Aftermath

Numbers 17:1-28

Following the deaths of the rebels, God commands Eleazar, son of Aaron, to collect the copper fire-pans that had been used for the rebels’ incense, as they had become sanctified. He instructs Moses to hammer them out into sheets to plate the altar, as a reminder and a warning of what will happen to any stranger who approaches with an alien offering.

 

The people of Israel are shocked by what they have witnessed. They accuse Moses and Aaron of killing the people of God. Once again, God commands Moses and Aaron to remove themselves from the Assembly so that He may wipe them out. Moses then tells Aaron to quickly take incense and atone for the people’s sinful comments. Aaron takes the incense and stands himself between the living and the dead, a human shield protecting them from God’s wrath. 14,700 people fall in the plague before it is stopped.

 

To further prove that God has chosen Aaron from among all others to serve Him, Moses tells the tribes each bring forth a staff with their tribal names inscribed upon them and lay them before the Ark in the Tabernacle. The man whose staff blossoms shall be known as God’s choice. The leaders do as they are told, and Aaron’s staff blossoms and sprouts buds and almonds. Moses returns the staffs to the leaders, but at God’s instruction keeps Aaron’s staff as a sign to the people that they should stop complaining lest they die at God’s hand. The people, however, remain frightened of punishment for approaching the Tabernacle.

 

The Israel Bible relates a story told by legendary Israeli storyteller S. Z. Kahana. Three clergymen visited Mount Zion in 1965. While gazing upon Jerusalem, they asked the Jewish curator why the Jews claimed it as the capital of the State of Israel, rather than maintaining its status as an international city. In response, the curator pointed to the staff of Aaron. The miracle of the earth swallowing Korah’s followers and the plague that followed were not enough to convince the people that Aaron had been chosen by God. Only the budding vitality of the blossoming staff, the sign of life, changed their minds. The curator pointed to the city of Jerusalem. “In the old Arab controlled section of the city, as you can observe, there is desolation: ruins, desert and rocks. On our side is the new Jerusalem, where over 150,000 have settled. You can see our new homes, schools, the new hospital and the new university. Everywhere you look, you see life, growth and vitality. You ask to whom does Jerusalem belong. It belongs to those who make it bud and blossom, to those who make it live and grow.” Half a century later, this insight demonstrates that a Jewish Jerusalem is ordained by God.

 

Virtual Classroom Discussion

Why do you think the fire-pans became sanctified, even though they were employed by the rebels?

Comments ( 7 )

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  • Damian Sco

    21 The Canaanite king of Arad, ruling in the Negev, heard that Israel was advancing up the road to Atharim. He attacked Israel and took prisoners of war.

    2 Israel vowed a vow to God: “If you will give this people into our power, we’ll destroy their towns and present the ruins to you as a holy destruction.”

    3 God listened to Israel’s prayer and gave them the Canaanites. They destroyed both them and their towns, a holy destruction. They named the place Hormah (Holy Destruction).

    The Snake of Fiery Copper
    4-5 They set out from Mount Hor along the Red Sea Road, a detour around the land of Edom. The people became irritable and cross as they traveled. They spoke out against God and Moses: “Why did you drag us out of Egypt to die in this godforsaken country? No decent food; no water—we can’t stomach this stuff any longer.”

    6-7 So God sent poisonous snakes among the people; they bit them and many in Israel died. The people came to Moses and said, “We sinned when we spoke out against God and you. Pray to God; ask him to take these snakes from us.”

    Moses prayed for the people.

    8 God said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it on a flagpole: Whoever is bitten and looks at it will live.”

    9 So Moses made a snake of fiery copper and put it on top of a flagpole. Anyone bitten by a snake who then looked at the copper snake lived.

  • Daniel

    ''Following the deaths of the rebels, God commands Eleazar, son of Aaron, to collect the copper fire-pans that had been used for the rebels’ incense, as they had become sanctified. He instructs Moses to hammer them out into sheets to plate the altar, as a reminder and a warning of what will happen to any stranger who approaches with an alien offering."
    As I see the situation the pan could be re-used for other purpose because the problem is not in the material ''copper''but much more in the action of Korah and his followers.

  • Angela B

    Like Debbye and Herman said, may be because the fire pans were meant for the purpose of offering incense hence they could be sanctified, and also there is something about the metals that Yahweh has ordained for the service of the Temple; the metals represent different things, so probably the type of metal used (in making the fire pans) made them acceptable. I realize that gold represents deity (divine nature), silver represents redemption and bronze represents judgment. So probably if the fire pans they used were of silver or gold, they could be sanctified because of what they represented.

  • Herman Arentsen

    I think that these pan's are sanctified by the presence of G-d in the Mishkan. Because of the unholy use they must be restored to holiness. Therefore they were on the altar where the sacrifices were brought to remind the people that all sins need to be forgiven and reconciled. So the people are warned by the copper plates. It is more or less a monument of the rebellion.

  • Debbye Japp

    I feel it was because they were "set apart" just as we are to make ourselves "set apart" unto the service of YHVH and present ourselves as an offering to Him, being sanctified and cleansed by the Holy Spirit in love and obedience.

  • lj

    They wers presented unto YHVH in His presence

  • Diana Brown

    Because they were presented to the Lord God at the Tent of Meeting as an offering. Only priests were allowed to offer incense though and they did not have the incense. They took the coals from the altar and put them in the firepans. The coals from the altar were holy unto the Lord before they were taken to the Tent of Meeting so the Lord took back what was His to take. Is that correct?

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