The Fourth Book of Moses, Called Numbers

Chapter 16

The rebellion of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, 1-22. Moses separates the people from the rebel's tents, 23-30. The earth swallows up Korah, and a fire consumes others, 31-35. The censers are reserved to holy use, 36-40. Fourteen thousand and seven hundred are slain by a plague for murmuring against Moses and Aaron, 41-45. Aaron by incense stays the plague, 46-50.

1 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, 2 And they rose up before Moses, with some of the children of Israel, two hundred and fifty princes of the assembly, famous in the congregation, men of renown, 3 And they assembled themselves against Moses and against Aaron and said to them, "You take too much upon yourselves, seeing all the congregation are holy, each of them, and the LORD is among them. Why then do you raise yourselves above the congregation of the LORD?"

4 And when Moses heard it, he fell upon his face, 5 And he spoke to Korah and to all his company, saying, "Even tomorrow the LORD will show who are his and who is holy, and will cause him to come near to him. Even him whom he has chosen he will cause to come near to him. 6 Do this: take for yourselves censers—Korah and all his company— 7 And put fire in them and put incense in them before the LORD tomorrow. And it shall be that the man whom the LORD chooses, he shall be holy. You take too much upon yourselves, you sons of Levi."

8 And Moses said to Korah, "Hear, I pray you, you sons of Levi. 9 Does it seem but a small thing to you that the God of Israel has 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 to them? 10 And he has brought you near to him, and all your brothers the sons of Levi with you, and you seek the priesthood also? 11 For which cause both you and all your company are assembled against the LORD. And what is Aaron that you murmur against him?"

12 And Moses sent to call Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, who said, "We will not come up. 13 Is it a small thing that you have brought us out of a land that flows with milk and honey to kill us in the wilderness, but you also make yourself altogether a prince over us? 14 Moreover, you have not brought us into a land that flows with milk and honey, or 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, neither have I hurt one of them." 16 And Moses said to Korah, "You and all your company go before the LORD—you, they, and Aaron—tomorrow, 17 And each take his censer and put incense in them, and each bring before the LORD his censer, two hundred and fifty censers—you and also Aaron, each his censer." 18 And they each took his censer, put fire in them, laid incense on them, and stood in the door of the Tabernacle of the Congregation with Moses and Aaron. 19 And Korah gathered all the congregation against them at the door of the Tabernacle of the Congregation. 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 so that I may consume them in a moment." 22 And they fell upon 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 "Speak to the congregation, saying, 'Withdraw yourselves from about the tabernacle of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram.'"

25 And Moses rose up and went to Dathan and Abiram. And the elders of Israel followed him. 26 And he spoke to the congregation, saying, "Depart, I pray you, from the tents of these wicked men and touch nothing of theirs, lest you be consumed in all their sins." 27 So they withdrew 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, along with their wives, their sons, and their little children. 28 And Moses said, "By this you shall know that the LORD has sent me to do all these works, for I have not done them of my own mind. 29 If these men die the common death of all men, or if they are visited after the visitation of all men, then the LORD has not sent me. 30 But if the LORD makes a new thing, and the earth opens her mouth and swallows them up with all that appertains to them and they go down quick into the pit, then you shall understand that these men have provoked the LORD."

31 And it came to pass, as he had made an end of speaking all these words, that the ground that was under them cleaved apart, 32 And the earth opened her mouth and swallowed them up, their houses, all the men who appertained to Korah, and all their goods. 33 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. 34 And all Israel who were round about them, fled at their cry, for they said, "Lest the earth swallow us up also." 35 And a fire came out from the LORD and consumed the two hundred and fifty men who offered incense.

36 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 37 "Speak to Eleazar the son of Aaron the priest that he take up the censers out of the burning, and you scatter the fire yonder, for they are hallowed. 38 The censers of these sinners against their own souls, let them be made broad plates for a covering of the altar. Because they offered them before the LORD, therefore they are hallowed. And they shall be a sign to the children of Israel." 39 And Eleazar the priest took the brazen censers, with which those who were burnt had offered, and they were made broad plates for a covering of the altar, 40 To be a memorial to the children of Israel, so that no stranger who is not of the seed of Aaron should come near to offer incense before the LORD, so that he may not be as Korah and as his company, as the LORD said to him by the hand of Moses.

41 But on the next day all the congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron, saying, "You have killed the people of the LORD." 42 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. 43 And Moses and Aaron came before the Tabernacle of the Congregation. 44 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 45 "Remove from among this congregation so that I may consume them as in a moment." And they fell upon their faces. 46 And Moses said to Aaron, "Take a censer and put fire in it from off the altar and put incense on it, and go quickly to the congregation and make an atonement for them, for wrath has gone out from the LORD. The plague has begun." 47 And Aaron took as Moses commanded and ran into the midst of the congregation, and behold, the plague had begun among the people. And he put incense on it and made an atonement for the people. 48 And he stood between the dead and the living, and the plague was stayed. 49 Now those who died in the plague were fourteen thousand and seven hundred, besides those who died about the matter of Korah. 50 And Aaron returned to Moses at the door of the Tabernacle of the Congregation, for the plague had been stayed.


Matthew Henry Commentary - Numbers, Chapter 16