Now Korach the son of Yitz'har, the son of K'hat, the son of Levi, along with Datan and Aviram, the sons of Eli'av, and On, the son of Pelet, descendants of Re'uven, took men and
rebelled against Moshe. Siding with them were 250 men of Isra'el, leaders of the community, key members of the council, men of reputation.
They assembled themselves against Moshe and Aharon and said to them, "You take too much on yourselves! After all, the entire community is holy, every one of them, and ADONAI is among them. So why do you lift yourselves up above ADONAI's assembly?"
When Moshe heard this he fell on his face.
Then he said to Korach and his whole group, "In the morning, ADONAI will show who are his and who is the holy person he will allow to approach him. Yes, he will bring whomever he chooses near to himself.
Do this: take censers, Korach and all your group;
put fire in them; and put incense in them before ADONAI tomorrow. The one whom ADONAI chooses will be the one who is holy! It is you, you sons of Levi, who are taking too much on yourselves!"
Then Moshe said to Korach, "Listen here, you sons of Levi!
Is it for you a mere trifle that the God of Isra'el has separated you from the community of Isra'el to bring you close to himself, so that you can do the work in the tabernacle of ADONAI and stand before the community serving them?
He has brought you close and all your brothers the sons of Levi with you. Now you want the office of cohen too!
That's why you and your group have gathered together against ADONAI! After all, what is Aharon that you complain against him?"
Then Moshe sent to summon Datan and Aviram, the sons of Eli'av. But they replied, "We won't come up!
Is it such a mere trifle, bringing us up from a land flowing with milk and honey to kill us in the desert, that now you arrogate to yourself the role of dictator over us?
You haven't at all brought us into a land flowing with milk and honey, and you haven't put us in possession of fields and vineyards. Do you think you can gouge out these men's eyes and blind them? We won't come up!"
Moshe was very angry and said to ADONAI, "Don't accept their grain offering! I haven't taken one donkey from them, I've done nothing wrong to any of them."
Moshe said to Korach, "You and your group, be there before ADONAI tomorrow -you, they and Aharon.
Each of you take his fire pan and put incense in it; every one of you, bring before ADONAI his fire pan, 250 fire pans, you too, and Aharon - each one his fire pan."
Each man took his fire pan, put fire in it, laid incense on it and stood at the entrance to the tent of meeting with Moshe and Aharon.
Korach assembled all the group who were against them at the entrance to the tent of meeting. Then the glory of ADONAI appeared to the whole assembly.
ADONAI said to Moshe and Aharon,
"Separate yourselves from this assembly; I'm going to destroy them right now!"
They fell on their faces and said, "Oh God, God of the spirits of all humankind, if one person sins, are you going to be angry with the entire assembly?"
ADONAI answered Moshe,
"Tell the assembly to move away from the homes of Korach, Datan and Aviram."
Moshe got up and went to Datan and Aviram, and the leaders of Isra'el followed him.
There he said to the assembly, "Leave the tents of these wicked men! Don't touch anything that belongs to them, or you may be swept away in all their sins."
So they moved away from all around the area where Korach, Datan and Aviram lived. Then Datan and Aviram came out and stood at the entrance to their tents with their wives, sons and little ones.
Moshe said, "Here is how you will know that ADONAI has sent me to do all these things and that I haven't done them out of my own ambition:
if these men die a natural death like other people, only sharing the fate common to all humanity, then ADONAI has not sent me.
But if ADONAI does something new - if the ground opens up and swallows them with everything they own, and they go down alive to Sh'ol - then you will understand that these men have had contempt for ADONAI."
The moment he finished speaking, the ground under them split apart -
the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up with their households, all the people who had sided with Korach and everything they owned.
So they and everything they owned went down alive into Sh'ol, the earth closed over them and their existence in the community ceased.
All Isra'el around them fled at their shrieks, shouting, "The earth might swallow us too!"
Then fire came out from ADONAI and destroyed the 250 men who had offered the incense.
ADONAI said to Moshe,
"Tell El'azar the son of Aharon the cohen to remove the fire pans from the fire, and scatter the smoldering coals at a distance, because they have become holy.
Also the fire pans of these men, whose sin cost them their lives, have become holy, because they were offered before ADONAI. Therefore, have them hammered into plates to cover the altar. This will be a sign for the people of Isra'el."
El'azar the cohen took the brass fire pans which the men who had been burned to death had offered, and they hammered them into a covering for the altar,
to remind the people of Isra'el that an ordinary person, not descended from Aharon, is not to approach and burn incense before ADONAI, if he wants to avoid the fate of Korach and his group - as ADONAI had said to him through Moshe.
But the very next day, the whole community of the people of Isra'el complained against Moshe and Aharon: "You have killed ADONAI's people!"
However, as the community was assembling against Moshe and Aharon, they looked in the direction of the tent of meeting and saw the cloud cover it and the glory of ADONAI
Moshe and Aharon came to the front of the tent of meeting.
ADONAI said to Moshe,
"Get away from this assembly, and I will destroy them at once!" But they fell on their faces.
Moshe said to Aharon, "Take your fire pan, put fire from the altar in it, lay incense on it, and hurry with it to the assembly to make atonement for them, because anger has gone out from ADONAI, and the plague has already begun!"
Aharon took it, as Moshe had said, and ran into the middle of the assembly. There the plague had already begun among the people, but he added the incense and made atonement for the people.
He stood between the dead and the living, and the plague was stopped.
Those dying from the plague numbered 14,700 - besides those who died in the Korach incident.
Aharon returned to Moshe at the entrance to the tent of meeting, and the plague was stopped.