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Revolt of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram


Now Korah son of Izhar son of Kohath son of Levi, along with Dathan and Abiram sons of Eliab, and On son of Peleth—descendants of Reuben—took 2two hundred fifty Israelite men, leaders of the congregation, chosen from the assembly, well-known men, and they confronted Moses. 3They assembled against Moses and against Aaron, and said to them, “You have gone too far! All the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the L ord is among them. So why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the L ord?” 4When Moses heard it, he fell on his face. 5Then he said to Korah and all his company, “In the morning the L ord will make known who is his, and who is holy, and who will be allowed to approach him; the one whom he will choose he will allow to approach him. 6Do this: take censers, Korah and all your company, 7and tomorrow put fire in them, and lay incense on them before the L ord; and the man whom the L ord chooses shall be the holy one. You Levites have gone too far!” 8Then Moses said to Korah, “Hear now, you Levites! 9Is it too little for you that the God of Israel has separated you from the congregation of Israel, to allow you to approach him in order to perform the duties of the L ord’s tabernacle, and to stand before the congregation and serve them? 10He has allowed you to approach him, and all your brother Levites with you; yet you seek the priesthood as well! 11Therefore you and all your company have gathered together against the L ord. What is Aaron that you rail against him?”

12 Moses sent for Dathan and Abiram sons of Eliab; but they said, “We will not come! 13Is it too little that you have brought us up out of a land flowing with milk and honey to kill us in the wilderness, that you must also lord it over us? 14It is clear you have not brought us into a land flowing with milk and honey, or given us an inheritance of fields and vineyards. Would you put out the eyes of these men? We will not come!”

15 Moses was very angry and said to the L ord, “Pay no attention to their offering. I have not taken one donkey from them, and I have not harmed any one of them.” 16And Moses said to Korah, “As for you and all your company, be present tomorrow before the L ord, you and they and Aaron; 17and let each one of you take his censer, and put incense on it, and each one of you present his censer before the L ord, two hundred fifty censers; you also, and Aaron, each his censer.” 18So each man took his censer, and they put fire in the censers and laid incense on them, and they stood at the entrance of the tent of meeting with Moses and Aaron. 19Then Korah assembled the whole congregation against them at the entrance of the tent of meeting. And the glory of the L ord appeared to the whole congregation.

20 Then the L ord spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying: 21Separate yourselves from this congregation, so that I may consume them in a moment. 22They fell on their faces, and said, “O God, the God of the spirits of all flesh, shall one person sin and you become angry with the whole congregation?”

23 And the L ord spoke to Moses, saying: 24Say to the congregation: Get away from the dwellings of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram. 25So Moses got up and went to Dathan and Abiram; the elders of Israel followed him. 26He said to the congregation, “Turn away from the tents of these wicked men, and touch nothing of theirs, or you will be swept away for all their sins.” 27So they got away from the dwellings of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram; and Dathan and Abiram came out and stood at the entrance of their tents, together with their wives, their children, and their little ones. 28And Moses said, “This is how you shall know that the L ord has sent me to do all these works; it has not been of my own accord: 29If these people die a natural death, or if a natural fate comes on them, then the L ord has not sent me. 30But if the L ord creates something new, and the ground opens its mouth and swallows them up, with all that belongs to them, and they go down alive into Sheol, then you shall know that these men have despised the L ord.”

31 As soon as he finished speaking all these words, the ground under them was split apart. 32The earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, along with their households—everyone who belonged to Korah and all their goods. 33So they with all that belonged to them went down alive into Sheol; the earth closed over them, and they perished from the midst of the assembly. 34All Israel around them fled at their outcry, for they said, “The earth will swallow us too!” 35And fire came out from the L ord and consumed the two hundred fifty men offering the incense.

36 Then the L ord spoke to Moses, saying: 37Tell Eleazar son of Aaron the priest to take the censers out of the blaze; then scatter the fire far and wide. 38For the censers of these sinners have become holy at the cost of their lives. Make them into hammered plates as a covering for the altar, for they presented them before the L ord and they became holy. Thus they shall be a sign to the Israelites. 39So Eleazar the priest took the bronze censers that had been presented by those who were burned; and they were hammered out as a covering for the altar— 40a reminder to the Israelites that no outsider, who is not of the descendants of Aaron, shall approach to offer incense before the L ord, so as not to become like Korah and his company—just as the L ord had said to him through Moses.

41 On the next day, however, the whole congregation of the Israelites rebelled against Moses and against Aaron, saying, “You have killed the people of the L ord.” 42And when the congregation had assembled against them, Moses and Aaron turned toward the tent of meeting; the cloud had covered it and the glory of the L ord appeared. 43Then Moses and Aaron came to the front of the tent of meeting, 44and the L ord spoke to Moses, saying, 45“Get away from this congregation, so that I may consume them in a moment.” And they fell on their faces. 46Moses said to Aaron, “Take your censer, put fire on it from the altar and lay incense on it, and carry it quickly to the congregation and make atonement for them. For wrath has gone out from the L ord; the plague has begun.” 47So Aaron took it as Moses had ordered, and ran into the middle of the assembly, where the plague had already begun among the people. He put on the incense, and made atonement for the people. 48He stood between the dead and the living; and the plague was stopped. 49Those who died by the plague were fourteen thousand seven hundred, besides those who died in the affair of Korah. 50When the plague was stopped, Aaron returned to Moses at the entrance of the tent of meeting.

22. O God, the God of the, spirits of all flesh. The old interpreter renders the first אל, el, as an adjective, in which some others have followed him; 9393     In the clause under consideration, אל, El, is immediately followed by אלהי, Elohey, the form given to Elohim, when it is to be used in connection with the next word. The different roots of El and Elohim seem to indicate that El has an especial reference to the power of the Deity, and Elohim to His authority as a judge. There being no practicable equivalent distinction in Latin or English, and the word Almighty being appropriated to rendering שדי, Shaddai, C. and our A.V. do but repeat the word God, whilst the V. and S.M. have fortissime Deus; but C. saw in S.M.’s notes, Aut sic, O Deus, Deus. W. but, in my opinion, the name of God is rather repeated by way of adding force to the sentence. It does not, however, so clearly appear to me why all render the word flesh, in the genitive case. But, since I do not think that the ל, lamed, is superfluous here, but that it is used for ב, beth, as often elsewhere, I have accurately expressed the sense by my translation, “in all flesh.” 9494     C.’s supposition, that the preposition ל prefixed to all, is equivalent to ב or in, would not facilitate the version. Noldius, giving instances where, the ל prefixed has the effect of a genitive, cites this passage amongst: others. — W. There is no question but that Moses applies this epithet to God in connection with the present matter; as if he desired to induce God to preserve His own work, just as a potter spares the vessels formed by himself. To the same effect is the prayer of Isaiah:

“But now, O Lord, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand. Be not wroth very sore,” (Isaiah 64:8, 9:)

for hence he alleges a reason why God should relent, and be inclined to mercy. There is this difference, that Isaiah refers to that special grace wherewith God had embraced His people, whereas Moses carries his address further, viz., to the general grace of creation. It is of little importance whether we choose to expound this 9595     “Le mot de chair;” the word flesh Fr. with reference to all animals, or only to the human race, since Moses merely prays that, since God is the Creator and Maker of the world, He should not destroy the men whom He has formed, but rather have pity upon them, as being His work. In passing, however, we may infer from this passage, 9696     Addition in Fr., “Moyennant qu’il soit prins des hommes, comme e’est le plus vray-semblable;” supposing it be taken as having reference to men, as is the more probable conjecture. that all (men) have their separate souls, for God is not said to have inspired all flesh with life, but to have created their spirits. Hence the monstrous delusion of the Manicheans is refuted, that our souls are so infused by the transmission of the Spirit of God, as that there should still be only one spirit. 9797     “Lesquels pensent que les ames procedent de la substance de Dieu;” who think that our souls proceed from the substance of God. — Fr.
   This doctrine of the Manicheans is often referred to in the writings of Augustine. The Benedictine Editors, in their index to his works, point out by citations the following particulars: “Manichaeorum error circa animam. Docent animam nostram hoc esse quod Deus est; esse partem, seu particulam Dei; animas non solum hominum, sed etiam pecorum, de Dei esse substantia, et partes Dei asserunt.”

   The word which I have translated transmission, is in the Latin ex traduce, a well-known metaphor in theological controversy, derived from the practice of inarching, or grafting by approach, when two neighboring branches are tied together so as to cohere and form one, whilst the parent stocks, to which they belong, continue still to possess a separate and individual vitality. Thus Prudentius, Apoth. 919-921.

   Vitandus tamen error erit, ne traduce carnis
Transfundi in sobolem credatur fons animarum,
Sanguinis exemplo, etc.

   C. makes frequent allusions to this heretical doctrine as having been resuscitated by Servetus, amongst his other pantheistic notions. See Instit. Book 1. ch. 15. Section 5. C. Soc. Edit., vol. 1, p. 223; and also on Psalm 104:30. C. Soc. Edit., vol. 4, p. 168.
But if it be preferred to include the animals, we must mark the grades of distinction between the spirit of man and the spirit of a dog or an ass. It is, however, more fitting to restrict it to men.

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