51 Whenever the tabernacle is to move, the Levites are to take it down, and whenever it is to stop at a campsite, the Levites are to set it up. Any unauthorized(A) person who comes near it is to be put to death.(B)

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53 The Levites are to camp around the tabernacle of the testimony and watch over it, so that no wrath will fall on the Israelite community.”(A)

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Korah Incites Rebellion

16 Now Korah son of Izhar, son of Kohath, son of Levi,(A) with Dathan and Abiram,(B) sons of Eliab, and On son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took two hundred fifty prominent Israelite men who were leaders of the community and representatives in the assembly, and they rebelled against Moses. They came together against Moses and Aaron and told them, “You have gone too far! Everyone in the entire community is holy, and the Lord is among them.(C) Why then do you exalt yourselves above the Lord’s assembly?”

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32 The earth opened its mouth and swallowed them and their households, all Korah’s people,(A) and all their possessions. 33 They went down alive into Sheol with all that belonged to them. The earth closed over them, and they vanished from the assembly. 34 At their cries, all the people of Israel who were around them fled because they thought, “The earth may swallow us too!” 35 Fire also came out from the Lord and consumed the 250 men who were presenting the incense.(B)

36 Then the Lord spoke to Moses: 37 “Tell Eleazar son of Aaron the priest to remove the firepans from the burning debris, because they are holy, and scatter the fire far away. 38 As for the firepans of those who sinned at the cost of their own lives, make them into hammered sheets as plating for the altar, for they presented them before the Lord, and the firepans are holy. They will be a sign to the Israelites.”

39 So the priest Eleazar took the bronze firepans that those who were burned had presented, and they were hammered into plating for the altar, 40 just as the Lord commanded him through Moses. It was to be a reminder for the Israelites that no unauthorized person outside the lineage of Aaron should approach to offer incense before the Lord(C) and become like Korah and his followers.

41 The next day the entire Israelite community complained about Moses and Aaron,(D) saying, “You have killed the Lord’s people!” 42 When the community assembled against them, Moses and Aaron turned toward the tent of meeting, and suddenly the cloud covered it, and the Lord’s glory appeared.

43 Moses and Aaron went to the front of the tent of meeting, 44 and the Lord said to Moses, 45 “Get away from this community so that I may consume them instantly.”(E) But they fell facedown.

46 Then Moses told Aaron, “Take your firepan, place fire from the altar in it, and add incense. Go quickly to the community and make atonement for them, because wrath has come from the Lord; the plague has begun.” 47 So Aaron took his firepan as Moses had ordered, ran into the middle of the assembly, and saw that the plague had begun among the people. After he added incense, he made atonement for the people. 48 He stood between the dead and the living, and the plague was halted. 49 But those who died from the plague numbered 14,700, in addition to those who died because of the Korah incident. 50 Aaron then returned to Moses at the entrance to the tent of meeting, since the plague had been halted.(F)

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Provision for the Priesthood

18 The Lord said to Aaron, “You, your sons, and your ancestral family[a](A) will be responsible for iniquity against the sanctuary. You and your sons will be responsible for iniquity involving your priesthood. But also bring your relatives with you from the tribe of Levi, your ancestral tribe, so they may join you and assist you and your sons in front of the tent of the testimony.(B) They are to perform duties for you and for the whole tent. They must not come near the sanctuary equipment or the altar; otherwise, both they and you will die. They are to join you and guard the tent of meeting, doing all the work at the tent, but no unauthorized person may come near you.

“You are to guard the sanctuary and the altar so that wrath may not fall on the Israelites again.(C) Look, I have selected your fellow Levites from the Israelites as a gift for you, assigned by the Lord to work at the tent of meeting. But you and your sons will carry out your priestly responsibilities(D) for everything concerning the altar and for what is inside the curtain, and you will do that work. I am giving you the work of the priesthood as a gift,[b] but an unauthorized person who comes near the sanctuary will be put to death.”(E)

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Footnotes

  1. 18:1 Lit the house of your father
  2. 18:7 Or curtain. So you are to perform the service; a gift of your priesthood I grant

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