Parashah 38: Korach (Korah)
Numbers 16:1 through 18:32
Parashah 38: Korach (Korah); Numbers 16:1 through 18:32.
Haftarah (Writings and Prophets): 1 Samuel 11:14 through 12:22.
B'rit Hadasha (New Testament): 2 Timothy 2:8-21; Jude 1-25.
Tanach Scriptures are from Stern's Complete Jewish Bible; B'rit Chadasha Scriptures from the AENT.
Welcome "newbies" and "oldies!" As you all know, Torah was written by Moshe (Moses) and consists of the first five Books of the Bible which contain God's original Divine Instructions in Righteousness. Since this is a Netzarim (Nazarene/Messianic) website, we refer to God by His proper Name: Yud-Hey-Vav-Hey, transliterated into English as YHWH, and most likely pronounced "Yah-way" (see Exodus 3:13-15). His Son's Name is Y'shua (most likely pronounced "Ye-shoo-ah"). Enjoy this week's Torah portion!
This lesson reveals exactly who is in charge! We see what happens when people rebel against YHWH, and we see Him choosing Aharon as the High Priest of the Redeemed Community. And we also see Him confirming the appointment of the Levi'im as Aharon's assistants, and explaining the ways in which the priests, the Levi'im and the rest of the tribes were to interact.
Numbers 16 unfolds with Korach rebelling against Moshe and causing others to rebel with him - some who were "leaders of the community, key members of the council, men of reputation" (vs. 1-3). BIG MISTAKE! (This reflects Yeshua's warning in Mark 13:22: For false Messiahs and lying prophets will give signs and wonders and will deceive even the elect if it is possible.)
Korach of the Tribe of the Levi family of K'hat was an ambitious, talented, self confident, aggressive individual who felt that the community did not appreciate his talents and abilities. He clearly believed that he has been slighted by his assigned position of levitical duty. After all, each time the instruction to break camp arose, it was Aharon and his sons who would go into the Tabernacle and cover the holy furnishings and utensils for transport, while Korach couldn't even touch them, and could only carry them on poles.
Now watch what happens when Moshe's righteous anger explodes at Korach's insolence:
Numbers 16: 1 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?"
So, we see Korach, in his attempt to usurp the God-given authority of Moshe and Aharon, contesting the authority of God's Word which was transmitted through Moshe to the community. Korach had convinced himself that Moshe and Aharon had elevated themselves to the position of spiritual leadership in the community, promoting their own personal agendas. (Really? "Personal agendas?" Korach seems to have forgotten that Aaron's own sons, Nadav and Avihu, were killed for "offering unauthorized fire" to YHWH! If anybody had a healthy fear of YHWH it was Moshe and Aharon! - See Leviticus 10.)
Frustrated, he not only seeks to demean Moshe and Aharon's positions in the community, but he seeks to raise himself up with his own lofty purposes and ideas, becoming a self prescribed advocate of the people's rights, proclaiming a message of democracy, freeing them from the autocracy (rule by one person) of Moshe.
Numbers 16: 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!"
Please note verse 4, which says:"When Moshe heard this he fell on his face." Many Christian denominations today (when "slain in the spirit" while bopped in the forehead with the palm of the pastor's hand) appear to faint and usually fall backwards. Nowhere in the Scriptures will you ever find any examples where people "fell backwards" when in the Presence of YHWH; they always fall on their faces....
The thing is, Moshe was YHWH's appointed teacher and leader of Israel. Korach, due to his jealousy, established his own community composed of 250 leaders who had now embraced his campaign promises, and took them "out" for a short lived communal experience. No longer under Moshe's leadership, or even the authority of God's Word as transmitted through Moshe, Korach found little difficulty in approaching Moshe as his equal while attempting to usurp his authority..
It is important to note that Korach (see Exodus 6:21-24) experienced the redemption from Egypt, saw the parting of the Sea of Reeds, and he saw food and water no less than miraculously provided by YHWH. He knew Moshe had a special relationship with YHWH; he knew that after the golden calf episode ADONAI threatened to destroy the nation, and following the episode of the spies He once again warranted their destruction. Both times YHWH listened to Moshe's prayers and pleas to not destroy them, and He honored the request.
So, Korach and his followers understood Moshe's special relationship with YHWH; but, blinded by rebellious and self promulgated agenda, Korach left the truth, gathered allies, and went outside of the community - not cognizant of their own impending doom. So what happened? It got really intense!
Continuing with Numbers 16: 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?"
Moshe, angered, does not intercede on Korach's behalf and appeals to YHWH to "not accept their grain offering" (vs 15) - and by the time we get to verse 20, we see ADONAI putting Korach, Datan and Aviram and their families to death by sending them straight into the pit of Hell:
Numbers 16: 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!"
Throughout the entire Torah, we see YHWH continuously displaying a certain tolerance for the disobedience of His people. He constantly gave them (and us, too!) the opportunity to obey; He permitted mistakes and learning and growing but, in the end, we see that when anyone elevates their human ambition over HIS Will, that is where His patience ends. As shown in verse 8 above, Korach's group wanted 'more' for themselves, deciding unilaterally that MAN, not YHWH, was in charge. And for that, they and those they influenced were ultimately destroyed.
This seems "cruel" if compared to our modern liberal societal standards, but not when you look at it by YHWH's standard of obedience! Korach and his followers were divisive and demanding of "entitlements". Sound familiar?
In Numbers 17:6 (16:41 in some versions) we see the community grumbling and complaining and assembling against Moshe and Aharon again, blaming THEM for the death of YHWH's people!
Note, in Numbers 17:14 (in some versions it's Num. 16:49), the number of people who had already died due to YHWH's wrath because of the community's grumbling (Numbers 17:6-8) was 14,700. While we don't know this for sure, we can surmise that this was an equal number from each of the 12 tribes - which means 1,225 per tribe were killed. Since YHWH's Presence was in the middle of the camp with all 12 tribes camped around the Tabernacle, it makes sense that His wrath would have gone out in all directions, smiting with the plague those who were closest. And remember, this happened AFTER YHWH destroyed Korah and his family and followers (Numbers 16). One would think the people would have learned to keep their big mouths shut by now! Unfortunately, people's mouths are still moving to this very day....
In Numbers 17: 21-24 (in some versions, 18:1-9) we see YHWH choosing Aharon as High Priest! Now, while this was certainly an honor, the position of High Priest is NOT an 'honorary position', or a position of authority and power as one would think. YHWH made it clear that Aharon was NOT called to rule the people, but to carry specific burdens for them.
Please read Numbers 18 to see the heavy responsibilities YHWH placed upon Aharon and his sons. Then check out the below which shows that the Levites were not to have any inheritance or portion of their land, but were to perform all the tasks of the Temple, while being supported by the people who were to tithe to the Levi'im and basically take care of them.
(It is interesting to note that YHWH never said this about any other people - which makes one wonder why today's pastors believe THEY should be supported by their congregations....)
Numbers 18: 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. 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 thresh-ing-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.' 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.'"
But what do the people do? Grumble and gripe and complain....
Numbers 17:6-15 (16:41-50 in some versions): 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!" 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 43 Moshe and Aharon came to the front of the tent of meeting.
44 ADONAI said to Moshe, 45 "Get away from this assembly, and I will destroy them at once!" But they fell on their faces. 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!"
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. 48 He stood between the dead and the living, and the plague was stopped. 49 Those dying from the plague numbered 14,700 - besides those who died in the Korach incident. 50 Aharon returned to Moshe at the entrance to the tent of meeting, and the plague was stopped.
Notice that Moshe and Aharon made atonement for the people, yet 14,700 died, anyway, because the anger of ADONAI had already gone out. They essentially "gave life" to undeserving people (those that were lucky enough to have lived), and this is parallel to what Yeshua did for us! Humanity has not been worthy of remaining alive and yet Yeshua atoned for our sins and stopped the plague of humanity (so to speak) and gave us eternal life in spite of ourselves - Halleluyah! Take a look:
John 17: 2. Just as you have given him authority over all flesh that whomever You have given him, he will give to him life that is eternal. 3. Now this is life that is eternal, that they might know You, that You are the Elohim of Truth, and he alone whom You have sent, the Mashiyach Y'shua. 4. I have glorified You on earth. The work that You have given to me to do I have finished it. 5. And now glorify me my Father with You in that glory that I had with You from before the world was.
6. I have made Your Name known to the sons of those men whom You had given to me from the world. They were Yours and You have given them to me, and they have kept Your Word. 7. Now they have known that everything that you have given to me I have given to them and they received them. 8. And they know that I have truly proceeded from your presence, and they believe that You have sent me. 9. And I plead for them. It is not for the world I plead; rather, for those whom you have given to me because they are Yours.
Notice Yeshua didn't plead for ALL; He pleaded only for those who belonged to YHWH! (John 17:12) I was with them while I was in the world. I have kept them in your Name; those whom you have given to me, I have kept. Notice also what is "eternal life: John 17:3. Now this is life that is eternal, that they might know You, that You are the Elohim of Truth, and he alone whom You have sent, the Mashiyach Y'shua.
"Knowing" YHWH means recognizing that He gave us His Torah (Divine Instruction in Righteousness) and believing that His Son was our Final SIN Sacrifice!
Haftarah and Brit Chadasha readings:
Moving on to one of our Haftarah passages, 1 Samuel 12 contains an awesome message:
1 Samuel 12: 20 Sh'mu'el answered the people, "Don't be afraid. You have indeed done all this evil; yet now, just don't turn away from following ADONAI; but serve ADONAI with all your heart. 21 Don't turn to the side; because then you would go after useless things that can neither help nor rescue, they are so futile.
Halleluyah, we see GRACE here...and it was before Y'shua came to earth, proving that "grace" has always been around! To remain in YHWH's grace, simply serve Him with all your heart. Don't turn to the side from the Divine teachings of YHWH. How much clearer could it be that we are supposed to OBEY YHWH? This is reiterated in 2 Timothy 2 - which amply warns us against false teachers and teachings:
2 Timothy 2: 8. Be mindful of Y'shua the Mashiyach, that he arose from the dead; who was of the seed of Dawid, according to my proclamation, 9. in which I suffer evils to bonds as if an evil-doer: but the Word of Elohim is not in bonds. 10. Therefore I endure everything for the elect's sake; that they also may obtain life in Y'shua the Mashiyach with eternal glory. 11. Faithful is the saying, For if we will have died with him we will also live with him;
12. and, if we will have suffered, we will also reign with him. But if we will have rejected him, he will reject us. 13. And if we will have not believed in him, he abides in his fidelity; for he cannot reject himself. 14. Of these things admonish you them and charge (them) before our Master (Y'shua) that they do not argue with unprofitable words to the subversion of those who hear them. 15. And study to present yourself before Elohim perfectly, a laborer who is not ashamed, one who correctly announces the Word of Truth. 16. Avoid vain discourses in which there is no profit; for they very much add to the wickedness of those occupied with them.
17. And their discourse, like an eating cancer, will lay hold upon many. And one of these is Hymeneus, and another Philetus 18. who have wandered from the truth while they say, The resurrection of the dead has passed: and they subvert the faith of some. 19. But the firm foundation of Elohim stands and it has this seal; Master YHWH knows them who are His: and, Let everyone who invokes the name of our Master (Y'shua) stand aloof from iniquity.
Please be sure to read the Book of Yehudah (Jude), for its message is extremely powerful, with a significance that resonates into today's decadent, godless world.
Next week's parashah reading:
Parashah 39: Hukkat (Regulation); Numbers 19:1 through 22:1.
Haftarah (Writings and Prophets): Judges 11:1-33.
B'rit Hadasha (New Testament): John 3:9-21; 4:3-30; 12:27-50.