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12 Then Moses summoned[a] Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, but they said, “We will not come up.[b] 13 Is it a small thing[c] that you have brought us up out of the land that flows with milk and honey,[d] to kill us in the wilderness? Now do you want to make yourself a prince[e] over us? 14 Moreover,[f] you have not brought us into a land that flows with milk and honey, nor given us an inheritance of fields and vineyards. Do you think you can blind[g] these men? We will not come up.”

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  1. Numbers 16:12 tn Heb “Moses sent to summon.” The verb קָרָא (qaraʾ) followed by the ל (lamed) preposition does not mean “call to” but “summon.” This is a command performance; for them to appear would be to submit to Moses’ authority. This they will not do.
  2. Numbers 16:12 tn The imperfect tense of נַעֲלֶה (naʿaleh) expresses their unwillingness to report: “we are not willing,” or “we will not.” The verb means “to go up.” It is used in the sense of appearing before an authority or a superior (see, e.g., Gen 46:31; Deut 25:7; Judg 4:5).
  3. Numbers 16:13 tn The question is rhetorical. It was not a small thing to them—it was a big thing.
  4. Numbers 16:13 tn The modern scholar who merely sees these words as belonging to an earlier tradition about going up to the land of Canaan that flows with milk and honey misses the irony here. What is happening is that the text is showing how twisted the thinking of the rebels is. They have turned things completely around. Egypt was the land flowing with milk and honey, not Canaan where they will die. The words of rebellion are seldom original, and always twisted.
  5. Numbers 16:13 tn The verb הִשְׂתָּרֵר (histarer) is the Hitpael infinitive absolute that emphasizes the preceding תִשְׂתָּרֵר (tistarer), the Hitpael imperfect tense (both forms having metathesis). The verb means “to rule; to act like a prince; to make oneself a prince.” This is the only occurrence of the reflexive for this verb. The exact nuance is difficult to translate into English. But they are accusing Moses of seizing princely power for himself, perhaps making a sarcastic reference to his former status in Egypt. The rebels here are telling Moses that they had discerned his scheme, and so he could not “hoodwink” them (cf. NEB).
  6. Numbers 16:14 tn Here אַף (ʾaf) has the sense of “in addition.” It is not a common use.
  7. Numbers 16:14 tn Heb “will you bore out the eyes of these men?” The question is “Will you continue to mislead them?” (or “hoodwink” them). In Deut 16:19 it is used for taking a bribe; something like that kind of deception is intended here. They are simply stating that Moses is a deceiver who is misleading the people with false promises.