Numbers 16
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1  Now Korach, son of Izhar son of Kehat son of Levi, betook himself, along with Datan and Aviram sons of Eliav, and On son of Peleth—descendants of Reuven

א  וַיִּקַּח קֹרַח בֶּן־יִצְהָר בֶּן־קְהָת בֶּן־לֵוִי וְדָתָן וַאֲבִירָם בְּנֵי אֱלִיאָב וְאוֹן בֶּן־פֶּלֶת בְּנֵי רְאוּבֵן׃

2  to rise up against Moshe, together with two hundred and fifty Israelites, chieftains of the community, chosen in the assembly, men of repute.

ב  וַיָּקֻמוּ לִפְנֵי מֹשֶׁה וַאֲנָשִׁים מִבְּנֵי־יִשְׂרָאֵל חֲמִשִּׁים וּמָאתָיִם נְשִׂיאֵי עֵדָה קְרִאֵי מוֹעֵד אַנְשֵׁי־שֵׁם׃

3  They combined against Moshe and Aharon and said to them, “You have gone too far! For all the community are holy, all of them, and Hashem is in their midst. Why then do you raise yourselves above Hashem‘s congregation?”

va-yi-ka-ha-LU al mo-SHEH v’-al a-ha-RON va-yo-m’-RU a-lay-HEM rav la-KHEM KEE khol ha-ay-DAH ku-LAM k’do-SHEEM uv-to-KHAM a-do-NAI u-ma-DU-a tit-na-s’-U al k’-HAL a-do-NAI

ג  וַיִּקָּהֲלוּ עַל־מֹשֶׁה וְעַל־אַהֲרֹן וַיֹּאמְרוּ אֲלֵהֶם רַב־לָכֶם כִּי כָל־הָעֵדָה כֻּלָּם קְדֹשִׁים וּבְתוֹכָם יְהֹוָה וּמַדּוּעַ תִּתְנַשְּׂאוּ עַל־קְהַל יְהֹוָה׃

16:3 Why then do you raise yourselves above Hashem’s congregation?

Korach rebels against his cousins Moshe and Aharon, accusing them of taking positions of power for themselves. He declares that the entire Nation of Israel is holy, and therefore questions why Moshe and Aharon have raised themselves above the rest of the congregation. In making this claim, Korach not only implies that Moshe and Aharon inappropriately chose the leadership positions for themselves, thereby denying Hashem’s role in their appointment. He also makes the erroneous claim that every individual in the nation is on the same level of holiness. While it is true that everyone is endowed with an element of Godliness, it is up to each person to elevate himself or herself to even greater levels of holiness. The exact degree of a person’s holiness, therefore, depends on their individual achievements.


4  When Moshe heard this, he fell on his face.

ד  וַיִּשְׁמַע מֹשֶׁה וַיִּפֹּל עַל־פָּנָיו׃

5  Then he spoke to Korach and all his company, saying, “Come morning, Hashem will make known who is His and who is holy, and will grant him access to Himself; He will grant access to the one He has chosen.

ה  וַיְדַבֵּר אֶל־קֹרַח וְאֶל־כָּל־עֲדָתוֹ לֵאמֹר בֹּקֶר וְיֹדַע יְהֹוָה אֶת־אֲשֶׁר־לוֹ וְאֶת־הַקָּדוֹשׁ וְהִקְרִיב אֵלָיו וְאֵת אֲשֶׁר יִבְחַר־בּוֹ יַקְרִיב אֵלָיו׃

6  Do this: You, Korach and all your band, take fire pans,

ו  זֹאת עֲשׂוּ קְחוּ־לָכֶם מַחְתּוֹת קֹרַח וְכָל־עֲדָתוֹ׃

7  and tomorrow put fire in them and lay incense on them before Hashem. Then the man whom Hashem chooses, he shall be the holy one. You have gone too far, sons of Levi!”

ז  וּתְנוּ בָהֵן אֵשׁ וְשִׂימוּ עֲלֵיהֶן קְטֹרֶת לִפְנֵי יְהֹוָה מָחָר וְהָיָה הָאִישׁ אֲשֶׁר־יִבְחַר יְהֹוָה הוּא הַקָּדוֹשׁ רַב־לָכֶם בְּנֵי לֵוִי׃

8  Moshe said further to Korach, “Hear me, sons of Levi.

ח  וַיֹּאמֶר מֹשֶׁה אֶל־קֹרַח שִׁמְעוּ־נָא בְּנֵי לֵוִי׃

9  Is it not enough for you that the God of Yisrael has set you apart from the community of Yisrael and given you access to Him, to perform the duties of Hashem‘s Mishkan and to minister to the community and serve them?

ט  הַמְעַט מִכֶּם כִּי־הִבְדִּיל אֱלֹהֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶתְכֶם מֵעֲדַת יִשְׂרָאֵל לְהַקְרִיב אֶתְכֶם אֵלָיו לַעֲבֹד אֶת־עֲבֹדַת מִשְׁכַּן יְהֹוָה וְלַעֲמֹד לִפְנֵי הָעֵדָה לְשָׁרְתָם׃

10  Now that He has advanced you and all your fellow Leviim with you, do you seek the priesthood too?

י  וַיַּקְרֵב אֹתְךָ וְאֶת־כָּל־אַחֶיךָ בְנֵי־לֵוִי אִתָּךְ וּבִקַּשְׁתֶּם גַּם־כְּהֻנָּה׃

11  Truly, it is against Hashem that you and all your company have banded together. For who is Aharon that you should rail against him?”

יא  לָכֵן אַתָּה וְכָל־עֲדָתְךָ הַנֹּעָדִים עַל־יְהֹוָה וְאַהֲרֹן מַה־הוּא כִּי תלונו [תַלִּינוּ] עָלָיו׃

12  Moshe sent for Datan and Aviram, sons of Eliav; but they said, “We will not come!

יב  וַיִּשְׁלַח מֹשֶׁה לִקְרֹא לְדָתָן וְלַאֲבִירָם בְּנֵי אֱלִיאָב וַיֹּאמְרוּ לֹא נַעֲלֶה׃

13  Is it not enough that you brought us from a land flowing with milk and honey to have us die in the wilderness, that you would also lord it over us?

יג  הַמְעַט כִּי הֶעֱלִיתָנוּ מֵאֶרֶץ זָבַת חָלָב וּדְבַשׁ לַהֲמִיתֵנוּ בַּמִּדְבָּר כִּי־תִשְׂתָּרֵר עָלֵינוּ גַּם־הִשְׂתָּרֵר׃

14  Even if you had brought us to a land flowing with milk and honey, and given us possession of fields and vineyards, should you gouge out those men’s eyes? We will not come!”

יד  אַף לֹא אֶל־אֶרֶץ זָבַת חָלָב וּדְבַשׁ הֲבִיאֹתָנוּ וַתִּתֶּן־לָנוּ נַחֲלַת שָׂדֶה וָכָרֶם הַעֵינֵי הָאֲנָשִׁים הָהֵם תְּנַקֵּר לֹא נַעֲלֶה׃

15  Moshe was much aggrieved and he said to Hashem, “Pay no regard to their oblation. I have not taken the ass of any one of them, nor have I wronged any one of them.”

טו  וַיִּחַר לְמֹשֶׁה מְאֹד וַיֹּאמֶר אֶל־יְהֹוָה אַל־תֵּפֶן אֶל־מִנְחָתָם לֹא חֲמוֹר אֶחָד מֵהֶם נָשָׂאתִי וְלֹא הֲרֵעֹתִי אֶת־אַחַד מֵהֶם׃

16  And Moshe said to Korach, “Tomorrow, you and all your company appear before Hashem, you and they and Aharon.

טז  וַיֹּאמֶר מֹשֶׁה אֶל־קֹרַח אַתָּה וְכָל־עֲדָתְךָ הֱיוּ לִפְנֵי יְהֹוָה אַתָּה וָהֵם וְאַהֲרֹן מָחָר׃

17  Each of you take his fire pan and lay incense on it, and each of you bring his fire pan before Hashem, two hundred and fifty fire pans; you and Aharon also [bring] your fire pans.”

יז  וּקְחוּ אִישׁ מַחְתָּתוֹ וּנְתַתֶּם עֲלֵיהֶם קְטֹרֶת וְהִקְרַבְתֶּם לִפְנֵי יְהֹוָה אִישׁ מַחְתָּתוֹ חֲמִשִּׁים וּמָאתַיִם מַחְתֹּת וְאַתָּה וְאַהֲרֹן אִישׁ מַחְתָּתוֹ׃

18  Each of them took his fire pan, put fire in it, laid incense on it, and took his place at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting, as did Moshe and Aharon.

יח  וַיִּקְחוּ אִישׁ מַחְתָּתוֹ וַיִּתְּנוּ עֲלֵיהֶם אֵשׁ וַיָּשִׂימוּ עֲלֵיהֶם קְטֹרֶת וַיַּעַמְדוּ פֶּתַח אֹהֶל מוֹעֵד וּמֹשֶׁה וְאַהֲרֹן׃

19  Korach gathered the whole community against them at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting. Then the Presence of Hashem appeared to the whole community,

יט  וַיַּקְהֵל עֲלֵיהֶם קֹרַח אֶת־כָּל־הָעֵדָה אֶל־פֶּתַח אֹהֶל מוֹעֵד וַיֵּרָא כְבוֹד־יְהֹוָה אֶל־כָּל־הָעֵדָה׃

20  and Hashem spoke to Moshe and Aharon, saying,

כ  וַיְדַבֵּר יְהֹוָה אֶל־מֹשֶׁה וְאֶל־אַהֲרֹן לֵאמֹר׃

21  “Stand back from this community that I may annihilate them in an instant!”

כא  הִבָּדְלוּ מִתּוֹךְ הָעֵדָה הַזֹּאת וַאַכַלֶּה אֹתָם כְּרָגַע׃

22  But they fell on their faces and said, “O Hashem, Source of the breath of all flesh! When one man sins, will You be wrathful with the whole community?”

כב  וַיִּפְּלוּ עַל־פְּנֵיהֶם וַיֹּאמְרוּ אֵל אֱלֹהֵי הָרוּחֹת לְכָל־בָּשָׂר הָאִישׁ אֶחָד יֶחֱטָא וְעַל כָּל־הָעֵדָה תִּקְצֹף׃

23  Hashem spoke to Moshe, saying,

כג  וַיְדַבֵּר יְהֹוָה אֶל־מֹשֶׁה לֵּאמֹר׃

24  “Speak to the community and say: Withdraw from about the abodes of Korach, Datan, and Aviram.”

כד  דַּבֵּר אֶל־הָעֵדָה לֵאמֹר הֵעָלוּ מִסָּבִיב לְמִשְׁכַּן־קֹרַח דָּתָן וַאֲבִירָם׃

25  Moshe rose and went to Datan and Aviram, the elders of Yisrael following him.

כה  וַיָּקָם מֹשֶׁה וַיֵּלֶךְ אֶל־דָּתָן וַאֲבִירָם וַיֵּלְכוּ אַחֲרָיו זִקְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל׃

26  He addressed the community, saying, “Move away from the tents of these wicked men and touch nothing that belongs to them, lest you be wiped out for all their sins.”

כו  וַיְדַבֵּר אֶל־הָעֵדָה לֵאמֹר סוּרוּ נָא מֵעַל אָהֳלֵי הָאֲנָשִׁים הָרְשָׁעִים הָאֵלֶּה וְאַל־תִּגְּעוּ בְּכָל־אֲשֶׁר לָהֶם פֶּן־תִּסָּפוּ בְּכָל־חַטֹּאתָם׃

27  So they withdrew from about the abodes of Korach, Datan, and Aviram. Now Datan and Aviram had come out and they stood at the entrance of their tents, with their wives, their children, and their little ones.

כז  וַיֵּעָלוּ מֵעַל מִשְׁכַּן־קֹרֶח דָּתָן וַאֲבִירָם מִסָּבִיב וְדָתָן וַאֲבִירָם יָצְאוּ נִצָּבִים פֶּתַח אָהֳלֵיהֶם וּנְשֵׁיהֶם וּבְנֵיהֶם וְטַפָּם׃

28  And Moshe said, “By this you shall know that it was Hashem who sent me to do all these things; that they are not of my own devising:

כח  וַיֹּאמֶר מֹשֶׁה בְּזֹאת תֵּדְעוּן כִּי־יְהֹוָה שְׁלָחַנִי לַעֲשׂוֹת אֵת כָּל־הַמַּעֲשִׂים הָאֵלֶּה כִּי־לֹא מִלִּבִּי׃

29  if these men die as all men do, if their lot be the common fate of all mankind, it was not Hashem who sent me.

כט  אִם־כְּמוֹת כָּל־הָאָדָם יְמֻתוּן אֵלֶּה וּפְקֻדַּת כָּל־הָאָדָם יִפָּקֵד עֲלֵיהֶם לֹא יְהֹוָה שְׁלָחָנִי׃

30  But if Hashem brings about something unheard-of, so that the ground opens its mouth and swallows them up with all that belongs to them, and they go down alive into Sheol, you shall know that these men have spurned Hashem.”

ל  וְאִם־בְּרִיאָה יִבְרָא יְהֹוָה וּפָצְתָה הָאֲדָמָה אֶת־פִּיהָ וּבָלְעָה אֹתָם וְאֶת־כָּל־אֲשֶׁר לָהֶם וְיָרְדוּ חַיִּים שְׁאֹלָה וִידַעְתֶּם כִּי נִאֲצוּ הָאֲנָשִׁים הָאֵלֶּה אֶת־יְהֹוָה׃

31  Scarcely had he finished speaking all these words when the ground under them burst asunder,

לא  וַיְהִי כְּכַלֹּתוֹ לְדַבֵּר אֵת כָּל־הַדְּבָרִים הָאֵלֶּה וַתִּבָּקַע הָאֲדָמָה אֲשֶׁר תַּחְתֵּיהֶם׃

32  and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up with their households, all Korach‘s people and all their possessions.

לב  וַתִּפְתַּח הָאָרֶץ אֶת־פִּיהָ וַתִּבְלַע אֹתָם וְאֶת־בָּתֵּיהֶם וְאֵת כָּל־הָאָדָם אֲשֶׁר לְקֹרַח וְאֵת כָּל־הָרֲכוּשׁ׃

33  They went down alive into Sheol, with all that belonged to them; the earth closed over them and they vanished from the midst of the congregation.

לג  וַיֵּרְדוּ הֵם וְכָל־אֲשֶׁר לָהֶם חַיִּים שְׁאֹלָה וַתְּכַס עֲלֵיהֶם הָאָרֶץ וַיֹּאבְדוּ מִתּוֹךְ הַקָּהָל׃

34  All Yisrael around them fled at their shrieks, for they said, “The earth might swallow us!”

לד  וְכָל־יִשְׂרָאֵל אֲשֶׁר סְבִיבֹתֵיהֶם נָסוּ לְקֹלָם כִּי אָמְרוּ פֶּן־תִּבְלָעֵנוּ הָאָרֶץ׃

35  And a fire went forth from Hashem and consumed the two hundred and fifty men offering the incense.

לה  וְאֵשׁ יָצְאָה מֵאֵת יְהֹוָה וַתֹּאכַל אֵת הַחֲמִשִּׁים וּמָאתַיִם אִישׁ מַקְרִיבֵי הַקְּטֹרֶת׃

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