1 Korah son of Izhar, Dathan and Abiram sons of Eliab, and On son of Peleth dared to challenge Moses. Korah was a descendant of Kohath and Levi. Dathan, Abiram, and On were descendants of Reuben.
2 These four men were joined by two hundred and fifty Israelite men, well known leaders of the congregation. The assembly chose them.
3 They came together to confront Moses and Aaron. They said: »You have gone far enough! Everyone in the whole congregation is holy. Jehovah is among them. Why do you set yourselves above Jehovahs assembly?«
4 When Moses heard this, he bowed with his face touching the ground.
5 Then he said to Korah and all his followers: »In the morning Jehovah will show who belongs to him, who is holy. He will have that person come near him. Only the person Jehovah chooses will be allowed to come near him.
6 »Korah, you and all your followers must do this tomorrow: Take incense burners,
7 »Put burning coals and incense in them in Jehovahs presence. Jehovah will choose the man who is holy. You have gone far enough!«
8 Moses also said to Korah: »Listen, you sons of Levi!
9 »Is it not enough for you that the God of Israel has separated you from the rest of the congregation of Israel? Jehovah has brought you near to do the work for his tent and stand in front of the community to serve them.
10 »He brought you and all the other Levites near. But now you demand to be priests.
11 »You and all your followers have joined forces against Jehovah! Who is Aaron that you should complain about him?«
12 Then Moses sent for Dathan and Abiram, sons of Eliab. But they said: »We will not come!
13 »Is it not enough that you brought us out of a land flowing with milk and honey only to kill us in the desert? Do you also have to order us around?
14 »You have not brought us into a land flowing with milk and honey or given us any fields and vineyards to own. Do you think you can still pull the wool over our eyes? We will not come.«
15 Moses became angry and said to Jehovah: »Do not accept their offering. I have not taken anything from them, not even a donkey. And I have not mistreated any of them.«
16 Moses said to Korah: »Tomorrow you and all your followers must come into Jehovahs presence. Aaron will also be there with you.
17 »Each man will take his incense burner and put incense in it. They will offer all two hundred and fifty incense burners to Jehovah. Then you and Aaron offer your incense burners.«
18 So each man took his incense burner. He put burning coals and incense in it and stood with Moses and Aaron at the entrance to the tent of meeting.
19 Korah assembled all his followers who opposed Moses and Aaron at the entrance to the tent of meeting. The glory of Jehovah appeared to the entire group.
20 Jehovah said to Moses and Aaron:
21 »Move away from these men. I will destroy them instantly.«
22 Immediately, they bowed with their faces touching the ground and said: »O God, you are the God who gives the breath of life to everyone! If one man sins, will you be angry with the entire congregation?«
23 Then Jehovah said to Moses:
24 »Tell the congregation: Move away from the tents of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram.«
25 Moses got up and went to Dathan and Abiram, and the elders of Israel followed him.
26 He said to the congregation: »Move away from the tents of these wicked men. Do not touch anything that belongs to them, or youll be swept away because of all their sins.«
27 So they moved away from the tents of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram. Dathan and Abiram came out and were standing at the entrances to their tents with their wives and children.
28 Moses said: »This is how you will know that Jehovah sent me to do all these things and that it wasnt my idea:
29 »If these men die a natural death like all other people Jehovah has not sent me.
30 »But if Jehovah does something totally new, if the ground opens up, swallows them and everything that belongs to them, and they go down alive to their graves; then you will know that these men have treated Jehovah with contempt.«
31 When he finished speaking, the ground under them split,
32 and the earth opened up to swallow them, their families, the followers of Korah, and all their property.
33 They went down alive to their graves with everything that belonged to them. The ground covered them. They disappeared from the assembly.
34 All the Israelites around them ran away when they heard their screams. They thought the ground would swallow them, also.
35 Fire came from Jehovah and consumed the two hundred and fifty men who were offering incense.
36 Then Jehovah said to Moses:
37 »Tell Eleazar, son of the priest Aaron, to take the incense burners out of the fire and scatter the coals and incense somewhere else. This is because the incense burners have become holy.
38 »The incense burners of these men who sinned and lost their lives are holy, because they were offered to Jehovah. Hammer them into thin metal sheets to cover the altar. This will be a sign to the Israelites.«
39 The priest Eleazar took the copper incense burners that had been brought by those who had been burned to death. The incense burners were then hammered into thin metal sheets to cover the altar.
40 He followed Jehovahs command given through Moses. The copper-covered altar will remind Israel that no one but a descendant of Aaron may come near to burn incense to Jehovah. Everyone else will die like Korah and his followers.
41 The next day the whole congregation of Israel complained to Moses and Aaron. They said: »You have killed Jehovahs people.«
42 The congregation came together to confront Moses and Aaron. When they turned toward the tent of meeting, they saw the smoke covering it, and the glory of Jehovah appeared.
43 Then Moses and Aaron went to the front of the tent of meeting.
44 Jehovah said to Moses:
45 »Get away from these people, and let me destroy them in an instant! Immediately, they bowed with their faces touching the ground.«
46 Moses said to Aaron: »Take your incense burner, put burning coals from the altar and incense in it, and go quickly into the congregation to make peace with Jehovah for the people. Jehovah shows his anger! A plague has started.«
47 Aaron took his incense burner, as Moses told him. He ran into the middle of the assembly, because the plague had already begun among the people. He put incense on the incense burner to make peace with Jehovah for the people.
48 He stood between those who had died and those who were still alive. The plague stopped.
49 Fourteen thousand seven hundred died from the plague in addition to those who died because of Korah.
50 By the time Aaron came back to Moses at the entrance to the tent of meeting, the plague had stopped.