And they gathered themselves together against Mosas and against Aaron; and said unto them, Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation is holy, every one of them, and the LORD is among them: wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the congregation of the LORD? (Num. 16:3).
So announced Korah, Dathan, and two-hundred fifty “princes of the assembly, famous in the congregation, men of renown” (v. 2). Moses’ reply was to the point: You want holiness? You will get holiness! You want to be set apart by God? You will be set apart by God! “Even to morrow the LORD will shew who are his, and who is holy” (v. 5).
Why were they so desirous of sharing his authority? Why were they discontented with their positions of leadership and renown? Moses asked these Levites: “Seemeth it but a small thing unto you, that the God of Israel hath separated you from the congregation of Israel, to bring you near himself to do the service of the tabernacle of the LORD, and to stand before the congregation to minister unto them? And he hath brought thee near unto him, and all thy brethren the sons of Levi with thee: and seek ye the priesthood also?” (vv. 9-10).
Moses invited Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, to consult with him. They replied: “Is it a small thing that thou hast brought us up out of a land that floweth with milk and honey, to kill us in the wilderness, except that thou make thyself altogether a prince over us? Moreover thou hast not brought us into a land that flowed with milk and honey, or given us inheritance of fields and vineyards: wilt thou put out the eyes of these men? we will not come up” (vv. 13-14).
Slow Learners with Short Memories
In Numbers 11, we read of the complaining Israelites who grew tired of manna: they wanted meat. They praised the luxuries of Egypt, contrasting this with manna. God sent them meat: the quail. He also sent them a plague.
In Numbers 12, Miriam and Aaron revolted against Moses’ authority. God afflicted Miriam with leprosy for a week. Aaron repented and escaped this affliction.
In Numbers 13, Moses sent a dozen spies into the land of Canaan. They returned: ten with tearful stories, two with a recommendation to invade and conquer. In Numbers 14, the nation cried out in despair, calling on Moses to lead them back into Egypt. Here it was again: the benefits of Egypt. Joshua and Caleb told them not to despair, to invade Canaan instead. The congregation decided to stone them to death. God then threatened to destroy them all, but Moses intervened, calling on God to honor His promise to deliver Canaan into their hands, lest His enemies ridicule Him as one unable to deliver on His promises. God relented, cursing the entire generation of the exodus to die in the wilderness, except for Joshua and Caleb, whereupon the nation attacked the Amalekites and were routed.
(For the rest of my article, click the link.)