The Torah/Korach

SummaryEdit

Destruction of Korah Dathan and Abiram (illustration from the 1890 Holman Bible)

As told in Numbers 16:1–18:32, this is the story of the Torah reading Korach:

Korah’s rebellionEdit

The Levite Korah son of Izhar joined with the Reubenites Dathan and Abiram sons of Eliab and On son of Peleth and 250 chieftains of the Israelite community to rise up against Moses. Moses told Korah and his band to take their fire pans and put fire and incense on them before God. Moses sent for Dathan and Abiram, but they refused to come. The next day, Korah and his band took their fire pans and gathered the whole community against Moses and Aaron at the entrance of the Tabernacle. The Presence of the Lord appeared to the whole community, and God told Moses and Aaron to stand back so that God could annihilate the others. Moses and Aaron fell on their faces and implored God not to punish the whole community. God told Moses to instruct the community to move away from the tents of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, and they did so, while Dathan, Abiram, and their families stood at the entrance of their tents. Moses told the Israelites that if these men were to die of natural causes, then God did not send Moses, but if God caused the earth to swallow them up, then these men had spurned God. Just as Moses finished speaking, the earth opened and swallowed them, their households, and all Korah’s people, and the sraelites fled in terror.

The Fire of Atonement (1865 watercolor by James Tissot)

And a fire consumed the 250 men offering the incense. God told Moses to order Eleazar the priest to remove the fire pans — as they had become sacred — and have them made into plating for the altar to remind the Israelites that no one other than Aaron’s offspring should presume to offer incense to God.

A plague upon rebelsEdit

The next day, the whole Israelite community railed against Moses and Aaron for bringing death upon God’s people. A cloud covered the Tabernacle and the God’s Presence appeared. God told Moses to remove himself and Aaron from the community, so that God might annihilate them, and they fell on their faces. Moses told Aaron to take the fire pan, put fire from the altar and incense on it, and take it to the community to make expiation for them and to stop a plague that had begun, and Aaron did so. Aaron stood between the dead and the living and halted the plague, but not before 14,700 had died.

Aaron’s Rod that Budded (illustration from the 1890 Holman Bible)

Aaron’s budding staffEdit

God told Moses to collect a staff from the chieftain of each of the 12 tribes, inscribe each man’s name on his staff, inscribe Aaron’s name on the staff of Levi, and deposit the staffs in the Tent of Meeting. The next day, Moses entered the Tent and Aaron’s staff had sprouted, blossomed, and borne almonds. God instructed Moses to put Aaron’s staff before the Ark of the Covenant to be kept as a lesson to rebels to end their mutterings against God. But the Israelites cried to Moses, “We are doomed to perish!”

Duties of priests and LevitesEdit

God assigned the Levites to Aaron to aid in the duties of the Tent of Meeting. God prohibited any outsider from intruding on the priests as they discharged the duties connected with the Shrine, on pain of death. And God gave Aaron and the priests all the sacred donations and first fruits as a perquisite for all time for them and their families to eat. And God gave them the oil, wine, grain, and money that the Israelites brought. But God told Aaron that the priests would have no territorial share among the Israelites, as God was their portion and their share. God gave the Levites all the tithes in Israel as their share in return for the services of the Tent of Meeting, but they too would have no territorial share among the Israelites. God told Moses to instruct the Levites to set aside one-tenth of the tithes they received as a gift to God.

Last modified on 21 July 2012, at 21:18