Numbers 16:1 - 18:32  Lesson 34
Torah Portion Korach

Numbers 16   (Torah Portion Korach) 

Korah—Izhar’s son, Kohath’s grandson, and Levi’s great-grandson—with Dathan and Abiram, Eliab’s sons, and On, Peleth’s son, descendants of Reuben, rose up against Moses, along with two hundred fifty Israelite men, leaders of the community, chosen by the assembly, men of reputation. They assembled against Moses and Aaron and said to them, “You’ve gone too far, because the entire community is holy, every last one of them, and the Lord is with them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the Lord’s assembly?”

When Moses heard this, he fell on his face. He spoke to Korah and all his community, “In the morning the Lord will make known who is his, who is holy, and who is able to approach him. The one he chooses for himself is the one who will be able to approach him. This is what must be done. Korah and your entire community: Take censers for yourselves. Tomorrow put fire in them and place incense on them in the Lord’s presence. The man whom the Lord chooses, that one is holy. You Levites have gone too far!” Moses said to Korah, “Listen, you Levites, isn’t it enough for you that Israel’s God has separated you from the Israelite community to allow you to approach him, to perform the service of the Lord’s dwelling, and to serve before the community by ministering for them? 10 He has allowed you and all your fellow Levites with you to approach him. Yet you also seek the priesthood? 11 Thus you and your entire community have assembled against the Lord. But Aaron, what is he that you complain about him?”

12 Moses sent for Dathan and Abiram, Eliab’s sons. But they said, “We won’t come up! 13 Isn’t it enough that you’ve brought us up from a land full of milk and honey to kill us in the desert so that you’d also dominate us? 14 Moreover, you haven’t brought us to a land full of milk and honey, nor given us the inheritance of field and vineyard. Would you also gouge out the eyes of these men? We won’t come up!”

15 Moses became very angry and he said to the Lord, “Pay no attention to their offering. I haven’t taken a single donkey from them, nor have I wronged any one of them.”

16 Moses said to Korah, “You and your entire community should appear before the Lord tomorrow, you, they, and Aaron. 17 Every person should take his censer, place incense on it, and present it before the Lord. Each person will carry his censer, two hundred fifty censers in all, including you and Aaron.” 18 Then every person took his censer, placed fire on it, put incense on it, an]d stood at the entrance of the meeting tent with Moses and Aaron. 19 Korah gathered the entire community with them to the entrance of the meeting tent.

Then the Lord’s glory appeared to the entire community. 20 The Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, 21 “Separate yourselves from this community so that I may consume them in a moment.”

22 They fell on their faces and said, “God, the God of all living things. If one person sins, should you become angry with the entire community?”

23 The Lord said to Moses, 24 “Speak to the community and say, ‘Withdraw from around the dwellings of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram.’”

25 Moses rose and went to Dathan and Abiram. Israel’s elders followed him. 26 He spoke to the community: “Move away from the tents of these wicked men and don’t touch anything of theirs, lest you too be wiped out for all their sins.” 27 They withdrew from around the dwellings of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram. Then Dathan and Abiram came out and stood at the entrance of their tents with their wives, children, and little ones. 28 Moses said, “By this you will know that the Lord sent me to do these deeds and that it wasn’t my own desire. 29 If all these people die a natural death, or if their fate be that of all humans, then the Lord hasn’t sent me. 30 But if the Lord performs an act of creation, and the ground opens its mouth and swallows them and everything that belongs to them, so that they descend alive to their graves, then you’ll know that these men disrespected the Lord.”

31 As soon as he finished speaking these words, the ground under them split open. 32 The earth opened its mouth and swallowed them and their households, including every human that belonged to Korah and all their possessions. 33 They along with all their possessions descended alive to their graves, and the earth closed over them. They perished in the middle of the assembly. 34 All the Israelites who were around them fled at their cry, for they said, “The earth may swallow us.” 35 Then fire went out from the Lord and consumed the two hundred fifty men offering incense.

36  The Lord spoke to Moses: 37 Tell Eleazar, Aaron the priest’s son, to raise the censers from the fire and scatter the ashes about, because they are holy. 38 Hammer the censers of those who sinned and lost their lives into thin plates for the altar. Since they presented them in the Lord’s presence, they had become holy. They will be a sign for the Israelites.

39 Eleazar the priest took the bronze censers presented by those who had been consumed by fire and hammered them into a covering for the altar, 40 just as the Lord instructed him through Moses. This was a reminder for the Israelites that no outsider who isn’t one of Aaron’s descendants should approach to burn incense in the Lord’s presence, so as not to be like Korah and his community.

41 On the next day the entire Israelite community complained to Moses and Aaron, “You killed the Lord’s people.” 42 When the community assembled against Moses and Aaron, they turned toward the meeting tent. At that moment the cloud covered it, and the Lord’s glory appeared. 43 Moses and Aaron came to the front of the meeting tent, 44 and the Lord spoke to Moses: 45 Get away from this community, so that I may consume them in an instant.

They fell on their faces, 46 and Moses said to Aaron, “Take the censer, put fire from the altar on it, place incense on it, go quickly to the community, and seek reconciliation for them. Indeed, the Lord’s anger has gone out. The plague has begun.” 47 Aaron took it as Moses said and ran into the middle of the assembly, for the plague had already begun among the people. He burned incense and sought reconciliation for the people. 48 He stood between the dead and the living, and the plague stopped. 49 Those who died from the plague were fourteen thousand seven hundred, in addition to those who died because of Korah. 50 Aaron returned to Moses at the entrance of the meeting tent once the plague stopped.

Numbers 17   (Torah Portion Korach) 

 The Lord spoke to Moses: Speak to the Israelites and take from them a staff from each household, from each of the chiefs of their households, twelve staffs. Write each person’s name on his staff. Write Aaron’s name on Levi’s staff, for there will be one staff for the leader of each household. Then you will place them in the meeting tent in front of the chest containing the covenant, where I meet you. The staff of the person I choose will sprout. Then I will rid myself of the Israelites’ complaints that they make against you.

Moses spoke to the Israelites, and each of their chiefs gave him a staff, one staff for each chief and his household, twelve staffs, and the staff of Aaron was with their staffs.Moses placed the staffs before the Lord in the meeting tent. The next day Moses entered the covenant tent, and Aaron’s staff of Levi’s household had sprouted. It grew shoots, produced blossoms, and bore almonds. Moses brought out all the staffs from the Lord’s presence to the Israelites. They saw what happened, and each person took back his staff.

10 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Return Aaron’s staff in front of the chest containing the covenant to serve as a sign to the rebels so that their complaints against me end and they don’t die.” 11 Moses did exactly as the Lord commanded him.

12 The Israelites said to Moses, “We are perishing. We are being destroyed. All of us are being destroyed. 13 Anyone who approaches the Lord’s dwelling will die. Are we doomed to perish?” 

Numbers 18       (Torah Portion Korach)   

11 The Lord said to Aaron: You, your sons, and your household will bear the guilt of offenses connected with the sanctuary. You and your sons will bear the guilt of offenses connected with your priesthood. Bring with you your brothers from the tribe of Levi, your father’s tribe, so that they can assist you and serve you and your sons before the covenant tent. They will perform their duties for you and the service for the entire tent. But they will not approach the holy equipment of the sanctuary or the altar, lest both they and you die. They will assist you and they will perform the duties of the meeting tent with regard to all the work of the tent. But no outsider may accompany you. You will perform the duties of the sanctuary and the altar. Then there will no longer be any anger against the Israelites. I have taken your brothers, the Levites, from the Israelites. They are a gift to you, dedicated to the Lord to perform the service of the meeting tent. You and your sons must perform the duties of your priesthood for all the matters of the altar and the area behind the curtain. I give you your priestly service as a gift. But an outsider who approaches will die.

The Lord spoke to Aaron: I now place you in charge of my gifts, including all the Israelites’ sacred offerings. I have given them to you and your sons as an allowance. This is a permanent regulation. This is what belongs to you from the most holy offerings, from the offerings by fire: all their offerings, including their grain offerings, their purification offerings, and their compensation offerings. The most holy offerings that they bring to me will be yours and your sons’. 10 You will eat it as a most holy thing. Every male may eat it. It will be holy to you. 11 This will also belong to you, your sons, and your daughters: I’m giving you the gift offerings and all the Israelites’ uplifted offerings. This is a permanent regulation. Anyone who is clean in your household may eat it. 12 All the choice oil, new wine, and the grain’s first harvest that they give to the Lord, I’m giving to you. 13 The early produce of everything in their land, which they bring to the Lord, will be yours. Anyone who is clean in your household may eat it. 14 Everything that is devoted to the Lord in Israel will be yours. 15 Any oldest male from the womb of any living thing that is presented to the Lord, whether human or animal, will be yours. However, you will redeem the oldest males of humans and of unclean animals. 16 Their redemption price from one month of age you will calculate at five shekels of silver according to the sanctuary shekel, which is twenty gerahs. 17 But the oldest offspring of a cow, sheep, or goat you may not redeem. They are holy. You must dash their blood on the altar and turn their fat into smoke for a soothing smell to the Lord. 18 But their meat is yours. It will be yours just as the breast of the uplifted offering and the right thigh are yours. 19 All the holy gift offerings that the Israelites raise to the Lord I have given to you, your sons, and your daughters. This is a permanent regulation. It is a covenant of salt forever in the Lord’s presence, for you and your descendants.

20 The Lord said to Aaron: You will have no inheritance in their land, nor will you have a share among them. I am your share and your inheritance among the Israelites.

21 I have given all the one-tenth portions in Israel to the Levites as an inheritance. They are a reward for performing their service in the meeting tent. 22 The Israelites will no longer be able to approach the meeting tent, or they will be responsible for their sin and die. 23 The Levites will perform the service of the meeting tent, and they will be responsible for their own sins. This is a permanent regulation for all time. But they will not inherit land among the Israelites 24 because I’ve given the Israelites’ one-tenth portion, which they have raised to the Lord as a gift offering, as an inheritance to the Levites. Therefore, I’ve said to them, “They won’t inherit land among the Israelites.”

25 The Lord spoke to Moses: 26 Speak to the Levites and say to them: When you receive from the Israelites the one-tenth portion that I have given you from them as your inheritance, you also must present a gift offering to the Lord from it, a tenth from the one-tenth portion. 27 It will be considered your gift offering, like the grain of the threshing floor and what fills the winepress. 28 In this way you will also present a gift offering to the Lord from all the one-tenth portions that you take from the Israelites. You will provide from it a gift offering to the Lord for Aaron the priest. 29 You will present each gift offering to the Lord from all your gifts, from its best portions and its holiest parts.

30 You will say to them: When you have presented the best portion, it will be considered for the Levites equivalent to the produce of the grain and the produce of the winepress. 31 You and your household may eat it anywhere, because it is payment for your service in the meeting tent. 32 You will not bear guilt after you have presented the best portion. But you must not make the sacred gifts of the Israelites impure, on penalty of death.

Torah Portion Korach        Numbers 16:1 - 18:32  

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