Now Korah, the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, and Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, and On, the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took men:
sons of Reuben
As the word men is not in the text, some read "took counsel;" and some "took courage." Houbigant renders yikkach, rebellionem fecerunt, "they rebelled;" which scarcely any rule of criticism can ever justify. Dr. Geddes' translation is, "Another insurrection was raised against Moses by Korah," etc. Others think that it may mean, "behaved with insolence." But, as Dr. A. Clarke observes, the verb wyyikkach, "and he took" which though at the end of the sentence in English, is the first word in Hebrew, is not in the plural, but the singular; and hence cannot be applied to the acts of all these chiefs. In every part of the Scripture, where this rebellion is referred to, it is attributed to Korah, therefore the verb here belongs to him; and the whole verse should be translated, "Now Korah, son of Izhar, son of Kohath, son of Levi, he took even Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, and On, son of Peleth, son of Reuben, and they rose up," etc.; reading, with some MSS., the Samaritan, and Septuagint, ben, son, instead of beney, sons.
And they rose up before Moses, with certain of the children of Israel, two hundred and fifty princes of the assembly, famous in the congregation, men of renown:
And they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron, and said unto them, Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the LORD is among them: wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the congregation of the LORD?
Ye take too much upon you
Heb. It is much for you. all the.
And when Moses heard it, he fell upon his face:
And he spake unto Korah and unto all his company, saying, Even to morrow the LORD will shew who are his, and who is holy; and will cause him to come near unto him: even him whom he hath chosen will he cause to come near unto him.
who is holy
This do; Take you censers, Korah, and all his company;
And put fire therein, and put incense in them before the LORD to morrow: and it shall be that the man whom the LORD doth choose, he shall be holy: ye take too much upon you, ye sons of Levi.
that the man
Seemeth it but a small thing unto you, that the God of Israel hath separated you from the congregation of Israel, to bring you near to himself to do the service of the tabernacle of the LORD, and to stand before the congregation to minister unto them?
Seemeth it but
And he hath brought thee near to him, and all thy brethren the sons of Levi with thee: and seek ye the priesthood also?
For which cause both thou and all thy company are gathered together against the LORD: and what is Aaron, that ye murmur against him?
what is Aaron
And Moses sent to call Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab: which said, We will not come up:
Is it a small thing that thou hast brought us up out of a land that floweth with milk and honey, to kill us in the wilderness, except thou make thyself altogether a prince over us?
out of a
Moreover thou hast not brought us into a land that floweth with milk and honey, or given us inheritance of fields and vineyards: wilt thou put out the eyes of these men? we will not come up.
Heb. bore out.
And Moses was very wroth, and said unto the LORD, Respect not thou their offering: I have not taken one ass from them, neither have I hurt one of them.
I have not
Though Moses was their ruler, under God, yet, so far from oppressing them, he had not imposed the smallest tax, nor taken, as a present, so much as an ass from one of them. The common present that is now made to the great, in these countries, is a horse; but there is reason to believe, that an ass might formerly have answered the same purpose. "If it is a visit of ceremony from a bashaw," says Dr. Russell, "or other person in power, a fine horse, sometimes with furniture, or some such valuable present, is made to him at his departure." As asses were esteemed no dishonourable beasts for the saddle, Sir. J. Chardin, in his MS., supposes, that when Samuel disclaimed having taken the ass of any one, (1 Sa 12:3,) he is to be understood of not having taken any ass for his riding. In the same light, he considers this similar declaration of Moses. His reason is "asses being then esteemed very honourable creatures for riding on, (ch. 22:21, 30. Jud 5:10. 2 Sa 16:2,) as they are at this very time in Persia, being rode with saddles."
And Moses said unto Korah, Be thou and all thy company before the LORD, thou, and they, and Aaron, to morrow:
And take every man his censer, and put incense in them, and bring ye before the LORD every man his censer, two hundred and fifty censers; thou also, and Aaron, each of you his censer.
And Korah gathered all the congregation against them unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation: and the glory of the LORD appeared unto all the congregation.
and the glory
Separate yourselves from among this congregation, that I may consume them in a moment.
that I may
And they fell upon their faces, and said, O God, the God of the spirits of all flesh, shall one man sin, and wilt thou be wroth with all the congregation?
one man sin
Speak unto the congregation, saying, Get you up from about the tabernacle of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram.
21 It should seem that Dathan and Abiram had set up a spacious tabernacle in the midst of the tents of their families, where they kept court, met in council, and hung out their flag of defiance against Moses; it is here called the tabernacle of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram. There, as in the place of rendezvous, Dathan and Abiram stayed, when Korah and his friends went up to the tabernacle of the Lord, waiting the issue of their trial; but here we are told how they had their business done, before that trial was over. God will take what method he pleases in his judgments.
And Moses rose up and went unto Dathan and Abiram; and the elders of Israel followed him.
And he spake unto the congregation, saying, Depart, I pray you, from the tents of these wicked men, and touch nothing of theirs, lest ye be consumed in all their sins.
Depart, I pray you
The rebels, with all that belonged to them, were, as an accursed thing, devoted to utter destruction. (Le 27:28, 29. Jos 7:13-15, 23-26.) The people therefore were forbidden to touch anything belonging to them; that they might enter a solemn protest against their wickedness, acknowledge the justice of their punishment, and express their fear of being involved in it.
So they gat up from the tabernacle of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, on every side: and Dathan and Abiram came out, and stood in the door of their tents, and their wives, and their sons, and their little children.
And Moses said, Hereby ye shall know that the LORD hath sent me to do all these works; for I have not done them of mine own mind.
for I have
Kee lo millibbee, "and that not out of my heart." It was not of my own device or contrivance. It was not out of an ambitious desire to be great myself that I took upon me the government, nor out of private affection to my brother, that I appointed him and his family to the priesthood.
If these men die the common death of all men, or if they be visited after the visitation of all men; then the LORD hath not sent me.
the common, etc
Heb. as every man dieth. visited.
But if the LORD make a new thing, and the earth open her mouth, and swallow them up, with all that appertain unto them, and they go down quick into the pit; then ye shall understand that these men have provoked the LORD.
make a new thing
Heb. create a creature; wÎim beriah yivra Yehowah, "And if Jehovah should create a creation," i.e., do such a thing as was never done before.
And it came to pass, as he had made an end of speaking all these words, that the ground clave asunder that was under them:
And the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, and their houses, and all the men that appertained unto Korah, and all their goods.
They, and all that appertained to them, went down alive into the pit, and the earth closed upon them: and they perished from among the congregation.
And all Israel that were round about them fled at the cry of them: for they said, Lest the earth swallow us up also.
And there came out a fire from the LORD, and consumed the two hundred and fifty men that offered incense.
Speak unto Eleazar the son of Aaron the priest, that he take up the censers out of the burning, and scatter thou the fire yonder; for they are hallowed.
Kadashoo, consecrated, i.e., to the service of God, though in this instance, improperly employed.
The censers of these sinners against their own souls, let them make them broad plates for a covering of the altar: for they offered them before the LORD, therefore they are hallowed: and they shall be a sign unto the children of Israel.
To be a memorial unto the children of Israel, that no stranger, which is not of the seed of Aaron, come near to offer incense before the LORD; that he be not as Korah, and as his company: as the LORD said to him by the hand of Moses.
But on the morrow all the congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron, saying, Ye have killed the people of the LORD.
on the morrow
It is not unlikely, that the people persuaded themselves that Moses and Aaron had used some cunning in this business and that the earthquake and fire were artificial; for, had they discerned the hand of God in this punishment, they would scarcely have dared the anger of the Lord in the very face of his justice. And while they thus absurdly imputed this judgement to Moses and Aaron, they impiously called the persons, thus perishing in their rebellion, "the people of the Lord!"
And it came to pass, when the congregation was gathered against Moses and against Aaron, that they looked toward the tabernacle of the congregation: and, behold, the cloud covered it, and the glory of the LORD appeared.
Get you up from among this congregation, that I may consume them as in a moment. And they fell upon their faces.
Get you up
And Moses said unto Aaron, Take a censer, and put fire therein from off the altar, and put on incense, and go quickly unto the congregation, and make an atonement for them: for there is wrath gone out from the LORD; the plague is begun.
there is wrath
the plague is begun
God now punished them by a secret blast, so as to put the matter beyond dispute; His hand, and His alone, was seen, not only in the plague, but in the manner in which the mortality was arrested. It was necessary that it should be done in this way, that the whole congregation might see that these men who had perished were not "the people of the Lord," and that God, not Moses and Aaron, had destroyed them.
And Aaron took as Moses commanded, and ran into the midst of the congregation; and, behold, the plague was begun among the people: and he put on incense, and made an atonement for the people.
and he put
And he stood between the dead and the living; and the plague was stayed.
Now they that died in the plague were fourteen thousand and seven hundred, beside them that died about the matter of Korah.
And Aaron returned unto Moses unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation: and the plague was stayed.