Korah1 son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, and certain Reubenites--Dathan and Abiram2, sons of Eliab,3 and On son of Peleth--became insolent
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and rose up against Moses.4 With them were 250 Israelite men, well-known community leaders who had been appointed members of the council.5
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They came as a group to oppose Moses and Aaron6 and said to them, "You have gone too far! The whole community is holy,7 every one of them, and the LORD is with them.8 Why then do you set yourselves above the LORD's assembly?"9
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When Moses heard this, he fell facedown.10
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Then he said to Korah and all his followers: "In the morning the LORD will show who belongs to him and who is holy,11 and he will have that person come near him.12 The one he chooses13 he will cause to come near him.
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You, Korah, and all your followers14 are to do this: Take censers15
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and tomorrow put burning coals16 and incense17 in them before the LORD. The man the LORD chooses18 will be the one who is holy.19 You Levites have gone too far!"
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Moses also said to Korah, "Now listen, you Levites!
Isn't it enough20 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?21
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He has brought you and all your fellow Levites near himself, but now you are trying to get the priesthood too.22
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It is against the LORD that you and all your followers have banded together. Who is Aaron that you should grumble23 against him?24"
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Then Moses summoned Dathan and Abiram,25 the sons of Eliab. But they said, "We will not come!26
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Isn't it enough that you have brought us up out of a land flowing with milk and honey27 to kill us in the wilderness?28 And now you also want to lord it over us!29
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Moreover, you haven't brought us into a land flowing with milk and honey30 or given us an inheritance of fields and vineyards.31 Do you want to treat these men like slaves?32 No, we will not come!33"
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Then Moses became very angry34 and said to the LORD, "Do not accept their offering. I have not taken so much as a donkey35 from them, nor have I wronged any of them."
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Moses said to Korah, "You and all your followers are to appear before the LORD tomorrow--you and they and Aaron.36
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Each one is to take his censer and put incense in it--250 censers in all--and present it before the LORD. You and Aaron are to present your censers also.37"
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So each one took his censer,38 put burning coals and incense in it, and stood with Moses and Aaron at the entrance to the tent of meeting.
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When Korah had gathered all his followers in opposition to them39 at the entrance to the tent of meeting, the glory of the LORD 40 appeared to the entire assembly.
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The LORD said to Moses and Aaron,
"Separate yourselves41 from this assembly so I can put an end to them at once."42
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But Moses and Aaron fell facedown43 and cried out, "O God, God of every human spirit,44 will you be angry with the entire assembly45 when only one man sins?"46
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Then the LORD said to Moses,
"Say to the assembly, 'Move away from the tents of Korah, Dathan and Abiram.' "
Moses got up and went to Dathan and Abiram, and the elders of Israel47 followed him.
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He warned the assembly, "Move back from the tents of these wicked men!48 Do not touch anything belonging to them, or you will be swept away49 because of all their sins.50"
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So they moved away from the tents of Korah, Dathan and Abiram.51 Dathan and Abiram had come out and were standing with their wives, children52 and little ones at the entrances to their tents.53
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Then Moses said, "This is how you will know54 that the LORD has sent me55 to do all these things and that it was not my idea:
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If these men die a natural death and suffer the common fate of all human beings, then the LORD has not sent me.56
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But if the LORD brings about something totally new, and the earth opens its mouth57 and swallows them, with everything that belongs to them, and they go down alive into the realm of the dead,58 then you will know that these men have treated the LORD with contempt.59"
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As soon as he finished saying all this, the ground under them split apart60
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and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them61 and their households, and all those associated with Korah, together with their possessions.
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They went down alive into the realm of the dead,62 with everything they owned; the earth closed over them, and they perished and were gone from the community.
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At their cries, all the Israelites around them fled, shouting, "The earth is going to swallow us too!"
And fire came out from the LORD 63 and consumed64 the 250 men who were offering the incense.
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The LORD said to Moses,
"Tell Eleazar65 son of Aaron, the priest, to remove the censers66 from the charred remains and scatter the coals some distance away, for the censers are holy--
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the censers of the men who sinned at the cost of their lives.67 Hammer the censers into sheets to overlay the altar,68 for they were presented before the LORD and have become holy. Let them be a sign69 to the Israelites."
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So Eleazar the priest70 collected the bronze censers brought by those who had been burned to death,71 and he had them hammered out to overlay the altar,
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as the LORD directed him through Moses. This was to remind the Israelites that no one except a descendant of Aaron should come to burn incense72 before the LORD,73 or he would become like Korah and his followers.74
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The next day the whole Israelite community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. "You have killed the LORD's people," they said.
But when the assembly gathered in opposition75 to Moses and Aaron and turned toward the tent of meeting, suddenly the cloud covered it and the glory of the LORD 76 appeared.
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Then Moses and Aaron went to the front of the tent of meeting,
and the LORD said to Moses,
"Get away from this assembly so I can put an end77 to them at once." And they fell facedown.
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Then Moses said to Aaron, "Take your censer78 and put incense in it, along with burning coals from the altar, and hurry to the assembly79 to make atonement80 for them. Wrath has come out from the LORD;81 the plague82 has started."
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So Aaron did as Moses said, and ran into the midst of the assembly. The plague had already started among the people,83 but Aaron offered the incense and made atonement for them.
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He stood between the living and the dead, and the plague stopped.84
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But 14,700 people died from the plague, in addition to those who had died because of Korah.85
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Then Aaron returned to Moses at the entrance to the tent of meeting, for the plague had stopped.