Korah

Korah [N] [H] [S]

ice, hail.

  • The third son of Esau, by Aholibamah ( Genesis 36:14 ; 1 Chronicles 1:35 ).

  • A Levite, the son of Izhar, the brother of Amram, the father of Moses and Aaron ( Exodus 6:21 ). The institution of the Aaronic priesthood and the Levitical service at Sinai was a great religious revolution. The old priesthood of the heads of families passed away. This gave rise to murmurings and discontent, while the Israelites were encamped at Kadesh for the first time, which came to a head in a rebellion against Moses and Aaron, headed by Korah, Dathan, and Abiram. Two hundred and fifty princes, "men of renown" i.e., well-known men from among the other tribes, joined this conspiracy. The whole company demanded of Moses and Aaron that the old state of things should be restored, alleging that "they took too much upon them" ( Numbers 16:1-3 ). On the morning after the outbreak, Korah and his associates presented themselves at the door of the tabernacle, and "took every man his censer, and put fire in them, and laid incense thereon." But immediately "fire from the Lord" burst forth and destroyed them all ( Numbers 16:35 ). Dathan and Abiram "came out and stood in the door of their tents, and their wives, and their sons, and their little children," and it came to pass "that the ground clave asunder that was under them; and the earth opened her mouth and swallowed them up." A plague thereafter began among the people who sympathized in the rebellion, and was only stayed by Aaron's appearing between the living and the dead, and making "an atonement for the people" ( 16:47 ).

    The descendants of the sons of Korah who did not participate in the rebellion afterwards rose to eminence in the Levitical service.

    These dictionary topics are from
    M.G. Easton M.A., D.D., Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Third Edition,
    published by Thomas Nelson, 1897. Public Domain, copy freely.

    [N] indicates this entry was also found in Nave's Topical Bible
    [H] indicates this entry was also found in Hitchcock's Bible Names
    [S] indicates this entry was also found in Smith's Bible Dictionary

    Bibliography Information

    Easton, Matthew George. "Entry for Korah". "Easton's Bible Dictionary". .

  • Korah [N] [E] [S]

    baldness; ice; frost
    Hitchcock's Dictionary of Bible Names. Public Domain. Copy freely.

    [N] indicates this entry was also found in Nave's Topical Bible
    [E] indicates this entry was also found in Easton's Bible Dictionary
    [S] indicates this entry was also found in Smith's Bible Dictionary

    Bibliography Information

    Hitchcock, Roswell D. "Entry for 'Korah'". "An Interpreting Dictionary of Scripture Proper Names". . New York, N.Y., 1869.

    Korah [N] [E] [H]

    (baldness ).

    1. Third son of Esau by Aholibamah. ( Genesis 36:5 Genesis 36:14 Genesis 36:18 ; 1 Chronicles 1:35 ) He was born in Canaan before Esau migrated to Mount Seir, ( Genesis 36:5-9 ) and was one of the "dukes" of Edom. (B.C. 1790.)
    2. Another Edomitish "duke" of this name, sprung from Eliphaz, Esaus son of Adah. ( Genesis 36:16 )
    3. One of the "sons of Hebron," in ( 1 Chronicles 2:43 )
    4. Son of Izhar the son of Kohath the son of Levi. He was leader of the famous rebellion against his cousins Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, for which he paid the penalty of perishing with his followers by an earthquake and flames of fire. ( Numbers 16 ; 26:9-11 ) The particular grievance which rankled in the mind of Korah and his company was their exclusion from the office of the priesthood, and their being confined --those among them who were Levites-- to the inferior service of the tabernacle. Korahs position as leader in this rebellion was evidently the result of his personal character, which was that of a bold, haughty and ambitious man. (B.C. 1490.) In the New Testament ( Jude 1:11 ) Korah is coupled with Cain and Balaam.

    [N] indicates this entry was also found in Nave's Topical Bible
    [E] indicates this entry was also found in Easton's Bible Dictionary
    [H] indicates this entry was also found in Hitchcock's Bible Names

    Bibliography Information

    Smith, William, Dr. "Entry for 'Korah'". "Smith's Bible Dictionary". . 1901.

    KORAH

    ko'-ra, (~qorach], "baldness," possibly; Kore):

    (1) One of the 3 sons of Oholibamah, Esau's Hivite wife. The account says that the 3 were born in Canaan before Esau withdrew to the Seir mountain country. They are mentioned 3 times in the brief account from 3 points of view (Genesis 36:5,14,18;; 1 Chronicles 1:35), the 3rd mention being in the list of "chiefs."

    (2) One of the sons of Eliphaz, the son of Adah, Esau's Hittite wife (Genesis 36:16). He is mentioned as one of the Edomite "chiefs."

    If one has the habit, finding a statement anywhere, of thinking that the statement ought to be changed into something else, he will be interested in the attempts to identify these Edomite Korahs with Korah (3).

    (3) A son of Hebron (1 Chronicles 2:43), the son of Mareshah, mentioned in the Caleb group of families in Judah.

    (4) The son of Izhar the son of Kohath the son of Levi (Exodus 6:16; Numbers 16:1; 1 Chronicles 6:18,31-38), a younger contemporary of Moses. There may have been generations, omitted in the record, between Izhar and Korah; that is a natural way of accounting for Amminadab (1 Chronicles 6:22-30).

    1. The Catastrophe in the Wilderness:

    This Korah is best known as the man whom the opening earth is said to have swallowed up along with his associates when they were challenging the authority of Moses and Aaron in the wilderness (Numbers 16; 17). Korah is presented as the principal in the affair. The company is spoken of as his company, and those who were swallowed up as being "all the men that appertained unto Korah." (Numbers 16:11,32). It is under his name that the affair is referred to (Numbers 26:9; 27:3). But Dathan and Abiram of the tribe of Reuben are not much less prominent than Korah. In Numbers 16 and 26 they are mentioned with Korah, and are mentioned without him in Deuteronomy 11:6 and Psalms 106:17. Another Reubenite, On, the son of Peleth, was in the conspiracy. It has been inferred that he withdrew, but there is no reason either for or against the inference. Equally baseless is the inference that Zelophehad of Manassel joined it, but withdrew (Numbers 27:3). The account implies that there were other Levites in it besides Korah (Numbers 16:7-10), and it particularly mentions 250 "men of renown," princes, such men as would be summoned if there were a public assembly (Numbers 16:2,17,35). These men, apparently, were of different tribes.

    The position taken by the malcontents was that "all the congregation are holy, every one of them," and that it was therefore a usurpation for Moses and Aaron to confine the functions of an incense-burning priest to Aaron alone. Logically, their objection lay equally against the separation of Aaron and his sons from the rest of the Levites, and against the separation of the Levites from the rest of the people. On the basis of this, Moses made expostulation with the Levites. He arranged that Korah and the 250, along with Aaron, should take their places at the doorway of the tent of meeting, with their censers and fire and incense, so that Yahweh might indicate His will in the matter. Dathan and Abiram insolently refused his proposals.

    The record says that Korah's "whole congregation," including himself and the 250 with their censers, met Moses and Aaron and "all the congregation" of Israel at the doorway of the tent of meeting. For the purposes of the transaction in hand the tent was now "the mishkan of Korah, Dathan and Abiram," and their followers. Yahweh directed Moses to warn all other persons to leave the vicinity. Dathan and Abiram, however, were not at the mishkan. The account says that Moses, followed by the eiders of Israel, went to them to their tents; that he warned all persons to leave that vicinity also; that Dathan and Abiram and the households stood near the tents; that the earth opened and swallowed them and their property and all the adherents of Korah who were on the spot; that fire from Yahweh devoured the 250 who offered incense. The narrative does not say whether the deaths by fire and by the opening of the earth were simultaneous. It does not say whether Korah's sons participated in the rebellion, or what became of Korah himself. In the allusion in Numbers 26 we are told, apparently, that Korah was swallowed up, and that "the sons of Korah died not." The deaths of the principal offenders, by fire and by being swallowed up, were followed by plague in which 14,700 perished (Numbers 16:49 (Hebrew 17:14)).

    2. Critical Treatments of This Story:

    Any appreciative reader sees at once that we have here either a history of certain miraculous facts, or a wonder-story devised for teaching religious lessons. As a story it is artistically admirable--sufficiently complicated to be interesting, but clear and graphic and to the point. In the Hebrew there are 2 or 3 instances of incomplete grammatical construction, such as abound in the early literary products of any language, when these have been fortunate enough to escape editorial polishing. In such a case it is possibly not unwise just to take a story as it stands. Nothing will be added to either its religious or its literary value by subjecting it to doubtful alleged critical processes.

    If, however, one has committed himself to certain critical traditions concerning the Hexateuch, that brings him under obligation to lead this story into conformity with the rest of his theory. Attempts of this kind have been numerous. Some hold that the Korah of this narrative is the Edomite Korah, and that Peleth means Philistine, and that our story originally grew out of some claim made by Edomites and Philistines. It is held that the story of Korah was originally one story, and that of Dathan and Abiram another, and that someone manipulated the two and put them together. See the treatments of the Book of Numbers in Driver, Introduction; Addis, Documents of the Hexateuch; Carpenter and Battersby, Hexateuch; Bacon, Exodus; Paterson on Numbers, in the Polychrome Bible. These and other like works give source-analyses of our story. Some of the points they make are plausible. In such a case no one claims any adequate basis of fact for his work; each theory is simply a congeries of ingenious guesses, and no two of the guessers guess alike.

    As in many other Biblical instances, one of the results of the alleged critical study is the resolving of a particularly fine story into two or more supposed earlier stories each of which is absolutely bald and crude and uninteresting, the earlier stories and the combining of these into their present form being alike regarded as processes of legendary accretion. The necessary inference is that the fine story we now have was not the product of some gifted mind, guided by facts and by literary and religious inspiration, but is an accidental result of mere patchwork. Such a theory does not commend itself to persons of literary appreciation.

    Willis J. Beecher


    Copyright Statement
    These files are public domain.

    Bibliography Information
    Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. "Entry for 'KORAH'". "International Standard Bible Encyclopedia". 1915.