Torah Portion Korach Numbers (B’Midbar) 16-18

Haftorah Reading: I Samuel 11:14-12:22

This week we read the story of the rebellion against Moshe and Aaron. This rebellion was led by Korach but included 250 of the princes of Israel, Dothan and Aviram and men from the tribe of Reuben. I want us to look at the timing of the rebellion and what motivated each of these groups to try to depose Moshe and Aaron.

First let us look at the timing. This rebellion took place immediately following the bad report of the people sent to search out the Land and then the punishment when they did not go up to take possession of the Land. The people are told as punishment for their sins, they will not be allowed to enter the land. This disappointment sets the stage for the uprising against Moshe and Aaron. Korach saw that their positions were vulnerable and here was an opportunity to seize power.

This raises a point that has been present in human society for a long time.  To understand it we look at what happened in Germany.  The allies had punished Germany after WWI. People were destitute, unhappy and feeling they were powerless to change their situation.  Along came Hitler giving them hope of a new day. They were drawn to his power and speeches telling them who to blame for their situation. Most of the citizens fell in line, believed his lies and what proceeded from that was the downfall of a country and the holocaust. After a time of listening to propaganda Christian people were able to turn in their Jewish neighbors or anyone not supporting their leader. The whole point being for us, this is the backdrop for our story. Every society works somewhat the same. This has happened all through history. Korach understood that in order to overthrow Moshe he had to pick his time and gain the support he needed.

Now let us look at his tactics. First, he understood that he had to play on the discontent of the people. He had to tell them that he was on their side and he understood their discontent. So he went to certain people. He, being a Levite, knew he could not garner much support from his own group so he reached out to the Rubenites. Why them? They were unhappy because Reuben, the elder son of Ya’acov, had been left out or over looked for any leadership role among the people. Next, Jewish writings say the 250 princes were upset because they had seen their position diminished after the sin of the golden calf. The tribe of Levi had displace them in their place of responsibility. Finally, Datan and Aviram, two who had no stomach for all this G-d stuff, only wanted to return to Egypt, a land flowing with milk and honey.

Of course the revolt failed because G-d stepped in and settled the issue. My point in going over all this is to see what we might learn from the story. Are we ever in the place of rebellion? Do we become discontented with our life to the point we look for someone to blame? Are we susceptible to the siren song of someone who tells us they can make it all better?  Do we throw our lot in with someone who seems to have all the answer to our questions or all the power?

So what is the solution that will lead us to be the people G-d has planned for us to be? When we look at scripture we see one beginning place. In Genesis 1:26 we see the famous verse that tells we are all created in the image of G-d. That means everyone.  Everyone has value. Everyone has worth independent of their station in life, independent of their position in society. We are all created in the image of G-d and as such should give and expect respect and compassion for one another.  In our weekly readings of the Torah we see this played out. Moshe told Joshua he wished that all G-d’s people would prophecy. In the Messianic writings we see Yeshua relating to each person on the same level, the Samaritan woman or the rich young ruler, both were related to as people whom G-d loved. Each one was given the opportunity to come to faith.

Our focus should never be on man, who is the strongest, who has power. Our focus should be on G-d and what His word says. There may be arguments on interpretation of scripture but these arguments must never degenerate into conflict. There are many examples of this in the history of our faith. These arguments should rather lead to an increase in spiritual wisdom and understanding. For us, we should guard ourselves against following Korah. We can do that by being immersed in the study of G-d’s word. We must always look for truth not power, valuing all and loving all.