Numbers 16:1-50

16  Then Korʹah+ the son of Izʹhar,+ the son of Koʹhath,+ the son of Leʹvi,+ got up together with Daʹthan and A·biʹram the sons of E·liʹab,+ and On the son of Peʹleth, of the sons of Reuʹben.+  They rose up against Moses along with 250 Israelite men, chieftains of the assembly, chosen ones of the congregation, prominent men.  So they gathered together against+ Moses and Aaron and said to them: “We have had enough of you! The whole assembly is holy,+ all of them, and Jehovah is in their midst.+ Why, then, should you exalt yourselves above the congregation of Jehovah?”  When Moses heard this, he at once fell facedown.  Then he said to Korʹah and to all his supporters: “In the morning Jehovah will make known who belongs to him+ and who is holy and who should approach him,+ and whomever he may choose+ will approach him.  Do this: Take fire holders,+ Korʹah and all your supporters,+  and put fire in them and place incense on them before Jehovah tomorrow, and the man whom Jehovah will choose,+ he is the holy one. You sons of Leʹvi+ have gone far enough!”  Moses then said to Korʹah: “Listen, please, you sons of Leʹvi.  Does it seem to you such a little thing that the God of Israel has separated you from the assembly of Israel+ and allowed you to approach him in order to perform the service of Jehovah’s tabernacle and to stand before the assembly to minister to them,+ 10  and that he brought you near to him along with all your brothers, the sons of Leʹvi? Must you also try to secure the priesthood?+ 11  For this reason, you and all your supporters who are gathering together are against Jehovah. As for Aaron, who is he that you should murmur against him?”+ 12  Moses later sent for Daʹthan and A·biʹram+ the sons of E·liʹab, but they said: “We are not going to come! 13  Is it so little a thing that you have brought us up out of a land flowing with milk and honey to put us to death in the wilderness?+ Now do you also want to make yourself an absolute ruler over us?* 14  As it is, you have not brought us into any land flowing with milk and honey+ or given us an inheritance of field and vineyard. Would you bore out the eyes of those men? We are not going to come!” 15  So Moses became very angry and said to Jehovah: “Do not turn to look at their grain offering. Not one donkey have I taken away from them, nor have I harmed one of them.”+ 16  Then Moses said to Korʹah: “Present yourself with all your supporters before Jehovah tomorrow, you and they and Aaron. 17  Each one should take his fire holder and put incense on it, and each will present his fire holder before Jehovah, 250 fire holders, together with you and Aaron, each with his fire holder.” 18  So each of them took his fire holder, and they put fire and incense on them and stood at the entrance of the tent of meeting together with Moses and Aaron. 19  When Korʹah had gathered his supporters+ against them at the entrance of the tent of meeting, Jehovah’s glory appeared to all the assembly.+ 20  Jehovah now told Moses and Aaron: 21  “Separate yourselves from among this group, so that I may exterminate them in an instant.”+ 22  At this, they fell with their faces to the ground and said: “O God, the God of the spirit of all people,*+ will one man’s sin cause you to become indignant against the entire assembly?”+ 23  Jehovah then said to Moses: 24  “Speak to the assembly and tell them, ‘Get away from around the tents of Korʹah, Daʹthan, and A·biʹram!’”+ 25  Then Moses got up and went to Daʹthan and A·biʹram, and the elders+ of Israel went with him. 26  He told the assembly: “Move away, please, from the tents of these wicked men and do not touch anything that belongs to them, so that you may not be swept away in all their sin.” 27  They immediately moved away from the tents of Korʹah, Daʹthan, and A·biʹram, from every side, and Daʹthan and A·biʹram came out, taking their stand at the entrance of their tents, together with their wives, their sons, and their little children. 28  Then Moses said: “By this you will know that Jehovah has sent me to do all these things, that it is not of my own heart:* 29  If these people die a natural death as all men do and if their punishment is the same as that of all mankind, then Jehovah has not sent me.+ 30  But if Jehovah does something extraordinary with them and the ground opens* and swallows them and everything that belongs to them and they go down alive into the Grave,* you will certainly know that these men have treated Jehovah disrespectfully.” 31  As soon as he finished speaking all these words, the ground beneath them split apart.+ 32  And the earth opened* and swallowed them up, along with their households and everyone who belonged to Korʹah+ and all their goods. 33  So they and all who belonged to them went down alive into the Grave,* and the earth covered them over, so that they perished from the midst of the congregation.+ 34  All the Israelites who were around them fled at their screaming, for they said: “We are afraid that the earth may swallow us up!” 35  Then a fire came out from Jehovah+ and consumed the 250 men offering the incense.+ 36  Jehovah now said to Moses: 37  “Tell El·e·aʹzar the son of Aaron the priest to take the fire holders+ out of the fire, for they are holy. Also tell him to scatter the fire some distance away. 38  The fire holders of the men who sinned at the cost of their lives* should be made into thin metal plates to overlay the altar,+ because they presented them before Jehovah, and they became holy. They should serve as a sign to the Israelites.”+ 39  So El·e·aʹzar the priest took the copper fire holders that had been presented by those who were burned up, and beat them to overlay the altar, 40  just as Jehovah had told him through Moses. It was a reminder for the Israelites that no unauthorized person* who is not of the offspring of Aaron should approach to burn incense before Jehovah+ and that no one should become like Korʹah and his supporters.+ 41  On the very next day, the whole assembly of the Israelites began to murmur against Moses and Aaron,+ saying: “You two have put Jehovah’s people to death.” 42  When the assembly had gathered together against Moses and Aaron, they then turned toward the tent of meeting, and look! the cloud covered it, and Jehovah’s glory began to appear.+ 43  Moses and Aaron went before the tent of meeting,+ 44  and Jehovah said to Moses: 45  “You men, remove yourselves from among this assembly, so that I may exterminate them in an instant.”+ At this they fell with their faces to the ground.+ 46  Moses then said to Aaron: “Take the fire holder and put fire from the altar+ in it and put incense on it and go quickly to the assembly and make atonement for them,+ because indignation has gone out from Jehovah. The plague has started!” 47  Aaron at once took it, just as Moses had said, and ran into the midst of the congregation, and look! the plague had started among the people. So he put the incense on the fire holder and began making atonement for the people. 48  He kept standing between the dead and the living, and the scourge eventually stopped. 49  Those who died from the scourge amounted to 14,700, besides those dead on account of Korʹah. 50  When at last Aaron returned to Moses at the entrance of the tent of meeting, the scourge had been stopped.


Or “to lord it over us?”
Lit., “the spirits of all flesh.”
Or “my own accord.”
Lit., “opens its mouth.”
Or “Sheol,” that is, the common grave of mankind. See Glossary.
Lit., “opened its mouth.”
Or “Sheol,” that is, the common grave of mankind. See Glossary.
Or “sinned against their own souls.”
Lit., “no stranger.”

Study Notes