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Numbers 16:1-11 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Chapter 16

Rebellion of Korah. [a]Korah, son of Izhar, son of Kohath, son of Levi, and the Reubenites Dathan and Abiram, sons of Eliab, and On, son of Peleth,[b] son of Reuben took two hundred and fifty Israelites who were leaders in the community, members of the council and men of note, and confronted Moses. Holding an assembly against Moses and Aaron, they said, “You go too far! The whole community, all of them, are holy; the Lord is in their midst. Why then should you set yourselves over the Lord’s assembly?”

When Moses heard this, he fell prostrate. Then he said to Korah and to all his faction, “May the Lord make known tomorrow morning who belongs to him and who is the holy one and whom he will have draw near to him! The one whom he chooses, he will have draw near to him. Do this: take your censers, Korah and all his faction, and put fire in them and place incense in them before the Lord tomorrow. He whom the Lord then chooses is the holy one. You Levites go too far!”

Moses also said to Korah, “Hear, now, you Levites! Are you not satisfied that the God of Israel has singled you out from the community of Israel, to have you draw near him to maintain the Lord’s tabernacle, and to attend upon the community and to serve them? 10 He has allowed you and your Levite kinsmen with you to approach him, and yet you seek the priesthood too. 11 It is therefore against the Lord that you and all your faction are conspiring. As for Aaron, what has he done that you should grumble against him?”


  1. 16:1–3 The evidence seems to show that accounts of two, if not more, distinct rebellions have been combined in this chapter. The most obvious are the rebellions of Korah and his faction (Nm 27:3) and of Dathan and Abiram (Dt 11:6); cf. Ps 106. The present account combines both events into one narrative; but even here it is rather easy to separate the two. The rebellion of the Reubenites, Dathan and Abiram, was more political in character, against Moses alone as the civil leader (cf. v. 13); these rebels were punished by being swallowed alive in an earthquake. The rebellion of Korah was more religious in character, directed primarily against the religious leadership of Aaron (though in vv. 19–22 it is Korah and the whole community against both Moses and Aaron). About two hundred and fifty malcontents joined Korah’s faction, and they are punished by fire. The parts of the present section which refer to the rebellion of Dathan and Abiram are vv. 12–15 and vv. 25–34 of chap. 16; the rest of chap. 16 and all of chap. 17 chiefly concern the rebellion of Korah.
  2. 16:1 The Reubenites…son of Peleth: some suggest on the basis of 26:5, 8 and Gn 46:9 reading instead of the traditional Hebrew text: “son of Levi, and Dathan and Abiram, sons of Eliab, son of Pallu, son of Reuben.”
New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Scripture texts, prefaces, introductions, footnotes and cross references used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.


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