Summary of passage: Korah, Dathan, and Abiram led 250 well-known council members in a rebellion against Moses. Moses tells them in the morning God will choose who is holy. Moses chastises the Levites for being greedy and wanting the priesthood as well as the honor of serving God in His tabernacle. Moses is accused by Dathan and Abiriam of leading them to death instead of a land of milk and honey. Moses asked the Lord not to accept their offering out of anger.
The next day all the men took incense and their censer before the Lord at the Tent of Meeting. The Lord appeared in all His glory. God tells Moses to move away from the entire group so He can kill them. Moses and Aaron though beg for the lives of the 250 and just put the ringleaders to death.
4a) They accused Moses of putting himself above everyone else. Dathan and Abiram accuse Moses of leading them to their deaths and not into a land of milk and honey.
b) To promise them something greater–hear it sounds like the priesthood.
c) Personal Question. My answer: Ever hear of politicians? All the time. People promise you something to come over to their side. Even amidst children. Human nature. One of the oldest (as we are reading) tricks in the book.
5a) Korah: Greed, desire for power, recognition
Dathan and Abiram: desire for an easier life
Moses: compassion, anger, forgiveness
b) Personal Question. My answer: This question has nothing to do with the passage. Not sure. I can’t speak for God. And this passage is really not flattering to anyone.
6a) God. Verse 11
b) Moses fell facedown to God, he tells them they are rebelling against God, Moses tells God not to accept the offering of Dathan and Abiram, and Moses asks God only to punish the ringleaders and not everyone. Moses knows God almost wiped them all off the face of the earth and he is trying to contain this rebellion before God decides to do it again.
Conclusions: Unbelievable so close to God having almost killed the people and punished all of them by not allowing them to make it to the Promised Land. Man never learns, does he?
I am struck over and over again with the greatness and compassion of Moses. Never before have I realized just how instrumental he was in the Exodus and in rescuing God’s people from themselves. I am awed by his love and his behavior and his courage especially in the face of God’s anger. I’m not for sure I would have the courage to speak up to God to spare the people when God’s about to destroy everyone. So many lessons we see from Moses: standing up for others, loving others, compassion for others, understanding others, etc. Every chapter I come to see just how special Moses truly was.
End Notes: Korah was a great-grandson of Levi. Both Moses and Korah were descended from Kohath but by different sons. So they were distant cousins. See Numbers 26:58-59.
Korah played to the people, claiming to represent their interests and needs, when in truth it was all about a power grab for himself.
It’s significant that Korah accused Moses of pride–a man the Bible called the most humble man on earth (Numbers 12:3–debatable about if Moses called himself this or not as the author of Numbers). It is therefore significant that Korah managed to get so many followers because these men should have known how preposterous the idea was and should have known Moses’ character. Great example on how man is often deceived by smooth talkers.
Moses sets the example for all of us: the first thing he did was pray. Pray for guidance to God.
In this prayer (which we are not told how long it lasted), Moses presumably received direction from God in terms of what to do. Moses wouldn’t issue a challenge to Korah and speak for God to show Himself and choose His leader if God hadn’t have told him to do so.
Korah was ungrateful and instead of seeking God to give him gratitude he chose to take Moses down. His heart indeed was not God’s.
Unbelievable how Dathan and Abiram called Egypt “a land flowing with milk and honey.” Yet how often have we done the same thing with the past–when something terrible has happened and we sugar coat it to something completely different. It’s as if we never want to believe the worst.
Saying nothing is a sin as well when someone is falsely accused and you do nothing. The 250 community leaders here hold blame as well.
Moses could easily have the rebels arrested and executed if he so desired. Instead, he left it to God. And Moses’ passion and anger against the rebels shows just how much he wanted to protect God’s people against those who would lead them astray.
The censer test with incense was what the priests used in worship. God chose this to give the evil-doers what they wanted–to be a priest. However, they were far from worshipping God here.
Moses and Aaron’s prayer perhaps saved these men. We don’t know for sure, but the fact this is recorded emphasizes the power of prayer. Another example for us to follow. Certainly, both Moses and Aaron are becoming more and more like Jesus–one reason God allowed this rebellion to happen.
Fun Fact: Korah means “baldness” in Hebrew. Gives us a better picture of him, don’t it?