Now Korah son of Izhar, son of Kohath, son of Levi, with Dathan and Abiram, sons of Eliab, and On son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took
250 prominent Israelite men who were leaders of the community and representatives in the assembly, and they rebelled against Moses.
They came together against Moses and Aaron and told them, "You have gone too far! Everyone in the entire community is holy, and the LORD is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the LORD's assembly?"
When Moses heard [this], he fell facedown.
Then he said to Korah and all his followers, "Tomorrow morning the LORD will reveal who belongs to Him, who is set apart, and [the one] He will let come near Him. He will let the one He chooses come near Him.
Korah, you and all your followers are to do this: take firepans, and tomorrow
place fire in them and put incense on them before the LORD. Then the man the LORD chooses will be the one who is set apart. It is you Levites who have gone too far!"
Moses also told Korah, "Now listen, Levites!
Isn't it enough for you that the God of Israel has separated you from the Israelite community to bring you near to Himself, to perform the work at the LORD's tabernacle, and to stand before the community to minister to them?
He has brought you near, and all your fellow Levites who are with you, but you are seeking the priesthood as well.
Therefore, it is you and all your followers who have conspired against the LORD! As for Aaron, who is he that you should complain about him?"
Moses sent for Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, but they said, "We will not come!
Is it not enough that you brought us up from a land flowing with milk and honey to kill us in the wilderness? Do you also have to appoint yourself as ruler over us?
Furthermore, you didn't bring us to a land flowing with milk and honey or give us an inheritance of fields and vineyards. Will you gouge out the eyes of these men? We will not come!"
Then Moses became angry and said to the LORD, "Don't respect their offering. I have not taken one donkey from them or mistreated a single one of them."
So Moses told Korah, "You and all your followers are to appear before the LORD tomorrow-- you, they, and Aaron.
Each of you is to take his firepan, place incense on it, and present his firepan before the LORD-- 250 firepans. You and Aaron [are] each [to present] your firepan also."
Each man took his firepan, placed fire in it, put incense on it, and stood at the entrance to the tent of meeting along with Moses and Aaron.
After Korah assembled the whole community against them at the entrance to the tent of meeting, the glory of the LORD appeared to the whole community.
The LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron,
"Separate yourselves from this community so I may consume them instantly."
But Moses and Aaron fell facedown and said, "God, God of the spirits of all flesh, when one man sins, will you vent Your wrath on the whole community?"
The LORD replied to Moses,
"Tell the community: Get away from the dwellings of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram."
Moses got up and went to Dathan and Abiram, and the elders of Israel followed him.
He warned the community, "Get away now from the tents of these wicked men. Don't touch anything that belongs to them, or you will be swept away because of all their sins."
So they got away from the dwellings of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram. Meanwhile, Dathan and Abiram came out and stood at the entrance of their tents with their wives, children, and infants.
Then Moses said, "This is how you will know that the LORD sent me to do all these things and that it was not of my own will:
If these men die [naturally] as all people would, and suffer the fate of all, then the LORD has not sent me.
But if the LORD brings about something unprecedented, and the ground opens its mouth and swallows them along with all that belongs to them so that they go down alive into Sheol, then you will know that these men have despised the LORD."
Just as he finished speaking all these words, the ground beneath them split open.
The earth opened its mouth and swallowed them and their households, all Korah's people, and all [their] possessions.
They went down alive into Sheol with all that belonged to them. The earth closed over them, and they vanished from the assembly.
At their cries, all [the people of Israel] who were around them fled because they thought, "The earth may swallow us too!"
Fire also came out from the LORD and consumed the 250 men who were presenting the incense.
Then the LORD spoke to Moses:
"Tell Eleazar son of Aaron the priest to remove the firepans from the burning debris, because they are holy, and scatter the fire far away.
As for the firepans of those who sinned at the cost of their own lives, make them into hammered sheets as plating for the altar, for they presented them before the LORD, and the firepans are holy. They will be a sign to the Israelites."
So Eleazar the priest took the bronze firepans that those who were burned had presented, and they were hammered into plating for the altar,
just as the LORD commanded him through Moses. It was to be a reminder for the Israelites that no unauthorized person outside the lineage of Aaron should approach to offer incense before the LORD and become like Korah and his followers.
The next day the entire Israelite community complained about Moses and Aaron, saying, "You have killed the LORD's people!"
When the community assembled against them, Moses and Aaron turned toward the tent of meeting, and suddenly the cloud covered it, and the LORD's glory appeared.
Moses and Aaron went to the front of the tent of meeting,
and the LORD said to Moses,
"Get away from this community so that I may consume them instantly." But they fell facedown.
Then Moses told Aaron, "Take your firepan, place fire from the altar in it, and add incense. Go quickly to the community and make atonement for them, because wrath has come from the LORD; the plague has begun."
So Aaron took his firepan as Moses had ordered, ran into the middle of the assembly, and saw that the plague had begun among the people. After he added incense, he made atonement for the people.
He stood between the dead and the living, and the plague was halted.
But those who died from the plague numbered 14,700, in addition to those who died because of the Korah incident.
Aaron then returned to Moses at the entrance to the tent of meeting, since the plague had been halted.
The LORD instructed Moses:
"Speak to the Israelites and take one staff from them for each ancestral house, 12 staffs from all the leaders of their ancestral houses. Write each man's name on his staff.
Write Aaron's name on Levi's staff, because there must be one staff for the head of each ancestral house.
Then place them in the tent of meeting in front of the testimony where I meet with you.
The staff of the man I choose will sprout, and I will rid Myself of the Israelites' complaints that they have been making about you."
So Moses spoke to the Israelites, and each of their leaders gave him a staff, one for each of the leaders of their ancestral houses, 12 staffs [in all]. Aaron's staff was among them.
Moses placed the staffs before the LORD in the tent of the testimony.
The next day Moses entered the tent of the testimony and saw that Aaron's staff, representing the house of Levi, had sprouted, formed buds, blossomed, and produced almonds!
Moses then brought out all the staffs from the LORD's presence to all the Israelites. They saw [them], and each man took his own staff.
The LORD told Moses, "Put Aaron's rod back in front of the testimony to be kept as a sign for the rebels, so that you may put an end to their complaints before Me, or else they will die."
So Moses did as the LORD commanded him.
Then the Israelites declared to Moses, "Look, we're perishing! We're lost; we're all lost!
Anyone who comes near the LORD's tabernacle will die. Will we all perish?"
The LORD said to Aaron, "You, your sons, and your ancestral house will be responsible for sin against the sanctuary. You and your sons will be responsible for sin involving your priesthood.
But also bring your brothers with you from the tribe of Levi, your ancestral tribe, so they may join you and serve with you and your sons in front of the tent of the testimony.
They are to perform duties for you and for the whole tent. They must not come near the sanctuary equipment or the altar; otherwise, both they and you will die.
They are to join you and guard the tent of meeting, doing all the work at the tent, but no unauthorized person may come near you.
"You are to guard the sanctuary and the altar so that wrath may not fall on the Israelites again.
Look, I have selected your fellow Levites from the Israelites as a gift for you, assigned by the LORD to work at the tent of meeting.
But you and your sons will carry out your priestly responsibilities for everything concerning the altar and for what is inside the veil, and you will do that work. I am giving you the work of the priesthood as a gift, but an unauthorized person who comes near [the sanctuary] will be put to death."
Then the LORD spoke to Aaron, "Look, I have put you in charge of the contributions brought to Me. As for all the holy offerings of the Israelites, I have given them to you and your sons as a portion and a perpetual statute.
A portion of the holiest offerings [kept] from the fire will be yours; every one of their offerings that they give Me, whether the grain offering, sin offering, or restitution offering will be most holy for you and your sons.
You are to eat it as a most holy offering. Every male may eat it; it is to be holy to you.
"The contribution of their gifts also belongs to you. I have given all the Israelites' presentation offerings to you and to your sons and daughters as a perpetual statute. Every ceremonially clean person in your house may eat it.
I am giving you all the best of the fresh olive oil, new wine, and grain, which the Israelites give to the LORD as their firstfruits.
The firstfruits of all that is in their land, which they bring to the LORD, belong to you. Every clean person in your house may eat them.
"Everything in Israel that is permanently dedicated [to the LORD] belongs to you.
The firstborn of every living thing, man or animal, presented to the LORD belongs to you. But you must certainly redeem the firstborn of man, and redeem the firstborn of an unclean animal.
You will pay the redemption price for a month-old male according to your valuation: five shekels of silver by the standard sanctuary shekel, which is 20 gerahs.
"However, you must not redeem the firstborn of an ox, a sheep, or a goat; they are holy. You are to sprinkle their blood on the altar and burn their fat as a fire offering for a pleasing aroma to the LORD.
But their meat belongs to you. It belongs to you like the breast of the presentation offering and the right thigh.
"I give to you and to your sons and daughters all the holy contributions that the Israelites present to the LORD as a perpetual statute. It is a perpetual covenant of salt before the LORD for you as well as your offspring."
The LORD told Aaron, "You will not have an inheritance in their land; there will be no portion among them for you. I am your portion and your inheritance among the Israelites.
"Look, I have given the Levites every tenth in Israel as an inheritance in return for the work they do, the work of the tent of meeting.
The Israelites must never again come near the tent of meeting, or they will incur guilt and die.
The Levites will do the work of the tent of meeting, and they will bear the [consequences] of their sin. The Levites will not receive an inheritance among the Israelites; this is a perpetual statute throughout your generations.
For I have given them the tenth that the Israelites present to the LORD as a contribution for [their] inheritance. That is why I told them that they would not receive an inheritance among the Israelites."
The LORD instructed Moses,
"Speak to the Levites and tell them: When you receive from the Israelites the tenth that I have given you as your inheritance, you must present part of it as an offering to the LORD-- a tenth of the tenth.
Your offering will be credited to you as if [it were your] grain from the threshing floor or the full harvest from the winepress.
You are to present an offering to the LORD from every tenth you receive from the Israelites. Give some of it to Aaron the priest as an offering to the LORD.
You must present the entire offering due the LORD from all your gifts. The best part of the tenth is to be consecrated.
"Tell them further: Once you have presented the best part of the tenth, and it is credited to you Levites as the produce of the threshing floor or the winepress,
then you and your household may eat it anywhere. It is your wage in return for your work at the tent of meeting.
You will not incur guilt because of it once you have presented the best part of it, but you must not defile the Israelites' holy offerings, so that you will not die."