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xii. 10.) and therefore canst distinguish between the obstinately rebellious and the seduced, to spare the one, and punish the other ; shall one man sin, and wilt thou be wroth with all the
congregation ? 23 24 And the LORD spake unto Moses saying, Speak unto
the congregation, saying, Get you up from about the taberna25 cle of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram. And Moses rose up " and went unto Dathan and Abiram, to expostulate with them,
and prevent their ruin, because they refused to come to him, v. 36 12. and the elders of Israel followed him. And he spake unto
the congregation, saying, Depart, I pray you, from the tents
of these wicked men, and touch nothing of theirs, lest ye be 27 consumed in all their sins. So they gat up from the tabernacle
of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram on every side : and Dathan and Abiram came out, and stood in the door of their tents, and their wives, and their sons, and their little children, scorn. ing the judgment he seemed to threaten; as if Moses had never
wrought a miracle before, and as if no Israelite had ever been 28 destroyed for murmuring and rebellion. And Moses made a
proclamation to all the people, putting the matter on a very fair issue, and said, Hereby ye shall know that the Lord hath sent me to do all these works, to undertake the government of the people, and appoint Aaron to the priesthood, &c. for (I'have)
not (done them] of mine own mind, nor out of affection to my 29 brother. “If these men die the common natural death of all
men, or if they be visited after the visitation of all men, by
common calamities, such as the stord, pestilence, famine, &c. 30 [then] the Lord hath not sent me. But if the LORD make
a new thing, and the earth open her mouth, and swallow them up, with all that (appertain] unto them, and they go down quick into the pit ; then ye shall understand that these men have provoked the Lord, and that I am his servant, and
was commissioned to do what I have done. 31 And it came to pass as he had made an end of speaking all
* these words, that the ground clave asunder that (was) under 32 them : And the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them
up, and their houses, and all the men that [appertained) unto
Korah, all of his family who were at that time in his tent, (for • some of his sons escaped, ch. xxvi. 11.1) and all (their) goods. 33 They, and all that (appertained] to them, went down alive
into the pit, and the earth closed upon them : and they 34 perished from among the congregation. And all Israel that
'[were] round about them, fed at the cry of them : for they 35 said, Lest the earth swallow us up (also.] And there came
Some think this refers to a large tent which they had built, in opposition to the tab. ernacle; but it more probably means their own tents.
Some of his descendants were singers in the temple; many of the psalms were set to music by the sons of Korah ; Samuel the great prophet descended from him, see I Chron. vi. 37,38. Korah himself was probably destroyed with the two hundrod and fifty men, at the head of whom he appeared, •. 35.
out a' fire from the LORD, like lightning from the cloud, and consumed the two hundred and fifty men, that offered iacense,
at the instant the others were swallowed up in the earth. 36 37 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto
Eleazar the son of Aaron the priest, that he take up the censers out of the burning, from among the dead bodies of those that were burnt, and scatter thou the fire yonder in the unclean
place, where the ashes are thrown ; for they are hallowed, by 38 having fire from God's altar upon them. The censers of these · sinners against their own souls, let them make them broad
plates [for] a covering of the altar : for they offered them before the LORD, therefore they are hallowed : and they shall
be a sign unto the children of Israel, an awful warning against 39 such as invade the priesthood, v. 40. And Eleazar the priest
took the brazen censers, wherewith they that were burnt had
offered ; and they were made broad (plates for] a covering 40 of the altar : [To be) a memorial unto the children of Israel,
that no stranger, which [is] not of the seed of Aaron, come near to offer incense before the LORD : that he be not as Ko. rah, and as his company : as the LORD said, that is, threatened, to him by the hand of Moses.
One would have thought the awful judgments of God which they had seen, and the narrow escape they had had from sharing
in the destruction, would have made them all serious and devout, Al humble and cautious, obedient to God and Moses ; But on the
morrow all the congregation of the children of Israel mur, : mured against Moses and against Aaron, saying, Ye have 42 killed the people of the LORD.* And it came to pass, when
the congregation was gathered against Moses and against Aaron, that they looked toward the tabernacle of the congregation, looked to God, having now no other refuge : and, be
hold, the cloud covered it, and the glory of the Lord appear43 ed. And Moses and Aaron came before the tabernacle of
the congregation. 44 45 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Get you up
from among this congregation, that I may consume them as in • a moment. And they fell upon their faces, earnestly entreatů ing God not to execute his vengeance ; they had found success 46 in this way before, and now try it again. And Moses said
unto Aaron, by direction of the spirit of God, Take a censer, and put fire therein from off the altar, and put on incense, and go quickly unto the congregation, to stir up the people to repentance and prayer, to prevent their utter ruin, and make
an atonement for them : for there is wrath gone out from the 47 LORD ; the plague is begun. And Aaron took as Moses
commanded, and ran into the midst of the congregation, that
• What astonishing hardness of heart! what an insolent charge against Moses and Aaron, and God himself! and how shocking, to call these sinners against their own souls, who died in an act of wilful rebellion, the people of the Lord!
all the people might be witness to his intercession and power with God, and tender concern for them, notwithstanding their insolence and rebellion ; and, behold, the plague was begun,
and spreading like fire among the people ; and he put on in48 cense, and made an atonement for the people. And he stood
between the dead and the living, hazarding his own life, like a good and bold man, to save theirs ; thus showing his faith and courage, his obedience to God, and benevolence to the people ;
and the plague was stayed at the intercession of this holy man, 49 after having made terrible havock among the murmurere. Now
they that died in the plague were fourteen thousand and seven
hundred, beside them that died about the matter of Korah. 50 And Aaron returned unto Moses unto the door of the taberna
cle of the congregation, to acquaint him of his success, and to return thanks to God, who had so graciously accepted his service ; (as 2 Sam. xxiv. 25.) and the plague was stayed.
REFLECTIONS. 1. W E may learn from this chapter, that the wisest and best
VV of men should not be surprised, if they are abused, envied, and calumniated. Speaketh the scripture in vain, that the spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? James iv. 5. Wherever a person in any conspicuous station does worthily, and exerts himself for the good of mankind, he will be envied, and evil spoken of ; all his good deeds cannot secure him from the strife of tongues. Who could be more obliged to any man, than Israel was to Moses? Had he not been a father to them, and often saved them from destruction ? He had no self interest, yet is charged as an usurper, a tyrant, and an impostor. It is impossible for the most upright governor, or the best of the Lord's ministers, to please every body. Let us not then think it strange that we meet with such treatment, but remember, that we are the disciples of Christ, who himself was so treated. Let us act as he did, and when reviled, revile not again ; and consider him, who en. dured the contradiction of sinners against himself.
2. Nearness to God is so great a privilege, that it should make us easy and thankful, whatever else we want. The Levites had - this great honour, and they thought it a small thing ; but it was really a glorious privilege to be separated to an holy use, as servants and ministers to his people. That should have made them content, though they were not advanced to the priesthood. Considering what a great privilege it is to draw near to God, let us thankfully embrace every opportunity of doing it ; and not envy others their honours or superior advantages, but be thankful for what we have, and careful to improve them. If we have not the same dignities, reputation, and privileges as others, we have
abundantly more than we deserve ; and this should teach us, in whatsoever state we are, there with to be content. · 3. Let us diligently avoid the company of the wicked, as we would escape those judgments that will certainly come upon them. Several commentators on this chapter quote a proverb of the Jews, • Woe to the wicked, and woe to his neighbour,' that is in danger of being affected and corrupted by him, and of sharing in his guilt and misery. It is dangerous to have any fellowship with those who affront and despise God. My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not. It is particularly important that young men should beware of the danger of wicked company, of being led, by the persuasions of sinners, to say as they say, and do as they do ; for those who sin together, it is most likely will perish together. A companion of fools shall be destroyed. God hath in his word, and by such instances as these, shown us the danger of associating with wicked men. Let us therefore come out from among them, and be separate, and not be partakers of their sin. Enter not into the path of the wicked ; go not in the way of evil men; go not near it ; but turn from it, and pass away.
4. We see in how awful a manner God can take vengeance on presumptuous sinners. The language of this story is, It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. He is angry with the wicked every day, He has various methods of punishing them ; strange punishments, as Job expresses it, for the workers of iniquity. All the elements are under his controul to punish them. This is a lively emblem of that destruction which shall come on the ungodly ; they shall sink down alive into the pit of destruction, hell shall close itself upon them, and they shall perish from the congregation of the righteous, Who would not fear such a destruction as this ! The Israelites, when they heard the shrieks of Dathan and the others who perished, fled with the greatest haste. Could we, as one well observes, hear the groans and outcries of those that are gone down into the bottomless pit, we should give more diligence to escape for our lives, lest we also come into that same place of anguish and torment. Let us therefore, by the ruin of others, take warning, and fly from the wrath to come.
5. We see the great power of prayer, and how ready we should be to make intercession for all men, even for our enemies. The people had. deserted Moses and Aaron, had abused and vilified them ; yet, as the shepherds of Israel, they continued to pray, and God heard them, and did not destroy the whole congregation, as he intended to do. Let us learn hence, to render good for evil, to do kindnesses for those that are froward and ungrateful, and pray for them that despitefully use and persecute us. Aaron step, ped in between the people and death with his censer, when thou. sands were falling around him. He ventured his life to pray for them; and when Aaron appeared, the plague was stayed.
We are taught likewise, how good it is to make intercession for others; that God is a God hearing prayer, and that the fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. Let us do what we can for our fellow creatures, even those that may have evil entreated us. To conclude ; let us rejoice in Christ Jesus, who in this, as well as in other respects, was abundantly superior to Moses and Aaron. He came to interpose in our behalf; to rescue us from the sword of justice. By presenting his own blood, he made atonement ; and by pleading his blood before the throne, he hath obtained redemption and eternal blessings for us. His intercession is as incense in the most holy place above. Let us be thankful for this appointment, and give praise to God for this honourable and endearing method of showing mercy to a guilty people. Let our souls magnify the Lord, and our spirits rejuice in God our Saviour, who gave himself for us, to redeem us from the wrath to come, and from all iniquity.
| CHAP. XVII.
It may be thought, that enough had been done in the former chapter
to convince the people that Aaron was appointed to be God's firiest, and his family to succeed in that office. But Israel was furone to forget the judgments, as well as the mercies of God; and therefore we have here an account of a surfirising miracle, the budding of Aaron's rod, intended to increase the conviction, and 10 be a standing evidence of this. 1 AND the LORD spake unto Moses, in order fully and
I finally to satisfy all their scruples, and take away all pre2 tences and causes of murmuring, saying, Speak unto the chil
dren of Israel, and take of every one of them a rod, which they used to carry in their hand, in token of authority, according to the house of (their) fathers, of all their princes according to the house of their fathers twelve rods : .write thou every
man's name upon his rod, that is, let it be engraved on the dry 3 rod. And thou shalt write Aaron's name upon the rod of
Levi : for one rod [shall be] for the head of the house of their fathers ; though I have distinguished the tribe of Lere into two parts, priests and Levites, yet, as in the other tribes
there is but one rod for a tribe, so shall it be for the tribe of 4 Levi. And thou shalt lay them up in the tabernacle of the
congregation before the testimony, where I will meet with 5 you, and manifest my mind, in order to end the dispute. And
it shall come to pass, [that] the man's rod, whom I shall choose for the priesthood, shall blossom : and I will make to cease from me the murmurings of the children of Israel, VOL. II,