View Numbers 16 in the note window.
Korah, Dathan and Abiram, rise up against Moses, ver. 1 - 4.
Moses reasons with them, ver. 5 - 11.
Sends for Dathan and Abiram, who refuse to come, ver. 12 - 14.
His proposal to Korah, ver. 15 - 19.
The punishment of the rebels, ver. 20 - 35.
Their censers preserved for a memorial, ver. 36 - 40.
A new insurrection stopped by a plague, ver. 41 - 45.
Aaron stays the plague, ver. 46 - 50.
1: The son of Izhar - Amram's brother, (Ex 6:18), therefore
Moses and he were cousin germans. Moreover, Izhar was the second
son of Kohath, whereas Elizaphan, whom Moses had preferred
before him, and made prince or ruler of the Kohathites, (Nu 3:30),
was the son of Uzziel, the fourth son of Kohath. This, the
Jewish writers say, made him malcontent, which at last broke forth into
sedition. Sons of Reuben - These are drawn into confederacy with
Korah, partly because they were his next neighbours, both being encamped
on the south - side, partly in hopes to recover their rights of primogeniture,
in which the priesthood was comprehended, which was given away from their
2: Rose up - That is, conspired together, and put their design in
execution. Before Moses - Not obscurely, but openly and boldly, not
fearing nor regarding the presence of Moses.
3: They - Korah, Dathan and Abiram, and the rest, who were
all together when Moses spake those words, (Nu 16:5-7), but after
that, Dathan and Abiram retired to their tents, and then Moses
sent for Korah and the Levites, who had more colourable pretences
to the priesthood, and treats with them apart, and speaks what is mentioned,(Nu 16:8-11). Having dispatched them, he sends for
Dathan and Abiram, (Nu 16:12), that he might reason the case
with them also apart. Against Aaron - To whom the priesthood was confined,
and against Moses, both because this was done by his order, and because
before Aaron's consecration Moses appropriated it to himself. For
whatever they intended, they seem not now directly to strike at Moses
for his supreme civil government, but only for his influence in the disposal
of the priesthood. Ye take too much - By perpetuating the priesthood in
yourselves and family, with the exclusion of all others from it. All
are holy - A kingdom of priests, an holy nation, as they are called,(Ex 19:6), a people separated to the service of God, and therefore no
less fit to offer sacrifice and incense, than you are. Among them - By
his tabernacle and cloud, the tokens of his gracious presence, and therefore
ready to receive sacrifices from their own hands. Ye - Thou Moses, by
prescribing what laws thou pleasest about the priesthood, and confining it
to thy brother; and thou Aaron by usurping it as thy peculiar privilege.
4: On his face - Humbly begging that God would direct and vindicate
him. Accordingly God answers his prayers, and strengthens him with new
courage, and confidence of success.
5: To - morrow - Heb. In the morning, the time appointed by men
for administering justice, and chosen by God for that work. Some time
is allowed, partly that Korah and his company might prepare themselves
and their censers, and partly to give them space for consideration and
repentance. He will cause him - He will by some evident token declare his
approbation of him and his ministry.
8: Ye sons of Levi - They were of his own tribe, nay, they were of
God's tribe. It was therefore the worse in them thus to mutiny against God
and against him.
9: To minister to them - So they were the servants both of God and
of the church, which was an high dignity, though not sufficient for their
11: Against the Lord - Whose chosen servant Aaron is. You strike
at God through Aaron's sides.
12: Dathan and Abiram - To treat with them and give them, as he had
done Korah and his company, a timely admonition. Come up - To
Moses's tabernacle, whither the people used to go up for judgment.
Men are said in scripture phrase to go up to places of judgment.
14: These men - Of all the people who are of our mind: wilt thou make
them blind, or persuade them that they do not see what is visible to all
that have eyes, to wit, that thou hast deceived them, and broken thy faith
and promise given to them?
15: Respect not their offering - Accept not their incense which they
are now going to offer, but shew some eminent dislike of it. He calls it
their offering, though it was offered by Korah and his companions,
because it was offered in the name and by the consent of all the
conspirators, for the decision of the present controversy between them and
Moses. I have not hurt one of them - I have never injured them, nor
used my power to defraud or oppress them, as I might have done; I have done
them many good offices, but no hurt: therefore their crime is without any
cause or provocation.
16: Before the Lord - Not in the tabernacle, which was not capable
of so many persons severally offering incense, but at the door of the
tabernacle, where they might offer it by Moses's direction upon this
extraordinary occasion. This work could not be done in that place, which
alone was allowed for the offering up of incense; not only for its
smallness, but also because none but priests might enter to do this work.
Here also the people, who were to be instructed by this experiment, might
see the proof and success of it.
18: Fire - Taken from the altar which stood in that place, for
Aaron might not use other fire. And it is likely the rememberance of
the death of Nadab and Abihu deterred them from offering any strange
19: Against them - That they might be witnesses of the event, and,
upon their success, which they doubted not of, might fall upon Moses and
Aaron. And it seems by this that the people were generally incensed
against Moses, and inclined to Korah's side. The glory appeared
- In the cloud, which then shone with greater brightness and majesty, as a
token of God's approach and presence.
22: The spirits - And this is no empty title here, but very
emphatical. Thou art the maker of spirits, destroy not thy own workmanship!
O thou who art the preserver of men, and of their spirits, the Lord of
spirits, (Job 12:10), who as thou mayst justly destroy this people, so
thou canst preserve whom thou pleasest: the father of spirits, the souls.
Deal mercifully with thy own children: the searcher of spirits, thou canst
distinguish between those who have maliciously railed this tumult, and
those whose ignorance and simple credulity hath made them a prey to crafty
seducers. Of all flesh - Of all mankind: the word flesh is often put
for men. One man - Korah, the ringleader of this sedition.
24: The congregation - Whom for your sakes I will spare upon the
25: Unto Dathan - Because they refused to come to him. The
elders - The seventy rulers, whom he carried with him for the greater
solemnity of the action, and to encourage them in their work,
notwithstanding the obstinate and untractable nature of the people they
were to govern.
27: Stood in the door - An argument of their foolish confidence,
obstinacy and impenitency, whereby they declared that they neither feared
God, nor reverenced man.
28: All these works - As the bringing of the people out of Egypt;
the conducting of them through the wilderness; the exercising authority
among them; and giving laws to them concerning the priesthood.
29: The death of all men - By a natural death. The visitation of
all men - By plague, or sword, or some usual judgment. The Lord hath
not sent me - I am content that you take me for an imposter, falsely
pretending to be sent of God.
32: All that appertained unto Korah - That is, all his family which
were there, women, children, and servants; but his sons, who were spared,(Nu 26:11,58,1Ch 6:22,37), were absent either upon some service
of the tabernacle, or upon some other occasion, God so ordering it by
his providence either because they disliked their fathers act, or upon
Moses's intercession for them. This expression may intimate, that
Korah himself was not here, but that he continued with his two hundred
and fifty men before the Lord, where they were waiting for God's decision of
the controversy. Nor is it probable that their chief captain would desert
them, and leave them standing there without an head, especially, when
Aaron his great adversary, abode there still, and did not go with
Moses to Dathan. And Korah may seem to have been consumed with
those two hundred and fifty. And so much is intimated, (Nu 16:40),
that no stranger come near to offer incense before the Lord, that he be
not as Korah, and as his company, that is, destroyed, as they were, by
fire from the Lord. And when the Psalmist relates this history,(Ps 106:17-18), the earth's swallowing them up is confined to
Dathan and Abiram, (Ps 106:17), and for all the rest of that
conspiracy it is added, (Ps 106:18).
And a fire was kindled in their company, the flame burnt up the wicked.
33: Into the pit - Into the earth, which first opened itself to
receive them, and then shut itself to destroy them.
35: From the Lord - From the cloud, wherein the glory of the Lord
37: To Eleazer - Rather than to Aaron, partly because the
troublesome part of the work was more proper for him, and partly lest
Aaron should be polluted by going amongst those dead carcasses; for it
is probable this fire consumed them, as lightning sometimes doth, others,
by taking away their lives, and leaving their bodies dead upon the place.
Out of the burning - From among the dead bodies of those men who were
burnt. Yonder - Far from the altar and sanctuary, into an unclean place,
where the ashes were wont to be cast: by which God shews his rejection on
of their services. They are hallowed - By God's appointment, because they
were presented before the Lord by his express order, (Nu 16:16,17).
38: Their own souls - That is, their own lives: who were the authors
of their own destruction. The altar - Of burnt - offerings, which was made
of wood, but covered with brass before this time, (Ex 27:1,2), to which
this other covering was added for farther ornament, and security against the
fire, continually burning upon it. A sign - A warning to all strangers to
take heed of invading the priesthood.
40: To him - To Eleazer. These words belong to (Nu 16:38), the
meaning is, that Eleazer did as God bade him.
41: On the morrow - Prodigious wickedness and madness so soon to
forget such a terrible instance of Divine vengeance! The people of the
Lord - So they call those wicked wretches, and rebels against God! Tho'
they were but newly saved from sharing in the same punishment, and the
survivors were as brands plucked out of the burning, yet they fly in the
face of Moses and Aaron, to whose intercession they owe their
42: They - Moses and Aaron, who in all their distresses made
God their refuge.
43: Moses and Aaron came - To hear what God, who now appeared, would
say to them.
45: They fell upon their faces - To beg mercy for the people; thus
rendering Good for Evil.
46: Incense - Which was a sign of intercession, and was to be
accompanied with it. Go unto the congregation - He went with the incense,
to stir up the people to repentance and prayer, to prevent their utter ruin.
This he might do upon this extraordinary occasion, having God's command for
his warrant, though ordinarily incense was to be offered only in the
48: The living - Whereby it may seem that this plague, like that
fire, (Nu 11:1), began in the uttermost parts of the congregation, and
so proceeded destroying one after another in an orderly manner, which gave
Aaron occasion and direction so to place himself, as a mediator to God
on their behalf.