A summary of KORACH, Num. 16-18:

Moshe's reputation was first tarnished by Miriam's altruistic criticism; then he was accused of incompetence by the spies. Now Korah, an ambitious leading Levite, gathers other malcontents, displaced first born and Reuvenite leaders. They accuse Moshe and Aharon of pretending to be so holy for their personal gain. Moshe forgives those who threaten his life or question his competence- his response to those who attack his reputation and integrity, and that of Aharon, is different. He prays that God quickly determine who is truly close to Him. He urges Korah to be satisfied with the honor he already has. Datan and Aviran won't talk to Moshe-- they miss Egypt. Moshe asks both Korah & Co. and Aharon & Sons to bring incense at the tabernacle entry. They did so-- Korah made a massive public demonstration against Moshe and Aharon, but God's Glory intervened again. He offers to destroy the people, but Moshe and Aharon again plead for them. God tells Moshe to warn the Jews to stay away from the tents of the sinful leaders; Moshe proclaims that the earth is going to swallow them up, with their associates and possessions. So it happened; Divine fire consumed the 250 men who had offered incense.

Ch. 17: Their incense pans were used to plate the altar, a reminder that even the holiest inspired Jew cannot supplant Aharon's priestly function. Yet Korah & Co. were so popular that the people protested their death the very next day. God again had to save Moshe and Aharon. Israel's true leaders prayed once more; Aharon brought incense amongst the people, to stop a Divine plague; 14700 died meanwhile. God ordered Moshe to further demonstrate Aharon's choice by taking 12 rods, 1 for each tribe-- only that of Aharon, prince of Levi, blossomed; it was put before the Ark as a memorial. The Jews complained that Divine worship brings so much death and destruction (cf. Bnei Brak elections).

Ch. 18: God responds that only priests and their levite assistants, chosen and trained, will deal with the holy, but dangerous, tabernacle. In return, certain portions of sacrifices and holy offerings, and the first fruits and first born, are given to the priests; they must consume them in holiness. Levites have no share in the Land, only tithes of Israel's produce, which the Levites themselves must tithe for the priests, whose tithe is holy, unlike the tithe itself.

Certain portions of sacrifices and holy offerings are given to the priests; they must consume them in holiness. Levites have no share in the Land, only tithes which the Levites themselves must tithe for the priests.

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