Parashah Korach 2018 (Korah) Numbers 16:1 – 18:32

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The great mutiny.

Korach, Abiram and Dathan were all leaders within their respective tribes. Korach was a Levite and the other two were from the tribe of Reuben. They came against Moses and Aaron with accusations of tyranny, in that they accused Moses and Aaron of taking on all the authority of leadership. Korach said that they all God’s people should share in the leadership and offerings, not just Moses and Aaron.

Essentially, they were saying, “Who died and left you both in charge?”

These three had convinced 250 other men, all leaders within the 12 tribes, to follow them and God had them all bring their offering pans to the front of the Tent of Meeting. What happened next was terrible: at the tent of the three who started this rebellion Moses said if these men were correct then they would live long lives, but if they were wrong then the earth would split open and swallow them alive. As soon as he was done speaking, the earth did split open and swallowed Korach, Dathan and Abiram and their family alive, then it came back over them. At the same moment, fire came out from the Tent of Meeting and incinerated the 250 men. The fire was so hot the fire pans, made of bronze, were all melted.

You would think that would satisfy the people that Moses and Aaron were God’s choice, but it didn’t. The very next morning the people accuse Moses and Aaron of murdering God’s people, and God is so angry he sends a plague out that kills tens of thousands. The plague was stopped only when Aaron risked his life by carrying embers from the eternal flame in his fire pan directly into the crowd where the plague was running wild to stop it.  God commanded that the 12 tribal leaders and Aaron place their staffs in the Tent of Meeting to show God’s choice of leader, and in the morning nothing changed except for Aaron’s staff, which not only grew buds but had ripened almonds on it. God then charged the Levites to surround the Tent of Meeting and that they should not allow any of the common people (non-Levites) to come close to it, or to inter-marry with them or have them partake of any of the holy foods. The Levites were to be separated and apart from the rest of the tribes, with no inheritance or job other than the service of the Tabernacle. They are also to give a tithe from the tithes they receive.

The Haftorah reading for this parashah is 1 Samuel, 11-13, which is the story of Samuel anointing Shaul as the first king.  The reasoning is that both Moses and Samuel had to take a rag-tag group of people and form them into a nation, all the while being accountable to God and subject to the same rules and laws that the people were. Whereas Korah rebelled against the leadership of Moses, the people (in the Haftorah) rebelled against Samuel by asking for a king.

I think this Haftorah choice is a good one, but I would add one more thing. I would add Micah 6:8 to the reading, which says:

He has told you, O man, what is good, and what the Lord requires of you: Only to do justice, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

Today’s drash is about the motivation behind Korach’s rebellion, which is obviously jealousy and an over-active desire for power. He thought he was also entitled to be in charge. It is obvious from the influence he had that he was, indeed, an authoritative and important person in his own right. But that wasn’t enough. He found like-minded men in Dathan and Abiram, and their combined influence allowed their little rebellion to grow from just those 3 to a total of 250 people. Jealousy and a desire for power were the motivations, but was that the real cause of their rebellion?

I believe this rebellion was not the result of desiring something but from the lack of something. That something that was lacking was…humility.

The grass always seems greener on the other side of the fence and we humans don’t seem to be satisfied with anything. It is ironic that sometimes those who have the least are generally the ones that are most satisfied with what they do have. The rich only want to get richer and when we have plenty we still want to have more. Proverbs 15:17 tells us it is better to have a meal of vegetable in a house full of love than meat in a house full of strife, meaning that appreciating what you have it is better than having but not appreciating it. We also get this same message in Ecclesiastes, where no less than three times we are told to simply eat, drink and be merry and to enjoy whatever God has provided, for that is our lot in life.

Clearly the men in this rebellion did not have the humility to accept God’s chosen leaders or what God had provided for them. Korach was a leader in the tribe of Levite, but he wanted more because he didn’t appreciate the position of importance God had given him. The same went for Abiram and Dathan. As for the 250 men that followed them we are not really told anything about their motivation, but it seems safe to say they were also wanting to have more.

I have often said pridefulness is the mother of all sin, and lack of humility is a symptom of pridefulness.  We must be humble in our lives if we are to be able to serve the Lord. That means accepting what we have and appreciating what God has done for us, every day. I am not saying we should sit by idly and not try to improve ourselves or our financial situations. I am saying that we are to be appreciative for what God has given us and share it willingly with others. We are to respect God’s choice of leadership just as Shaul (Paul) said we should in Romans 13:1:

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.

Finally, trust that God is in charge and will provide what you need. If you want a better job, ask yourself why? Is it only to make more money and have more “toys”? If so, maybe that’s not the best reason. However, if you want a new job so you can be a better provider for your family that is unquestionably a proper reason for wanting more, and when you pray to God for help he will help you.

We must remain humble in our attitude towards God and towards each other. We must be satisfied with God’s provision and make sure that whatever we want, it is for the proper reasons. We can want more, but not if it is for selfish reasons, such as just to have more money, power or influence.

Wanting that is a result of prideful desire will only lead to ruin, whereas a humble desire to do more to please God and provide for others will yield blessings.

Parashah B’midbar (In the Wilderness) Numbers 1 – 4:20

In last week’s Parashah ( for 5/20/17, which was a double) we finished the book of Leviticus. That book was mostly legislative in nature, and now we start the book of Numbers, which is more historical. Throughout this book we will learn of the events that occurred while the Children of Israel spent 38 years wandering in the desert.

Numbers takes up where Exodus left off, which is the first day of the second month of the second year after leaving Egypt, when the Tabernacle of the Lord has been completed and is now in service. This parashah starts with a census God orders Moses to take, which identifies the numbers from each tribe of those over 20 and fit for military service. We see this type of census taken, with God’s approval (unlike the one David took in  1 Chronicles, 21) whenever the people needed to be prepared for war. The census did not include the Levites, who were counted separately, as their duties were not for war but service to God by being in charge of the Tabernacle. God also tells Moses which of the Levitical clans will be responsible for which parts of the Tabernacle, as well as the formation of the camp.

Here is a picture of how the encampment was configured:


This parashah doesn’t appear to have any really deep and spiritual messages, does it? I mean, all we are told is how many of each tribe there are, where they camp and how they are to march. We are also told which clan of Levi is responsible for which parts of the Tabernacle when on the march. There just doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of “meat” to this parashah.

Then, again, let’s look a little deeper and cheat a bit, by knowing what is to happen later.

Did you notice that the Kohathites were encamped next to, and marched alongside of, the Reubenites? Do you remember how Reuben had not received the rights of the Firstborn due to his sleeping with one of Israel’s concubines (Genesis 39:3-4), and that Korah also felt slighted because the Kohathites were not to perform the duties of the High Priest. So although we don’t see anything of particular importance in this parashah, by looking back to it later on we can see that the seeds of collusion and rebellion were planted when the tribes of Kohath and Reuben were made neighbors. Perhaps if they had been at opposite ends of the camp, they would not have come together in rebellion?

Certainly God would have known that this placement, which He decreed, would have resulted in the collusion between these men. And, that being a given, we would have to ask, “Why would God have done that?”

Good question. I think I have an answer, which is the same answer God gave to Job: we won’t always understand God’s plans or why He does what He does.

In the case of Job, God allowed all that suffering to show Satan that Job’s faith is greater than Satan’s attacks. Now, from Job’s viewpoint (as well as his friends) there could be no reason why these terrible things were happening, but in the end we learn that the real issue was between God and Satan, not between God and Job. God used Job to show Satan that strong faith in God is more powerful than anything Satan could do.

Perhaps the positioning of Korah and Dathan so close to each other was to test their faith, and if they failed that test (which they did), then to allow Moses and Aaron to be glorified and honored in the sight of all Israel, which is what happened. God used the evil these men intended against His servants to glorify Himself and show Moses and Aaron to be His chosen leaders (Numbers 17:5):

 The staff belonging to the man I choose will sprout, and I will rid myself of this constant grumbling against you by the Israelites.”

The bible is one complete book, and even though we might not see what message there is for us in one part of it, when we look at it in its entirety, study it well enough to know what will happen and what has happened, then we can see that there is something for us to learn in every part of the book. Such as in this parashah, which on the surface seems to be a collection of names and numbers, but when looked at knowing the events that will later occur, we can see how God is setting the stage now to glorify Himself later.

This understanding of how God works should fortify our faith in God, and give us comfort during times of trials. Just because we may not see, here and now, what God has planned we can always know that He does have something planned. It just may not be time for whatever he has planned to happen, that’s all.

Take comfort in knowing that everything God does, He does with a plan to glorify His name and to establish His rule. When we accept that and work within it, we will be blessed and supported by God, just as Moses and Aaron were; when we work against what God decrees, we will suffer as Korah and his followers did.

We all follow someone, so take the lesson from today’s parashah when you choose whom to follow, that lesson being: look passed the obvious and ask the Ruach Ha Kodesh for insight so you can see not only what seeds are being sown, but what will grow from them.