Reading Plan 
Daily Bible Reading (daily) February 9
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Numbers 15:1--17:13

Context
Sacrificial Rulings

15:1 1 The Lord spoke to Moses: 15:2 “Speak to the Israelites and tell them, ‘When you enter the land where you are to live, 2  which I am giving you, 3  15:3 and you make an offering by fire to the Lord from the herd or from the flock (whether a burnt offering or a sacrifice for discharging a vow or as a freewill offering or in your solemn feasts) to create a pleasing aroma to the Lord, 15:4 then the one who presents his offering to the Lord must bring 4  a grain offering of one-tenth of an ephah of finely ground flour mixed with one fourth of a hin of olive oil. 5  15:5 You must also prepare one-fourth of a hin of wine for a drink offering 6  with the burnt offering or the sacrifice for each lamb. 7  15:6 Or for a ram, you must prepare as a grain offering two-tenths of an ephah of finely ground flour mixed with one-third of a hin of olive oil, 15:7 and for a drink offering you must offer one-third of a hin of wine as a pleasing aroma to the Lord. 15:8 And when you prepare a young bull as a burnt offering or a sacrifice for discharging a vow or as a peace offering to the Lord, 15:9 then a grain offering of three-tenths of an ephah of finely ground flour mixed with half a hin of olive oil must be presented 8  with the young bull, 15:10 and you must present as the drink offering half a hin of wine with the fire offering as a pleasing aroma to the Lord. 15:11 This is what is to be done 9  for each ox, or each ram, or each of the male lambs or the goats. 15:12 You must do so for each one according to the number that you prepare.

15:13 “‘Every native-born person must do these things in this way to present an offering made by fire as a pleasing aroma to the Lord. 15:14 If a resident foreigner is living 10  with you – or whoever is among you 11  in future generations 12  – and prepares an offering made by fire as a pleasing aroma to the Lord, he must do it the same way you are to do it. 13  15:15 One statute must apply 14  to you who belong to the congregation and to the resident foreigner who is living among you, as a permanent 15  statute for your future generations. You and the resident foreigner will be alike 16  before the Lord. 15:16 One law and one custom must apply to you and to the resident foreigner who lives alongside you.’”

Rules for First Fruits

15:17 The Lord spoke to Moses: 15:18 “Speak to the Israelites and tell them, ‘When you enter the land to which I am bringing you 17  15:19 and you eat 18  some of the food of the land, you must offer up a raised offering 19  to the Lord. 15:20 You must offer up a cake of the first of your finely ground flour 20  as a raised offering; as you offer the raised offering of the threshing floor, so you must offer it up. 15:21 You must give to the Lord some of the first of your finely ground flour as a raised offering in your future generations.

Rules for Unintentional Offenses

15:22 21 “‘If you 22  sin unintentionally and do not observe all these commandments that the Lord has spoken to Moses – 15:23 all that the Lord has commanded you by the authority 23  of Moses, from the day that the Lord commanded Moses and continuing through your future generations – 15:24 then if anything is done unintentionally 24  without the knowledge of 25  the community, the whole community must prepare one young bull for a burnt offering – for a pleasing aroma to the Lord – along with its grain offering and its customary drink offering, and one male goat for a purification offering. 15:25 And the priest is to make atonement 26  for the whole community of the Israelites, and they will be forgiven, 27  because it was unintentional and they have brought their offering, an offering made by fire to the Lord, and their purification offering before the Lord, for their unintentional offense. 15:26 And the whole community 28  of the Israelites and the resident foreigner who lives among them will be forgiven, since all the people were involved in the unintentional offense.

15:27 “‘If any person 29  sins unintentionally, then he must bring a yearling female goat for a purification offering. 15:28 And the priest must make atonement for the person who sins unintentionally – when he sins unintentionally before the Lord – to make atonement for him, and he will be forgiven. 15:29 You must have one law for the person who sins unintentionally, both for the native-born among the Israelites and for the resident foreigner who lives among them.

Deliberate Sin

15:30 “‘But the person 30  who acts defiantly, 31  whether native-born or a resident foreigner, insults 32  the Lord. 33  That person 34  must be cut off 35  from among his people. 15:31 Because he has despised 36  the word of the Lord and has broken 37  his commandment, that person 38  must be completely cut off. 39  His iniquity will be on him.’” 40 

15:32 When the Israelites were 41  in the wilderness they found a man gathering wood on the Sabbath day. 42  15:33 Those who found him gathering wood brought him to Moses and Aaron and to the whole community. 15:34 They put him in custody, because there was no clear instruction about what should be done to him. 15:35 Then the Lord said to Moses, “The man must surely be put to death; the whole community must stone 43  him with stones outside the camp.” 15:36 So the whole community took him outside the camp and stoned him to death, 44  just as the Lord commanded Moses.

Rules for Tassels

15:37 The Lord spoke to Moses: 15:38 “Speak to the Israelites and tell them to make 45  tassels 46  for themselves on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and put a blue thread 47  on the tassel of the corners. 15:39 You must have this tassel so that you may look at it and remember all the commandments of the Lord and obey them and so that you do not follow 48  after your own heart and your own eyes that lead you to unfaithfulness. 49  15:40 Thus 50  you will remember and obey all my commandments and be holy to your God. 15:41 I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt to be your God. I am the Lord your God.”

The Rebellion of Korah

16:1 51 Now Korah son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, and Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, and On son of Peleth, who were Reubenites, 52  took men 53  16:2 and rebelled against Moses, along with some of the Israelites, 250 leaders 54  of the community, chosen from the assembly, 55  famous men. 56  16:3 And they assembled against Moses and Aaron, saying to them, “You take too much upon yourselves, 57  seeing that the whole community is holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the community of the Lord?”

16:4 When Moses heard it he fell down with his face to the ground. 58  16:5 Then he said to Korah and to all his company, “In the morning the Lord will make known who are his, and who is holy. He will cause that person 59  to approach him; the person he has chosen he will cause to approach him. 16:6 Do this, Korah, you and all your company: 60  Take censers, 16:7 put fire in them, and set incense on them before the Lord tomorrow, and the man whom the Lord chooses will be holy. You take too much upon yourselves, you sons of Levi!” 16:8 Moses said to Korah, “Listen now, you sons of Levi! 16:9 Does it seem too small a thing to you that the God of Israel has separated you from the community of Israel to bring you near to himself, to perform the service of the tabernacle of the Lord, and to stand before the community to minister to them? 16:10 He has brought you near and all your brothers, the sons of Levi, with you. Do you now seek 61  the priesthood also? 16:11 Therefore you and all your company have assembled together against the Lord! And Aaron – what is he that you murmur against him?” 62  16:12 Then Moses summoned 63  Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, but they said, “We will not come up. 64  16:13 Is it a small thing 65  that you have brought us up out of the land that flows with milk and honey, 66  to kill us in the wilderness? Now do you want to make yourself a prince 67  over us? 16:14 Moreover, 68  you have not brought us into a land that flows with milk and honey, nor given us an inheritance of fields and vineyards. Do you think you can blind 69  these men? We will not come up.”

16:15 Moses was very angry, and he said to the Lord, “Have no respect 70  for their offering! I have not taken so much as one donkey from them, nor have I harmed any one of them!”

16:16 Then Moses said to Korah, “You and all your company present yourselves before the Lord – you and they, and Aaron – tomorrow. 16:17 And each of you 71  take his censer, put 72  incense in it, and then each of you present his censer before the Lord: 250 censers, along with you, and Aaron – each of you with his censer.” 16:18 So everyone took his censer, put fire in it, and set incense on it, and stood at the entrance of the tent of meeting, with Moses and Aaron. 16:19 When 73  Korah assembled the whole community against them at the entrance of the tent of meeting, then the glory of the Lord appeared to the whole community.

The Judgment on the Rebels

16:20 The Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron: 16:21 “Separate yourselves 74  from among this community, 75  that I may consume them in an instant.” 16:22 Then they threw themselves down with their faces to the ground 76  and said, “O God, the God of the spirits of all people, 77  will you be angry with the whole community when only one man sins?” 78 

16:23 So the Lord spoke to Moses: 16:24 “Tell the community: ‘Get away 79  from around the homes of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram.’” 16:25 Then Moses got up 80  and went to Dathan and Abiram; and the elders of Israel went after him. 16:26 And he said to the community, “Move away from the tents of these wicked 81  men, and do not touch anything they have, lest you be destroyed because 82  of all their sins.” 83  16:27 So they got away from the homes of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram on every side, and Dathan and Abiram came out and stationed themselves 84  in the entrances of their tents with their wives, their children, and their toddlers. 16:28 Then Moses said, “This is how 85  you will know that the Lord has sent me to do all these works, for I have not done them of my own will. 86  16:29 If these men die a natural death, 87  or if they share the fate 88  of all men, then the Lord has not sent me. 16:30 But if the Lord does something entirely new, 89  and the earth opens its mouth and swallows them up 90  along with all that they have, and they 91  go down alive to the grave, 92  then you will know that these men have despised the Lord!”

16:31 When he had finished 93  speaking 94  all these words, the ground that was under them split open, 16:32 and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them, along with their households, and all Korah’s men, and all their goods. 16:33 They and all that they had went down alive into the pit, and the earth closed over them. So they perished from among the community. 16:34 All the Israelites 95  who were around them fled at their cry, 96  for they said, “What if 97  the earth swallows us too?” 16:35 Then a fire 98  went out from the Lord and devoured the 250 men who offered incense.

The Atonement for the Rebellion

16:36 (17:1) 99  The Lord spoke to Moses: 16:37 “Tell 100  Eleazar son of Aaron the priest to pick up 101  the censers out of the flame, for they are holy, and then scatter the coals of fire 102  at a distance. 16:38 As for the censers of these men who sinned at the cost of their lives, 103  they must be made 104  into hammered sheets for covering the altar, because they presented them before the Lord and sanctified them. They will become a sign to the Israelites.” 16:39 So Eleazar the priest took the bronze censers presented by those who had been burned up, and they were hammered out as a covering for the altar. 16:40 It was a memorial for the Israelites, that no outsider who is not a descendant of 105  Aaron should approach to burn incense before the Lord, that he might not become like Korah and his company – just as the Lord had spoken by the authority 106  of Moses. 16:41 But on the next day the whole community of Israelites murmured against Moses and Aaron, saying, “You have killed the Lord’s people!” 107  16:42 When the community assembled 108  against Moses and Aaron, they turned toward the tent of meeting – and 109  the cloud covered it, and the glory of the Lord appeared. 16:43 Then Moses and Aaron stood before the tent of meeting.

16:44 The Lord spoke to Moses: 16:45 “Get away from this community, so that I can consume them in an instant!” But they threw themselves down with their faces to the ground. 110  16:46 Then Moses said to Aaron, “Take the censer, put burning coals from the altar in it, place incense on it, and go quickly into the assembly and make atonement for them, for wrath has gone out from the Lord – the plague has begun!” 16:47 So Aaron did 111  as Moses commanded 112  and ran into the middle of the assembly, where the plague was just beginning among the people. So he placed incense on the coals and made atonement for the people. 16:48 He stood between the dead and the living, and the plague was stopped. 16:49 Now 14,700 people died in the plague, in addition to those who died in the event with Korah. 16:50 Then Aaron returned to Moses at the entrance of the tent of meeting, and the plague was stopped.

The Budding of Aaron’s Staff

17:1 113 The Lord spoke to Moses: 17:2 “Speak to the Israelites, and receive from them a staff from each tribe, 114  one from every tribal leader, 115  twelve staffs; you must write each man’s name on his staff. 17:3 You must write Aaron’s name on the staff of Levi; for one staff is for the head of every tribe. 116  17:4 You must place them 117  in the tent of meeting before the ark of the covenant 118  where I meet with you. 17:5 And the staff of the man whom I choose will blossom; so I will rid myself of the complaints of the Israelites, which they murmur against you.”

17:6 So Moses spoke to the Israelites, and each of their leaders gave him a staff, one for each leader, 119  according to their tribes 120  – twelve staffs; the staff of Aaron was among their staffs. 17:7 Then Moses placed the staffs before the Lord in the tent of the testimony. 121 

17:8 On the next day Moses went into the tent of the testimony – and 122  the staff of Aaron for the house of Levi had sprouted, and brought forth buds, and produced blossoms, and yielded almonds! 123  17:9 So Moses brought out all the staffs from before the Lord to all the Israelites. They looked at them, 124  and each man took his staff.

The Memorial

17:10 The Lord said to Moses, “Bring Aaron’s staff back before the testimony to be preserved for a sign to the rebels, so that you may bring their murmurings to an end 125  before me, that they will not die.” 126  17:11 So Moses did as the Lord commanded him – this is what he did.

17:12 The Israelites said to Moses, “We are bound to die! 127  We perish, we all perish! 17:13 (17:28) 128  Anyone who even comes close to the tabernacle of the Lord will die! Are we all to die?” 129 

1 sn The wilderness wandering officially having begun, these rules were then given for the people to be used when they finally entered the land. That they would be provided here would be of some encouragement to the nation after their great failure. God still spoke of a land that was to be their land, even though they had sinned greatly. This chapter collects a number of religious rules. The first 16 verses deal with rulings for sacrifices. Then, vv. 17-36 concerns sins of omission. Finally, rules concerning tassels are covered (vv. 37-41). For additional reading, see G. B. Gray, Sacrifice in the Old Testament (Oxford: Clarendon, 1925); B. A. Levine, In the Presence of the Lord (SJLA); D. J. McCarthy, “The Symbolism of Blood and Sacrifice,” JBL 88 (1969): 166-76; “Further Notes on the Symbolism of Blood and Sacrifice,” JBL 92 (1973): 205-10; J. Milgrom, “Sin Offering or Purification Offering,” VT 21 (1971): 237-39; N. H. Snaith, “Sacrifices in the Old Testament,” VT 7 (1957): 308-17; R. J. Thompson, Penitence and Sacrifice in Early Israel; R. de Vaux, Studies in Old Testament Sacrifice.

2 tn Heb “the land of your habitations.”

3 tn The Hebrew participle here has the futur instans use of the participle, expressing that something is going to take place. It is not imminent, but it is certain that God would give the land to Israel.

4 tn The three words at the beginning of this verse are all etymologically related: “the one who offers his offering shall offer.”

5 sn Obviously, as the wording of the text affirms, this kind of offering would be made after they were in the land and able to produce the grain and oil for the sacrifices. The instructions anticipated their ability to do this, and this would give hope to them. The amounts are difficult to determine, but it may be that they were to bring 4.5 liters of flour and 1.8 liters each of oil and wine.

6 sn The drink-offering was an ancient custom, mentioned in the Ugaritic tablets of Ras Shamra (14th century b.c.). The drink offering was poured out at the base of the altar (see Sir 50:15 and Josephus, Ant. 3.9.4 [3.234]).

7 tn Heb “for the one lamb,” but it clearly means “for each lamb.”

8 tn The text changes from direct address here to the third person form of the verb. If the MT is correct, then to make a smooth translation it would need to be made a passive (in view of the fact that no subject is expressed).

9 tn Heb “according to thus shall it be done.”

10 tn The word גּוּר (gur) was traditionally translated “to sojourn,” i.e., to live temporarily in a land. Here the two words are from the root: “if a sojourner sojourns.”

11 tn Heb “in your midst.”

12 tn The Hebrew text just has “to your generations,” but it means in the future.

13 tn The imperfect tenses must reflect the responsibility to comply with the law, and so the classifications of instruction or obligation may be applied.

14 tn The word “apply” is supplied in the translation.

15 tn Or “a statute forever.”

16 tn Heb “as you, as [so] the alien.”

17 tn The relative clause is literally, “which I am causing you to enter there.” The final adverb is resumptive, and must be joined with the relative pronoun.

18 tn The verse has a temporal clause that actually continues or supplements the temporal clause of the preceding verse. It is made up of the temporal indicator, the infinitive construct with the preposition, and the suffixed subjective genitive: “and it shall be when you eat.” Here it is translated simply “and eat” since the temporal element was introduced in the last verse.

19 tn This is the תְּרוּמָה (tÿrumah), the “raised offering” or “heave offering” (cf. KJV, ASV). It may simply be called a “contribution” (so NAB). The verb of the sentence is from the same root: “you shall lift up/raise up.” It was to be an offering separated from the rest and raised up to the Lord in the sight of all. It was designed to remind the Israelites that the produce and the land belonged to God.

20 tn Or “the first of your dough.” The phrase is not very clear. N. H. Snaith thinks it means a batch of loaves from the kneading trough – the first batch of the baking (Leviticus and Numbers [NCB], 251).

21 sn These regulations supplement what was already ruled on in the Levitical code for the purification and reparation offerings. See those rulings in Lev 4-7 for all the details. Some biblical scholars view the rules in Leviticus as more elaborate and therefore later. However, this probably represents a misunderstanding of the purpose of each collection.

22 tn The verb is the plural imperfect; the sin discussed here is a sin committed by the community, or the larger part of the community.

23 tn Heb “hand.”

24 tn The idea of לִשְׁגָגָה (lishgagah) seems to be that of “inadvertence” or “without intent.” The text gives no indication of how this offense might be committed, or what it might include. It probably describes any transgressions done in ignorance of the Law that involved a violation of tabernacle procedure or priestly protocol or social misdemeanor. Even though it was done unintentionally, it was still a violation and called for ritual purification.

25 tn Heb “[away] from the eyes of the community.”

26 tn The verb is the Piel perfect with vav (ו) consecutive (וְכִפֶּר, vÿkhipper) to continue the instruction of the passage: “the priest shall make atonement,” meaning the priest is to make atonement for the sin (thus the present translation). This verb means “to expiate,” “to atone for,” “to pacify.” It describes the ritual events by which someone who was separated from the holy Lord God could find acceptance into his presence through the sacrificial blood of the substitutionary animal. See Lev 1 and Num 17:6-15.

27 tn Or “they will be forgiven.”

28 tn Again, rather than translate literally “and it shall be forgiven [to] them” (all the community), one could say, “they (all the community) will be forgiven.” The meaning is the same.

29 tn The Hebrew text hasוְאִם־נֶפֶשׁ אַחַת (vÿim-nefeshakhat), sometime translated “and if any soul.” But the word describes the whole person, the soul in the body; it refers here to the individual who sins.

30 tn Heb “soul.”

31 tn The sin is described literally as acting “with a high hand” – בְּיָד רָמָה (bÿyad ramah). The expression means that someone would do something with deliberate defiance, with an arrogance in spite of what the Lord said. It is as if the sinner was about to attack God, or at least lifting his hand against God. The implication of the expression is that it was done in full knowledge of the Law (especially since this contrasts throughout with the sins of ignorance). Blatant defiance of the word of the Lord is dealt with differently. For similar expressions, see Exod 14:8 and Num 33:3.

32 tn The verb occurs only in the Piel; it means “to blaspheme,” “to revile.”

33 tn The word order in the Hebrew text places “Yahweh” first for emphasis – it is the Lord such a person insults.

34 tn Heb “soul.”

35 tn The clause begins with “and” because the verb is the perfect tense with vav (ו) consecutive. As discussed with Num 9:13, to be cut off could mean excommunication from the community, death by the community, or death by divine intervention.

36 tn The verb בָּזָה (bazah, “to despise”) means to treat something as worthless, to treat it with contempt, to look down the nose at something as it were.

37 tn The verb פָּרַר (parar, “to break”) can mean to nullify, break, or violate a covenant.

38 tn Heb “soul.”

39 tn The construction uses the Niphal imperfect with the modifying Niphal infinitive absolute. The infinitive makes the sentence more emphatic. If the imperfect tense is taken as an instruction imperfect, then the infinitive makes the instruction more binding. If it is a simple future, then the future is certain. In either case, there is no exclusion from being cut off.

40 sn The point is that the person’s iniquity remains with him – he must pay for his sin. The judgment of God in such a case is both appropriate and unavoidable.

41 tn The preterite of the verb “to be” is here subordinated to the next, parallel verb form, to form a temporal clause.

42 sn For this brief passage, see A. Phillips, “The Case of the Woodgatherer Reconsidered,” VT 19 (1969): 125-28; J. Weingreen, “The Case of the Woodgatherer (Numbers XV 32-36),” VT 16 (1966): 361-64; and B. J. Bamberger, “Revelations of Torah after Sinai,” HUCA 16 (1941): 97-113. Weingreen argues that there is something of the Rabbinic method of setting a fence around the Law here; in other words, if this sin were not punished, the Law would have been violated in greater ways. Gathering of wood, although seemingly harmless, is done with intent to kindle fire, and so reveals a culpable intent.

43 tn The sentence begins with the emphatic use of the infinitive absolute with the verb in the Hophal imperfect: “he shall surely be put to death.” Then, a second infinitive absolute רָגוֹם (ragom) provides the explanatory activity – all the community is to stone him with stones. The punishment is consistent with other decrees from God (see Exod 31:14,15; 35:2). Moses had either forgotten such, or they had simply neglected to (or were hesitant to) enact them.

44 tn Heb “stoned him with stones, and he died.”

45 tn The construction uses the imperative followed by perfect tenses with vav (ו) consecutives. The first perfect tense may be translated as the imperative, but the second, being a third common plural form, has to be subordinated as a purpose clause, or as the object of the preceding verb: “speak…and say…that they make.”

46 sn This is a reference to the צִיצִת (tsitsit), the fringes on the borders of the robes. They were meant to hang from the corners of the upper garment (Deut 22:12), which was worn on top of the clothing. The tassel was probably made by twisting the overhanging threads of the garment into a knot that would hang down. This was a reminder of the covenant. The tassels were retained down through history, and today more elaborate prayer shawls with tassels are worn during prayer. For more information, see F. J. Stephens, “The Ancient Significance of Sisith,” JBL 50 (1931): 59-70; and S. Bertman, “Tasselled Garments in the Ancient East Mediterranean,” BA 24 (1961): 119-28.

47 sn The blue color may represent the heavenly origin of the Law, or perhaps, since it is a royal color, the majesty of the Lord.

48 tn Heb “seek out, look into.”

49 tn This last clause is a relative clause explaining the influence of the human heart and physical sight. It literally says, “which you go whoring after them.” The verb for “whoring” may be interpreted to mean “act unfaithfully.” So, the idea is these influences lead to unfaithful activity: “after which you act unfaithfully.”

50 tn This clause also serves as a purpose/result clause of the preceding – “in order that you may remember….” But because the line is so long, it is simpler to make this a separate sentence in the translation.

51 sn There are three main movements in the story of ch. 16. The first is the rebellion itself (vv. 1-19). The second is the judgment (vv. 20-35). Third is the atonement for the rebels (vv. 36-50). The whole chapter is a marvelous account of a massive rebellion against the leaders that concludes with reconciliation. For further study see G. Hort, “The Death of Qorah,” ABR 7 (1959): 2-26; and J. Liver, “Korah, Dathan and Abiram,” Studies in the Bible (ScrHier 8), 189-217.

52 tc The MT reading is plural (“the sons of Reuben”); the Smr and LXX have the singular (“the son of Reuben”).

53 tn In the Hebrew text there is no object for the verb “took.” The translation presented above supplies the word “men.” However, it is possible that the MT has suffered damage here. The LXX has “and he spoke.” The Syriac and Targum have “and he was divided.” The editor of BHS suggests that perhaps the MT should be emended to “and he arose.”

54 tn Heb “princes” (so KJV, ASV).

55 tn These men must have been counselors or judges of some kind.

56 tn Heb “men of name,” or “men of renown.”

57 tn The meaning of רַב־לָכֶם (rab-lakhem) is something like “you have assumed far too much authority.” It simply means “much to you,” perhaps “you have gone to far,” or “you are overreaching yourselves” (M. Noth, Numbers [OTL], 123). He is objecting to the exclusiveness of the system that Moses has been introducing.

58 tn Heb “fell on his face.”

59 tn Heb “him.”

60 tn Heb “his congregation” or “his community.” The expression is unusual, but what it signifies is that Korah had set up a rival “Israel” with himself as leader.

61 tn The verb is the Piel perfect. There is no imperfect tense before this, which makes the construction a little difficult. If the vav (ו) is classified as a consecutive, then the form would stand alone as an equivalent to the imperfect, and rendered as a modal nuance such as “would you [now] seek,” or as a progressive imperfect, “are you seeking.” This latter nuance can be obtained by treating it as a regular perfect tense, with an instantaneous nuance: “do you [now] seek.”

sn Moses discerned correctly the real motivation for the rebellion. Korah wanted to be the high priest because he saw how much power there was in the spiritual leadership in Israel. He wanted something like a general election with himself as the candidate and his supporters promoting him. The great privilege of being a Levite and serving in the sanctuary was not enough for him – the status did not satisfy him. Korah gave no rebuttal. The test would be one of ministering with incense. This would bring them into direct proximity with the Lord. If God honored Korah as a ministering priest, then it would be settled. But Moses accuses them of rebellion against the Lord, because the Lord had chosen Aaron to be the priest.

62 sn The question indicates that they had been murmuring against Aaron, that is, expressing disloyalty and challenging his leadership. But it is actually against the Lord that they had been murmuring because the Lord had put Aaron in that position.

63 tn Heb “Moses sent to summon.” The verb קָרָא (qara’) followed by the lamed (ל) preposition does not mean “call to” but “summon.” This is a command performance; for them to appear would be to submit to Moses’ authority. This they will not do.

64 tn The imperfect tense נַעֲלֶה (naaleh) expresses their unwillingness to report: “we are not willing,” or “we will not.” The verb means “to go up.” It is used in the sense of appearing before an authority or a superior (see, e.g., Gen 46:31; Deut 25:7; Judg 4:5).

65 tn The question is rhetorical. It was not a small thing to them – it was a big thing.

66 tn The modern scholar who merely sees these words as belonging to an earlier tradition about going up to the land of Canaan that flows with milk and honey misses the irony here. What is happening is that the text is showing how twisted the thinking of the rebels is. They have turned things completely around. Egypt was the land flowing with milk and honey, not Canaan where they will die. The words of rebellion are seldom original, and always twisted.

67 tn The verb הִשְׂתָּרֵר (histarer) is the Hitpael infinitive absolute that emphasizes the preceding תִשְׂתָּרֵר (tistarer), the Hitpael imperfect tense (both forms having metathesis). The verb means “to rule; to act like a prince; to make oneself a prince.” This is the only occurrence of the reflexive for this verb. The exact nuance is difficult to translate into English. But they are accusing Moses of seizing princely power for himself, perhaps making a sarcastic reference to his former status in Egypt. The rebels here are telling Moses that they had discerned his scheme, and so he could not “hoodwink” them (cf. NEB).

68 tn Here אַף (’af) has the sense of “in addition.” It is not a common use.

69 tn Heb “will you bore out the eyes of these men?” The question is “Will you continue to mislead them?” (or “hoodwink” them). In Deut 16:19 it is used for taking a bribe; something like that kind of deception is intended here. They are simply stating that Moses is a deceiver who is misleading the people with false promises.

70 tn The verb means “to turn toward”; it is a figurative expression that means “to pay attention to” or “to have regard for.” So this is a prayer against Dathan and Abiram.

71 tn Heb “and take, a man, his censer.”

72 tn This verb and the following one are both perfect tenses with vav (ו) consecutives. Following the imperative they carry the same force, but in sequence.

73 tn This clause is clearly foundational for the clause that follows, the appearance of the Lord; therefore it should be subordinated to the next as a temporal clause (one preterite followed by another preterite may be so subordinated).

74 tn The verb is הִבָּדְלוּ (hibbadÿlu), the Niphal imperative of בָּדַל (badal). This is the same word that was just used when Moses reminded the Levites that they had been separated from the community to serve the Lord.

75 sn The group of people siding with Korah is meant, and not the entire community of the people of Israel. They are an assembly of rebels, their “community” consisting in their common plot.

76 sn It is Moses and Aaron who prostrate themselves; they have the good of the people at heart.

77 tn The expression “the God of the spirits of all humanity [flesh]” is somewhat difficult. The Hebrew text says אֱלֹהֵי הָרוּחֹת לְכָל־בָּשָׂר (’elohey harukhot lÿkhol-basar). This expression occurs in Num 27:16 again. It also occurs in some postbiblical texts, a fact which has prompted some scholars to conclude that it is a late addition. The words clearly show that Moses is interceding for the congregation. The appeal in the verse is that it is better for one man to die for the whole nation than the whole nation for one man (see also John 11:50).

78 tn The verb is the Qal imperfect יֶחֱטָא (yekheta’); it refers to the sinful rebellion of Korah, but Moses is stating something of a principle: “One man sins, and will you be angry….” A past tense translation would assume that this is a preterite use of the imperfect (without vav [ו] consecutive).

79 tn The motif of “going up” is still present; here the Hebrew text says “go up” (the Niphal imperative – “go up yourselves”) from their tents, meaning, move away from them.

80 tn Heb “rose up.”

81 tn The word רָשָׁע (rasha’) has the sense of a guilty criminal. The word “wicked” sometimes gives the wrong connotation. These men were opposing the Lord, and so were condemned as criminals – they were guilty. The idea of “wickedness” therefore applies in that sense.

82 tn The preposition bet (בְּ) in this line is causal – “on account of their sins.”

83 sn The impression is that the people did not hear what the Lord said to Moses, but only what Moses said to the people as a result. They saw the brilliant cloud, and perhaps heard the sound of his voice, but the relaying of the instructions indicates they did not hear the actual instruction from the Lord himself.

84 tn The verb נִצָּבִים (nitsavim) suggests a defiant stance, for the word is often used in the sense of taking a stand for or against something. It can also be somewhat neutral, having the sense of positioning oneself for a purpose.

85 tn Heb “in this.”

86 tn The Hebrew text simply has כִּי־לֹא מִלִּבִּי (ki-lomillibbi, “for not from my heart”). The heart is the center of the will, the place decisions are made (see H. W. Wolff, Anthropology of the Old Testament). Moses is saying that the things he has done have not come “from the will of man” so to speak – and certainly not from some secret desire on his part to seize power.

87 tn Heb “if like the death of every man they die.”

88 tn The noun is פְּקֻדָּה (pÿquddah, “appointment, visitation”). The expression refers to a natural death, parallel to the first expression.

89 tn The verb בָּרָא (bara’) is normally translated “create” in the Bible. More specifically it means to fashion or make or do something new and fresh. Here the verb is joined with its cognate accusative to underscore that this will be so different everyone will know it is of God.

90 tn The figures are personifications. But they vividly describe the catastrophe to follow – which was very much like a mouth swallowing them.

91 tn The word is “life” or “lifetime”; it certainly means their lives – they themselves. But the presence of this word suggest more. It is an accusative specifying the state of the subject – they will go down alive to Sheol.

92 tn The word “Sheol” in the Bible can be used four different ways: the grave, the realm of the departed [wicked] spirits or Hell, death in general, or a place of extreme danger (one that will lead to the grave if God does not intervene). The usage here is certainly the first, and very likely the second as well. A translation of “pit” would not be inappropriate. Since they will go down there alive, it is likely that they will sense the deprivation and the separation from the land above. See H. W. Robinson, Inspiration and Revelation in the Old Testament; N. J. Tromp, Primitive Conceptions of Death and the Netherworld in the Old Testament (BibOr 21), 21-23; and A. Heidel, The Gilgamesh Epic, especially ch. 3.

93 tn The initial temporal clause is standard: It begins with the temporal indicator “and it was,” followed here by the Piel infinitive construct with the preposition and the subjective genitive suffix. “And it happened when he finished.”

94 tn The infinitive construct with the preposition lamed (ל) functions here as the direct object of the preceding infinitive. It tells what he finished.

95 tn Heb “all Israel.”

96 tn Heb “voice.”

97 tn Heb “lest.”

98 tn For a discussion of the fire of the Lord, see J. C. H. Laughlin, “The Strange Fire of Nadab and Abihu,” JBL 95 (1976): 559-65.

99 sn Beginning with 16:36, the verse numbers through 17:13 in the English Bible differ from the verse numbers in the Hebrew text (BHS), with 16:36 ET = 17:1 HT, 16:37 ET = 17:2 HT, 17:1 ET = 17:16 HT, etc., through 17:13 ET = 17:28 HT. With 18:1 the verse numbers in the ET and HT are again the same. But in the English chap. 17 there are two parts: Aaron’s rod budding (1-9), and the rod preserved as a memorial (10-13). Both sections begin with the same formula.

100 tn Heb “say to.”

101 tn The verb is the jussive with a vav (ו) coming after the imperative; it may be subordinated to form a purpose clause (“that he may pick up”) or the object of the imperative.

102 tn The Hebrew text just has “fire,” but it would be hard to conceive of this action apart from the idea of coals of fire.

103 tn The expression is “in/by/against their life.” That they sinned against their life means that they brought ruin to themselves.

104 tn The form is the perfect tense with vav (ו) consecutive. But there is no expressed subject for “and they shall make them,” and so it may be treated as a passive (“they shall [must] be made”).

105 tn Heb “from the seed of.”

106 tn Heb “hand.”

107 sn The whole congregation here is trying to project its guilt on Moses and Aaron. It was they and their rebellion that brought about the deaths, not Moses and Aaron. The Lord had punished the sinners. The fact that the leaders had organized a rebellion against the Lord was forgotten by these people. The point here is that the Israelites had learned nothing of spiritual value from the event.

108 tn The temporal clause is constructed with the temporal indicator (“and it was”) followed by the Niphal infinitive construct and preposition.

109 tn The verse uses וְהִנֵּה (vÿhinneh, “and behold”). This is the deictic particle – it is used to point things out, suddenly calling attention to them, as if the reader were there. The people turned to look toward the tent – and there is the cloud!

110 tn Heb “they fell on their faces.”

111 tn Heb “took.”

112 tn Or “had spoken” (NASB); NRSV “had ordered.”

113 sn Num 17:1 in the English Bible is 17:16 in the Hebrew text (BHS). See also the note on 16:36.

114 tn Heb “receive from them a rod, a rod from the house of a father.”

115 tn Heb “from every leader of them according to their fathers’ house.”

116 tn Heb “one rod for the head of their fathers’ house.”

117 tn The verb is the Hiphil perfect of נוּחַ (nuakh, “to rest”), and so “to set at rest, lay, place, put.” The form with the vav (ו) consecutive continues the instruction of the previous verse.

118 tn The Hebrew text simply reads “the covenant” or “the testimony.”

119 tn Heb “a rod for one leader, a rod for one leader.”

120 tn Heb “the house of their fathers.”

121 tn The name of the tent now attests to the centrality of the ark of the covenant. Instead of the “tent of meeting” (מוֹעֵד, moed) we now find the “the tent of the testimony” (הָעֵדֻת, haedut).

122 tn Here too the deictic particle (“and behold”) is added to draw attention to the sight in a vivid way.

123 sn There is no clear answer why the tribe of Levi had used an almond staff. The almond tree is one of the first to bud in the spring, and its white blossoms are a beautiful sign that winter is over. Its name became a name for “watcher”; Jeremiah plays on this name for God’s watching over his people (1:11-12).

124 tn The words “at them” are not in the Hebrew text, but they have been added in the translation for clarity.

125 tn The verb means “to finish; to complete” and here “to bring to an end.” It is the imperfect following the imperative, and so introduces a purpose clause (as a final imperfect).

126 tn This is another final imperfect in a purpose clause.

127 tn The use of הֵן (hen) and the perfect tense in the nuance of a prophetic perfect expresses their conviction that they were bound to die – it was certain (see GKC 312-13 §106.n).

128 sn Num 17:13 in the English Bible is 17:28 in the Hebrew text (BHS). See also the note on 16:36.

129 tn The verse stresses the completeness of their death: “will we be consumed by dying” (הַאִם תַּמְנוּ לִגְוֹעַ, haim tamnu ligvoa’).



TIP #08: Use the Strong Number links to learn about the original Hebrew and Greek text. [ALL]
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