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CHAPTER 16 Apr. 2 
The Rebellion of Korah, Dathan and Abiram
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; 2and they rose up before Moses with certain of the children of Israel, two hundred and fifty princes of the congregation, men called to lead the assembly, men of renown. 3They assembled themselves together against Moses and against Aaron, and said to them, You take too much on yourself, since all the congregation are holy, each one of them, and Yahweh is among them. Why then lift yourselves up above the assembly of Yahweh? 4When Moses heard it, he fell on his face, 5and 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. 6Do this: take censers, Korah, and all his company, 7and 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! 8Moses said to Korah, Hear now, you sons of Levi! 9Is 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; 10and that He has brought you near, and all your brothers the sons of Levi with you? Do you seek the priesthood also? 11Therefore you and all your company are gathered together against Yahweh; and Aaron, who is he that you murmur against him? 12Moses sent to call Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab; and they said, We won’t come up. 13Is 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? 14Moreover 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. 15Moses 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. 16Moses said to Korah, You and all your company go before Yahweh, you, and they, and Aaron, tomorrow; 17and let each man take his censer, and put incense on them, and each man bring before Yahweh his censer, two hundred and fifty censers; you also and Aaron, each his censer. 18They 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. 19Korah assembled all the congregation against them to the door of the Tent of Meeting, and the glory of Yahweh appeared to all the congregation. 20Yahweh spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying, 21Separate yourselves from among this congregation that I may consume them in a moment! 22They 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? 23Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, 24Speak to the congregation, saying, ‘Get away from around the tent of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram!’ 25Moses rose up and went to Dathan and Abiram, and the elders of Israel followed him. 26He spoke to the congregation, saying, Depart, I beg you, from the tents of these wicked men, and touch nothing of theirs, lest you be consumed in all their sins! 27So 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. 28Moses said, Hereby you shall know that Yahweh has sent me to do all these works; for they are not from my own mind. 29If 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. 30But 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. 31It happened, as he made an end of speaking all these words, that the ground split apart that was under them; 32and the earth opened its mouth, and swallowed them up, and their households, and all the men who appertained to Korah, and all their goods. 33So 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. 34All Israel that were around them fled at their cry; for they said, Lest the earth swallow us up! 35Fire came forth from Yahweh, and devoured the two hundred and fifty men who offered the incense. 36Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, 37Speak 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, 38even the censers of these sinners against their own lives. 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. 39Eleazar the priest took the bronze censers, which those who were burnt had offered, and they beat them out for a covering of the altar, 40to 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. 41But 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! 42It 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. 43Moses and Aaron came to the front of the Tent of Meeting. 44Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, 45Get away from among this congregation, that I may consume them in a moment! They fell on their faces. 46Moses 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. 47Aaron 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. 48He stood between the dead and the living, and the plague was stayed. 49Now those who died by the plague were fourteen thousand and seven hundred, besides those who died about the matter of Korah. 50Aaron returned to Moses to the door of the Tent of Meeting, and the plague was stayed.


16:9 They didn’t consider servanthood within the family of God to be a very great honour; they wanted leadership and personal honour from those they would be over. This is the great paradox, the acme of humility, that serving is actually an honour. But there are so few who really grasp this. Leadership, like respect, is something which can never be demanded nor sought after if we are truly God’s people. Notice that to serve others in God’s family is to come “near to [God] Himself”.
16:16 Moses was very angry- Yet he was the humblest man on planet earth at the time (12:3). Anger isn’t advisable for us, as it can easily lead us into sin; but of itself, anger isn’t necessarily incompatible with humility.
16:22 Shall one man sin- It’s clear from the record in this chapter that the architect of the rebellion was Korah, the “one man” whom Moses referred to (see too :40,49; Jude 11). But he influenced others to sin, and they were still guilty for their sin. Although God doesn’t count people as guilty merely by association, He expects us not to identify ourselves with sinful behaviour- hence verses 23-25 are God’s response to Moses’ concern that God might be indiscriminately applying the unfair principle of ‘guilt by association’.
16:32 All the men who appertained to Korah- Korah’s sons didn’t die (26:11); they separated themselves from their father and his supporters in time. There are times when our loyalty to the Lord will result in us having to experience some kind of separation from family members who choose not to go the Lord’s way; Jesus foretold this would happen frequently (Mt. 10:34-37).
16:34 These people who “were around them” were saved by grace, considering the warning of :24-26, that whoever stood near those men would also perish. All the time in the Old Testament we are seeing examples of people breaking God’s law and yet being saved by grace.
16:38 The example of sinners from previous generations ought to be a warning to us. Asaph in Psalm 73 explains how he struggled with the fact that sinners appear to have a blessed life and the righteous suffer; but when he entered the sanctuary, “then understood I their end” (Ps. 73:17), probably a reference to him beholding the plates on the altar made from the censers of these sinners.
16:46 Again we see Moses acting on his own initiative to persuade God to change His intended plan. Moses and Aaron could only have brought about this change of mind in God by intense, fervent prayer and desire- and it was for people who had just tacitly supported a revolution against them. No matter how much we are slandered and manipulated against by our brethren, they are still God’s people and we should respect them and intercede for them as that.