Korah, Dathan and Abiram

16 Korah was the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath. Kohath was the son of Levi. Korah and certain men from the tribe of Reuben turned against Moses. The men from Reuben were Dathan, Abiram and On. Dathan and Abiram were the sons of Eliab. On was the son of Peleth. 2All of those men rose up against Moses. And 250 men of Israel joined them. All of them were known as leaders in the community. They had been appointed as members of the ruling body.

3They came as a group to oppose Moses and Aaron. They said to Moses and Aaron, “You have gone too far! The whole community is holy. Every one in it is holy. And the Lord is with them. So why do you put yourselves above the Lord’s people?”

4When Moses heard what they said, he fell with his face to the ground. 5Then he spoke to Korah and all of his followers. He said, “In the morning the Lord will show who belongs to him. He will show who is holy. He’ll bring that person near him. He’ll bring the man he chooses near him.

6“Korah, here’s what you and all of your followers must do. Get some shallow cups for burning incense. 7Tomorrow put fire and incense in them. Offer it to the Lord. The man the Lord chooses will be the one who is holy. You Levites have gone too far!”

8Moses also said to Korah, “Listen, you Levites! 9The God of Israel has separated you from the rest of the community of Israel. He has brought you near him to work at the Lord’s holy tent. He has given you to the people so that you can serve them. Isn’t all of that enough for you? 10He has already brought you and all of the other Levites near him. But now you want to be priests too. 11You and all of your followers have joined together against the Lord. Why are you telling Aaron you aren’t happy with him?”

12Then Moses sent for Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab. But they said, “We won’t come! 13You have brought us up out of a land that has plenty of milk and honey. You have brought us here to kill us in this desert. Isn’t that enough? Now do you also want to act as if you were ruling over us?

14“Besides, you haven’t brought us into a land that has plenty of milk and honey. You haven’t given us fields and vineyards of our own. Are you going to poke out the eyes of these men? No! We won’t come!”

15Then Moses became very angry. He said to the Lord, “Don’t accept their offering. I haven’t taken even a donkey from them. In fact, I haven’t done anything wrong to any of them.”

16Moses said to Korah, “You and all of your followers must stand in front of the Lord tomorrow. You must appear there along with Aaron. 17Each man must get his shallow cup. He must put incense in it. There will be a total of 250 incense cups. Each man must bring his cup to the Lord. You and Aaron must also bring your cups.”

18So each man got his cup. He put fire and incense in it. All of the men came with Moses and Aaron. They stood at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting. 19Korah gathered all of his followers together at the entrance to the tent. They opposed Moses and Aaron.

Then the glory of the Lord appeared to the whole community. 20The Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron. He said, 21“Separate yourselves from these people. Then I can put an end to all of them at once.”

22But Moses and Aaron fell with their faces to the ground. They cried out, “God, you are the God who creates the spirits of all people. Will you be angry with the whole community when only one man sins?”

23Then the Lord spoke to Moses. He said, 24“Tell the community, ‘Move away from the tents of Korah, Dathan and Abiram.’ ”

25Moses got up. He went to Dathan and Abiram. The elders of Israel followed him. 26Moses warned the community. He said, “Move away from the tents of those evil men! Don’t touch anything that belongs to them. If you do, the Lord will sweep you away because of all of their sins.”

27So they moved away from the tents of Korah, Dathan and Abiram. Dathan and Abiram had already come out. They were standing at the entrances to their tents. Their wives, children and little ones were standing there with them.

28Then Moses said, “What is about to happen wasn’t my idea. The Lord has sent me to do everything I’m doing. Here is how you will know I’m telling you the truth. 29Those men won’t die a natural death. Something will happen to them that doesn’t usually happen to people. If what I’m telling you isn’t true, then you will know that the Lord hasn’t sent me.

30“But the Lord will make something totally new happen. The ground will open its mouth and swallow them up. It will swallow up everything that belongs to them. They will go down into the grave alive. When that happens, you will know that those men have made fun of the Lord.”

31As soon as Moses finished speaking all of those words, what he had said came true. The ground under them broke open. 32It opened its mouth. It swallowed up those men. In fact, it swallowed up everyone who lived in their houses. It swallowed all of Korah’s men. And it swallowed up everything they owned. 33They went down into the grave alive. Everything they owned went down with them. The ground closed over them. They died. And so they disappeared from the community.

34All of the people of Israel who were around them heard their cries. They ran away from them. They shouted, “The ground is going to swallow us up too!”

35Then the Lord sent down fire. It burned up the 250 men who were offering the incense.

36The Lord spoke to Moses. He said, 37“Speak to the priest Eleazar. He is the son of Aaron. Remind him that the shallow cups are holy. He must take them out of the fire. He must scatter the burning coals away from there. 38The men who sinned used those cups. And it cost them their lives. Hammer the cups into bronze sheets that will cover the altar. The cups were offered to the Lord. They have become holy. Let them serve as a warning to the people of Israel.”

39So the priest Eleazar collected the bronze incense cups. They had been brought by the men who had been burned up. He had them hammered out to cover the altar. 40He did just as the Lord had directed Moses to tell him to do. The covering would be a reminder to the people of Israel. It would remind them that no one except a son of Aaron should come and burn incense to the Lord. If people other than priests did that, they would become like Korah and his followers.

41The next day the whole community of Israel told Moses and Aaron they weren’t happy with them. “You have killed the Lord’s people,” they said.

42The community gathered together to oppose Moses and Aaron. The people walked toward the Tent of Meeting. Suddenly the cloud covered it. The glory of the Lord appeared. 43Then Moses and Aaron went to the front of the Tent of Meeting. 44The Lord spoke to Moses. He said, 45“Get away from these people. Then I can put an end to all of them at once.” And Moses and Aaron fell with their faces to the ground.

46Moses said to Aaron, “Take your incense cup. Put incense in it. And put fire from the altar in it. Then hurry to the people and pay for their sin. The Lord has sent his anger. The plague has started.”

47So Aaron did as Moses said. He ran in among the people. The plague had already started among them. But Aaron offered the incense and paid for their sin. 48He stood between those who were alive and those who were dead. And the plague stopped. 49But 14,700 people died from the plague. That doesn’t include those who had died because of what Korah did. 50Then Aaron returned to Moses at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting. The plague had stopped.


About New International Reader’s Version (1998)

The New International Reader’s Version (NIrV) was developed to help early readers understand the Bible. Begun in 1992, the NIrV is a simplification of the New International Version (NIV). The NIrV uses shorter words and sentences so that those with a typical fourth grade reading level can comprehend what they are reading. The chapters have been separated into shorter sections and most have titles that clearly indicate what the section is all about. The NIrV will be a valuable translation to those for whom English is a second language. The NIrV still relies on the best and oldest copies of the Hebrew and Greek manuscripts for its translation, guaranteeing that those who read it are getting the actual Word of God.


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