Here's a great tip:
Enter your email address and we'll send you our weekly magazine by email with fresh, exciting and thoughtful content that will enrich your inbox and your life, week after week. And it's free.
Oh, and don't forget to like our facebook page too!
Printed from
Contact Us

Korah's Rebellion

Korah's Rebellion


Korah and His Associates

Korah, one of the rich leaders of the Levites, and a cousin of Moses and Aaron, felt that he had been slighted and overlooked in the distribution of the highest priestly honors and leadership. He envied Moses and Aaron, and also his cousin Elzaphan, who had been put in charge of the Levites, after Aaron's family had become elevated to the rank of Kohanim (Priests). Realizing that despite his riches and influence he alone could do very little to shake the people's faith and confidence in Moses and Aaron, Korah looked for associates in his campaign against them.

Korah went to the people of the tribe of Reuben, his neighbors in the camping order. Being daily in close contact with them, Korah easily swayed the opinions of their leaders and drew them into his conspiracy. Amongst the Reubenites were two men, Dathan and Abiram, who since their early days in Egypt had been trouble-makers and the ringleaders of disaffection and rebellion. They were the first to rally to the party of Korah, and they were his most eager agents among their tribesmen. Their experienced and clever campaigning, aided by Korah's riches, influence, and knowledge, induced as many as 250 respected leaders of the Jewish camp to join the rebellion. They now felt bold enough to go out into the open and speak up against Moses' leadership of the people. Adopting the mantle of piety and justice, and pretending to be a champion of his people, Korah accused Moses and Aaron of imposing their leadership upon the community. "You take too much upon yourselves, for the entire congregation are all holy, and the Lord is in their midst. So why do raise yourselves above the Lord's assembly?" said Korah (Numbers 16:3) and his men to Moses and Aaron.

Moses Admonishes the Rebels

When Moses heard of the public accusations made against him by members of the tribe of Levi and their associates, he prayed to G‑d for guidance in his new tribulation. Then he addressed himself to Korah and his party, and told them to prepare themselves for the next day, when G‑d would show whom He considered worthy to serve Him as priests. All the contestants were to take censers and offer incense before G‑d. G‑d would then show whether He approved of this act. Moses spoke to Korah privately and warned him against his lust for personal honor. "Is it not enough that the G‑d of Israel has distinguished you from the congregation of Israel to draw you near to Him, to perform the service in the Tabernacle of the L-rd and to stand before the congregation to minister to them? " Moses said (Numbers 16:9). But his words fell on deaf ears.

Dathan's and Abiram's Spite

After his unsuccessful talk with Korah, Moses sent for Dathan and Abiram, ringleaders of the rebellion among the non-Levites. However, they replied with their usual arrogance (Numbers16:12-13): ""We will not go up. Is it not enough that you have brought us out of a land flowing with milk and honey to kill us in the desert, that you should also exercise authority over us? " Moses was deeply hurt by this venomous attack upon his leadership, and he prayed to G‑d to expose the wickedness of these people before the entire congregation of Israel.

Punishment of the Rebels

The next morning Korah's associates appeared before the Tabernacle with censers, as Moses had told them to do. With them came the entire community whom Korah had called to witness the proceedings. Then G‑d told Moses to order the children of Israel to separate themselves from Korah and his associates, and everything that belonged to them, for fear that they share the rebels' fate. Again Moses and the Elders approached Dathan and Abiram in a last minute effort to induce them to repent of their sin. However, it was in vain, and Moses ordered the rest of the people to depart from the tents of Dathan and Abiram. The people obeyed. Dathan and Abiram and their families stood in front of their tents, and in a defiant mood continued to abuse Moses.

Gravely, Moses told the children of Israel (Numbers 16:28): "With this you shall know that the Lord sent me to do all these deeds, for I did not devise them myself. If these men die as all men die and the fate of all men will be visited upon them, then the Lord has not sent me. But if the L-rd creates a creation, and the earth opens its mouth and swallows them and all that is theirs, and they descend alive into the grave, you will know that these men have provoked the Lord." Hardly had Moses finished speaking, when the earth cleft asunder, and swallowed Korah and his associates with their families and belongings. They were buried alive and perished by a terrible death that made the people who stood nearby flee in terror. The next instant a fire from heaven devoured the 250 men who had dared to contest Aaron's priestly authority by offering incense.

The Budding Staff

The following day, some of the children of Israel complained that Moses and Aaron had caused the death of so many leading men, whereupon, G‑d sent a plague which killed many thousands more of the rebels.

The authority of Aaron as High-priest was to be openly proved, so that his supremacy might forever be assured and recognized. Each tribe was commanded to bring one rod inscribed with its name; that of the tribe of Levi was to bear the name of Aaron. The rods were given to Moses, who took them into the Tabernacle. The tribe whose rod would blossom and bud was to be considered as especially elected and favored by G‑d.

Moses did as G‑d had ordered him. The next morning the priests entered the Sanctuary, and saw that Aaron's staff had budded and blossomed and yielded ripe almonds! Moses carried the rods out to the children of Israel, and each of the tribes took its rod. Everyone was now convinced of Aaron's right to the priesthood.

From Our People by Jacob Isaacs published and copyrighted by Kehot Publication Society 1946-1948
Join the discussion
1000 characters remaining
Email me when new comments are posted.
Sort By:
Discussion (6)
February 5, 2016
Korah's rebellion
Korah obviously had an ambition to be the leader of the the new nation of Israel. The only way for him and his followers to grab the top function was to challenge head-on Moses and Aaron's authority. Having known that G-d was amidst the peo ple, and all the people were holy, he deemed in his own right entitled to occupy the top position (priesthood and leader dealing directly with G-d). What he missed was the divine nature of the appointment. It was G-d's will. G-d reigned over Israel, and acted as HE willed. It was recorded in The Bible, that the sons of Korah did not die by the fire coming out of the holy place of G-d. Only the 250 who brought before G-d their incensers.
February 4, 2016
Korah's Rebellion
Aaron right of priesthood given through Moses action ordained. Arrogance causes our action to question authority, whom has authority? Whom is ordained to bring such authority? Our hatred, our bigotry, our failing to give tribute and respect cause our desire to question, but if so whom? Hope, forgiveness, peace, but praise the almighty by his name, if not how? In my opinion, keep in mind I never learned the Torah raised in another faith but trying to understand my ancestral lineage, I find my family full of same arrogance, hatred, gall and resentment as no one from family speak to me, so I question, try to understand but know I am hated. I was given what I never wanted. I understand why Korah challenged Moses, jealousy spite and resentment. We are not asked our duty but it is our duty to serve, it would be nice to be given guidence in our lives but sometimes we must find our own path if correct we find peace. In my hope and opinion, I hope to do the right action but know I am ignorant.
Michael David Collins-Frias de Jehle Romanov
Escondido, CA USA
December 1, 2015
What I never understand was why on earth had Korah dared to challenge Moses'G-d-appointed authority, after seeing all the great miracles accomplished through the words or rod of Moses ? G-d 's hand was obviously with Moses. And though the congrega tion was indeed holy, G-d dealt exclusively with Moses for all the matters that concerned Israel (religious and non-religious) Pride and arrogance had caused Korah to rebel openly against the leadership of Moses and Aaron. Not knowing that by doing that, Korah et al. would be stricken by the wrath of G-d.
November 9, 2014
First, if they and all their families were swallowed up by the earth none of Korahs physical sons are alive today. And Second, for those that follow Korah's example presently, would not the same God that took care of the rebellion back then take care of "those sons of Korah" today?? I would say we let God condemn who He deems and WE love them in order that some of them would repent.
July 15, 2014
should the sons of" korah" in 2014 be condemned for what there original family members did with Moses an Aron
michael raymond
Astralia. Melb. Victoria
April 10, 2011
rebelion to God is a great trangression
believe in God to live
jacob tepareng
kapenguria, kenya
Related Topics