Torah Portion: Korach Numbers (B’Midbar) 16:1-18:32
HafTorah: I Samuel 11:14-12:22
New Testament: Jude; II Tim 2:8-21
This week the Torah section covers the rebellion of Korach, Datan and Aviram as well as the 250 leaders of Israel and finally the congregation of Israel. This progression shows us how rebellion spreads. First it was only three, then 250 and then 14,700 that perished. This paints a great picture for us and should be a word for us about rebellion against G-d.
An interesting point before we get to the people involved, what happened to the fry pans that were used by the rebels? They were beaten into a covering for the altar. Why? What happened to the golden calf? It was ground up. So why were these things made a part of the tabernacle worship? One reason may have been that the fry pans represented this event as a brother against brother event. It split the camp. Later in Jewish history we see this played out again in the revolt against the Romans in 67 followed by the complete destruction of Jerusalem in 70. Jewish historians lay much of the blame for the fall at the feet of the defenders of Jerusalem. They were consumed with fighting each other to the point that the Romans made short work of them and took the city. In the family of G-d we as His children can disagree and discuss but we must be very careful to guard against devouring each other in brotherly conflict. This does not mean to condone ungodly behavior but to leave the judgment to G-d. To withdraw in love and not hate if it comes to that.
Now to the people involved and what motivated them. We will start with Korach. First, he was a Levite, a relative of Moses and Aaron. Maybe this is why Moses’ initial reaction was to fall on his face. Those closest to us can hurt us the most. Korach presents his argument against Moses and Aaron. Basically he was jealous of their position and not satisfied with what G-d had done for him. Numbers 16:8-10. How often do we fall into this trap and forget what G-d has done for us? The thing here is that Korach and his followers fully believed in what they were doing. It would cost them their lives. Korach’s followers came from the tribe of Reuven. They may have had the same problem as Korach. They were descendants of the first born and may have been dealing with a perceived sense of being cheated out of their rightful place. They were looking for an opportunity. This is something that can catch each of us. Things left to fester rarely get better on their own. Confession and forgiveness can guard us against this in our own lives. Don’t let a root of bitterness grow in your life. (Hebrews 12:15; Deut 29:18) It only produces poison which will bring us to ruin unless dealt with. Here it causes the death of Korach and his followers. Moses had given them every opportunity to repent and change their hearts. They did not and they perished in the judgment of G-d. Did all of Korach’s family follow him? No, we see where Korach’s sons wrote several Psalms. (Psalms 42-49 and 84-88) They made the right choice as we must.
Datan and Aviram were different and motivated by a different issue. They felt dominated by Moses and resented his authority. You are not the boss of me attitude. They were maybe the same two we read about in Exodus 2:14. The same words are used here. They also had a problem in their perception of reality. They spoke of Egypt in the same words as G-d used to describe Israel – land flowing with milk and honey. Sometimes we fall into this trap in the body by speaking of what G-d has done in people’s lives. Wes judge them by our standards rather than through G-d’s eyes. Shaul speaks of this in II Cor. 5:16. We must be careful not to speak about G-d’s new creation as if they are still in Egypt.
This Torah section should cause us all to look at our lives and to guard against these things that brought destruction on Korach, Datan, Aviram and those that followed them.
We must not follow in their footsteps for it only brings us to ruin.