Numbers 16: From Korah, Datan and Abiram: A Case Study for the Methods of Academic Biblical Studies at TheTorah.com
The aligned right blue source is J,
The aligned left red source is P,
The black in italics is the redactor (R).
1 Now Korah, son of Izhar son of Kohath son of Levi, took
And Datan and Abiram sons of Eliab, and On son of Pelet—descendants of Reuben—2 got up before Moses,
(and) two hundred and fifty Israelites, chieftains of the community, chosen in the assembly, men of repute. 3 They gathered against Moses and Aaron and said to them, “You have gone too far! For all the community are holy, all of them, and YHWH is in their midst. Why then do you raise yourselves above YHWH’s congregation?” 4 When Moses heard this, he fell on his face. 5 Then he spoke to Korah and all his company, saying, “Come morning, YHWH will make known who is His and who is holy, and will grant him access to Himself; He will grant access to the one He has chosen. 6 Do this: You, Korah and all your band, take fire pans, 7 and tomorrow put fire in them and lay incense on them before YHWH. Then the man whom YHWH chooses, he shall be the holy one. You have gone too far, sons of Levi!” 8 Moses said further to Korah, “Hear me, sons of Levi. 9 Is it not enough for you that the God of Israel has set you apart from the community of Israel and given you access to Him, to perform the duties of YHWH’s Tabernacle and to minister to the community and serve them? 10 Now that He has advanced you and all your fellow Levites with you, do you seek the 7 priesthood too? 11 Truly, it is against YHWH that you and all your company have banded together. For who is Aaron that you should rail against him?”
12 Moses sent for Datan and Abiram, sons of Eliab; but they said, “We will not come! 13 Is it not enough that you brought us from a land flowing with milk and honey to have us die in the wilderness, that you would also lord it over us? 14 Even if you had brought us to a land flowing with milk and honey, and given us possession of fields and vineyards, should you gouge out those men’s eyes? We will not come!”
15 Moses was much aggrieved and he said to YHWH, “Pay no regard to their oblation. I have not taken the ass of any one of them, nor have I wronged any one of them.” 16 And Moses said to Korah, “Tomorrow, you and all your company appear before YHWH, you and they and Aaron. 17 Each of you take his fire pan and lay incense on it, and each of you bring his fire pan before YHWH, two hundred and fifty fire pans; you and Aaron also [bring] your fire pans.” 18 Each of them took his fire pan, put fire in it, laid incense on it, and took his place at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting, as did Moses and Aaron. 19 Korah gathered the whole community against them at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting. Then the Presence of YHWH appeared to the whole community, 20 and YHWH spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, 21 “Stand back from this community that I may annihilate them in an instant!” 22 But they fell on their faces and said, “O God, Source of the breath of all flesh! When one man sins, will You be wrathful with the whole community?” 23 YHWH spoke to Moses, saying, 24 “Speak to the community and say: Withdraw from about the abode of Korah (Datan, and Abiram) note: words do not appear in the Septuagint.”
25 Moses rose and went to Datan and Abiram, the elders of Israel following him. 26 He addressed the community, saying, “Move away from the tents of these wicked men and touch nothing that belongs to them, lest you be wiped out for all their sins.”
27 So they withdrew from about the abode of Korah (Datan, and Abiram) note: words do not appear in the Septuagint..
Now Datan and Abiram had come out and they stood at the entrance of their tents, with their wives, their children, and their little ones. 28 And Moses said, “By this you shall know that it was YHWH who sent me to do all these things; that they are not of my own devising: 29 if these men die as all men do, if their lot be the common fate of all mankind, it was not YHWH who sent me. 30 But if YHWH brings about something unheard-of, so that the ground opens its mouth and swallows them up with all that belongs to them, and they go down alive into Sheol, you shall know that these men have spurned the YHWH.” 31 Scarcely had he finished speaking all these words when the ground under them burst asunder, 32 and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up with their households, all the people (which were Korah’s) and all their possessions. 33 They went down alive into Sheol, with all that belonged to them; the earth closed over them and they vanished from the midst of the congregation. 34 All Israel around them fled at their shrieks, for they said, “The earth might swallow us!”
35 And a fire went forth from YHWH and consumed the two hundred and fifty men offering the incense.
TaNaKh as Anthology
Recommended for Further Reading
- Who Wrote the Bible and The Bible With Sources Revealed, by Richard Elliot Friedman
- The Divine Symphony: The Bible's Many Voices, by Israel Knohl
- The Creation of History in Ancient Israel, by Marc Zvi Brettler
- From Gods to God: How the Bible Debunked, Suppressed, or Changed Ancient Myths and Legends, by Yair Zakovitch and Avigdor Shinan