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Numbers: 16

Three rebels.  Nu.16.1-35

1NOW KORAH SON OF IZHAR, son of Kohath, son of Levi, with the Reubenites Dathan and Abiram sons of Eliab and On son of Peleth, 2challenged the authority of Moses. With them in their revolt were two hundred and fifty Israelites, all men of rank in the community, conveners of assembly and men of good standing. 3They confronted Moses and Aaron and said to them, 'You take too much upon yourselves. Every member of the community is holy and the LORD is among them all. Why do you set yourselves up above the assembly of the LORD?' 4When Moses heard this, he prostrated himself, 5and he said to Korah and all his company, 'Tomorrow morning the LORD shall declare who is his, who is holy and may present offerings to him. The man whom the LORD chooses shall present them. 6This is what you must do, you, Korah, and all your company: you must take censers 7and put fire in them, and then place incense on them before the LORD tomorrow. The man whom the LORD then chooses is the man who is holy. You take too much upon yourselves, you sons of Levi.'

8Moses said to Korah, 'Now listen, you sons of Levi. 9Is it not enough for you that the God of Israel has set you apart from the community of Israel, bringing you near him to maintain the service of the Tabernacle of the LORD and to stand before the community as their ministers? 10He has brought you near him and your brother Levites with you; now you seek the priesthood as well. 11That is why you and all your company have combined together against the LORD. What is Aaron that you should make these complaints against him?'

12Moses sent to fetch Dathan and Abiram sons of Eliab, but they answered, 'We are not coming. 13Is it a small thing that you have brought us away from a land flowing with milk and honey to let us die in the wilderness? Must you also set yourself up as prince over us? 14What is more, you have not brought us into a land flowing with milk and honey, nor have you given us fields and vineyards to inherit. Do you think you can hoodwink men like us? We are not coming.' 15This answer made Moses very angry, and he said to the LORD, 'Take no notice of their murmuring. I have not taken from them so much as a single ass; I have done no wrong to any of them.'

16Moses said to Korah, 'Present yourselves before the LORD tomorrow, you and all your company, you and they and Aaron. 17Each man of you is to take his censer and put incense on it. Then you shall present them before the LORD with their two hundred and fifty censers, and you and Aaron shall also bring your censers.' 18So each man took his censer and put fire in it and placed incense on it; Moses and Aaron took their stand at the entrance to the Tent of the Presence, 19and Korah gathered his whole company together and faced them at the entrance to the Tent of the Presence.

Then the glory of the LORD appeared to the whole community.
20And the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron and said, 21'Stand apart from this company, so that I may make an end of them in a single instant.' 22But they prostrated themselves and said, 'O God, God of the spirits of all mankind, if one man sins, wilt thou be angry with the whole community?' 23But the LORD said to Moses, 24'Tell them to stand back from the dwellings of Korah, Dathan and Abiram.'

25So Moses rose and went to Dathan and Abiram, and the elders of Israel followed him. 26He said to the whole community, 'Stand well away from the tents of these wicked men; touch nothing of theirs, or you will be swept away because of all their sins.' 27So they moved away from the places occupied by Korah, Dathan and Abiram. Now Dathan and Abiram, holding themselves erect, had come out to the entrance of their tents with their wives, their sons, and their dependants. 28Then Moses said, 'This shall prove to you that it is the LORD who sent me to do all these things, and it was not my own heart that prompted me. 29If these men die a natural death and share the common fate of man, then the LORD has not sent me; 30but if the LORD makes a great chasm, and the ground opens its mouth and swallows them and all that is theirs, and they go down alive to Sheol, then you will know that these men have held the LORD in contempt.'

31Hardly had Moses spoken when the ground beneath them split; 32the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them and their homes—all the followers of Korah and all their property. 33They went down alive into Sheol with all that they had; the earth closed over them, and they vanished from the assembly. 34At their cries all the Israelites round them ?ed, shouting, 'Look to yourselves! the earth will swallow us up.' 35Meanwhile fire had come out from the LORD and burnt up the two hundred and fifty men who were presenting the incense.

The firepans.  Nu.16.36-40

36Then the LORD spoke to Moses and said, 37'Bid Eleazar son of Aaron the priest set aside the censers from the burnt remains, and scatter the fire from them far and wide, 38because they are holy. And the censers of these men who sinned at the cost of their lives you shall make into beaten plates to cover the altar; they are holy, because they have been presented before the LORD. Let them be a sign to the Israelites.' 39So Eleazar the priest took the bronze [Or copper] censers which the victims of the fire had presented, and they were beaten into plates to make a covering for the altar, 40as a reminder to the Israelites that no person unqualified, not descended from Aaron, should come forward to burn incense before the LORD, or his fate would be that of Korah and his company. All this was done as the LORD commanded Eleazar through Moses.

The plague.  Nu.16.41-50

41Next day all the community of the Israelites raised complaints against Moses and Aaron and taxed them with causing the death of some of the LORD's people. 42As they gathered against Moses and Aaron, they turned towards the Tent of the Presence and saw that the cloud covered it, and the glory of the LORD appeared. 43Moses and Aaron came to the front of the Tent of the Presence, 44and the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron and said, 45'Stand well clear of this community, so that in a single instant I may make an end of them.' Then they prostrated themselves, 46and Moses said to Aaron, 'Take your censer, put fire from the altar in it, set incense on it, and go with it quickly to the assembled community to make expiation for them. Wrath has gone forth already from the presence of the LORD. The plague has begun.' 47So Aaron took his censer, as Moses had said, ran into the midst of the assembly and found that the plague had begun among the people. He put incense on the censer and made expiation for the people, 48standing between the dead and the living, and the plague stopped. 49Fourteen thousand seven hundred died of it, in addition to those who had died for the offence of Korah. 50When Aaron came back to Moses at the entrance to the Tent of the Presence, the plague had stopped.


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