you, and they, and Aaron, tomorrow: 17 and each man take his censer, and put incense on them, and each man bring before Yahweh his censer, two hundred fifty censers; you also, and Aaron, each his censer." 18 They each took his censer, and put fire in them, and laid incense thereon, and stood at the door of the Tent of Meeting with Moses and Aaron. 19 Korah assembled all the congregation against them to the door of the Tent of Meeting: and the glory of Yahweh appeared to all the congregation. 20 Yahweh spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying, 21 "Separate yourselves from among this congregation, that I may consume them in a moment!" 22 They fell on their faces, and said, "God, the God of the spirits of all flesh, shall one man sin, and will you be angry with all the congregation?" 23 Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, 24 "Speak to the congregation, saying, 'Get away from around the tent of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram!'" 25 Moses rose up and went to Dathan and Abiram; and the elders of Israel followed him. 26 He spoke to the congregation, saying, "Depart, please, from the tents of these wicked men, and touch nothing of theirs, lest you be consumed in all their sins!" 27 So they went away from the tent of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, on every side: and Dathan and Abiram came out, and stood at the door of their tents, and their wives, and their sons, and their little ones. 28 Moses said, "Hereby you shall know that Yahweh has sent me to do all these works; for (I have) not (done them) of my own mind. 29 If these men die the common death of all men, or if they be visited after the visitation of all men; then Yahweh hasn't sent me. 30 But if Yahweh make a new thing, and the ground open its mouth, and swallow them up, with all that appertain to them, and they go down alive into Sheol; then you shall understand that these men have despised Yahweh." 31 It happened, as he made an end of speaking all these words, that the ground split apart that was under them; 32 and the earth opened its mouth, and swallowed them up, and their households, and all the men who appertained to Korah, and all their goods. 33 So they, and all that appertained to them, went down alive into Sheol: and the earth closed on them, and they perished from among the assembly. 34 All Israel that were around them fled at the cry of them; for they said, "Lest the earth swallow us up!" 35 Fire came forth from Yahweh, and devoured the two hundred fifty men who offered the incense. 36 Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, 37 "Speak to Eleazar the son of Aaron the priest, that he take up the censers out of the burning, and scatter the fire yonder; for they are holy, 38 even the censers of these sinners against their own lives; and let them be made beaten plates for a covering of the altar: for they offered them before Yahweh; therefore they are holy; and they shall be a sign to the children of Israel." 39 Eleazar the priest took the bronze censers, which those who were burnt had offered; and they beat them out for a covering of the altar, 40 to be a memorial to the children of Israel, to the end that no stranger, who isn't of the seed of Aaron, comes near to burn incense before Yahweh; that he not be as Korah, and as his company: as Yahweh spoke to him by Moses. 41 But on the next day all the congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron, saying, "You have killed Yahweh's people!" 42 It happened, when the congregation was assembled against Moses and against Aaron, that they looked toward the Tent of Meeting: and behold, the cloud covered it, and the glory of Yahweh appeared. 43 Moses and Aaron came to the front of the Tent of Meeting. 44 Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, 45 "Get away from among this congregation, that I may consume them in a moment!" They fell on their faces. 46 Moses said to Aaron, "Take your censer, and put fire from off the altar in it, and lay incense on it, and carry it quickly to the congregation, and make atonement for them; for wrath has gone out from Yahweh! The plague has begun." 47 Aaron did as Moses said, and ran into the midst of the assembly; and behold, the plague has begun among the people: and he put on the incense, and made atonement for the people. 48 He stood between the dead and the living; and the plague was stayed. 49 Now those who died by the plague were fourteen thousand and seven hundred, besides those who died about the matter of Korah. 50 Aaron returned to Moses to the door of the Tent of Meeting: and the plague was stayed.

Chapter In-Depth

Explanation and meaning of Numbers 16.

Historical Commentaries

Scholarly Analysis and Interpretation.

The date of this rebellion cannot be determined, but Numbers 16:13-14 probably point to a period not much later than that of the rebellion at Kadesh.

The rebellion of Korah and his company against Moses, Numbers 16:1-3. He directs them how to try, in the course of the next day, whom God had called to the priesthood, Numbers 16:4-11. Dathan and Abiram use the most seditious speeches, Numbers 16:12-14. Moses is wroth, Numbers 16:15; and orders Korah and his company to be ready on the morrow with their censers and incense, Numbers 16:16-18. Korah gathers his company together, Numbers 16:19. The glory of the Lord appears, and he threatens to consume them, Numbers 16:20, Numbers 16:21. Moses and Aaron intercede for them, Numbers 16:22. The people are commanded to leave the tents of the rebels, Numbers 16:23-26. They obey, and Korah and his company come out and stand before the door of their tents, Numbers 16:27. Moses in a solemn address puts the contention to issue, Numbers 16:28-30. As soon as he had done speaking, the earth clave and swallowed them, and all that appertained to them, Numbers 16:31-34; and the 250 men who offered incense are consumed by fire, Numbers 16:35. The Lord commands Eleazar to preserve the censers, because they were hallowed, Numbers 16:36-38. Eleazar makes of them a covering for the altar, Numbers 16:39, Numbers 16:40. The next day the people murmur anew, the glory of the Lord appears, and Moses and Aaron go to the tabernacle, Numbers 16:41-43. They are commanded to separate themselves from the congregation, Numbers 16:44, Numbers 16:45. Moses, perceiving that God had sent a plague among them, directs Aaron to hasten and make an atonement, Numbers 16:46. Aaron does so, and the plague is stayed, Numbers 16:47, Numbers 16:48. The number of those who died by the plague, 14,700 men, Numbers 16:49, Numbers 16:50.

This chapter gives an account of a sedition of Korah and others against Moses and Aaron, Numbers 16:1, with whom Moses expostulates, and shows the unreasonableness of their clamour against Aaron, Numbers 16:5; sends for Dathan and Abiram, who were in the confederacy, but refused to come, which greatly angered Moses, Numbers 16:12; orders Korah and his company to appear before the Lord the next day, with Aaron, to have the controversy decided, Numbers 16:16; when all the congregation gathered together would have been, consumed had it not been for the intercession of Moses and Aaron, Numbers 16:19; and who, being separated from the rebels by the command of the Lord, some of the rebels were swallowed up in the earth, and others destroyed by fire from heaven, Numbers 16:23; and their censers were made a covering for the altar, as a memorial of their sin, Numbers 16:36; on which there was a new insurrection of the people, which brought a plague upon them, and destroyed 14,700 persons, and which was stopped at the intercession of Aaron, Numbers 16:41.

(Numbers 16:1-11) The rebellion of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram Korah contends for the priesthood.
(Numbers 16:12-15) Disobedience of Dathan and Abiram.
(Numbers 16:16-22) The glory of the Lord appears The intercession of Moses and Aaron.
(Numbers 16:23-34) The earth swallows up Dathan and Abiram.
(Numbers 16:35-40) The company of Korah consumed.
(Numbers 16:41-50) The people murmur A plague sent.

Rebellion of Korah's Company - Numbers 16:1-40(17:1-5)
The sedition of Korah and his company, with the renewed sanction of the Aaronic priesthood on the part of God which it occasioned, is the only important occurrence recorded in connection with the thirty-seven years' wandering in the wilderness. The time and place are not recorded. The fact that the departure from Kadesh is not mentioned in Numbers 14, whilst, according to Deuteronomy 1:46, Israel remained there many days, is not sufficient to warrant the conclusion that it took place in Kadesh. The departure from Kadesh is not mentioned even after the rebellion of Korah; and yet we read, in Numbers 20:1, that the whole congregation came again into the desert of Zin to kadesh at the beginning of the fortieth year, and therefore must previously have gone away. All that can be laid down as probable is, that it occurred in one of the earliest of the thirty-seven years of punishment, though we have no firm ground even for this conjecture.

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