New American Bible (Revised Edition)
Rebellion of Korah. 1 [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 2 two hundred and fifty Israelites who were leaders in the community, members of the council and men of note, and confronted Moses. 3 Holding an assembly against Moses and Aaron, they said,(A) “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?”
4 When Moses heard this, he fell prostrate. 5 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. 6 Do this: take your censers, Korah and all his faction, 7 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!”
8 Moses also said to Korah, “Hear, now, you Levites! 9 (B)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?”
Rebellion of Dathan and Abiram. 12 Moses summoned Dathan and Abiram, sons of Eliab, but they answered, “We will not go.[c] 13 Are you not satisfied that you have brought us here from a land flowing with milk and honey to have us perish in the wilderness, that now you must also lord it over us? 14 Far from bringing us to a land flowing with milk and honey, or giving us fields and vineyards for our inheritance, will you gouge out our eyes?[d] No, we will not go.”
15 Then Moses became very angry and said to the Lord, “Pay no attention to their offering. I have never taken a single donkey from them, nor have I wronged any one of them.”(C)
Korah. 16 Moses said to Korah, “You and all your faction shall appear before the Lord tomorrow—you and they and Aaron too. 17 Then each of you take his own censer, put incense in it, and present it before the Lord, two hundred and fifty censers; and you and Aaron, each with his own censer, do the same.” 18 So each of them took their censers, and laying incense on the fire they had put in them, they took their stand by the entrance of the tent of meeting along with Moses and Aaron. 19 Then, when Korah had assembled all the community against them at the entrance of the tent of meeting, the glory of the Lord appeared to the entire community, 20 and the Lord said to Moses and Aaron: 21 Stand apart from this community, that I may consume them at once. 22 But they fell prostrate and exclaimed, “O God, God of the spirits of all living creatures, if one man sins will you be angry with the whole community?” 23 The Lord answered Moses: 24 Speak to the community and tell them: Withdraw from the area around the tent[e] of Korah, Dathan and Abiram.
Punishment of Dathan and Abiram. 25 Moses, followed by the elders of Israel, arose and went to Dathan and Abiram.[f] 26 Then he spoke to the community, “Move away from the tents of these wicked men and do not touch anything that is theirs: otherwise you too will be swept away because of all their sins.” 27 So they withdrew from the area around the tents of Korah, Dathan and Abiram. When Dathan and Abiram had come out and were standing at the entrance of their tents with their wives, their children, and their little ones, 28 Moses said, “This is how you shall know that the Lord sent me to do all I have done, and that it was not of my own devising: 29 if these die an ordinary death, merely suffering the fate common to all humanity, the Lord has not sent me. 30 But if the Lord makes a chasm, and the ground opens its mouth and swallows them with all belonging to them, and they go down alive to Sheol,[g] then you will know that these men have spurned the Lord.” 31 (D)No sooner had he finished saying all this than the ground beneath them split open, 32 and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them and their families and all of Korah’s people[h] with all their possessions. 33 They went down alive to Sheol with all belonging to them; the earth closed over them, and they disappeared from the assembly. 34 But all the Israelites near them fled at their shrieks, saying, “The earth might swallow us too!”
Punishment of Korah. 35 And fire from the Lord came forth which consumed the two hundred and fifty men who were offering the incense.
- 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.
- 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.”
- 16:12 We will not go: to appear before Moses’ “tribunal.”
- 16:14 Gouge out our eyes: blind us to the real state of affairs.
- 16:24 Withdraw from the area around the tent: the word for “tent,” mishkan, here and in v. 27, is otherwise used in the singular only for the tent of meeting, suggesting possibly the erection of a rival sanctuary by the rebels. Note further, as an indication of the fact that various accounts of rebellion have been fused here, that in v. 19 the entire community had been assembled by Korah at the tent of meeting.
- 16:25 Since Dathan and Abiram had refused to go to Moses (vv. 12–14), he, with the elders as witnesses, was obliged to go to their tents.
- 16:30 Sheol: see note on Ps 6:6.
- 16:32 And all of Korah’s people: the implication of this secondary addition to the text is, on the one hand, that Korah met his death elsewhere, presumably with the two hundred and fifty offering incense (vv. 16–17, 35); or, on the other hand, he died along with Dathan and Abiram in the splitting of the earth.
New International Version
Korah, Dathan and Abiram
16 Korah(A) son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, and certain Reubenites—Dathan and Abiram(B), sons of Eliab,(C) and On son of Peleth—became insolent[a] 2 and rose up against Moses.(D) With them were 250 Israelite men, well-known community leaders who had been appointed members of the council.(E) 3 They came as a group to oppose Moses and Aaron(F) and said to them, “You have gone too far! The whole community is holy,(G) every one of them, and the Lord is with them.(H) Why then do you set yourselves above the Lord’s assembly?”(I)
4 When Moses heard this, he fell facedown.(J) 5 Then he said to Korah and all his followers: “In the morning the Lord will show who belongs to him and who is holy,(K) and he will have that person come near him.(L) The man he chooses(M) he will cause to come near him. 6 You, Korah, and all your followers(N) are to do this: Take censers(O) 7 and tomorrow put burning coals(P) and incense(Q) in them before the Lord. The man the Lord chooses(R) will be the one who is holy.(S) You Levites have gone too far!”
8 Moses also said to Korah, “Now listen, you Levites! 9 Isn’t it enough(T) for you that the God of Israel has separated you from the rest of the Israelite community and brought you near himself to do the work at the Lord’s tabernacle and to stand before the community and minister to them?(U) 10 He has brought you and all your fellow Levites near himself, but now you are trying to get the priesthood too.(V) 11 It is against the Lord that you and all your followers have banded together. Who is Aaron that you should grumble(W) against him?(X)”
12 Then Moses summoned Dathan and Abiram,(Y) the sons of Eliab. But they said, “We will not come!(Z) 13 Isn’t it enough that you have brought us up out of a land flowing with milk and honey(AA) to kill us in the wilderness?(AB) And now you also want to lord it over us!(AC) 14 Moreover, you haven’t brought us into a land flowing with milk and honey(AD) or given us an inheritance of fields and vineyards.(AE) Do you want to treat these men like slaves[b]?(AF) No, we will not come!(AG)”
16 Moses said to Korah, “You and all your followers are to appear before the Lord tomorrow—you and they and Aaron.(AJ) 17 Each man is to take his censer and put incense in it—250 censers in all—and present it before the Lord. You and Aaron are to present your censers also.(AK)” 18 So each of them took his censer,(AL) put burning coals and incense in it, and stood with Moses and Aaron at the entrance to the tent of meeting. 19 When Korah had gathered all his followers in opposition to them(AM) at the entrance to the tent of meeting, the glory of the Lord(AN) appeared to the entire assembly. 20 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, 21 “Separate yourselves(AO) from this assembly so I can put an end to them at once.”(AP)
23 Then the Lord said to Moses, 24 “Say to the assembly, ‘Move away from the tents of Korah, Dathan and Abiram.’”
25 Moses got up and went to Dathan and Abiram, and the elders of Israel(AU) followed him. 26 He warned the assembly, “Move back from the tents of these wicked men!(AV) Do not touch anything belonging to them, or you will be swept away(AW) because of all their sins.(AX)” 27 So they moved away from the tents of Korah, Dathan and Abiram.(AY) Dathan and Abiram had come out and were standing with their wives, children(AZ) and little ones at the entrances to their tents.(BA)
28 Then Moses said, “This is how you will know(BB) that the Lord has sent me(BC) to do all these things and that it was not my idea: 29 If these men die a natural death and suffer the fate of all mankind, then the Lord has not sent me.(BD) 30 But if the Lord brings about something totally new, and the earth opens its mouth(BE) and swallows them, with everything that belongs to them, and they go down alive into the realm of the dead,(BF) then you will know that these men have treated the Lord with contempt.(BG)”
31 As soon as he finished saying all this, the ground under them split apart(BH) 32 and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them(BI) and their households, and all those associated with Korah, together with their possessions. 33 They went down alive into the realm of the dead,(BJ) with everything they owned; the earth closed over them, and they perished and were gone from the community. 34 At their cries, all the Israelites around them fled, shouting, “The earth is going to swallow us too!”
36 The Lord said to Moses, 37 “Tell Eleazar(BM) son of Aaron, the priest, to remove the censers(BN) from the charred remains and scatter the coals some distance away, for the censers are holy— 38 the censers of the men who sinned at the cost of their lives.(BO) Hammer the censers into sheets to overlay the altar,(BP) for they were presented before the Lord and have become holy. Let them be a sign(BQ) to the Israelites.”
39 So Eleazar the priest(BR) collected the bronze censers brought by those who had been burned to death,(BS) and he had them hammered out to overlay the altar, 40 as the Lord directed him through Moses. This was to remind the Israelites that no one except a descendant of Aaron should come to burn incense(BT) before the Lord,(BU) or he would become like Korah and his followers.(BV)
41 The next day the whole Israelite community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. “You have killed the Lord’s people,” they said.
42 But when the assembly gathered in opposition(BW) to Moses and Aaron and turned toward the tent of meeting, suddenly the cloud covered it and the glory of the Lord(BX) appeared. 43 Then Moses and Aaron went to the front of the tent of meeting, 44 and the Lord said to Moses, 45 “Get away from this assembly so I can put an end(BY) to them at once.” And they fell facedown.
46 Then Moses said to Aaron, “Take your censer(BZ) and put incense in it, along with burning coals from the altar, and hurry to the assembly(CA) to make atonement(CB) for them. Wrath has come out from the Lord;(CC) the plague(CD) has started.” 47 So Aaron did as Moses said, and ran into the midst of the assembly. The plague had already started among the people,(CE) but Aaron offered the incense and made atonement for them. 48 He stood between the living and the dead, and the plague stopped.(CF) 49 But 14,700 people died from the plague, in addition to those who had died because of Korah.(CG) 50 Then Aaron returned to Moses at the entrance to the tent of meeting, for the plague had stopped.[c]