So Korach and his friends Dathan and Abiram, along with 5200 Levites go up to Moses. They say to Moses “You have too much! Why do you put yourself above the rest of us?”
When Moses hears this, he throws himself flat on his face. He says, God has separated you out from the rest of Israel to do the serving jobs at the Dwelling of God (the Tent of Appointment). Isn’t that enough for you? You want to be priests as well?
Moses summons Dathan and Abiram, but they refuse to come. “Is it too little that you’ve brought us up from Egypt to die in the wilderness? You want to play prince over us. We’re not coming.”
Moses gets really upset. He says to God “Don’t accept their offering. I have not taken even a donkey or done badly to any of them.”
Moses tells Korach and the others to take fire pans and put fire and incense in them. God will choose among us, he says. He tells Aaron to take his pan. They take their pans and put them on the fire and stand at the entrance to the Tent of Appointment.
God says to Moses “Tell the community to get away from the tents of Korach, Dathan and Abiram!” Moses goes over there and the three rebels stand in front of their tents, with their wives and children.
Moses makes a speech about God seeing all deeds and calling humans to account. And then…the earth opens up and swallows Korach, Dathan and Abiram and all their households!
Then fire comes out and burns up the 5200 followers of Korach!
Moses tells Aaron to take the fire pans from the rebels and refashion them for use in the Tent of Appointment.
But this isn’t the end of Moses’ troubles. The next day the Children of Israel grumble “You’re the guy that caused all those deaths!”
God is very angry. “Move aside,” he tells Moses so that I can finish them all off!
Moses tells Aaron “Quick! Take your fire pan and put some fire and incense in there. That will soothe God’s anger.
But there is already a plague in the people’s midst.
So Aaron does as Moses had told him and the plague is held back.
Food for Thought
Why do you think so many Israelites rebelled against Moses?