Matters of Worship
God spoke to Moses: “Speak to the People of Israel. Tell them, When you enter your homeland that I am giving to you and sacrifice a Fire-Gift to God, a Whole-Burnt-Offering or any sacrifice from the herd or flock for a Vow-Offering or Freewill-Offering at one of the appointed feasts, as a pleasing fragrance for God, the one bringing the offering shall present to God a Grain-Offering of two quarts of fine flour mixed with a quart of oil. With each lamb for the Whole-Burnt-Offering or other sacrifice, prepare a quart of oil and a quart of wine as a Drink-Offering.
“For a ram prepare a Grain-Offering of four quarts of fine flour mixed with one and a quarter quarts of oil and one and a quarter quarts of wine as a Drink-Offering. Present it as a pleasing fragrance to God.
“When you prepare a young bull as a Whole-Burnt-Offering or sacrifice for a special vow or a Peace-Offering to God, bring with the bull a Grain-Offering of six quarts of fine flour and two quarts of oil. Also bring two quarts of wine as a Drink-Offering. It will be a Fire-Gift, a pleasing fragrance to God.
“Each bull or ram, each lamb or young goat, is to be prepared in this same way. Carry out this procedure for each one, no matter how many you have to prepare.
“Every native-born Israelite is to follow this procedure when he brings a Fire-Gift as a pleasing fragrance to God. In future generations, when a foreigner or visitor living at length among you presents a Fire-Gift as a pleasing fragrance to God, the same procedures must be followed. The community has the same rules for you and the foreigner living among you. This is the regular rule for future generations. You and the foreigner are the same before God. The same laws and regulations apply to both you and the foreigner who lives with you.”
God spoke to Moses: “Speak to the People of Israel. Tell them, When you enter the land into which I’m bringing you, and you eat the food of that country, set some aside as an offering for God. From the first batch of bread dough make a round loaf for an offering—an offering from the threshing floor. Down through the future generations make this offering to God from each first batch of dough.
“But if you should get off the beaten track and not keep the commands which God spoke to Moses, any of the things that God commanded you under the authority of Moses from the time that God first commanded you right up to this present time, and if it happened more or less by mistake, with the congregation unaware of it, then the whole congregation is to sacrifice one young bull as a Whole-Burnt-Offering, a pleasing fragrance to God, accompanied by its Grain-Offering and Drink-Offering as stipulated in the rules, and a he-goat as an Absolution-Offering. The priest is to atone for the entire community of the People of Israel and they will stand forgiven. The sin was not deliberate, and they offered to God the Fire-Gift and Absolution-Offering for their inadvertence. The whole community of Israel including the foreigners living there will be absolved, because everyone was involved in the error.
“But if it’s just one person who sins by mistake, not realizing what he’s doing, he is to bring a yearling she-goat as an Absolution-Offering. The priest then is to atone for the person who accidentally sinned, to make atonement before God so that it won’t be held against him.
“The same standard holds for everyone who sins by mistake; the native-born Israelites and the foreigners go by the same rules.
“But the person, native or foreigner, who sins defiantly, deliberately blaspheming God, must be cut off from his people: He has despised God’s word, he has violated God’s command; that person must be kicked out of the community, ostracized, left alone in his wrongdoing.”
Once, during those wilderness years of the People of Israel, a man was caught gathering wood on the Sabbath. The ones who caught him hauled him before Moses and Aaron and the entire congregation. They put him in custody until it became clear what to do with him. Then God spoke to Moses: “Give the man the death penalty. Yes, kill him, the whole community hurling stones at him outside the camp.”
So the whole community took him outside the camp and threw stones at him, an execution commanded by God and given through Moses.
God spoke to Moses: “Speak to the People of Israel. Tell them that from now on they are to make tassels on the corners of their garments and to mark each corner tassel with a blue thread. When you look at these tassels you’ll remember and keep all the commandments of God, and not get distracted by everything you feel or see that seduces you into infidelities. The tassels will signal remembrance and observance of all my commandments, to live a holy life to God. I am your God who rescued you from the land of Egypt to be your personal God. Yes, I am God, your God.”
Getting on his high horse one day, Korah son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, along with a few Reubenites—Dathan and Abiram sons of Eliab, and On son of Peleth—rebelled against Moses. He had with him 250 leaders of the congregation of Israel, prominent men with positions in the Council. They came as a group and confronted Moses and Aaron, saying, “You’ve overstepped yourself. This entire community is holy and God is in their midst. So why do you act like you’re running the whole show?”
On hearing this, Moses threw himself facedown on the ground.
Then he addressed Korah and his gang: “In the morning God will make clear who is on his side, who is holy. God will take his stand with the one he chooses.
“Now, Korah, here’s what I want you, you and your gang, to do: Tomorrow, take censers. In the presence of God, put fire in them and then incense. Then we’ll see who is holy, see whom God chooses. Sons of Levi, you’ve overstepped yourselves!”
Moses continued with Korah, “Listen well now, sons of Levi. Isn’t it enough for you that the God of Israel has selected you out of the congregation of Israel to bring you near him to serve in the ministries of The Dwelling of God, and to stand before the congregation to minister to them? He has brought you and all your brother Levites into his inner circle, and now you’re grasping for the priesthood, too. It’s God you’ve ganged up against, not us. What do you have against Aaron that you’re bad-mouthing him?”
Moses then ordered Dathan and Abiram, sons of Eliab, to appear, but they said, “We’re not coming. Isn’t it enough that you yanked us out of a land flowing with milk and honey to kill us in the wilderness? And now you keep trying to boss us around! Face it, you haven’t produced: You haven’t brought us into a land flowing with milk and honey, you haven’t given us the promised inheritance of fields and vineyards. You’d have to poke our eyes out to keep us from seeing what’s going on. Forget it, we’re not coming.”
Moses’ temper blazed white-hot. He said to God, “Don’t accept their Grain-Offering. I haven’t taken so much as a single donkey from them; I haven’t hurt a single hair of their heads.”
Moses said to Korah, “Bring your people before God tomorrow. Appear there with them and Aaron. Have each man bring his censer filled with incense and present it to God—all 250 censers. And you and Aaron do the same, bring your censers.”
So they all did it. They brought their censers filled with fire and incense and stood at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting. Moses and Aaron did the same.
It was Korah and his gang against Moses and Aaron at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting. The entire community could see the Glory of God.
God said to Moses and Aaron, “Separate yourselves from this congregation so that I can finish them off and be done with them.”
They threw themselves on their faces and said, “O God, God of everything living, when one man sins are you going to take it out on the whole community?”
God spoke to Moses: “Speak to the community. Tell them, Back off from the tents of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram.”
Moses got up and went to Dathan and Abiram. The leaders of Israel followed him. He then spoke to the community: “Back off from the tents of these bad men; don’t touch a thing that belongs to them lest you be carried off on the flood of their sins.”
So they all backed away from the tents of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram. Dathan and Abiram by now had come out and were standing at the entrance to their tents with their wives, children, and babies.
Moses continued to address the community: “This is how you’ll know that it was God who sent me to do all these things and that it wasn’t anything I cooked up on my own. If these men die a natural death like all the rest of us, you’ll know that it wasn’t God who sent me. But if God does something unprecedented—if the ground opens up and swallows the lot of them and they are pitched alive into Sheol—then you’ll know that these men have been insolent with God.”
The words were hardly out of his mouth when the Earth split open. Earth opened its mouth and in one gulp swallowed them down, the men and their families, all the human beings connected with Korah, along with everything they owned. And that was the end of them, pitched alive into Sheol. The Earth closed up over them and that was the last the community heard of them.
At the sound of their cries everyone around ran for dear life, shouting, “We’re about to be swallowed up alive!”
Then God sent lightning. The fire cremated the 250 men who were offering the incense.