Korah, Dathan, and Abiram Rebel

Now Korah son of Izhar, son of Kohath, son of Levi, and Dathan and Abiram sons of Eliab, and On son of Peleth, the descendants[a] of Reuben, took two hundred and fifty men from the Israelites,[b] leaders of the community summoned from the assembly, renowned men,[c] and they confronted[d] Moses. They were assembled in front of Moses and Aaron, and they said to them, “You take too much upon yourselves![e] All of the community is holy, every one of them, and Yahweh is in their midst, so why do you raise yourselves over the assembly of Yahweh?”

When Moses heard this, he fell on his face. And he said to Korah and to his entire company, saying, “Tomorrow morning Yahweh will make known who is his and who is holy, and he will bring him near to him, whomever he chooses he will bring near to him. Do this: take for yourselves censers, Korah and all of your company;[f] tomorrow put fire in them and place incense on them before[g] Yahweh; the man whom Yahweh chooses will be the holy one. You take too much upon yourselves, sons of Levi!”

And Moses said to Korah, “Please listen, sons of Levi! Is it too little for you that the God of Israel set you apart from the community of Israel to allow you to approach him[h] to do the work of the tabernacle of Yahweh, to stand before[i] the community to serve them? 10 He has allowed you to approach him,[j] you with all your brothers, the descendants[k] of Levi, but yet you also seek the priesthood. 11 Therefore you and your company that has banded together against Yahweh. What is Aaron that you grumble against him?”

12 Moses sent to call for Dathan and Abiram son of Eliab, but they said, “We will not come![l] 13 Is it too little that you have brought us from a land that flows with milk and honey to kill us in the desert, and that you also appoint yourself as a ruler over us? 14 Surely, you have not brought us to a land that flows with milk and honey, and you have not given us the inheritance of fields and a vineyard. Will you gouge out the eyes of these men? We will not come!”[m]

15 Then Moses became angry, and he said to Yahweh, “Do not notice their grain offering. I have not offered one donkey from them, and I have not mistreated one of them.” 16 And Moses said to Korah, “You and your entire company will be before[n] Yahweh tomorrow, you and they and Aaron. 17 Each one take his censer, and put incense on it[o] and you will present it before[p] Yahweh, and each of you bring his censer, two hundred and fifty censers, you and Aaron, each his censer.” 18 So each of them took his censer, and they put fire on them, and they placed incense on them; they stood at the doorway of the tent of the assembly of Moses and Aaron. 19 And Korah summoned them, the entire community, by the doorway of the tent of assembly, and the glory of Yahweh appeared to all the community.

20 And Yahweh spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, 21 “Separate yourselves from the midst of this community, that I can destroy them in a moment.” 22 And they fell on their faces, and they said, “God, God of the spirits of all flesh, will one man sin and you become angry toward the entire community?”

23 Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, 24 “Speak to the community, saying, ‘Move away from the dwelling of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram.’” 25 So Moses stood up and went to Dathan and Abiram; the elders of Israel followed after him. 26 He said to the community, saying, “Please turn away from the tents of these wicked men, and do not touch anything that belongs to them,[q] or you will be destroyed with all their sins.” 27 And so they moved away from around the dwellings[r] of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram; and Dathan and Abiram came out standing at the doorway of their tents, with their wives, sons, and little children. 28 And Moses said, “In this you will know that Yahweh has sent me to do all these works; it is not from my heart. 29 If they die a natural death[s] or if a natural fate is visited upon them,[t] Yahweh has not sent me. 30 But if Yahweh creates something new, and the ground opens its mouth and swallows them up and all that belongs to them,[u] and they go down alive to Sheol, and you will know that these men have despised Yahweh.”

31 And it happened, as soon as he finished speaking[v] all these words, the ground that was under them split open. 32 The land opened its mouth and swallowed them up with their houses and every person that belonged to Korah[w] and all the property. 33 They went down alive to Sheol, they and all that belonged to them, and the land covered over them, and they perished from the midst of the assembly. 34 All Israel who were around them fled at their cry, because they said, “Lest the land swallow us up!” 35 And fire went out from Yahweh, and it consumed the two hundred and fifty men presenting the incense.

36 [x] And Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, 37 “Say to Eleazar son of Aaron the priest, ‘Take out[y] the censers from among the place of burning because they are sacred, and scatter the fire outside. 38 The censers of these who have sinned[z] at the cost of their lives, let them be made into gilded leafing plating for the altar; because they presented them before Yahweh,[aa] they are holy; and they will be a sign for the Israelites.’”[ab] 39 Eleazar the priest took the bronze censers that the ones who were burned presented, and they hammered them out thinly as plating for the altar; 40 it was a memorial for the Israelites,[ac] so that no strange man[ad] who is not from the offspring[ae] of Aaron should approach the presence of Yahweh to burn a smoke offering;[af] he will not be like Korah and his company, just as Yahweh had spoken to him by the hand of Moses.[ag]

The Israelites Grumble

41 The next day all the community of the Israelites[ah] grumbled against Moses and Aaron, saying, “You have killed the people of Yahweh!” 42 Then, when the community had gathered against Moses and Aaron, they turned to the tent of assembly, and behold, the cloud covered it, and the glory of Yahweh appeared. 43 And Moses and Aaron came to the front of the tent of assembly, 44 and Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, 45 “Get away from the midst of this community, and I will finish them in an instant,”[ai] but they fell on their faces. 46 And Moses and Aaron said, “Take the censer, and put fire on it from the altar. Place incense on it, and bring it quickly to the community, and make atonement for them, because wrath went out from the presence of Yahweh, and a plague has begun.” 47 And so Aaron took it just as Moses had spoken, and he ran into the midst of the assembly, for behold, the plague had begun among the people; so he gave the incense and made atonement for the people. 48 He stood between the dead and between the living, and the plague was stopped. 49 Those who died by the plague were fourteen thousand seven hundred, besides those who died on account of Korah. 50 Then Aaron returned to Moses at the doorway of the tent of assembly, and the plague was stopped.


  1. Numbers 16:1 Or “sons”
  2. Numbers 16:2 Literally “sons/children of Israel”
  3. Numbers 16:2 Literally “men of name”
  4. Numbers 16:2 Literally “they rose up before”
  5. Numbers 16:3 Literally “It is much for you”
  6. Numbers 16:6 Hebrew “his company”
  7. Numbers 16:7 Literally “in the presence of”
  8. Numbers 16:9 Literally “to bring you near to him”
  9. Numbers 16:9 Literally “in the presence of”
  10. Numbers 16:10 Literally “He has brought you near”
  11. Numbers 16:10 Or “sons”
  12. Numbers 16:12 Hebrew “We will not come up!”
  13. Numbers 16:14 Hebrew “We will not come up!”
  14. Numbers 16:16 Literally “in the presence of”
  15. Numbers 16:17 Hebrew “on them”
  16. Numbers 16:17 Literally “in the presence of”
  17. Numbers 16:26 Literally “that is to them”
  18. Numbers 16:27 Hebrew “dwelling”
  19. Numbers 16:29 Literally “If they die like the death of every human”
  20. Numbers 16:29 Literally “If the fate of every human is visited upon them”
  21. Numbers 16:30 Literally “All that is for them”
  22. Numbers 16:31 Literally “to speak”
  23. Numbers 16:32 Literally “that was to Korah”
  24. Numbers 16:36 Numbers 16:36–17:13 in the English Bible is 17:1–28 in the Hebrew Bible
  25. Numbers 16:37 Literally “raise up”
  26. Numbers 16:38 Literally “sinners”
  27. Numbers 16:38 Literally “in the presence of Yahweh”
  28. Numbers 16:38 Literally “sons/children of Israel”
  29. Numbers 16:40 Literally “sons/children of Israel”
  30. Numbers 16:40 NASB translates “no layman”
  31. Numbers 16:40 Literally “the seed”
  32. Numbers 16:40 That is, an incense offering
  33. Numbers 16:40 Or “through Moses”
  34. Numbers 16:41 Literally “sons/children of Israel”
  35. Numbers 16:45 Or “in a moment”