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Numbers 16:4-11

Context

16:4 When Moses heard it he fell down with his face to the ground. 1  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 2  to approach him; the person he has chosen he will cause to approach him. 16:6 Do this, Korah, you and all your company: 3  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 4  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?” 5 

1 tn Heb “fell on his face.”

2 tn Heb “him.”

3 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.

4 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.

5 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.



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