Numbers 16:1 Korah son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, and certain Reubenites—Dathan and Abiram, sons of Eliab, and On son of Peleth—became insolent a 2and rose up against Moses. With them were 250 Israelite men, well-known community leaders who had been appointed members of the council. 3They came as a group to oppose Moses and Aaron and said to them, “You have gone too far! The whole community is holy, every one of them, and the Lord is with them. Why then do you set yourselves above the Lord’s assembly?”

Korah's conspiracy included a diverse group of people against Moses and Aaron.

8 Moses also said to Korah, “Now listen, you Levites! 9Isn’t it enough for you that the God of Israel has separated you from the rest of the Israelite community and brought you near himself to do the work at the Lord’s tabernacle and to stand before the community and minister to them? 10He has brought you and all your fellow Levites near himself, but now you are trying to get the priesthood too. 11It is against the Lord that you and all your followers have banded together. Who is Aaron that you should grumble against him?”

I thought Korah's group was demanding some form of fair representation in the decision-making process. What made Moses think that they were demanding specifically the priesthood?

1 Answer 1


Recall that the leadersip of Israel at the time of Num 16 was divided into two areas:

  • Administration and governance headed by Moses
  • Spiritual representation and spiritual leadership headed by Aaron and assisted by the Levites

The challenge recorded in Num 16 is a direct challenge of BOTH Moses and Aaron and thus the group appears to want the following:

  1. The levites wanted a "step up" to the priesthood
  2. Non-levites, eg, some of the Reubenites wanted a part in the levitical functions
  3. The disperate group wanted to displace Moses and replace him with one of their own to lead Israel

All this flew in the face of the foundation or basis of Israel's leadership and governement which was a theocracy - Moses and Aron only implemented decisions revealed to them by God such as:

  • the plan and construction of the tabernacle
  • God's initiative of the covenant with Israel and its associated law. This included both the moral law and the levitical law covering the workings of the tabernacle
  • Leadersip through the desert by the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar fire by night
  • Provision of food (ie, manna) on a daily basis
  • When the people created the golden calf, God said, "They have rejected me", Ex 32:7
  • Conflict resolution such as in this very incident where God demonstrated the on-going blessing on Moses and Aron by having the earth swallow the rebels
  • healing diseases such as the snakes and the bronze snake
  • Battle leadership, most prominently seen in two separate occasions - (a) in Num 14 where the people rebelled but later decided to attack the land and dismally failed without God, and, (b) later in the book of Joshua when Joshua's army was never defeated

... and so forth.

Thus, the rebellion against Moses and Aaron was not really a rebellion against these two men but against the real leadership of God as was often recorded, God often said, "they rejected Me", Ex 32:7, Deut 31:16, 20, 32:41, 1 Sam 8:7, 8, 10:19, 1 Kings 11:33, 14:9, etc.

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