Rebellion in the Ranks
16:1 Now Korah the son of Izhar, son of Kohath, son of Levi, and 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 a number of the people of Israel, 250 chiefs of the congregation, chosen from the assembly, well-known men. 3 They assembled themselves together against Moses and against Aaron and said to them, “You have gone too far! For all in the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the Lord?” 4 When Moses heard it, he fell on his face, 5 and he said to Korah and all his company, “In the morning the Lord will show who is his, and who is holy, and will bring him near to him. The one whom he chooses he will bring near to him. 6 Do this: take censers, Korah and all his company; 7 put fire in them and put incense on them before the Lord tomorrow, and the man whom the Lord chooses shall be the holy one. You have gone too far, sons of Levi!” 8 And Moses said to Korah, “Hear now, you sons of Levi: 9 is it too small a thing for you that the God of Israel has separated you from the congregation of Israel, to bring you near to himself, to do service in the tabernacle of the Lord and to stand before the congregation to minister to them, 10 and that he has brought you near him, and all your brothers the sons of Levi with you? And would you seek the priesthood also? 11 Therefore it is against the Lord that you and all your company have gathered together. What is Aaron that you grumble against him?”
12 And Moses sent to call Dathan and Abiram the sons of Eliab, and they said, “We will not 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, that you must also make yourself a prince over us? 14 Moreover, you have not 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 will not come up.” 15 And Moses was very angry and said to the Lord, “Do not respect their offering. I have not taken one donkey from them, and I have not harmed one of them.”
16 And Moses said to Korah, “Be present, you and all your company, before the Lord, you and they, and Aaron, tomorrow. 17 And let every one of you take his censer and put incense on it, and every one of you bring before the Lord his censer, 250 censers; you also, and Aaron, each his censer.” 18 So every man took his censer and put fire in them and laid incense on them and stood at the entrance of the tent of meeting with Moses and Aaron. 19 Then Korah assembled all the congregation against them at the entrance of the tent of meeting. And the glory of the Lord appeared to all the congregation.
20 And the Lord spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying, 21 “Separate yourselves from among this congregation, that I may consume them in a moment.” 22 And they fell on their faces and said, “O God, the God of the spirits of all flesh, shall one man sin, and will you be angry with all the congregation?” 23 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 24 “Say to the congregation, Get away from the dwelling of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram.”
25 Then Moses rose and went to Dathan and Abiram, and the elders of Israel followed him. 26 And he spoke to the congregation, saying, “Depart, please, from the tents of these wicked men, and touch nothing of theirs, lest you be swept away with all their sins.” 27 So they got away from the dwelling of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram. And Dathan and Abiram came out and stood at the door of their tents, together with their wives, their sons, and their little ones. 28 And Moses said, “Hereby you shall know that the Lord has sent me to do all these works, and that it has not been of my own accord. 29 If these men die as all men die, or if they are visited by the fate of all mankind, then the Lord has not sent me. 30 But if the Lord 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 Lord.”
31 And as soon as he had finished speaking all these words, the ground under them split apart. 32 And the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, with their households and all the people who belonged to Korah and all their goods. 33 So they and all that belonged to them went down alive into Sheol, and the earth closed over them, and they perished from the midst of the assembly. 34 And all Israel who were around them fled at their cry, for they said, “Lest the earth swallow us up!” 35 And fire came out from the Lord and consumed the 250 men offering the incense.
36 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 37 “Tell Eleazar the son of Aaron the priest to take up the censers out of the blaze. Then scatter the fire far and wide, for they have become holy. 38 As for the censers of these men who have sinned at the cost of their lives, let them be made into hammered plates as a covering for the altar, for they offered them before the Lord, and they became holy. Thus they shall be a sign to the people of Israel.” 39 So Eleazar the priest took the bronze censers, which those who were burned had offered, and they were hammered out as a covering for the altar, 40 to be a reminder to the people of Israel, so that no outsider, who is not of the descendants of Aaron, should draw near to burn incense before the Lord, lest he become like Korah and his company—as the Lord said to him through Moses.
41 But on the next day all the congregation of the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and against Aaron, saying, “You have killed the people of the Lord.” 42 And when the congregation had assembled against Moses and against Aaron, they turned toward the tent of meeting. And behold, the cloud covered it, and the glory of the Lord appeared. 43 And Moses and Aaron came to the front of the tent of meeting, 44 and the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 45 “Get away from the midst of this congregation, that I may consume them in a moment.” And they fell on their faces. 46 And Moses said to Aaron, “Take your censer, and put fire on it from off 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 Lord; the plague has begun.” 47 So Aaron took it as Moses said and ran into the midst of the assembly. And behold, the plague had already begun among the people. And he put on the incense and made atonement for the people. 48 And he stood between the dead and the living, and the plague was stopped. 49 Now those who died in the plague were 14,700, besides those who died in the affair of Korah. 50 And Aaron returned to Moses at the entrance of the tent of meeting, when the plague was stopped.
17:1 The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Speak to the people of Israel, and get from them staffs, one for each fathers' house, from all their chiefs according to their fathers' houses, twelve staffs. Write each man's name on his staff, 3 and write Aaron's name on the staff of Levi. For there shall be one staff for the head of each fathers' house. 4 Then you shall deposit them in the tent of meeting before the testimony, where I meet with you. 5 And the staff of the man whom I choose shall sprout. Thus I will make to cease from me the grumblings of the people of Israel, which they grumble against you.” 6 Moses spoke to the people of Israel. And all their chiefs gave him staffs, one for each chief, according to their fathers' houses, twelve staffs. And the staff of Aaron was among their staffs. 7 And Moses deposited the staffs before the Lord in the tent of the testimony.
8 On the next day Moses went into the tent of the testimony, and behold, the staff of Aaron for the house of Levi had sprouted and put forth buds and produced blossoms, and it bore ripe almonds. 9 Then Moses brought out all the staffs from before the Lord to all the people of Israel. And they looked, and each man took his staff. 10 And the Lord said to Moses, “Put back the staff of Aaron before the testimony, to be kept as a sign for the rebels, that you may make an end of their grumblings against me, lest they die.” 11 Thus did Moses; as the Lord commanded him, so he did.
12 And the people of Israel said to Moses, “Behold, we perish, we are undone, we are all undone. 13 Everyone who comes near, who comes near to the tabernacle of the Lord, shall die. Are we all to perish?”
Korah, Dathan, and Abiram Lead a Rebellion
1-2 Korah son of Izhar was a Levite from the Kohathite clan. One day he called together Dathan, Abiram, and On from the Reuben tribe, and the four of them decided to rebel against Moses. So they asked 250 respected Israelite leaders for their support, and together they went to Moses 3 and Aaron and said, “Why do you think you're so much better than everyone else? We're part of the Lord's holy people, and he's with all of us. What makes you think you're the only ones in charge?”
4 When Moses heard this, he knelt down to pray. 5 Then he said to Korah and his followers:
Tomorrow morning the Lord will show us the person he has chosen to be his priest, and that man will faithfully serve him.
6-7 Korah, here is what you and your followers must do: Get some fire pans, fill them with coals and incense, and place them near the sacred tent. And the man the Lord chooses will be his priest. Korah, this time you Levites have gone too far!
8-9 You know that the God of Israel has chosen you Levites from all Israel to serve him by being in charge of the sacred tent and by helping the community to worship in the proper way. What more do you want? 10 The Lord has given you a special responsibility, and now, Korah, you think you should also be his priest. 11 You and your followers have rebelled against the Lord, not against Aaron.
12 Then Moses sent for Dathan and Abiram, but they sent back this message: “We won't come! 13 It's bad enough that you took us from our rich farmland in Egypt to let us die here in the desert. Now you also want to boss us around! 14 You keep promising us rich farmlands with fertile fields and vineyards—but where are they? Stop trying to trick these people. No, we won't come to see you.”
15 Moses was very angry and said to the Lord, “Don't listen to these men! I haven't done anything wrong to them. I haven't taken as much as a donkey.”
16 Then he said to Korah, “Tomorrow you and your followers must go with Aaron to the Lord's sacred tent. 17 Each of you take along your fire pan with incense in it and offer the incense to the Lord.”
18 The next day the men placed incense and coals in their fire pans and stood with Moses and Aaron at the entrance to the sacred tent. 19 Meanwhile, Korah had convinced the rest of the Israelites to rebel against their two leaders.
When that happened, the Lord appeared in all his glory 20 and said to Moses and Aaron, 21 “Get away from the rest of the Israelites so I can kill them at once!”
22 But the two men bowed down and prayed, “Our God, you gave these people life. Why would you punish everyone here when only one man has sinned?”
23 The Lord answered Moses, 24 “Tell the people to stay away from the tents of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram.”
25 Moses walked over to Dathan and Abiram, and the other leaders of Israel followed. 26 Then Moses warned the people, “Get away from the tents of these sinful men! Don't touch anything that belongs to them or you'll be wiped out.” 27 So everyone moved away from those tents, except Korah, Dathan, Abiram, and their families.
28 Moses said to the crowd, “The Lord has chosen me and told me to do these things—it wasn't my idea. And here's how you will know: 29 If these men die a natural death, it means the Lord hasn't chosen me. 30 But suppose the Lord does something that has never been done before. For example, what if a huge crack appears in the ground, and these men and their families fall into it and are buried alive, together with everything they own? Then you will know they have turned their backs on the Lord!”
31 As soon as Moses said this, the ground under the men opened up 32-33 and swallowed them alive, together with their families and everything they owned. Then the ground closed back up, and they were gone.
34 The rest of the Israelites heard their screams, so they ran off, shouting, “We don't want that to happen to us!”
35 Suddenly the Lord sent a fire that burned up the 250 men who had offered incense to him.
36 Then the Lord said to Moses, 37 “Tell Aaron's son Eleazar to take the fire pans from the smoldering fire and scatter the coals. The pans are now sacred, 38 because they were used for offering incense to me. Have them hammered into a thin layer of bronze as a covering for the altar. Those men died because of their sin, and now their fire pans will become a warning for the rest of the community.”
39 Eleazar collected the pans and had them hammered into a thin layer of bronze as a covering for the altar, 40 just as the Lord had told Moses. The pans were a warning to the Israelites that only Aaron's descendants would be allowed to offer incense to the Lord. Anyone else who tried to would be punished like Korah and his followers.
The Israelites Rebel and Are Punished
41 The next day the people of Israel again complained against Moses and Aaron, “The two of you killed some of the Lord's people!”
42 As the people crowded around them, Moses and Aaron turned toward the sacred tent, and the Lord appeared in his glory in the cloud covering the tent. 43 So Moses and Aaron walked to the front of the tent, 44 where the Lord said to them, 45 “Stand back! I am going to wipe out these Israelites once and for all.”
They immediately bowed down and prayed. 46 Then Moses told Aaron, “Grab your fire pan and fill it with hot coals from the altar. Put incense in it, then quickly take it to where the people are and offer it to the Lord, so they can be forgiven. The Lord is very angry, and people have already started dying!”
47-48 Aaron did exactly what he had been told. He ran over to the crowd of people and stood between the dead bodies and the people who were still alive. He placed the incense on the pan, then offered it to the Lord and asked him to forgive the people's sin. The disease immediately stopped spreading, and no one else died from it. 49 But 14,700 Israelites were dead, not counting those who had died with Korah and his followers.
50 Aaron walked back and stood with Moses at the sacred tent.
Aaron's Walking Stick Blooms and Produces Almonds
1 The Lord told Moses:
2-3 Call together the twelve tribes of Israel and tell the leader of each tribe to write his name on the walking stick he carries as a symbol of his authority. Make sure Aaron's name is written on the one from the Levi tribe, then collect all the sticks.
4 Place these sticks in the tent right in front of the sacred chest where I appear to you. 5 I will then choose a man to be my priest, and his stick will sprout. After that happens, I won't have to listen to any more complaints about you.
6 Moses told the people what the Lord had commanded, and they gave him the walking sticks from the twelve tribal leaders, including Aaron's from the Levi tribe. 7 Moses took them and placed them in the Lord's sacred tent.
8 The next day when Moses went into the tent, flowers and almonds were already growing on Aaron's stick. 9 Moses brought the twelve sticks out of the tent and showed them to the people. Each of the leaders found his own and took it.
10 But the Lord told Moses, “Put Aaron's stick back! Let it stay near the sacred chest as a warning to anyone who might think of rebelling. If these people don't stop their grumbling about me, I will wipe them out.” 11 Moses did what he was told.
12 The Israelites cried out to Moses, “We're done for 13 and doomed if we even go near the sacred tent!”
The Rebellion of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram
1-2 Korah son of Izhar, from the Levite clan of Kohath, rebelled against the leadership of Moses. He was joined by three members of the tribe of Reuben—Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, and On son of Peleth—and by 250 other Israelites, well-known leaders chosen by the community. 3 They assembled before Moses and Aaron and said to them, “You have gone too far! All the members of the community belong to the Lord, and the Lord is with all of us. Why, then, Moses, do you set yourself above the Lord's community?”
4 When Moses heard this, he threw himself on the ground and prayed. 5 Then he said to Korah and his followers, “Tomorrow morning the Lord will show us who belongs to him; he will let the one who belongs to him, that is, the one he has chosen, approach him at the altar. 6-7 Tomorrow morning you and your followers take fire pans, put live coals and incense on them, and take them to the altar. Then we will see which of us the Lord has chosen. You Levites are the ones who have gone too far!”
8 Moses continued to speak to Korah. “Listen, you Levites! 9 Do you consider it a small matter that the God of Israel has set you apart from the rest of the community, so that you can approach him, perform your service in the Lord's Tent, and minister to the community and serve them? 10 He has let you and all the other Levites have this honor—and now you are trying to get the priesthood too! 11 When you complain against Aaron, it is really against the Lord that you and your followers are rebelling.”
12 Then Moses sent for Dathan and Abiram, but they said, “We will not come! 13 Isn't it enough that you have brought us out of the fertile land of Egypt to kill us here in the wilderness? Do you also have to lord it over us? 14 You certainly have not brought us into a fertile land or given us fields and vineyards as our possession, and now you are trying to deceive us. We will not come!”
15 Moses became angry and said to the Lord, “Do not accept any offerings these men bring. I have not wronged any of them; I have not even taken one of their donkeys.”
16 Moses said to Korah, “Tomorrow you and your 250 followers must come to the Tent of the Lord's presence; Aaron will also be there. 17 Each of you will take his fire pan, put incense on it, and then present it at the altar.” 18 So they each took their fire pans, put live coals and incense on them, and stood at the entrance of the Tent with Moses and Aaron. 19 Then Korah gathered the whole community, and they stood facing Moses and Aaron at the entrance of the Tent. Suddenly the dazzling light of the Lord's presence appeared to the whole community, 20 and the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, 21 “Move back from these people, and I will destroy them immediately.”
22 But Moses and Aaron bowed down with their faces to the ground and said, “O God, you are the source of all life. When one of us sins, do you become angry with the whole community?”
23 The Lord said to Moses, 24 “Tell the people to move away from the tents of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram.”
25 Then Moses, accompanied by the leaders of Israel, went to Dathan and Abiram. 26 He said to the people, “Get away from the tents of these wicked men and don't touch anything that belongs to them. Otherwise, you will be wiped out with them for all their sins.” 27 So they moved away from the tents of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram.
Dathan and Abiram had come out and were standing at the entrance of their tents, with their wives and children. 28 Moses said to the people, “This is how you will know that the Lord has sent me to do all these things and that it is not by my own choice that I have done them. 29 If these men die a natural death without some punishment from God, then the Lord did not send me. 30 But if the Lord does something unheard of, and the earth opens up and swallows them with all they own, so that they go down alive to the world of the dead, you will know that these men have rejected the Lord.”
31 As soon as he had finished speaking, the ground under Dathan and Abiram split open 32 and swallowed them and their families, together with all of Korah's followers and their possessions. 33 So they went down alive to the world of the dead, with their possessions. The earth closed over them, and they vanished. 34 All the people of Israel who were there fled when they heard their cry. They shouted, “Run! The earth might swallow us too!”
35 Then the Lord sent a fire that blazed out and burned up the 250 men who had presented the incense.
The Fire Pans
36 Then the Lord said to Moses, 37 “Tell Eleazar son of Aaron the priest to remove the bronze fire pans from the remains of those who have been burned, and scatter the coals from the fire pans somewhere else, because the fire pans are holy. 38 They became holy when they were presented at the Lord's altar. So take the fire pans of these who were put to death for their sin, beat them into thin plates, and make a covering for the altar. It will be a warning to the people of Israel.” 39 So Eleazar the priest took the fire pans and had them beaten into thin plates to make a covering for the altar. 40 This was a warning to the Israelites that no one who was not a descendant of Aaron should come to the altar to burn incense for the Lord. Otherwise he would be destroyed like Korah and his men. All this was done as the Lord had commanded Eleazar through Moses.
Aaron Saves the People
41 The next day the whole community complained against Moses and Aaron and said, “You have killed some of the Lord's people.” 42 After they had all gathered to protest to Moses and Aaron, they turned toward the Tent and saw that the cloud was covering it and that the dazzling light of the Lord's presence had appeared. 43 Moses and Aaron went and stood in front of the Tent, 44 and the Lord said to Moses, 45 “Move back from these people, and I will destroy them on the spot!”
The two of them bowed down with their faces to the ground, 46 and Moses said to Aaron, “Take your fire pan, put live coals from the altar in it, and put some incense on the coals. Then hurry with it to the people and perform the ritual of purification for them. Hurry! The Lord's anger has already broken out and an epidemic has already begun.” 47 Aaron obeyed, took his fire pan and ran into the middle of the assembled people. When he saw that the plague had already begun, he put the incense on the coals and performed the ritual of purification for the people. 48 This stopped the plague, and he was left standing between the living and the dead. 49 The number of people who died was 14,700, not counting those who died in Korah's rebellion. 50 When the plague had stopped, Aaron returned to Moses at the entrance of the Tent.
Aaron's Walking Stick
1 The Lord said to Moses, 2 “Tell the people of Israel to give you twelve walking sticks, one from the leader of each tribe. Write each man's name on his stick 3 and then write Aaron's name on the stick representing Levi. There will be one stick for each tribal leader. 4 Take them to the Tent of my presence and put them in front of the Covenant Box, where I meet you. 5 Then the stick of the man I have chosen will sprout. In this way I will put a stop to the constant complaining of these Israelites against you.”
6 So Moses spoke to the Israelites, and each of their leaders gave him a stick, one for each tribe, twelve in all, and Aaron's stick was put with them. 7 Moses then put all the sticks in the Tent in front of the Lord's Covenant Box.
8 The next day, when Moses went into the Tent, he saw that Aaron's stick, representing the tribe of Levi, had sprouted. It had budded, blossomed, and produced ripe almonds! 9 Moses took all the sticks and showed them to the Israelites. They saw what had happened, and each leader took his own stick back. 10 The Lord said to Moses, “Put Aaron's stick back in front of the Covenant Box. It is to be kept as a warning to the rebel Israelites that they will die unless their complaining stops.” 11 Moses did as the Lord commanded.
12 The people of Israel said to Moses, “Then that's the end of us! 13 If anyone who even comes near the Tent must die, then we are all as good as dead!”
The Rebellion of Korah
16:1 Now Korah son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, and Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, and On son of Peleth, who were Reubenites, took men 2 and rebelled against Moses, along with some of the Israelites, 250 leaders of the community, chosen from the assembly, famous men. 3 And they assembled against Moses and Aaron, saying to them, “You take too much upon yourselves, seeing that the whole community is holy, every one of them, and the
4 When Moses heard it he fell down with his face to the ground. 5 Then he said to Korah and to all his company, “In the morning the
15 Moses was very angry, and he said to the
16 Then Moses said to Korah, “You and all your company present yourselves before the
The Judgment on the Rebels
23 So the
31 When he had finished speaking all these words, the ground that was under them split open, 32 and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them, along with their households, and all Korah’s men, and all their goods. 33 They and all that they had went down alive into the pit, and the earth closed over them. So they perished from among the community. 34 All the Israelites who were around them fled at their cry, for they said, “What if the earth swallows us too?” 35 Then a fire went out from the
The Atonement for the Rebellion
The Budding of Aaron’s Staff
6 So Moses spoke to the Israelites, and each of their leaders gave him a staff, one for each leader, according to their tribes – twelve staffs; the staff of Aaron was among their staffs. 7 Then Moses placed the staffs before the
8 On the next day Moses went into the tent of the testimony – and the staff of Aaron for the house of Levi had sprouted, and brought forth buds, and produced blossoms, and yielded almonds! 9 So Moses brought out all the staffs from before the
12 The Israelites said to Moses, “We are bound to die! We perish, we all perish! 13