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16. Koran, Dathan and Abiram

1And Korah, son of Izhar, son of Kohath, son of Levi, taketh both Dathan and Abiram sons of Eliab, and On son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, 2and they rise up before Moses, with men of the sons of Israel, two hundred and fifty, princes of the company, called of the convention, men of name, 3and they are assembled against Moses and against Aaron, and say unto them, `Enough of you! for all the company -- all of them [are] holy, and in their midst [is] Jehovah; and wherefore do ye lift yourselves up above the assembly of Jehovah?` 4And Moses heareth, and falleth on his face, 5and he speaketh unto Korah, and unto all his company, saying, `Morning! -- and Jehovah is knowing those who are his, and him who is holy, and hath brought near unto Him; even him whom He doth fix on He bringeth near unto Him. 6This do: take to yourselves censers, Korah, and all his company, 7and put in them fire, and put on them perfume, before Jehovah to-morrow, and it hath been, the man whom Jehovah chooseth, he [is] the holy one; -- enough of you, sons of Levi.` 8And Moses saith unto Korah, `Hear ye, I pray you, sons of Levi; 9is it little to you that the God of Israel hath separated you from the company of Israel to bring you near unto Himself, to do the service of the tabernacle of Jehovah, and to stand before the company to serve them? -- 10yea, He doth bring thee near, and all thy brethren the sons of Levi with thee -- and ye have sought also the priesthood! 11Therefore, thou and all thy company who are met [are] against Jehovah; and Aaron, what [is] he, that ye murmur against him?` 12And Moses sendeth to call for Dathan and for Abiram sons of Eliab, and they say, `We do not come up; 13is it little that thou hast brought us up out of a land flowing with milk and honey to put us to death in a wilderness that thou also certainly makest thyself prince over us? 14Yea, unto a land flowing with milk and honey thou hast not brought us in, nor dost thou give to us an inheritance of field and vineyard; the eyes of these men dost thou pick out? we do not come up.` 15And it is very displeasing to Moses, and he saith unto Jehovah, `Turn not Thou unto their present; not one ass from them have I taken, nor have I afflicted one of them.` 16And Moses saith unto Korah, `Thou and all thy company, be ye before Jehovah, thou, and they, and Aaron, to-morrow; 17and take ye each his censer, and ye have put on them perfume, and brought near before Jehovah, each his censer, two hundred and fifty censers; and thou and Aaron, each his censer.` 18And they take each his censer, and put on them fire, and lay on them perfume, and they stand at the opening of the tent of meeting, with Moses and Aaron. 19And Korah assembleth against them all the company unto the opening of the tent of meeting, and the honour of Jehovah is seen by all the company. 20And Jehovah speaketh unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying, 21`Be ye separated from the midst of this company, and I consume them in a moment;` 22and they fall on their faces, and say, `God, God of the spirits of all flesh -- the one man sinneth, and against all the company Thou art wroth!` 23And Jehovah speaketh unto Moses, saying, 24`Speak unto the company, saying, Go ye up from round about the tabernacle of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram.` 25And Moses riseth, and goeth unto Dathan and Abiram, and the elders of Israel go after him, 26and he speaketh unto the company, saying, `Turn aside, I pray you, from the tents of these wicked men, and come not against anything that they have, lest ye be consumed in all their sins.` 27And they go up from the tabernacle of Korah, Dathan and Abiram, from round about, and Dathan, and Abiram have come out, standing at the opening of their tents, and their wives, and their sons, and their infants. 28And Moses saith, `By this ye do know that Jehovah hath sent me to do all these works, that [they are] not from my own heart; 29if according to the death of all men these die -- or the charge of all men is charged upon them -- Jehovah hath not sent me; 30and if a strange thing Jehovah do, and the ground hath opened her mouth and swallowed them, and all that they have, and they have gone down alive to Sheol -- then ye have known that these men have despised Jehovah.` 31And it cometh to pass at his finishing speaking all these words, that the ground which [is] under them cleaveth, 32and the earth openeth her mouth, and swalloweth them, and their houses, and all the men who [are] for Korah, and all the goods, 33and they go down, they, and all that they have, alive to Sheol, and the earth closeth over them, and they perish from the midst of the assembly; 34and all Israel who [are] round about them have fled at their voice, for they said, `Lest the earth swallow us;` 35and fire hath come out from Jehovah, and consumeth the two hundred and fifty men bringing near the perfume. 36And Jehovah speaketh unto Moses, saying, 37`Say unto Eleazar son of Aaron the priest, and he lifteth up the censers from the midst of the burning, and the fire scatter thou yonder, for they have been hallowed, 38[even] the censers of these sinners against their own souls; and they have made them spread-out plates, a covering for the altar, for they have brought them near before Jehovah, and they are hallowed; and they are become a sign to the sons of Israel.` 39And Eleazar the priest taketh the brazen censers which they who are burnt had brought near, and they spread them out, a covering for the altar -- 40a memorial to the sons of Israel, so that a stranger who is not of the seed of Aaron doth not draw near to make a perfume before Jehovah, and is not as Korah, and as his company, -- as Jehovah hath spoken by the hand of Moses to him. 41And all the company of the sons of Israel murmur, on the morrow, against Moses and against Aaron, saying, `Ye -- ye have put to death the people of Jehovah.` 42And it cometh to pass, in the company being assembled against Moses and against Aaron, that they turn towards the tent of meeting, and lo, the cloud hath covered it, and the honour of Jehovah is seen; 43and Moses cometh -- Aaron also -- unto the front of the tent of meeting. 44And Jehovah speaketh unto Moses, saying, 45`Get you up from the midst of this company, and I consume them in a moment;` and they fall on their faces, 46and Moses saith unto Aaron, `Take the censer, and put on it fire from off the altar, and place perfume, and go, hasten unto the company, and make atonement for them, for the wrath hath gone out from the presence of Jehovah -- the plague hath begun.` 47And Aaron taketh as Moses hath spoken, and runneth unto the midst of the assembly, and lo, the plague hath begun among the people; and he giveth the perfume, and maketh atonement for the people, 48and standeth between the dead and the living, and the plague is restrained; 49and those who die by the plague are fourteen thousand and seven hundred, apart from those who die for the matter of Korah; 50and Aaron turneth back unto Moses, unto the opening of the tent of meeting, and the plague hath been restrained.

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Verses 1–11

Pride and ambition occasion a great deal of mischief both in churches and states. The rebels quarrel with the settlement of the priesthood upon Aaron and his family. Small reason they had to boast of the people's purity, or of God's favour, as the people had been so often and so lately polluted with sin, and were now under the marks of God's displeasure. They unjustly charge Moses and Aaron with taking honour to themselves; whereas they were called of God to it. See here, 1. What spirit levellers are of; those who resist the powers God has set over them. 2. What usage they have been serviceable. Moses sought instruction from God. The heart of the wise studies to answer, and asks counsel of God. Moses shows their privileges as Levites, and convicts them of the sin of undervaluing these privileges. It will help to keep us from envying those above us, duly to consider how many there are below us.

Verses 12–15

Moses summoned Dathan and Abiram to bring their complaints; but they would not obey. They bring very false charges against Moses. Those often fall under the heaviest censures, who in truth deserve the highest praise. Moses, though the meekest man, yet, finding God reproached in him, was very wroth; he could not bear to see the people ruining themselves. He appeals to God as to his own integrity. He bade them appear with Aaron next morning, at the time of offering the morning incense. Korah undertook thus to appear. Proud ambitious men, while projecting their own advancement, often hurry on their own shameful fall.

Verses 16–22

The same glory of the Lord that appeared to place Aaron in his office at first, Le 9:23, now appeared to confirm him in it; and to confound those who set up against him. Nothing is more terrible to those who are conscious of guilt, than the appearance of the Divine glory. See how dangerous it is to have fellowship with sinners, and to partake with them. Though the people had treacherously deserted them, yet Moses and Aaron approved themselves faithful shepherds of Israel. If others fail in their duty to us, that does not take away the obligations we are under to seek their welfare. Their prayer was a pleading prayer, and it proved a prevailing one.

Verses 23–34

The seventy elders of Israel attend Moses. It is our duty to do what we can to countenance and support lawful authority when it is opposed. And those who would not perish with sinners, must come out from among them, and be separate. It was in answer to the prayer of Moses, that God stirred up the hearts of the congregation to remove for their own safety. Grace to separate from evil-doers is one of the things that accompany salvation. God, in justice, left the rebels to the obstinacy and hardness of their own hearts. Moses, by Divine direction, when all Israel were waiting the event, declares that if the rebels die a common death, he will be content to be called and counted an imposter. As soon as Moses had spoken the word, God caused the earth to open and swallow them all up. The children perished with their parents; in which, though we cannot tell how bad they might be to deserve it, or how good God might be otherwise to them; yet of this we are sure, that Infinite Justice did them no wrong. It was altogether miraculous. God has, when he pleases, strange punishments for the workers of iniquity. It was very significant. Considering how the earth is still in like manner loaded with the weight of man's sins, we have reason to wonder that it does not now sink under its load. The ruin of others should be our warning. Could we, by faith, hear the outcries of those that are gone down to the bottomless pit, we should give more diligence than we do to escape for our lives, lest we also come into their condemnation.

Verses 35–40

A fire went out from the Lord, and consumed the two hundred and fifty men that offered incense, while Aaron, who stood with them, was preserved alive. God is jealous of the honour of his own institutions, and will not have them invaded. The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord. The censers are devoted, and, as all devoted things, must be made serviceable to the glory of God. This covering of the altar would remind the children of Israel of this event, that others might hear and fear, and do no more presumptuously. They brought destruction on themselves both in body and soul. Thus all who break the law and neglect the gospel choose and love death.

Verses 41–50

The gaping earth was scarcely closed, before the same sins are again committed, and all these warnings slighted. They called the rebels the people of the Lord; and find fault with Divine justice. The obstinacy of Israel notwithstanding the terrors of God's law, as given on mount Sinai, and the terrors of his judgments, shows how necessary the grace of God is to change men's hearts and lives. Love will do what fear cannot. Moses and Aaron interceded with God for mercy, knowing how great the provocation was. Aaron went, and burned incense between the living and the dead, not to purify the air, but to pacify an offended God. As one tender of the life of every Israelite, Aaron made all possible speed. We must render good for evil. Observe especially, that Aaron was a type of Christ. There is an infection of sin in the world, which only the cross and intercession of Jesus Christ can stay and remove. He enters the defiled and dying camp. He stands between the dead and the living; between the eternal Judge and the souls under condemnation. We must have redemption through His blood, even the remission of sins. We admire the ready devotion of Aaron: shall we not bless and praise the unspeakable grace and love which filled the Saviour's heart, when he placed himself in our stead, and bought us with his life? Greatly indeed hath God commended his love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us, Ro 5:8.




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