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Numbers 16-18

Supplemental notes for the Daily Bible Study Bible Reading Plan

by Wayne Blank

Numbers Chapter 16

Even after the example made of Miriam and Aaron when they rebelled against The Lord (see the notes for Numbers 12), many of the Israelites still did not repent. More rebellion, this time in effect declaring that everyone was the leader i.e. "they assembled themselves together against Moses and against Aaron, and said to them, "You have gone too far! For all the congregation are holy, every one of them." That incident was later in Bible History referred to as "Korah's rebellion" (see the Fact Finder question below). Whether Korah, who was a Levite, was referring to the Levites, or literally all of the Israelites in his "all the congregation are holy" was irrelevant. The Lord had plainly specified the different levels of service for the Levites.


"Now Korah the son of Izhar, son of Kohath, son of Levi, and Dathan and Abiram the sons of Eliab, and On the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took men; and they rose up before Moses, with a number of the people of Israel, two hundred and fifty leaders of the congregation, chosen from the assembly, well-known men; and they assembled themselves together against Moses and against Aaron, and said to them, "You have gone too far! For all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and The Lord is among them; why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of The Lord?" (Numbers 16:1-3 RSV)

Moses was not "exalting himself" - Moses didn't even want the leadership in the first place i.e. "Oh, my Lord, send, I pray, some other person." (Exodus 4:13 RSV). But Moses obeyed The Lord's command to go and lead the people, obedience to God that the rest of the people of Israel consistently refused to do, much to their own regret when they repeatedly brought The Lord's wrath down upon themselves.

"And Moses [see also The Education Of Moses, The Trysting Tent and The Veil of Moses] said, "Hereby you shall know that The Lord has sent me to do all these works, and that it has not been of my own accord. If these men die the common death of all men, or if they are visited by the fate of all men, then The Lord has not sent me. But if The Lord creates something new, and the ground opens its mouth, and swallows them up, with all that belongs to them, and they go down alive into Sheol, then you shall know that these men have despised The Lord."

And as he finished speaking all these words, the ground under them split asunder; and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, with their households and all the men that belonged to Korah and all their goods. So they and all that belonged to them went down alive into Sheol; and the earth closed over them, and they perished from the midst of the assembly. And all Israel that were round about them fled at their cry; for they said, "Lest the earth swallow us up!"

And fire came forth from The Lord, and consumed the two hundred and fifty men offering the incense." (Numbers 16:28-35 RSV)

Numbers Chapter 17

A miraculous sign was then provided to the Israelites to show who it was that held the Shepherd's rod. That rod was later placed inside the Ark of the Covenant i.e. "And after the second veil [see Why Was It Torn?], the Tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all; Which had the golden censer, and the Ark of the Covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna [see Christ, The Bread of Life], and Aaron's rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant; And over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the Mercyseat [see Christ's Mercy Seat] (Hebrews 9:3-5 KJV).


"The Lord said to Moses, "Speak to the people of Israel, and get from them rods, one for each fathers' house, from all their leaders according to their fathers' houses, twelve rods. Write each man's name upon his rod, and write Aaron's name upon the rod of Levi. For there shall be one rod for the head of each fathers' house. Then you shall deposit them in the tent of meeting before the testimony, where I meet with you. And the rod of the man whom I choose shall sprout; thus I will make to cease from me the murmurings of the people of Israel, which they murmur against you."

Moses spoke to the people of Israel; and all their leaders gave him rods, one for each leader, according to their fathers' houses, twelve rods; and the rod of Aaron was among their rods. And Moses deposited the rods before The Lord in the tent of the testimony.

And on the morrow Moses went into the tent of the testimony; and behold, the rod of Aaron for the house of Levi had sprouted and put forth buds, and produced blossoms, and it bore ripe Almonds. Then Moses brought out all the rods from before The Lord to all the people of Israel; and they looked, and each man took his rod.

And The Lord said to Moses, "Put back the rod of Aaron before the testimony, to be kept as a sign for the rebels, that you may make an end of their murmurings against me, lest they die." (Numbers 17:1-10 RSV)

Numbers Chapter 18

With order again restored, the Levites were once more reminded of their specified duties and responsibilities i.e. who among them could touch the Most Holy things and who could not (see Raiders Of The Lost Ark).


"So The Lord said to Aaron, "You and your sons and your fathers' house with you shall bear iniquity in connection with the sanctuary [see also Sanctuary]; and you and your sons with you shall bear iniquity in connection with your priesthood. And with you bring your brethren also, the tribe of Levi, the tribe of your father, that they may join you, and minister to you while you and your sons with you are before the tent of the testimony. They shall attend you and attend to all duties of the tent; but shall not come near to the vessels of the sanctuary or to the altar, lest they, and you, die. They shall join you, and attend to the tent of meeting, for all the service of the tent; and no one else shall come near you.

And you shall attend to the duties of the sanctuary and the duties of the altar, that there be wrath no more upon the people of Israel. And behold, I have taken your brethren the Levites from among the people of Israel; they are a gift to you, given to The Lord, to do the service of the tent of meeting. And you and your sons with you shall attend to your priesthood for all that concerns the altar and that is within the veil; and you shall serve. I give your priesthood as a gift, and any one else who comes near shall be put to death." (Numbers 18:1-7 RSV)

Fact Finder: (a) Is Korah's rebellion specifically referred to in the New Testament book of Jude? (b) Why? What anti-Christian principle applies to what Korah did? (c) Who was "The Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not" (Jude 1:5 KJV)? Does the Holy Bible plainly say that it was Christ?
(a) Jude 1:11 (b) Jude 1:1-25 (c) 1 Corinthians 10:4; see also Why Did Christ Put Moses To Death?

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