Rebellious Sons of Levites
Some of the Israelites were growing tired of Moses’s leadership. One in particular called Korah the Levite decided that enough was enough. 2 He and his friends Dathan and Abiram the Reubenites managed to gain a following of 250 Israelite men and council members, and they decided to stage a rebellion.
3 The angry rabble advanced upon Aaron and Moses yelling, ‘You’ve gone too far this time, Moses! Who the hell do you think you are, acting all holier-than-thou? Who appointed you the leader over us?’
Moses replied simply, ‘God.’
The men looked at each other for a moment and then retorted, ‘Shut up!’
4 Moses went to step forwards, but he tripped and fell flat on his face. 5 After he’d hastily picked himself back up, he said to the crowd, ‘Look, I know a way we can work out who the Lord favours. 6 We’ll all burn some incense to coax him down from his cloud palace, 7 then we’ll put him down on the ground, you get on one side, I’ll go to the other, and we call him and see who he comes to.’
The men muttered amongst themselves and then agreed, ‘Fine!’ and went to walk away.
8 ‘I’m not finished, you ignorant sons of Levites!’ spat Moses. 9 ‘Isn’t it enough for you that God has chosen you to work in his temple? 10 You’ve had the privilege of cooking his meals, sweeping his floors, and cleaning out his litter tray! 11 Where’s the fucking gratitude? Also, leave my little brother Aaron alone!’
‘Yeah!’ added Aaron, stepping out from where he was hiding behind Moses.
Korah and his men ignored them and left.
12 The next day, Moses summoned Dathan and Abiram, but they refused to come. Instead, they sent a message saying, ‘We’re not coming out! 13 You promised us a land flowing with milk and honey, and now you’re going to kill us out here in the desert. 14 We want our frigging milk and honey!’
15 At that, Moses became enraged and ranted to the Lord, ‘Don’t you dare take their offering! After what we’ve been through together, you’d better be bloody faithful!’
Then he sent a message to Korah saying, ‘You’d better get your arses our here tomorrow. It’s censers at dawn, bitch!’
18 So, the next morning at dawn, Moses and Aaron put incense in their censers, lit them and stood at the entrance of the tent of meeting, 19 whilst Korah and his men stood opposite them, also burning their incense. 20 The glory of the Lord appeared between them, drawn by the sweet scent of frankincense.
21 The Lord called out to Moses and Aaron, ‘Step back. I don’t want you to get caught up in the smiting!’
22 Korah’s group, believing the Lord was speaking to them, took a step backwards.
Moses and Aaron threw themselves to the floor crying, ‘Oh God, oh God, oh God!’
23 God grew sterner and ordered, 24 ‘Seriously. Get the fuck out of the way!’
Korah’s men took another step backwards.
25 Moses called to Dathan and Abiram, ‘You guys backed the wrong horse here! Korah has warped your minds! Please, don’t do this!’ 26 Then he called to the entire assembly, ‘Anyone who doesn’t want to be smitten, move away from Korah! Don’t even go near his tent or any of his stuff!’
27 The Israelites who weren’t with Korah came to stand with Moses. Dathan and Abiram grabbed their wives and children and brought them to stand with them on Korah’s side.
28 Moses stood up and declared, ‘You ask why I was chosen to lead my people. I cannot speak for the Lord and tell you why he chose me - hell, I even tried to talk him out of it - but the fact is, he did choose me. 29 You know that God gets pissed off when he doesn’t have his way, and he won’t stand for this kind of bullshit!’
30 ‘I don’t care what you say!’ barked Korah. ‘I’m fed up of being dragged through this fucking desert! I wake up every day with sand in my crotch, we go weeks without eating. Yesterday, I woke up and a scorpion was in bed with my wife giving her the business! She claimed to be asleep, but I could tell she was enjoying it.’ He shot his wife a dirty look, but she just shrugged. He continued, ‘I can run this exodus better than you can, and if I’m wrong, may the ground swallow me whole!’
31 As soon as he finished speaking, the ground beneath him began to crack and quake. 32 Everybody ran screaming in panic, but it was too late. 33 A massive gaping chasm formed beneath Korah, Dathan, Abiram, and their families, which swallowed them up alive, sending them down into the depths of Sheol! 34 Then the earth burped, spat out a goat, which went scampering away in terror, and closed over them again.
35 Just when everything seemed calm, a great fire came out from the Lord and engulfed the men who were offering incense. Their deaths were brutal, but the smell of 250 censers of incense being consumed at once was heady but quite pleasant.
36 The Lord said to Moses, 37 ‘Tell Eleazar to remove the censers from the charred mess and scatter the coals away from the camp. 38 Then I want them hammered flat and used to plate my altar. They’ll serve as a reminder to the people not to fuck with me!’
39 So, Eleazar did as he was told, and the bronze censers were made into a covering for the altar.
40 The real moral of this story, with all its violent imagery and death, is that only Aaronid priests (those descended from Aaron) are legitimate, and the Korahites (those descended from Korah) aren’t. Yup, the various priestly sects were willing to put propaganda into their holy texts to slander other sects.