Torah – Numbers 16:1-18:32 Haftarah – 1 Samuel 11:14-12:22 Brit Chadashah – Romans 13:1-7
Korach is the parasha (portion) for this week. It is an extremely powerful portion of Scripture that we ought to take a very close look at as we go through this Shabbat (Sabbath).
The timing is very interesting as well. We have just finished with last week’s study about the 12 spies that went through the Promised Land and brought back a bad report…ten of them did so while the two did good in the sight of the L-RD. This is the first week of the month of Tamuz, which begins the 40 days that they spied out the Land. This period ends on the 9th day of the month of Av which is an important day to say the least. This is the day of the destruction of the Temple and other sobering events.
One last thing before we get into the meat of this week’s lesson, be careful not to fall into the trap of wrong thinking. It is easy to see the repeated round after round of sin in the hearts of the Children of Israel. It is easy to point fingers and wonder how they could continually fall into such sin. The fact is that we are all part of this family if you stop and honestly assess your own life. Don’t we do the same things? It seems we no sooner repent for a certain sin that we find ourselves in the midst of the same thing or some other sin we struggle with that still has roots in us.
I’m going to add one Scripture to this week’s references because I believe it touches the heart of the matter when it comes to the sin of Korach.
1 Chronicles 16:22, “Don’t touch my anointed ones, Do my prophets no harm.” (HNV)
You will see as we go through this study, and as you dig deeper on your own that Korach had a lot of issues. He suffered seemingly from issues of pride, arrogance and a complete lack of emunah (trust) in the L-RD and His plan and chain of authority that He established. On top of these things, he dared to challenge and thereby touch G-d’s Anointed!
Numbers 16:1-11, “Now Korach, the son of Yitzhar, the son of Kehat, the son of Levi, with Datan and Aviram, the sons of Eli’av, and On, the son of Pelet, sons of Re’uven, took [men]: 2 and they rose up before Moshe, with certain of the children of Yisra’el, two hundred fifty princes of the congregation, called to the assembly, men of renown; 3 and they assembled themselves together against Moshe and against Aharon, and said to them, You take too much on you, seeing all the congregation are holy, everyone of them, and the L-RD is among them: why then lift yourselves up above the assembly of the L-RD? 4 When Moshe heard it, he fell on his face: 5 and he spoke to Korach and to all his company, saying, In the morning the L-RD will show who are his, and who is holy, and will cause him to come near to him: even him whom he shall choose will he cause to come near to him. 6 This do: take you censers, Korach, and all his company; 7 and put fire in them, and put incense on them before the L-RD tomorrow: and it shall be that the man whom the L-RD does choose, he [shall be] holy: you take too much on you, you sons of Levi. 8 Moshe said to Korach, Hear now, you sons of Levi: 9 [seems it but] a small thing to you, that the God of Yisra’el has separated you from the congregation of Yisra’el, to bring you near to himself, to do the service of the tent of the L-RD, and to stand before the congregation to minister to them; 10 and that he has brought you near, and all your brothers the sons of Levi with you? and seek you the priesthood also? 11 Therefore you and all your company are gathered together against the L-RD: and Aharon, what is he who you murmur against him?”
Really you should read the entirety of the Torah references this week. There is so much there! Just looking at this small part you can see quite a bit going on. First off, I love the response of Moses and Aaron. They don’t argue or debate the issue with men. They instead fall on their faces immediately taking the matter to G-d. They do this not in order to preserve their position or authority, but to intervene on behalf of Korach and those entering into such sin against G-d Himself and His authority and plan.
Moses does eventually address a serious issue in Korach’s heart that was evident. The issue of pride, jealousy and covetousness. When he asked “isn’t it enough?” Korach was indeed a man of position and authority. He was involved in the work of the Mishkan (Tabernacle.) The sages say that he was even one of those who carried the Ark!
Finally, take a look at the instruction Moshe gives to bring the incense so that G-d may show who really is Holy and who therefore has the authority.
The scene of course is reminiscent of Nadav and Avihu, the two sons of Ahron (Aaron) that brought strange fire before the L-RD! When these two men brought incense before the L-RD, they were consumed by fire for they were not “Holy” or set apart unto this work. They did not have the authority to do what they did. Even though the argument has been made that their motives were pure, the fact remains that the right thing done in the wrong way, is in the end, still wrong! We must endeavor to always do the right things in the way that G-d requires them to be done. See the first seventeen verses of Isaiah to get a better handle on this concept.
In the end, Korach and his household were swallowed up and descended alive into Sheol while the 250 men who bore strange fire were consumed by fire suffering the same fate as Nadav and Avihu.