Parashah 38: Korach (Korah)

Parashah 38: Numbers 16:1-18:32

“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 rebelled against Moshe. Siding with them were 250 men of Isra’el, leaders of the community, key members of the council, men of reputation” (Numbers 16:1-2).

Korah, from the Tribe of Levi and a cousin of Moshe and Aaron, decided that being part of the Levitical priesthood and ministering in the Mishkan was not enough of an honor.  He wanted to be a high priest like Aaron.  He wanted a democracy where men rule rather than a theocracy which is governed by those Elohim chooses.  So he gathered a group of men, leaders of the community, and in their sin of arrogance and pride, they rebelled against  Moshe.

“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?” (Numbers 16:3)

Hebrew Word Pictures

Korach (Baldness)קרחkoof, resh, chet

behind the head protects

Datan (Two Wells) – דתן – dalet, tav, noon

pathway sign of life

Abiram (My father is exalted) – אבירם – alef, bet, yod, resh, mem

– first family tied to the mighty head

Arrogance or athaq – עתק – ayin, tav, koof

see the covenant from behind

Pride or gevah –  גוה – gimel, vav, hey

lift up and bind revealed

Rebel or marad – מרד – mem, resh, dalet

chaotic authority of a pathway

Moshe tells Korach and the 250 men with him that in the morning Elohim would show them who is “Holy to Yahweh” and allowed to be in His presence.  He instructs them to take censers, put fire in them and fill them with incense so they can present them to Yahweh  in the morning.  Moshe requests that Datan and Aviram come to the Tabernacle and meet with him.  They refuse.

“Is 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? You 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!” (Numbers 16:14-15).

In the morning the men arrive at the Tabernacle with their censers.  They fill them with fire and place incense on them.  As they stand at the entrance, the glory of Yahweh appears to the whole assembly. 

Adonai said to Moshe and Aharon, Separate yourselves from this assembly; I’m going to destroy them right now!” They 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?” (Numbers 16:20)

Yahweh told Moshe to move everyone away from the tents of Korach, Datan and Aviram.  Moshe told the people to stay away from these men and anything that belongs to them so as not to be swept away with them in their sin.  So everyone moved away from where the families of Korach, Datan and Aviram lived.   Datan and Aviram came out of their tents with their wives, sons and little ones to see what was going on. 

“Moshe 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:  if these men die a natural death like other people, only sharing the fate common to all humanity, then Adonai has not sent me.   But 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’” (Numbers 16:28-30).

Suddenly, the ground under them split apart, the earth opened up and swallowed Datan and Aviram with their families and everything they owned.  Everyone who had sided with Korach also went down to Sh’ol and the earth closed over them with their households and everything they owned. They ceased to exist in the community of Isra’el.  Then fire came out from ‘I AM’ and He destroyed all 250 men who had offered incense. 

“Woe to them, in that they have walked the road of Kayin [Cain], they have given themselves over for money to the error of Bil’am [Balaam], they have been destroyed in the rebellion of Korach” (Jude 11).

The Fallen Angel

“How did you come to fall from the heavens, morning star, son of the dawn? How did you come to be cut to the ground, conqueror of nations? You thought to yourself, ‘I will scale the heavens, I will raise my throne above God’s stars. I will sit on the Mount of Assembly far away in the north. I will rise past the tops of the clouds, I will make myself like the Most High.’ Instead you are brought down to Sh’ol, to the uttermost depths of the pit” (Isaiah 14:12-15).

Hebrew Word Pictures

Lucifer (Light Bearer) or halal – הלל – hey, lamed, lamed

– behold the leader, the leader

Hades or sh’ol – שאולshin, alef, vav, lamed

– consuming strength bound to the leader

“Yeshua said to them, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven’” (Luke 10:18).

Korach became like ‘the morning star’ or Lucifer who fell from heaven because of his pride and rebellion.  Lucifer’s name in Hebrew is halal and the root of halleluyah or ‘praise Yahweh.’  It is because of the Hebrew spelling that many believe Lucifer was the ‘worship leader’ in the throne room of Elohim.  He was not satisfied with the honor of being in the throne room of Yahweh, but wanted to be greater than Him.  He gathered thousands of angels to rebel against Elohim and make war in the heavens and they suffered the consequences of following their rebellious leader.  Lucifer and his followers “fell light lightning from the heaven” and were  brought down to Sh’ol just like Korach and his cohorts.

Sh’ol or Sheol was translated into Greek in the Septuagint as Hades.  Hades is the Greek god of the Underworld and came to personify evil itself.  In Luke 16, Yeshua gives the account of a beggar and a rich man.  After they die, the beggar rests in the bosom of Abraham waiting for the resurrection while the rich man is in Sheol where he experienced eternal torment (Luke 16:19-31).

“When I [Yochanan] saw him [Yeshua], I fell down at his feet like a dead man. He placed his right hand upon me and said, ‘Don’t be afraid! I am the First and the Last,  the Living One. I was dead, but look! — I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys to Death and Sh’ol [Hades]. So write down what you see, both what is now, and what will happen afterwards’” (Revelation 1:17-19).

Datan and Aviram stand at their tents with their wives, sons and little ones.  “Little ones” in Hebrew is taph and includes girls and infants.  In this judgment against Datan and Aviram, their sons, daughters and their infants were swallowed into the earth.  Elohim  sent children and  infants into Sheol where they ceased to exist.  These children received punishment based on the rebellious hearts of their fathers!  This is a serious judgment since they did not take part in the sin of their fathers … yet.

If children are sanctified through believing parents, then wouldn’t the converse be true? (1 Corinthians 7:14).  Children of unbelieving, wicked parents are not sanctified?  It is often presumed that small children and infants have some immunity to judgment and death and that all aborted babies are ‘in the arms of Jesus’ because of their innocence.  All of us, however, are conceived in sin and are born sinners. 

“True, I was born guilty, was a sinner from the moment my mother conceived me” (Psalm 51:7).

Many might claim, “Well Elohim knew beforehand whether or not that child would have come to Him in faith.”  That is true,  but Healso knew beforehand the converse.  If we truly understood the seriousness of believing parents in the lives of children, perhaps we would be more intent on reaching the lost.  For without Yeshua, the lives of un-sanctified  children are separated from Elohim not only now, but also when they die. 

In the account of Korach, it appears that Elohim doesn’t show favoritism toward women and small children when it comes to judgment for pride and arrogance because  the foundation for generational sin in a patriarchal system begins with the father.  Though Korach and his family were swallowed by the earth for their rebellion, his sons were not.  The midrash for this parashah suggests the ‘sons of Korach’ repented of their sin and were thus protected from death.  Elohim shows through these sons the power of repentance as they became the Temple musicians who wrote Psalms 42-49, 84, 85, 87,88.

“The Lord is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation” (Numbers 14:18).

Selah

A psalm of the sons of Korach. For the leader. Set to “Sickness that Causes Suffering.” A maskil of Heiman the Ezrachi.

“Adonai, God of my salvation, when I cry out to you in the night, let my prayer come before you, turn your ear to my cry for help! For I am oversupplied with troubles, which have brought me to the brink of Sh’ol. I am counted among those going down to the pit, like a man who is beyond help, left by myself among the dead, like the slain who lie in the grave — you no longer remember them; they are cut off from your care” (Psalm 88:1-5).

The ashes in the censers of the 250 men were spread outside the camp.  The censers were considered holy because they were offered to Elohim.   They were hammered into plates to cover the Altar of Incense as a reminder that ordinary people, not from the lineage of Aaron, were not allowed to offer incense before Yahweh.

Aaron’s Rod

BUT the very next day, the Israelites turned against Moshe and Aaron complaining that they killed Elohim’s people.  The glory of Yahweh appears in the cloud over the Mishkan and He decides to destroy everyone.  Moshe tells Aaron to quickly take his censer, lay incense on it and offer atonement for the community of Isra’el before Yahweh kills them all by a plague.  Thousands had already died, but when Aaron stood between the living and the dead, the plague stopped.

Because Elohim needs to settle the dispute of the high priest lineage, Hetells Moshe to collect the staffs of the leaders from the 12 Tribes of Isra’el.   The name of each leader was written on the staff.  Aaron’s name was written on the staff of Levi.  The staffs were put in front of the Ark of the Covenant overnight.

Hebrew Word Pictures

Staff or matteh – מטה – mem, tet, hey

– mighty twisting revealed

Staff (Scepter) or shebet – שבטshin, bet, tet

glory of the house turns

The Hebrew word for ‘staff’ is matteh and means ‘rod or branch.’   In order to make a rod, a branch is cut from a tree and ultimately becomes a dead piece of wood.  Aaron’s rod was different.  It was the ‘Branch’ of Elohim.  It had been used to judge Egypt and deliver the Israelites through the Red Sea.  Aaron’s rod was a living netzer, an allusion to Yeshua of Nazareth.

“The next day Moshe went into the tent of the testimony, and there he saw that Aharon’s staff for the house of Levi had budded — it had sprouted not only buds but flowers [blossoms] and ripe almonds as well.  Moshe brought out all the staffs from before Adonai to all the people of Isra’el, and they looked, and each man took back his staff” (Numbers 17:23-24). 

Yahweh made His choice for high priest from the Levitical line of Aaron.  The budding ‘branch’ settled the matter.   Moshe brought the staffs out to the 12 men.  Aaron’s staff was returned the Ark of the Testimony as a reminder for the “rebels” to stop grumbling against Elohim.  Along with the manna and the two stone tablets of the testimony, Aaron’s ‘branch’ was kept in the Ark of the Testimony.

As with the menorah, the almond is used by Yahweh to reveal His chosen high priest lineage.  The staff not only had almond fruit, but also the buds and flowers.  The word ‘almond’ in Hebrew is shakad and means “to watch, wake or haste.” The Almond tree is one of the first trees to ‘awaken’ in the spring in Isra’el.   From the time it sprouts until it has ripened fruit is only 21 days. 

The Hebrew word for ‘blossom’ or ‘flower’ in Hebrew is tzit and from where tzitzit or tassel is derived.  The ‘branch’ of Aaron was given tzizit to show that as Yahweh’s chosen high priest, he would be the one ‘to watch’ the priesthood to make sure they obeyed the commandments and followed Yahweh’s instructions for the sanctuary.   The role of the Levitical priesthood was to teach the community of Isra’el the commandments of Elohim, the difference between the holy and profane and to distinguish between the ‘clean’ and ‘unclean’ (Ezekiel 22:26, 44:23).

“Everything in Isra’el which has been consecrated unconditionally is to be yours….  All the contributions of holy things which the people of Isra’el offer to Adonai I have given to you, your sons and your daughters with you; this is a perpetual law, an eternal covenant of salt before Adonai for you and your descendants with you” (Numbers 18:14, 19).

All contributions set apart for Elohim were given to Aaron and his descendants as a perpetual regulation, an eternal covenant of salt (Parashah 24).  Every grain, sin and guilt offering given to Yahweh by fire was especially holy for Aaron and his sons to eat in an especially holy place.  All wave offerings were given to Aaron and his descendants.

The first produce in the land belonged to Aaron and his family for food.  All firstborn from the womb, whether human or animal, was given to Aaron.  All firstborn humans and ‘unclean’ beasts over a month of age were redeemed for five shekels of silver or its value according to the sanctuary shekel.  Firstborn of ‘clean’  animals had their blood splashed against the Altar with their fat going up  in smoke as a fragrant offering.  The breast and the right thigh were Aaron’s for food.

Because Yahweh was their inheritance, the Levites along with Aaron and his sons were not given any portion of the Promised Land. The tenth or tithe the Levities collected from the Israelites was for the priesthood as payment for their services in the Tabernacle.  From the tenth or tithe given to the Levites, a tithe was removed as a gift for Yahweh. His portion was given to Aaron (Numbers 18:29).

Inheritance of the Levites

“You are not to have any inheritance or portion in their land; I am your portion and inheritance among the people of Isra’el” (Numbers 18:20).

Yarash or yaresh are two different spellings in Hebrew for ‘inheritance’  that mean ‘to take possession of’ with the idea of ‘causing others to possess or inherit.’   Nachlalah is a noun that means ‘possession of property’ with the concept of ‘heritage.’    Aaron was not to receive a Land inheritance because he would take possession of Yahweh’s property, the earthly kingdom foreshadowing the heavenly one. 

“But whoever takes refuge in me will possess the land and inherit my holy mountain” (Isaiah 57:13b).

The Hebrew word for ‘land’ in this verse is eretz and means ‘earth’.  Yeshua concurs with the prophet Isaiah, “How blessed are the meek! For they will inherit the Land!” (Matthew 5:5)

‘Land’ in this passage is the Greek word gen and means ‘earth.’  Yeshua says the meek will inherit ‘the earth.’ The Kingdom of Elohim or the Kingdom of Heaven (interchangeable terms) is not somewhere up in the sky, but on earth.  When the earth is restored, the sanctified people of Elohim, those who bear fruit, grow in the knowledge of Elohim and are strengthened by His Ruach HaKodesh will inherit the new heavens and the new earth along with Yahweh’s holy mountain in the New Jerusalem.  This inheritance is eternal and will never spoil or fade.  This inheritance is the hope to which we were called and should be the reason to live a life worthy of that calling.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Messiah Yeshua! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Yeshua Messiah from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you,  who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:3-5).

“Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified [set apart as holy to Yahweh](Acts 20:32).

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe” (Ephesians 1:18-19).

“You may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience,  and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light (Colossians 1:10-12).

Yeshua and Little Children

So the greatest in the Kingdom is whoever makes himself as humble as this child.  Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me;  and whoever ensnares one of these little ones who trust me, it would be better for him to have a millstone hung around his neck and be drowned in the open sea!” (Matthew 18:4-6)

“See that you never despise one of these little ones, for I tell you that their angels in heaven are continually seeing the face of my Father in heaven…. Thus your Father in heaven does not want even one of these little ones to be lost” (Matthew 18:10,14).

“Then children were brought to him so that he might lay his hands on them and pray for them, but the talmidim rebuked the people bringing them.  However, Yeshua said, “Let the children come to me, don’t stop them, for the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.”  Then, after laying his hands on them, he went on his way” (Matthew 19:13-15).

“Yeshua said to his talmidim, ‘It is impossible that snares will not be set. But woe to the person who sets them!  It would be to his advantage that he have a millstone hung around his neck and he be thrown into the sea, rather than that he ensnare one of these little ones’” (Luke 17:1-2).

Haftarah (Readings of the Prophets)

1 Samuel 11:14-12:22

B’rit Chadashah (New Testament Readings)

2 Timothy 2:8-21

Jude 1-25

Midrash Korach: The Tithe for the Levites

Discuss the Levite tithe, its purpose for Isra’el and its validity for today within the context of the command.  Compare it to James 1:27, Romans 12:12-14, Hebrews 13:2, 3 John 1:8, Romans 15:27, 1 Corinthians 16:1-3, and Acts 11:27-29.

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