Numbers 16:32

32 The earth opened its mouth and swallowed the men, along with their households and all their followers who were standing with them, and everything they owned.

Numbers 16:32 Meaning and Commentary

Numbers 16:32

And the earth opened her mouth and swallowed them up
Dathan and Abiram, their wives, sons, and little ones, that stood at the door of their tents with them, and all their goods, as follows: the earth, as if it was a living creature or a beast of prey, opened its mouth and swallowed them up, as such a creature does its prey:

and their houses;
which may be meant both of their families or households, and of the tents they dwelt in, which were their houses; see ( Deuteronomy 1:6 ) ;

and all the men that [appertained] unto Korah:
not Korah himself, for he was with the two hundred fifty men that had censers, and with Aaron at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation offering incense, and thereby making trial to whom the priesthood belonged; and who, it is highly probable, perished by fire with the two hundred fifty men, as Josephus, Aben Ezra, and others are of opinion; but the family of Korah, and not all of them, for his sons died not at that time, ( Numbers 26:11 ) ; and there were of his posterity in the times of David, to whom several of the psalms are inscribed, ( Psalms 42:1 ) ( 44:1 ) ( 45:1 ) ( 46:1 ) ( 47:1 ) ( Psalms 48:1 ) ( 49:1 ) ( 84:1 ) ( 85:1 ) ( 87:1 ) ( 88:1 ) ; these were either out of the way upon business, the providence of God so ordering it for their safety; or they disliked the proceedings of their father, and joined not with him; or if they did at first, repented of it and forsook him, as it is probable on of the tribe of Reuben also did, since no mention is made of him in the destruction:

and all [their] goods:
their household goods, their substance and riches, their gold, silver, cattle, and whatever they were possessed of: a very extraordinary case this and which perhaps gave rise to some fabulous things among the Heathens; however, if they can be credited, this ought not to be thought incredible; as Amphiaraus, who with his chariot and its rider are said to be swallowed up in the earth, struck by a thunderbolt from Jupiter, and were never seen more F23; and other stories are told of persons praying to their deities for secrecy and shelter, and the earth has opened and hid them; as Althemenes, when he had slain his father F24; and the nymph Thalia pregnant by Jupiter, who, for fear of Juno, wished the earth might open and take her in, and it accordingly did, as is reported F25.


F23 Apollodorus de Deorum Origine, l. 3. p. 157.
F24 lb. p. 134.
F25 Macrob. Saturnal. l. 5. c. 19.

Numbers 16:32 In-Context

30 But if the LORD does something entirely new and the ground opens its mouth and swallows them and all their belongings, and they go down alive into the grave, then you will know that these men have shown contempt for the LORD .”
31 He had hardly finished speaking the words when the ground suddenly split open beneath them.
32 The earth opened its mouth and swallowed the men, along with their households and all their followers who were standing with them, and everything they owned.
33 So they went down alive into the grave, along with all their belongings. The earth closed over them, and they all vanished from among the people of Israel.
34 All the people around them fled when they heard their screams. “The earth will swallow us, too!” they cried.