New Living Translation

Numbers 16

Korah’s Rebellion

1One day Korah son of Izhar, a descendant of Kohath son of Levi, conspired with Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, and On son of Peleth, from the tribe of Reuben. They incited a rebellion against Moses, along with 250 other leaders of the community, all prominent members of the assembly. They united against Moses and Aaron and said, “You have gone too far! The whole community of Israel has been set apart by the Lord, and he is with all of us. What right do you have to act as though you are greater than the rest of the Lord’s people?”

When Moses heard what they were saying, he fell face down on the ground. Then he said to Korah and his followers, “Tomorrow morning the Lord will show us who belongs to him[a] and who is holy. The Lord will allow only those whom he selects to enter his own presence. Korah, you and all your followers must prepare your incense burners. Light fires in them tomorrow, and burn incense before the Lord. Then we will see whom the Lord chooses as his holy one. You Levites are the ones who have gone too far!”

Then Moses spoke again to Korah: “Now listen, you Levites! Does it seem insignificant to you that the God of Israel has chosen you from among all the community of Israel to be near him so you can serve in the Lord’s Tabernacle and stand before the people to minister to them? 10 Korah, he has already given this special ministry to you and your fellow Levites. Are you now demanding the priesthood as well? 11 The Lord is the one you and your followers are really revolting against! For who is Aaron that you are complaining about him?”

12 Then Moses summoned Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, but they replied, “We refuse to come before you! 13 Isn’t it enough that you brought us out of Egypt, a land flowing with milk and honey, to kill us here in this wilderness, and that you now treat us like your subjects? 14 What’s more, you haven’t brought us into another land flowing with milk and honey. You haven’t given us a new homeland with fields and vineyards. Are you trying to fool these men?[b] We will not come.”

15 Then Moses became very angry and said to the Lord, “Do not accept their grain offerings! I have not taken so much as a donkey from them, and I have never hurt a single one of them.” 16 And Moses said to Korah, “You and all your followers must come here tomorrow and present yourselves before the Lord. Aaron will also be here. 17 You and each of your 250 followers must prepare an incense burner and put incense on it, so you can all present them before the Lord. Aaron will also bring his incense burner.”

18 So each of these men prepared an incense burner, lit the fire, and placed incense on it. Then they all stood at the entrance of the Tabernacle[c] with Moses and Aaron. 19 Meanwhile, Korah had stirred up the entire community against Moses and Aaron, and they all gathered at the Tabernacle entrance. Then the glorious presence of the Lord appeared to the whole community, 20 and the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, 21 “Get away from all these people so that I may instantly destroy them!”

22 But Moses and Aaron fell face down on the ground. “O God,” they pleaded, “you are the God who gives breath to all creatures. Must you be angry with all the people when only one man sins?”

23 And the Lord said to Moses, 24 “Then tell all the people to get away from the tents of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram.”

25 So Moses got up and rushed over to the tents of Dathan and Abiram, followed by the elders of Israel. 26 “Quick!” he told the people. “Get away from the tents of these wicked men, and don’t touch anything that belongs to them. If you do, you will be destroyed for their sins.” 27 So all the people stood back from the tents of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram. Then Dathan and Abiram came out and stood at the entrances of their tents, together with their wives and children and little ones.

28 And Moses said, “This is how you will know that the Lord has sent me to do all these things that I have done—for I have not done them on my own. 29 If these men die a natural death, or if nothing unusual happens, then the Lord has not sent me. 30 But if the Lord does something entirely new and the ground opens its mouth and swallows them and all their belongings, and they go down alive into the grave,[d] then you will know that these men have shown contempt for the Lord.”

31 He had hardly finished speaking the words when the ground suddenly split open beneath them. 32 The earth opened its mouth and swallowed the men, along with their households and all their followers who were standing with them, and everything they owned. 33 So they went down alive into the grave, along with all their belongings. The earth closed over them, and they all vanished from among the people of Israel. 34 All the people around them fled when they heard their screams. “The earth will swallow us, too!” they cried. 35 Then fire blazed forth from the Lord and burned up the 250 men who were offering incense.

36 [e]And the Lord said to Moses, 37 “Tell Eleazar son of Aaron the priest to pull all the incense burners from the fire, for they are holy. Also tell him to scatter the burning coals. 38 Take the incense burners of these men who have sinned at the cost of their lives, and hammer the metal into a thin sheet to overlay the altar. Since these burners were used in the Lord’s presence, they have become holy. Let them serve as a warning to the people of Israel.”

39 So Eleazar the priest collected the 250 bronze incense burners that had been used by the men who died in the fire, and the bronze was hammered into a thin sheet to overlay the altar. 40 This would warn the Israelites that no unauthorized person—no one who was not a descendant of Aaron—should ever enter the Lord’s presence to burn incense. If anyone did, the same thing would happen to him as happened to Korah and his followers. So the Lord’s instructions to Moses were carried out.

41 But the very next morning the whole community of Israel began muttering again against Moses and Aaron, saying, “You have killed the Lord’s people!” 42 As the community gathered to protest against Moses and Aaron, they turned toward the Tabernacle and saw that the cloud had covered it, and the glorious presence of the Lord appeared.

43 Moses and Aaron came and stood in front of the Tabernacle, 44 and the Lord said to Moses, 45 “Get away from all these people so that I can instantly destroy them!” But Moses and Aaron fell face down on the ground.

46 And Moses said to Aaron, “Quick, take an incense burner and place burning coals on it from the altar. Lay incense on it, and carry it out among the people to purify them and make them right with the Lord.[f] The Lord’s anger is blazing against them—the plague has already begun.”

47 Aaron did as Moses told him and ran out among the people. The plague had already begun to strike down the people, but Aaron burned the incense and purified[g] the people. 48 He stood between the dead and the living, and the plague stopped. 49 But 14,700 people died in that plague, in addition to those who had died in the affair involving Korah. 50 Then because the plague had stopped, Aaron returned to Moses at the entrance of the Tabernacle.

Notas al pie

  1. 16:5 Greek version reads God has visited and knows those who are his. Compare 2 Tim 2:19.
  2. 16:14 Hebrew Are you trying to put out the eyes of these men?
  3. 16:18 Hebrew the Tent of Meeting; also in 16:19, 42, 43, 50.
  4. 16:30 Hebrew into Sheol; also in 16:33.
  5. 16:36 Verses 16:36-50 are numbered 17:1-15 in Hebrew text.
  6. 16:46 Or to make atonement for them.
  7. 16:47 Or and made atonement for.

New International Reader's Version

Numbers 16

Korah, Dathan and Abiram

1Korah was the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath. Kohath was the son of Levi. Korah and certain men from the tribe of Reuben turned against Moses. The men from Reuben were Dathan, Abiram and On. Dathan and Abiram were the sons of Eliab. On was the son of Peleth. All those men rose up against Moses. And 250 men of Israel joined them. All of them were known as leaders in the community. They had been appointed as members of the ruling body. They came as a group to oppose Moses and Aaron. They said to Moses and Aaron, “You have gone too far! The whole community is holy. Every one in it is holy. And the Lord is with them. So why do you put yourselves above the Lord’s people?”

When Moses heard what they said, he fell with his face to the ground. Then he spoke to Korah and all his followers. He said, “In the morning the Lord will show who belongs to him. He will show who is holy. He’ll bring that person near him. He’ll bring the man he chooses near him. Korah, here’s what you and all your followers must do. Get some shallow cups for burning incense. Tomorrow put burning coals and incense in them. Offer it to the Lord. The man the Lord chooses will be the one who is holy. You Levites have gone too far!”

Moses also said to Korah, “Listen, you Levites! The God of Israel has separated you from the rest of the community of Israel. He has brought you near him to work at the Lord’s holy tent. He has given you to the people so that you can serve them. Isn’t all that enough for you? 10 He has already brought you and all the other Levites near him. But now you want to be priests too. 11 You and all your followers have joined together against the Lord. Why are you telling Aaron you aren’t happy with him?”

12 Then Moses sent for Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab. But they said, “We won’t come! 13 You have brought us up out of a land that has plenty of milk and honey. You have brought us here to kill us in this desert. Isn’t that enough? Now do you also want to act as if you were ruling over us? 14 Besides, you haven’t brought us into a land that has plenty of milk and honey. You haven’t given us fields and vineyards of our own. Do you want to treat these men like slaves? No! We won’t come!”

15 Then Moses became very angry. He said to the Lord, “Don’t accept their offering. I haven’t taken even a donkey from them. In fact, I haven’t done anything wrong to any of them.”

16 Moses said to Korah, “You and all your followers must stand in front of the Lord tomorrow. You must appear there along with Aaron. 17 Each man must get his shallow cup. He must put incense in it. There will be a total of 250 incense cups. Each man must bring his cup to the Lord. You and Aaron must also bring your cups.” 18 So each of them got his cup. He put burning coals and incense in it. All the men came with Moses and Aaron. They stood at the entrance to the tent of meeting. 19 Korah gathered all his followers together at the entrance to the tent. They opposed Moses and Aaron. Then the glory of the Lord appeared to the whole community. 20 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, 21 “Separate yourselves from these people. Then I can put an end to all of them at once.”

22 But Moses and Aaron fell with their faces to the ground. They cried out, “God, you are the God who gives life and breath to all living things. Will you be angry with the whole community when only one man sins?”

23 Then the Lord spoke to Moses. He said, 24 “Tell the community, ‘Move away from the tents of Korah, Dathan and Abiram.’ ”

25 Moses got up. He went to Dathan and Abiram. The elders of Israel followed him. 26 Moses warned the community. He said, “Move away from the tents of these evil men! Don’t touch anything that belongs to them. If you do, the Lord will sweep you away because of all their sins.” 27 So they moved away from the tents of Korah, Dathan and Abiram. Dathan and Abiram had already come out. They were standing at the entrances to their tents. Their wives, children and little ones were standing there with them.

28 Then Moses said, “What is about to happen wasn’t my idea. The Lord has sent me to do everything I’m doing. Here is how you will know I’m telling you the truth. 29 These men won’t die a natural death. Something will happen to them that doesn’t usually happen to people. If what I’m telling you doesn’t happen, then you will know that the Lord hasn’t sent me. 30 But the Lord will make something totally new happen. The ground will open its mouth and swallow them up. It will swallow up everything that belongs to them. They will be buried alive. When that happens, you will know that these men have disrespected the Lord.”

31 As soon as Moses finished saying all these words, what he had said came true. The ground under them broke open. 32 It opened its mouth. It swallowed up those men. In fact, it swallowed up everyone who lived in their houses. It swallowed all Korah’s men. And it swallowed up everything they owned. 33 They went down into the grave alive. Everything they owned went down with them. The ground closed over them and they died. And so they disappeared from the community. 34 All the Israelites around them heard their cries. They ran away from them. They shouted, “The ground is going to swallow us up too!”

35 Then the Lord sent down fire. It burned up the 250 men offering the incense.

36 The Lord said to Moses, 37 “Speak to Eleazar the priest. He is the son of Aaron. Remind him that the shallow cups are holy. He must take them out of the ashes. He must scatter the burning coals away from there. 38 The men who sinned used those cups. And it cost them their lives. Hammer the cups into bronze sheets that will cover the altar. The cups were offered to the Lord. They have become holy. Let them serve as a warning to the Israelites.”

39 So the priest Eleazar collected the bronze incense cups. They had been brought by the men who had been burned to death. He had them hammered out to cover the altar. 40 He did just as the Lord had directed Moses to tell him to do. The covering would be a reminder to the Israelites. It would remind them that no one except a son of Aaron should come and burn incense to the Lord. If people other than priests did that, they would become like Korah and his followers.

41 The next day the whole community of Israel told Moses and Aaron they weren’t happy with them. “You have killed the Lord’s people,” they said.

42 The community gathered together to oppose Moses and Aaron. The people walked toward the tent of meeting. Suddenly the cloud covered it. The glory of the Lord appeared. 43 Then Moses and Aaron went to the front of the tent of meeting. 44 The Lord said to Moses, 45 “Get away from these people. Then I can put an end to all of them at once.” And Moses and Aaron fell with their faces to the ground.

46 Moses said to Aaron, “Take your incense cup. Put incense in it. And put burning coals from the altar in it. Then hurry to the people and pay for their sin. The Lord has begun to show his anger. The plague has started.” 47 So Aaron did as Moses said. He ran in among the people. The plague had already started among them. But Aaron offered the incense and paid for their sin. 48 He stood between those alive and those dead. And the plague stopped. 49 But 14,700 people died from the plague. That doesn’t include those who had died because of what Korah did. 50 Then Aaron returned to Moses at the entrance to the tent of meeting. The plague had stopped.