Numbers 16:1–18:32Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)
16 Now Korach the son of Yitz’har, the son of K’hat, the son of Levi, along with Datan and Aviram, the sons of Eli’av, and On, the son of Pelet, descendants of Re’uven, took men and 2 rebelled against Moshe. Siding with them were 250 men of Isra’el, leaders of the community, key members of the council, men of reputation. 3 They assembled themselves against Moshe and Aharon and said to them, “You take too much on yourselves! After all, the entire community is holy, every one of them, and Adonai is among them. So why do you lift yourselves up above Adonai’s assembly?”
4 When Moshe heard this he fell on his face. 5 Then he said to Korach and his whole group, “In the morning, Adonai will show who are his and who is the holy person he will allow to approach him. Yes, he will bring whomever he chooses near to himself. 6 Do this: take censers, Korach and all your group; 7 put fire in them; and put incense in them before Adonai tomorrow. The one whom Adonai chooses will be the one who is holy! It is you, you sons of Levi, who are taking too much on yourselves!”
8 Then Moshe said to Korach, “Listen here, you sons of Levi! 9 Is it for you a mere trifle that the God of Isra’el has separated you from the community of Isra’el to bring you close to himself, so that you can do the work in the tabernacle of Adonai and stand before the community serving them? 10 He has brought you close and all your brothers the sons of Levi with you. Now you want the office of cohen too! 11 That’s why you and your group have gathered together against Adonai! After all, what is Aharon that you complain against him?”
12 Then Moshe sent to summon Datan and Aviram, the sons of Eli’av. But they replied, “We won’t come up! 13 Is it such a mere trifle, bringing us up from a land flowing with milk and honey to kill us in the desert, that now you arrogate to yourself the role of dictator over us? (ii) 14 You haven’t at all brought us into a land flowing with milk and honey, and you haven’t put us in possession of fields and vineyards. Do you think you can gouge out these men’s eyes and blind them? We won’t come up!”
15 Moshe was very angry and said to Adonai, “Don’t accept their grain offering! I haven’t taken one donkey from them, I’ve done nothing wrong to any of them.” 16 Moshe said to Korach, “You and your group, be there before Adonai tomorrow — you, they and Aharon. 17 Each of you take his fire pan and put incense in it; every one of you, bring before Adonai his fire pan, 250 fire pans, you too, and Aharon — each one his fire pan.”
18 Each man took his fire pan, put fire in it, laid incense on it and stood at the entrance to the tent of meeting with Moshe and Aharon. 19 Korach assembled all the group who were against them at the entrance to the tent of meeting. Then the glory of Adonai appeared to the whole assembly.
(iii) 20 Adonai said to Moshe and Aharon, 21 “Separate yourselves from this assembly; I’m going to destroy them right now!” 22 They fell on their faces and said, “Oh God, God of the spirits of all humankind, if one person sins, are you going to be angry with the entire assembly?” 23 Adonai answered Moshe, 24 “Tell the assembly to move away from the homes of Korach, Datan and Aviram.” 25 Moshe got up and went to Datan and Aviram, and the leaders of Isra’el followed him. 26 There he said to the assembly, “Leave the tents of these wicked men! Don’t touch anything that belongs to them, or you may be swept away in all their sins.” 27 So they moved away from all around the area where Korach, Datan and Aviram lived.
Then Datan and Aviram came out and stood at the entrance to their tents with their wives, sons and little ones. 28 Moshe said, “Here is how you will know that Adonai has sent me to do all these things and that I haven’t done them out of my own ambition: 29 if these men die a natural death like other people, only sharing the fate common to all humanity, then Adonai has not sent me. 30 But if Adonai does something new — if the ground opens up and swallows them with everything they own, and they go down alive to Sh’ol — then you will understand that these men have had contempt for Adonai.”
31 The moment he finished speaking, the ground under them split apart — 32 the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up with their households, all the people who had sided with Korach and everything they owned. 33 So they and everything they owned went down alive into Sh’ol, the earth closed over them and their existence in the community ceased. 34 All Isra’el around them fled at their shrieks, shouting, “The earth might swallow us too!” 35 Then fire came out from Adonai and destroyed the 250 men who had offered the incense.
17 (16:36) Adonai said to Moshe, 2 (16:37) “Tell El‘azar the son of Aharon the cohen to remove the fire pans from the fire, and scatter the smoldering coals at a distance, because they have become holy. 3 (16:38) Also the fire pans of these men, whose sin cost them their lives, have become holy, because they were offered before Adonai. Therefore, have them hammered into plates to cover the altar. This will be a sign for the people of Isra’el.”
4 (16:39) El‘azar the cohen took the brass fire pans which the men who had been burned to death had offered, and they hammered them into a covering for the altar, 5 (16:40) to remind the people of Isra’el that an ordinary person, not descended from Aharon, is not to approach and burn incense before Adonai, if he wants to avoid the fate of Korach and his group — as Adonai had said to him through Moshe.
6 (16:41) But the very next day, the whole community of the people of Isra’el complained against Moshe and Aharon: “You have killed Adonai’s people!” 7 (16:42) However, as the community was assembling against Moshe and Aharon, they looked in the direction of the tent of meeting and saw the cloud cover it and the glory of Adonai appear. 8 (16:43) Moshe and Aharon came to the front of the tent of meeting.
(iv) 9 (16:44) Adonai said to Moshe, 10 (16:45) “Get away from this assembly, and I will destroy them at once!” But they fell on their faces. 11 (16:46) Moshe said to Aharon, “Take your fire pan, put fire from the altar in it, lay incense on it, and hurry with it to the assembly to make atonement for them, because anger has gone out from Adonai, and the plague has already begun!” 12 (16:47) Aharon took it, as Moshe had said, and ran into the middle of the assembly. There the plague had already begun among the people, but he added the incense and made atonement for the people. 13 (16:48) He stood between the dead and the living, and the plague was stopped. 14 (16:49) Those dying from the plague numbered 14,700 — besides those who died in the Korach incident. 15 (16:50) Aharon returned to Moshe at the entrance to the tent of meeting, and the plague was stopped.
(v) 16 (1) Adonai said to Moshe, 17 (2) “Speak to the people of Isra’el, and take from them staffs, one for each ancestral tribe from each leader of a tribe, twelve staffs. Write each man’s name on his staff; 18 (3) and write Aharon’s name on the staff of Levi, for each tribe’s leader is to have one staff. 19 (4) Put them in the tent of meeting in front of the testimony, where I meet with you. 20 (5) The staff of the man I am going to choose will sprout buds — in this way I will put a stop to the complaints the people of Isra’el keep making against you.”
21 (6) Moshe spoke to the people of Isra’el, and all their leaders gave him staffs, one for each leader, according to their ancestral tribes, twelve staffs. Aharon’s staff was among their staffs. 22 (7) Moshe put the staffs before Adonai in the tent of the testimony. 23 (8) The next day Moshe went into the tent of the testimony, and there he saw that Aharon’s staff for the house of Levi had budded — it had sprouted not only buds but flowers and ripe almonds as well. 24 (9) Moshe brought out all the staffs from before Adonai to all the people of Isra’el, and they looked, and each man took back his staff.
(vi) 25 (10) Adonai said to Moshe, “Return Aharon’s staff to its place in front of the testimony. It is to be kept there as a sign to the rebels, so that they will stop grumbling against me and thus not die.” 26 (11) Moshe did this; he did as Adonai had ordered him.
27 (12) But the people of Isra’el said to Moshe, “Oh no! We’re dead men! Lost! We’re all lost! 28 (13) Whenever anyone approaches the tabernacle of Adonai, he dies! Will we all perish?”
18 Adonai said to Aharon, “You, your sons and your father’s family line will be responsible for anything that goes wrong in the sanctuary. You and your sons with you will be responsible for anything wrong in your service as cohanim. 2 But you are to bring your kinsmen, the tribe of Levi, along with yourselves, to work together with you and help you — you and your sons with you — when you are there before the tent of meeting. 3 They are to be at your disposal and perform all kinds of tasks related to the tent; only they are not to come near the holy furnishings or the altar, so that neither they nor you will die. 4 They will work together with you in your duties related to the tent of meeting, whatever the service in the tent may be; but an unauthorized person is not to come near you. 5 You will take charge of all the holy things and the altar, so that there will no longer be anger against the people of Isra’el. 6 I myself have taken your kinsmen the L’vi’im from among the people of Isra’el; they have been given as a gift to Adonai for you, so that you can perform the service in the tent of meeting. 7 You and your sons with you will exercise your prerogatives and duties as cohanim in regard to everything having to do with the altar and within the curtain. I entrust the service required of cohanim to you; the unauthorized person who tries to perform it is to be put to death.”
8 Adonai said to Aharon, “I myself have put you in charge of the contributions given to me. Everything consecrated by the people of Isra’el I have given and set aside for you and your sons; this is a perpetual law. 9 Here is what is to be yours of the especially holy things taken from the fire: every offering they make — that is, every grain offering, sin offering and guilt offering of theirs that they turn over to me — will be especially holy for you and your sons. 10 You are to eat it in an especially holy place; every male may eat it; it will be set apart for you.
11 “Also yours is the contribution the people of Isra’el give in the form of wave offerings. I have given these to you, your sons and your daughters with you; this is a perpetual law. Everyone in your family who is clean may eat it. 12 All the best of the olive oil, wine and grain, the first portion of what they give to Adonai, I have given to you. 13 The first produce to turn ripe of all that is in their land, which they bring to Adonai, is to be yours; every clean person in your family may eat it.
14 “Everything in Isra’el which has been consecrated unconditionally is to be yours.
15 “Everything that comes first out of the womb, of all living things which they offer to Adonai, whether human or animal, will be yours. However, the firstborn of a human being you must redeem, and the firstborn of an unclean beast you are to redeem. 16 The sum to be paid for redeeming anyone a month old or over is to be five shekels of silver [two ounces], as you value it, using the sanctuary shekel (this is the same as twenty gerahs). 17 But the firstborn of an ox, sheep or goat you are not to redeem; they are holy — you are to splash their blood against the altar and make their fat go up in smoke as an offering made by fire, as a fragrant aroma for Adonai. 18 Their meat will be yours, like the breast that is waved and the right thigh — they will be yours. 19 All the contributions of holy things which the people of Isra’el offer to Adonai I have given to you, your sons and your daughters with you; this is a perpetual law, an eternal covenant of salt before Adonai for you and your descendants with you.”
20 Adonai said to Aharon, “You are not to have any inheritance or portion in their land; I am your portion and inheritance among the people of Isra’el.
(vii) 21 “To the descendants of Levi I have given the entire tenth of the produce collected in Isra’el. It is their inheritance in payment for the service they render in the tent of meeting. 22 From now on, the people of Isra’el are not to approach the tent of meeting, so that they will not bear the consequences of their sin and die. 23 Only the L’vi’im are to perform the service in the tent of meeting, and they will be responsible for whatever they do wrong. This is to be a permanent regulation through all your generations. They are to have no inheritance among the people of Isra’el, 24 because I have given to the L’vi’im as their inheritance the tenths of the produce which the people of Isra’el set aside as a gift for Adonai. This is why I have said to them that they are to have no inheritance among the people of Isra’el.”
25 Adonai said to Moshe, 26 “Tell the L’vi’im, ‘When you take from the people of Isra’el the tenth of the produce which I have given you from them as your inheritance, you are to set aside from it a gift for Adonai, one tenth of the tenth. 27 The gift you set aside will be accounted to you as if it were grain from the threshing-floor and grape juice from the wine vat. 28 In this way you will set aside a gift for Adonai from all your tenths that you receive from the people of Isra’el, and from these tenths you are to give to Aharon the cohen the gift set aside for Adonai. 29 From everything given to you, you are to set aside all that is due Adonai, the best part of it, its holy portion.’
(Maftir) 30 “Therefore you are to tell them, ‘When you set aside from it its best part, it will be accounted to the L’vi’im as if it were grain from the threshing-floor and grape juice from the wine vat. 31 You may eat it anywhere, you and your households; because it is your payment in return for your service in the tent of meeting. 32 Moreover, because you will have set aside from it its best parts, you will not be committing any sin because of it; for you are not to profane the holy things of the people of Isra’el, or you will die.’”
Haftarah Korach: Sh’mu’el Alef (1 Samuel) 11:14 – 12:22
B’rit Hadashah suggested readings for Parashah Korach: 2 Timothy 2:8–21; Y’hudah (Jude) 1–25