Parsha Thought – Korach

  • Numbers 16:1-18:32
  • 1 Samuel 11:14-12:22
  • Acts 5:1-11

Korach’s great rebellion against Moshe is possible the most well known in Scripture.  At some point during the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, Korach stirs up Dathan, Aviram and On to rebel against Moshe and Aharon in two-pronged attack.

After getting 250 leaders of the people to stand with him, Korach confronts Moshe and “reminds” him that all of Israel is holy.  The implication is that Moshe has taken on airs.  In reality Korach was jealous of Moshe and Aharon’s position.  Whereas his family was selected for the care of the Tabernacle’s furniture, Aharon’s was chosen for the priesthood.  

As Moshe is dealing with this first onslaught Dathan and Aviram refuse to come to speak to Moshe, accusing him of not fulfilling his promise of bringing them to Canaan.  Adding insult to injury, they accuse him of lying to the people about what Elohim said in the instance of the ten spies.  They believed the forty year wandering was something Moshe made up (16:14)

Moshe’s response is understandable, he got VERY angry (16:15).  Yet in the midst of his anger he asks Adonai to spare the people, yet again.

Then Adonai spoke to Moshe and Aharon, saying, “Separate yourself from among this congregation, that I may consume them instantly.” But they fell on their faces and said, “O Elohim, Elohim of the spirits of all flesh, when one man sins will You be angry with the entire congregation?”

Numbers 16:20-22 NASB

Moshe’s request seems reasonable.  If Korach and those who align themselves with him are the ones causing the trouble, let them be the ones to receive the punishment, not the rest of the people.  Adonai relents, and gives an important command.

Depart now from the tents of these wicked men, and touch nothing that belongs to them, or you will be swept away in all their sin.

Numbers 16:26 NASB

This warning was given literally.  Should anyone have stayed near the tents of Korach, they would have perished when the ground swallowed him, his family, and his followers up.  When Korach was removed from the camp and life, Adonai’s attention turned to Dathan, Aviram, and the 250 leaders of the congregation, and they were consumed by fire.

End of story?  Unfortunately no.  The next day the people grumble, and continue the accusations of Dathan and Aviram saying that Moshe had killed  those of the day before, and not Adonai.  In response to this final rebellion, Adonai sent a plague where close to 14,700 people died.

Perhaps what Moshe failed to realize was what was said in verse 2.  These rebellious men were, “chosen from the congregation.”  The people weren’t innocent, they  had already joined in the rebellion.  While they physically obeyed the command to remove themselves from Korach, their hearts were with him.  In the end, they lost their lives as well.

The warning for us today, is the same as that of Adonai to the people, “depart now from the tents of these wicked men.”  Not just physically, but with our thoughts also.

There are those who put themselves at odds with Elohim intentionally.  They put themselves, their families, and all who associate with them in danger.  For this reason Paul gives a similar command in his letter to the Corinthians.

“I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world.But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler — not even to eat with such a one.”

1 Corinthians 5:9–11 NASB

May we not be as the people, who refused to separate their hearts from rebellion, and so perished as well.

But if you will not do so, behold, you have sinned against Adonai, and be sure your sin will find you out.

Numbers 32:23 NASB
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