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Numbers 16:21-22

Context
16:21 “Separate yourselves 1  from among this community, 2  that I may consume them in an instant.” 16:22 Then they threw themselves down with their faces to the ground 3  and said, “O God, the God of the spirits of all people, 4  will you be angry with the whole community when only one man sins?” 5 

1 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.

2 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.

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

4 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).

5 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).



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