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Parashah 38: Korach (Korah) 16:1–18:32
1Now 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 2rebelled against Moshe. Siding with them were 250 men of Isra’el, leaders of the community, key members of the council, men of reputation. 3They 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?”
4When Moshe heard this he fell on his face. 5Then 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. 6Do this: take censers, Korach and all your group; 7put 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!”
8Then Moshe said to Korach, “Listen here, you sons of Levi! 9Is 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? 10He has brought you close and all your brothers the sons of Levi with you. Now you want the office of cohen too! 11That’s why you and your group have gathered together against Adonai! After all, what is Aharon that you complain against him?”
12Then Moshe sent to summon Datan and Aviram, the sons of Eli’av. But they replied, “We won’t come up! 13Is 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) 14You 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!”
15Moshe 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.” 16Moshe said to Korach, “You and your group, be there before Adonai tomorrow — you, they and Aharon. 17Each 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.”
18Each 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. 19Korach 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) 20Adonai said to Moshe and Aharon, 21“Separate yourselves from this assembly; I’m going to destroy them right now!” 22They 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?” 23Adonai answered Moshe, 24“Tell the assembly to move away from the homes of Korach, Datan and Aviram.” 25Moshe got up and went to Datan and Aviram, and the leaders of Isra’el followed him. 26There 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.” 27So 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. 28Moshe 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: 29if these men die a natural death like other people, only sharing the fate common to all humanity, then Adonai has not sent me. 30But 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.”
31The moment he finished speaking, the ground under them split apart — 32the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up with their households, all the people who had sided with Korach and everything they owned. 33So they and everything they owned went down alive into Sh’ol, the earth closed over them and their existence in the community ceased. 34All Isra’el around them fled at their shrieks, shouting, “The earth might swallow us too!” 35Then fire came out from Adonai and destroyed the 250 men who had offered the incense.