Parashah #38:Korach (Korah) B’midbar (Numbers) 16:1-18:32

Beth Elohim Messianic Synagogue
Parashah #38: Korach (Korah) B’midbar (Numbers) 16:1- 18:32
Haftarah: Sh’mu’el Alef (1 Samuel) 11:14-12:22
B’rit Chadashah: 2 Timothy 2:18-21

One of the most critical events during the Israelites “wandering years” was Korach’s rebellion and those who sided with him against Moshe and Aharon as G-d’s chosen leaders. Comparing this event to that of Miriam and Aharon’s envy against Moshe before the pronouncement of judgement at Kadesh the sin of Korach and his followers was much more egregious. However, the issue was the same, pure jealousy. G-d’s leaders were challenged in their G-d-appointed positions. Therefore, the real sin of rebellion was against G-d. Moshe was well aware of this when he said, “Therefore thou and all thy company are gathered together against Adonai” (Num. 16:11).
The Zohar describes Korach’s rebellion as follows:
“He who makes the right left and the left right, as it were, lays waste to the world. Now Aharon represented the right and the Levites the left, and K0rah sought to make the right and left change places, and therefore he was punished. Further, the evil tongue was also found in him, and for that he was punished… Korah sought to change the order fixed both above and below, and therefore perished both above and below” (p.238).

The successful sustenance, rule, and guidance of a large groups of people, a society, or a nation requires order, sanctity of life, respect of authority, and organization of functions within the community. As we are witnessing today, when these components are replaced with whatever seems right in our own eyes apar from G-d’s Torah, total chaos is the result. This is one of the main reasons the Book of Numbers presents so much detail on this paradigm of law, order, and the results when these no longer exist as established by G-d’s Torah.

There is no shortage of people who want to be leaders. This was the problem described in our parashah, and it is no less an issue today. Many people perceive a position of leadership as a coveted, prestigious position, full of “perks” without considering that to whom much is given, much is required. Moshe was a great leader of G-d’s people, appointed by G-d. Yet, He did not ask for the role assigned him by G-d. Aharon did not seek the role of priest, but he accepted the responsibility bestowed on him by G-d. We see a pattern emerge as we read of those in leadership positions who did not seek them. Some of the others including but not limited to those who were appointed by G-d for a specific purpose were Joshua, Kalev, David, Solomon, Devorah, the Apostles including Sha’ul (Paul) and the Prophets. An individual cannot fully execute the mission G-d has for him/her if they are full of their own egotistical self-perception. There is only room for one G-d, and the G-d of Israel demands allegiance to Him only (Ex. 20:5).

Korach really wanted to replace the G-d appointed leaders, Moshe and Aharon. But he used the rationale that all the people were holy, and that G-d was in their midst, negating any need for specific leaders. The second statement was indeed true as we read on to learn what G-d had in store for these rebels. The former justification was also false as the events that occurred on the next day would demonstrate that G-d would consume “in a moment” those of whom Korach called holy (Num. 16:21).

Moshe’s wisdom as G-d’s appointed leader of Israel is alluded to as he thought it wiser to allow G-d to deal with the people directly rather than using Moshe as a middleman or interpreter. This was an occasion where “Adonai will show who are his, and who is holy (Num. 16:5).

After the appointment was made whereby Korach and his followers were to bring their censers with burning incense before the L-d at the door of the tent of meeting, G-d would certainly clarify who were His holy servants. Moshe exposed the root of the rebellion in the hearts of the rebels. The sons of Levi belittled their calling to service, wanting instead the position of the priesthood (Num. 16:9-10). This is so typical of the immature human condition, whether in a child or adult. Never enough seems to be the perpetual mantra of those who always want more or something they cannot obtain; the grass is always greener, so to speak. These rebels disregarded the fact that their position as Levites was extremely important and special unto G-d involving consecration by G-d, a special closeness to Him, service of the Tabernacle, and ministers to His people.
Dathan and Aviram also challenged Moshe on another issue. They accused Moshe of taking the people away from Egypt which they considered a “fruitful land,” failed to bring them into the land flowing with milk and honey (Canaan) and made himself a prince over everyone (Num. 16:13). We read of the human side of Moshe when he became so angry that he asked G-d to refuse their offering (Num. 16:15) and reiterated the appointment for the following day’s test before Adonai to Korach (Num. 16:16,17).
As we progress through the parashah, we are reminded if we don’t know already, that G-d establishes his own “red line” whereby anyone who crosses it will be held accountable. The events of the following day unfolded with precise timing, revealing Who is in charge in all things. It was and is YHVH whose glory appeared to all the people as the rebels gathered the people to their side at the door of the tabernacle, in Moshe and Aharon’s presence. G-d told Moshe and Aharon to remove themselves from the congregation, for He would consume them in a moment. Moshe and Aharon’s compassion for the people even in these circumstances is evident. They pleaded with G-d that the people be given another chance since the real instigator was Korach. G-d relented and allowed the people to move away from the tents of Korach, Dathan, and Avriam (Num. 16:24,26).
The time was at hand. Moshe spoke. If Adonai had not chosen Moshe as the leader of Israel, Korach and those who followed him would die naturally. But if these rebels had despised Adonai (Num. 16:30), the sign of Adonai would be the creation of a sudden unprecedented, catastrophic event. That is, the ground would “open it’s mouth and swallow them up” (Num. 16:30). Adonai then out His words into action, just as true believers are to do in the context of keeping His commands out of loving obedience. The ground suddenly opened and swallowed the men, Korach’s servants, and everything they had with them (Num. 16:31-33), The people were terrorized and fled, while 250 rebel princes were devoured with fire from Adonai even as they held their sensers in their hands. Because the brazen censers held by the rebels were holy vessels, Eleazer, who was Aharon’s son, was instructed to retrieve them from the burning cinders and beat them out into a covering for the altar. This would serve as a continuous reminder to the Israelites of what happens when one rebels against G-d when standing in His presence.
There are numerous scriptures that apply to the reality that those who rebel against G-d, and His written and Living Torah (Yahshua) will suffer an irrevocable fate just as did Korach and his followers. There are many who attempt to make this reality of eternal punishment and separation from G-d more palatable as just a scare tactic or even as a myth rather than fact. To subscribe to either of these beliefs is to deny YHVH/Yahshua, and His Torah. A few scriptures to catalyze your curiosity towards more research include John 14:15, 14:21 and14:24. Regarding the certainty of G-d’s punishment for those who rebel against His Torah include Matt. 10:28; Luke 12:5; Rev. 20:11-15. There is no allowance for “walking the fence line” between following G-d’s Torah out of loving obedience, and following a religion that teaches that G-d will not hold each individual accountable for his/her deeds as it states in Revelation 20 :11-15. In fact, we are even told to come out of apostate religion which is Babylon represented by the Catholic Church and Christian offshoots. We are also told in Revelation 3:15-17 that those who are “lukewarm” believing and profession that they are rich and do not need anything when they are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, naked and in sore need of repentance and t’shuvah (turning back) to G-d and His Torah will be “vomited out of my mouth!” Choosing between following G-d’s Torah out of loving obedience or rebelling against G-d as Korach and his followers described in our parashah is a quintessential example of what being human is all about as stated in Ecclesiastes in its entirety and specifically in Ecclesiastes 12:13. When all is said and done, all that matters is fearing G-d with an awesome fear and love and keeping His commands. Because like Korach and anyone who chooses an anti-Torah lifestyle, “G-d will bring to judgement everything we do, including every secret, whether good or bad” (Ecc. 12:14).
Haftarah: 1 Sh’mu’el (Samuel) 11:14-12:22
In this haftarah, Korach’s descendant. Sh’mu’el, relents to the people’s demand for a human king to rule over them, but rebukes them for having the wrong motive for the demand. Man’s wisdom leads to death, and they should have known that a human king would never equate to a theocracy with G-d in charge. Realizing the potential problems that have been snowballing since the time an earthly monarch was established, Sh’mu’el insists that a monarchy in Israel establish a kingly theocracy whereby the king would serve G-d and obey Torah rather than being self-serving and self-seeking personal aggrandizement. He reminds them that if they follow G-d’s Torah, all will be well with them. If they choose to rebel, Adonai will oppress them and their leaders (1 Sam. 12:14-15). Thunder and rain fell that day to show G-d’s displeasure at the sin of the people for asking for a king. Yet, the people were not destroyed. Rather, Sh’mu’el admonished them not to turn away from Adonai; not to turn toward useless things lest they be destroyed. Sh’mu’el continued to pray for the people and instruct them in the good and right way (1 Sam. 12:21). As we are now living in the end times, true believers are continuing to learn discernment and realize that G-d is a about to exact His judgement and progressive punishments that He warned the people would occur with continued rebellion against His Torah (Deut. 28:15-69). Yet, G-d is still holding back full judgement that men would repent and turn to learning and following His Torah. This is the Seven-fold witness that described a true believer stated seven times in the Book of Revelation. For specific scriptures go to and search “seven-fold witness.”
B’rit Chadashah: 2 Timothy 2:8-21
The theme of this narrative is perseverance in following G-d’s Torah and not being taken in by the worthless activities and goals of the secular world. This admonishment is described in detail in the book of Ecclesiastes. Sha’ul encourages Timothy to continually remind the people not to engage in word battles specifically, not only for the damage they do to those involved, but also to those who are within hearing distance. He tells Timothy that “G-d’s firm foundation stands, stamped with these words: ‘The L-rd knows his own’ and ‘Let everyone who claims he belongs to the L-rd stand apart from wrongdoing.’” “If a person keeps himself free from defilement by those who are meant for dishonorable use, he will be a vessel set aside for honorable use by the master of the house and ready for every kind of good work. (2 Tim. 2:21).

Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Tamah Davis-Hart

Additional Reference:
The Zohar; Volume 5 (1984). London: Soncino Press