Torah Pearls #38 – Korach (Numbers 16:1-18:32)

In this episode of The Original Torah Pearls, Korach (Numbers 16:1-18:32), we discuss whether in the rebellion against Moses & Aaron, Korah, Dathan and Abiram established a rival tabernacle? Who are the “men of renown”? Were Korah’s sons also among those swallowed by the earth? What is the significance of the censer for burning incense?

I look forward to reading your comments!

Download Torah Pearls Korach


Torah Pearls #38 - Korach (Numbers 16:1-18:32)

You are listening to The Original Torah Pearls with Nehemia Gordon, Keith Johnson, and Jono Vandor. Thank you for supporting Nehemia Gordon's Makor Hebrew Foundation. Learn more at

Jono: G’day to Joseph who commented saying, “Awesome teachings! This is one of my favorite programs.” Thank you, Joseph. And wherever you may be around the world, thank you for joining us. It is time for Pearls from the Torah Portion with Keith Johnson and Nehemia Gordon.

Keith: Hey!

Jono: G’day, fellows.

Keith: G’day, g’day.

Jono: Here we are again.

Nehemia: G’day, Jono. I want to give a shout-out to David of Wake-Up Ministries, who listens every week with his family over in Norway. Keep listening, David.

Jono: Norway? Today we are in Korach, it’s Numbers 16:1 to 18:32. And it begins like this, are you ready?

Keith: Yes.

Jono: “Now Korah the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, with Dathan and Abiram the sons of Eliab, and On the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took men; and they rose up before Moses,” now, this is just unbelievable, Keith, “they took men; and they rose up before Moses with some of the children of Israel, two hundred and fifty leaders of the congregation, representatives of their congregation, men of renown. And they gathered together against Moses and Aaron, and they said to them, ‘You take too much upon yourselves, for all the congregation is holy, every one of them, and Yehovah is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of Yehovah?’” Oh, my Lord.

Keith: So, we could do some psychology here. Seriously, this is a classic situation where we could really go in and deal with the psychological aspects of what’s going on - you know, groupthink - there’s all sorts of things that we could do. But one of the things I think is interesting, and I know that your translation says these are “men of renown,” is that correct?

Jono: That’s what I’ve got.

Keith: So we could do a whole issue here on the psychology of what’s happening or groupthink, but I wanted to stop for a second and just talk about this idea of leaders who had been appointed, and yours said “men of renown,” is that right?

Jono: That is correct.

Keith: Okay. And you’re in verse 2 there, is that what you’re reading?

Jono: That’s the end of verse 2, it says that the...

Keith: Okay.

Jono: “…the representatives of the congregation, men of renown.”

Keith: Okay. And then mine says, “these are community leaders who had been appointed members of the council.” So, I think that’s a pretty important difference. And so, of course, if Nehemia is with us right now, we need to ask him this simple question.

Nehemia: Yeah?

Keith: What does it say in the Hebrew? So, he’s got “men of renown,” mine says “community leaders,” what does yours have?

Nehemia: Well, it’s got three things, it’s got “Nesi’ey ha’eda,” which you could literally translate as “princes of the congregation,” “kri’ey mo’ed,” which literally would be translated, “those who are called to the gathering,” and then “anshey shem,” men of name.

Keith: Aha!

Nehemia: “Men of shem.” So, there are three types of people, or people who perhaps fit all three of these categories: princes of the congregation, those who are called to the gathering, and men of renown – men of name; literally, men of shem.

Keith: Okay. And so, one of the things that I wanted to bring up just as something to discuss - and this just happened to catch my attention - it says about the three men that it names in the beginning, “and certain Reubenites.” Then it gives the two names of them. So, the question becomes this: of the tribes that are represented right now, is it fair to say we’re dealing with Levi and Reuben?

Jono: It seems to be.

Nehemia: They’re definitely the ringleaders; they’re not the only ones.

Keith: They’re ringleaders; they’re not the only?

Nehemia: They’re obviously not the only ones, because there’s 250 people just from the children of Israel. I mean, the ringleaders are clearly Levi, the Levites, and then on top of that, you’ve got some Reubenites who are taking major active roles, although they kind of have a different issue than the Levites. The Levites are like, “Why aren’t we allowed to be priests? We were chosen by God. We should be priests. God is prophesying to 72 of us, why are you so special?” We had that scene in a previous Torah portion.

Jono: Yeah.

Nehemia: “He’s among us, we’re all seeing the cloud and the glory of Yehovah.”

Keith: Yes.

Nehemia: “Who made you prince over us? Why are you so special?” But then Dathan and Abiram from Reuven, their issue is, “Wait a minute, we didn’t get into the land of Israel, the land of Canaan, and now you’re telling us we’re never going to get there, that we’re going to die here in the desert. We need some change of leadership.”

Keith: So, what I’m saying is, you know, you could actually go through this… a psychologist could really have a field day with this, as far as what’s going on. But the reason that I’m just bringing it up is that no matter what we see there, the number one issue, as I’m reading it, is they’re having a problem with Yehovah. Moses is the one that’s their representative but they’re using spiritual issues to mask the issue. You know, they’re not happy.

Jono: They’re not happy.

Keith: And they’re not happy, and so what you do is you come up with these issues. But I’m just saying, a psychologist could look at this and really, really, probably, analyze this…

Jono: I’ll tell you this...

Keith: Yeah, go ahead.

Jono: I was just going to say, Keith, 250 of them, it certainly seems like there’s been a lot of discussion going around the camp. There’s been some conspiring, and they’ve gotten together, and they say... and if we go back, Keith, we see that Yehovah wanted to take them all out, remember, and Moses intercedes for the people because there’s a lot of moaning and groaning going on. And obviously that didn’t go away, they’ve conspired against him, they’ve risen up against him, and they’ve decided, “look, put it to him like this, just put it to him like this, say, ‘look, Moses and Aaron you take too much upon yourselves and you know, come on, aren’t we important too? Aren’t we also holy? Haven’t we also been set apart? You know, get off your high horse and let’s share around some of the glory,’” if you like.

Nehemia: Now, we got an interesting expression here at the end of verse 2 that they’re “anshey shem,” men of name. That’s a phrase that only appears twice in the Bible, and the other place is in Genesis, chapter 6, verse 4. It says there, “it was then later too that the Nephilim appeared on earth when the divine beings,” this is JPS, “when,” it literally says the sons of God, the sons of Elohim, “when the sons of Elohim cohabited with the daughters of men who bore them offspring, they were the mighty men of old, the men of name,” the anshey hashem. So, there’s only two places in the Bible that talks about it. And, you know, what we could do is develop an entire theology about how...

Keith: I got one…

Nehemia: About how the – you got one, alright – and this is the secret for $19.95. You know, we could do the whole theology about how the anshey shem, the men of name, are there in Genesis 6:4, the sons of Nephilim, and they’re here in Numbers, and those men who are descended from the Nephilim were the ones who rose up against Moses. Now, it’s theology time, now we could establish an entire denomination around these two words “anshey shem,” men of name. And we could... that would be our distinctiveness. If you wanted to know you’d have to have that secret knowledge to be part of the group, and…I’m saying this half-jokingly, but this is what a lot of people will tend to do.

Jono: Hey, it happens. It happens…

Nehemia: So, it does! I mean, and what they’ll do is, they’ll take the most obscure thing possible, and that’s the basis of theology.

Jono: Keith?

Nehemia: There it is.

Keith: Just when I was going to do a commercial about my new teaching on this… I’ve got a new book coming out, “anshey shem.” I’m just kidding. No, but I do think, one of the things that I want to say is that you come across these wonderful little nuggets, and it’s hard not to try to make the connection, it’s hard not to say, “so why does he say it here and why does he say it there?”

Jono: Yeah.

Keith: So that really is a challenge.

Jono: It is thought-provoking, there’s no doubt about it

Nehemia: Yeah, and there may be a reason why it’s here and why it’s there, we just haven’t come up with it. But what’s important is to look at these things in context, not just pluck the two words and say, “We’ve got the word here and we’ve got the word there, now it’s at basis of our doctrine.”

Let’s look at the things in context; there it’s talking about people who lived thousands of years before these people - what could possibly be the connection? The issue here isn’t that they’re the sons of Nephilim; here the issue is they’re like, “Well, wait a minute, we were taken out of Egypt, we saw the miracles of the Creator, this particular group of people was chosen, they were set apart, the sons of Levi, why are they being held back as second-class Levites, as second-class priests? Why aren’t they getting the full package? Why is only Moses’s brother… there might be some nepotism going on there. And the response he gives is, “Well, it’s not about Aaron, and it’s not about me, this is what Yehovah has chosen. You want to challenge it? Bring your incense burner and we’ll see.”

Keith: Yeah. So, we got to read that because that is something to slow down with for a second. Go ahead, Jono.

Jono: Okay. So, he says, “Tomorrow morning Yehovah will show who is His and who is holy and will cause him to come near to Him. That one whom He chooses He will cause to come near to Him. Do this: take censers, Korah and your company; put fire in them and put incense in them before Yehovah tomorrow, and it shall be that the man whom Yehovah chooses is the holy one. You take too much upon yourselves, you sons of Levi!”

Now, guys, reading those sentences there - it’s kind of like clunky in the New King James. I don’t really understand where he’s going with that, particularly at the end where he says, “You take too much upon yourselves, you sons of Levi!” How does it read in the Hebrew, Nehemia? How do you interpret that?

Nehemia: Well, it says, “rav lachem benei-Levi,” which could be translated in a number of ways, which is probably why it comes out clunky in English; the Hebrew is kind of ambiguous. One way to translate this is, “enough, sons of Levi, enough of this,” and the other way to translate this is…you know, “rav” literally means greatness, or “greatness for you the sons of Levi.” So, there he may be referring to, you know, you already got the greatness, why are you demanding more? Why are you demanding more than what God gave you? He already gave you this gift. So, there may even be an intentional ambiguity there.

Jono: Sure.

Nehemia: But definitely, I think just the immediate kind of plain meaning there would be, “Enough! Enough of you, sons of Levi!”

Jono: Fair enough. Okay.

Nehemia: You know...

Jono: Okay.

Nehemia: “You’ve done this enough.”

Jono: And “Then Moses said to Korah, “Hear now, you sons of Levi: Is it a small thing to you that the God of Israel has separated you from the congregation of Israel, to bring you near to Himself, and to do the work of the Tabernacle of Yehovah, and to stand before the congregation to serve them; and that He has brought you near to Himself, you and all your brethren, the sons of Levi, with you? And are you seeking the priesthood also?” it says.

Nehemia: Now for those who haven’t listened to the program before, this is a point I’m sure we’ve made before, which is…I know in English, in the English-speaking world, there’s very often a confusion between Levite and Kohen. You know, the Levite is someone who’s a descendant from Levi, who is one of those 12 sons of Jacob, and one of the original 12 tribes. And then Kohen, or priest, is a subset within Levi, and that’s specifically Aaron and his descendants.

I’ve given the analogy in the past concerning Georgia, of blessed memory, my dog Georgia who passed away, she was a Ridgeback. Which is, of course, the most beautiful breed of dogs. All Ridgebacks are dogs but not all dogs are Ridgebacks. In the same vein, you can say all Kohanim, all priests, are Levites but not all Levites are priests.

That was exactly the problem here. They said, “Wait a minute, I’m a Levite, I’m born to the chosen group within the chosen group, I should be able to… and I’ve been tasked with carrying the ark of the covenant, the holiest object on planet earth, and you’re telling me I can’t sprinkling the blood on the altar? That I can’t bring the incense into the Tabernacle? I mean, come on, I should get more than this.” And he’s saying, look, isn’t it enough what you’ve got?

Jono: But it’s not... Nehemia and Keith, it’s not so much that they want more duties, is at least what I’m getting from the text. It’s not as if they want more duties or more responsibility, it seems like they want more fame or more recognition for themselves. Do you think that’s probably a fair analysis of the situation?

Nehemia: I’m not so sure this is just about recognition - that was probably part of it. We see that in verse 13, that there are some authority issues going on here as well, but I think this is also their thing - wow, the sons of Aaron, they’ve got this holy thing. But you know what, Yehovah is amongst us; why can’t we all be holy?

Keith: Exactly.

Nehemia: In that way.

Keith: I just want to say this, the thing that I still, like I said in the beginning, I think a lot of times what people will do is they will find one thing and say, “here’s the reason that we want to bring this to you, but really it’s something else.” And that’s why I said a psychologist could probably come up with what the official term is. But when you read it you just get a sense that - is this really your heart, that you’re saying, “look, we’re all holy, but yet here you’re basically seen, heard, watched, all of this that’s gone on and yet you’re still standing up and saying, we’re going to oppose Moses?”

Now one thing I wanted Nehemia to take a quick look at, this is just very, very quick - Nehemia, I want you to look if you could in 16:3 and then in 16:7, the term that’s used there, and I know you mentioned it... and the term, when he came to Moses, this is just, I think it’s interesting in 16:3, if you read in the Hebrew, Nehemia, when they said unto him what are the two words that are used there? 16:3 “and they assembled together against Moses and Aaron and said to them,” correct?

Nehemia: “Rav lachem.”

Keith: Yeah, “rav lachem,” so...

Nehemia: It’s “much for you...”.

Keith: Speaking in the plural, “much to you,” but then when they bring it up, they say, “they assembled against Moses and Aaron, ‘You have gone too far! Enough for you,’” and then he uses the exact same phrase. So, I mean it’s just one of these little things... you know, they come to him and they said, “rav lachem,” and then Moses comes back and says, “No, rav lachem.” The very words that you used.

Nehemia: There it is.

Keith: Anyway.

Jono: Verse 11, “Therefore you and your company are gathered together against Yehovah. And what is Aaron that you should complain against him?”

Keith: Right.

Jono: Now, he’s sticking up for his brother. Fair enough. “And Moses sent to call Dathan and Abiram the sons of Eliab, but they said,” how about this, “they said, ‘We will not come up!’” And Keith, here it is, again… now, Moses had said something, he said in verse 9, “Is it a small thing to you that,” yadda yadda yadda, so on and on it goes, and then here in verse 13, they will not come up, and they reply, “Is it a small thing that you have brought us up out of a land flowing with milk and honey?” Now, if I’m to understand this correctly, they’re referring to Egypt as a land flowing with milk and honey.

Nehemia: That’s right.

Jono: They’re referring to…

Nehemia: Mitzrayim.

Jono: To Mitzrayim as a land…

Keith: That’s a backhand, that’s a clear backhand.

Jono: …land of bondage, as a land flowing with milk and honey, “to kill us in the wilderness, that you should keep acting like a prince over us? Moreover, you have not brought us into a land flowing with milk and honey, nor given us inheritance of fields and vineyards. Will you put out the eyes of these men? We will not come up!”

Nehemia: Wow. We’ve got to stop there because that’s a powerful few verses there. Numbers 16:13 and 14. So first of all, I love the words that they choose when they’re accusing him here. They say… and how did you translate it there? “To kill us in the desert.” What did you have there at the end of verse 13, again?

Jono: Yeah, I’ve got, “to kill us in the wilderness, that you should keep acting like a prince over us?”

Nehemia: “…acting like a prince over us,” and it says, “ki tistarer aleynu, gam histarer,” that you will lord over us, or be a prince over us, or could also be a minister of a government, the word “sar,” or even a general. That’s a significant word because he’s been accused of this before.

Jono: He has. Exodus 2:14, I think.

Nehemia: 2:14. Because of that some of the Jewish commentators have actually said this isn’t his first run-in with Dathan and Abiram, this is the second run-in. That these were the two men that…now, we don’t know that for sure; this has been suggested. So, if we read that in Exodus 2:13-14, it says, “and it came to pass on the second day, and behold, two Hebrew men were fighting, and he said to the wicked one, ‘Why are you smiting your fellow?’” And in verse 14, “and he said,” that is this guy who’s beating up his friend, he said, “Who has made you as a prince and a judge over us? Are you going to kill us,” or plotting to kill us, “as you killed the Egyptian?”

So he’s been accused before of being this prince over the people, a prince of Egypt, and so some people have actually said that the two men over there in Exodus 2:13-14 are the same two men here - Dathan and Abiram, and this is their old shtick that, you know...

Jono: You know, that’s an interesting way to look at it because that was the catalyst for Moses…it goes on to say that, “Moses fled from the face of Pharaoh and dwelt in the land of Midian,” so he was off. And perhaps they were hoping, “Hey, if we play this card again, he’ll be gone.”

Keith: And that’s what I want to say - the psychologist in me, though I’m not one, it says even if it wasn’t those two men, you find the hook. So, let’s just say that the public relations on Moses’s is, “look if you want to get him, just bring up what happened when he had to flee Egypt.”

Jono: Sure.

Keith: You know, we’ll use the same accusation. They do that with politicians all the time.

Jono: Sure.

Keith: You know, the politician will be going along, and he’ll get favored and then they’ll say, “but don’t you remember when? Don’t you remember when you said this?”

Nehemia: Right.

Keith: And so, it’s very possible that it is the two, or maybe it’s something that…

Nehemia: Yeah. Even if it’s a different two there’s definitely the issue here that they’re bringing up the old baggage, which is, you know…

Keith: Exactly.

Nehemia: “…this is what you did before.” You know, “You’re going to kill us like you killed that Egyptian guy. Is that what you’re going to do?” That’s kind of what Dathan and Abiram, by using this terminology, they’re alluding back to that other incident and that earlier accusation.

Jono: Sure.

Nehemia: And then I love the end of verse 14, where it says, literally, “Are you going to poke out the eyes of these men, of those men?” Well, what does that mean, “poke out the eyes of those men”? Also, their choice of words where they say, “We will not go up. Is it not enough that you brought us out of Egypt?” Why do they say, “go up”? Why didn’t they say “come”?

I think that’s a very strategically chosen word because, in Hebrew you always talk about “going up” to the land of Israel, and whenever you leave Israel it’s “going down.” When they said, “We will not go up,” I think that had a double meaning there. They’re saying, “We’re not going to come and appear before you, and we ain’t going up. We’re not going to that land that you want to take us to where we’re going to get consumed by the giants, we want to go back to Egypt.”

Then when he says… what do you guys think he means when he says, “Are you going to poke out the eyes of these men?” What do you think he means by that?

Keith: Great question. I’d like to hear the answer.

Jono: Go on.

Nehemia: Well… not saying I have the answer, but when I read this what I’m thinking is that everyone can see we’re not going to the land of Canaan, that we’re not going to the land of milk and honey. You’re going to have to poke our eyes out because we can see with our own two eyes that what you promised isn’t materializing.

I think that’s what they’re saying. They’re saying you’re just going to have to poke our eyes out because we’re not blind, we can see what’s going on. You’re taking us into the desert and we’re never getting out of this desert. You’re telling us yourself we’re not getting out of the desert; we’re going to die here. You’d have to blind us, poke our eyes out, for us to not see what’s going on here.

Jono: That’s interesting…

Nehemia: And I think on that note, where we’re talking about poking eyes out, I think now is a good time for us to pray.

Jono: Hey, excellent.

Nehemia: And ask Yehovah...

Keith: Nice transition, Nehemia.

Nehemia: …rather than poke our eyes out, to open our eyes.

Jono: Amen.

Nehemia: Keith, would you lead us in prayer?

Keith: Yes. Absolutely. Father, I thank you so much for this opportunity and we want to be people who do see, and we want to see according to what you have for us. So, open our eyes that we might see the wonderful things that are hidden in your Torah. Amen.

Jono: Amen.

Nehemia: Amen.

Jono: And I guess... I mean I don’t know if this is… I mean this is a stretch and this is speculation and it doesn’t say anything of the sort, but in verse 12 of chapter 2 in Exodus, “So he looked this way and that, and when he saw no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.” It says nothing about poking out his eyes, but I mean, who knows how he died? Who knows how the Egyptian died? Or how Moses killed him. We don’t know, but you never know - they might’ve just been fueling the fire.

In any case, Moses is none too happy. It says, “Then Moses was very angry, and said to Yehovah, ‘Do not respect their offering. I have not taken one donkey from them, nor have I hurt one of them.’ And Moses said to Korah, ‘Tomorrow, you and all your company be present before Yehovah — you and they, as well as Aaron. Let each take his censer and put incense in it, and each of you bring his censer before Yehovah, two hundred and fifty censers; both you and Aaron, each with his censer.’ So, every man took his censer, put fire in it, laid incense on it, and stood at the door of the Tabernacle of Meeting with Moses and Aaron. And Korah gathered all the congregation,” he gathered all the congregation, “against them at the door of the Tabernacle of Meeting. Then the glory...”

Keith: One second, one second, Jono, and I know this is... so if I’m reading this, now just read this with me for a second. So, if I’m reading this, I heard first Moses say “Tomorrow,” in verses 4 through 7 he tells them, “bring your censers.”

Jono: There it is.

Keith: Then there’s a discussion back and forth, and Moses also said to them, “now, listen, isn’t it enough for you,” etc., etc., etc., then Moses summoned them. So, he says, “we will not come.” So, if it’s the same day now, maybe I’m wrong, if it’s the same day Moses says, “look, you guys, bring your censers tomorrow. Now Dathan and Abiram come here I want to talk to you.” And he says, “we’re not coming.” So, then Moses goes again, “Okay, here’s the deal, now you and your followers are to appear before Yehovah tomorrow, you and they and Aaron; each man is to take his censer.”

So, here’s my question: if they’ve already said they’re not coming, does that mean they’re willing to have the public challenge, but they don’t want to have private records? Like in other words, was Moses saying, “hey, you two, look, now, it’s going down tomorrow, it’s going to go down tomorrow, get the censers, now, in the meantime hey, you two, come here let’s talk”; “we’re not coming.”

Jono: Sure.

Keith: Was that an opportunity? Was he trying...

Jono: You know what, this is the first time I’ve thought about that, but…

Keith: …was Moses saying, “look guys…”

Jono: Yeah.

Keith: “…guys listen, it’s going to go down tomorrow, come and talk.” It’s almost like, and I don’t want to go too far on this, it’s almost like he’s like, “Okay, look, we’ve got a public problem that’s going here, let’s see if we can deal with this privately.” And they said, “We ain’t doing it. We want to have the public contest.” I mean, think about that - you’re on Moses’s home court, you’re on Moses’s...

Jono: Yeah.

Keith: …in other words, Moses is saying let’s deal with this this way: you go ahead and get your censers, here’s what we’re going to do, but in the meantime, let’s work it out. And I’m not saying that he’s saying that but otherwise, I’m asking the question, why does that happen between these two instructions to get the censers?

Nehemia: That may also have to do with verse 14, where they say, “are you going to poke out the eyes of these men?” What that might mean is, you know, everyone’s looking, everyone’s watching.

Keith: Right. Exactly.

Nehemia: We’re not going to let you do this in private.

Jono: Right.

Nehemia: And behind closed doors.

Jono: Yes.

Keith: Exactly.

Nehemia: Everyone’s going to see what’s going to happen.

Jono: Yep. That makes sense. And so, the court date is set. But in the meantime, Moses says, now, come on let’s be reasonable.

Nehemia: Oh, hold on. We got to back to verse 15, I love verse 15.

Jono: Yeah.

Nehemia: Where he says, “I have not taken a donkey from them, and I have not harmed one of them.” That’s later repeated in the time of Samuel, and so if we could just pop over real quick...

Jono: Sure.

Nehemia: 1 Samuel, chapter 12, verse 3, let me read this here. Here it’s a situation where Samuel is standing before the people and he says, “Behold,” he says, “Here I am, answer me,” or it could also be translated, testify against me, “Before Yehovah and before his Messiah, whose ox have I taken and whose donkey have I taken and who have I oppressed and who have I persecuted and from the hand of who have I taken a bribe?” you could translate it as, “that I’ve hidden my eye against him, and I will return it to you.” And he’s saying look, you’ve rejected me as your prophet and you wanted a king instead, so now, testify against me in the presence of Yehovah and the presence of his Mashiach, and at that time, of course...

Jono: Saul.

Nehemia: …Mashiach is talking about King Saul, who a few chapters earlier he had anointed as king over Israel, poured oil on his head. And ‘Mashiach,’ of course, means the anointed one, he literally anointed him with oil. He’s saying, “come and testify against me and tell me who I’ve wronged here, whom I’ve stolen from in the presence of Yehovah and his Meshiach.” And that is essentially echoing the words of Moses, I mean almost literally - whose donkey have I taken? Which I guess was a big deal to take a donkey back then.

Jono: Sure.

Nehemia: Or maybe that was a small matter, and they’re saying, I haven’t even taken a donkey, let alone anything else. I think this is a beautiful verse here, 1 Samuel, chapter 12, verse 3, because if I’m going to be so bold, I think that what we have here might be a picture of the Final Judgment where testimony will be born in the presence of Yehovah and his Messiah.

Jono: I reckon that’s fair, actually.

Keith: Okay.

Nehemia: I think so.

Jono: Yeah.

Nehemia: I think it’s a picture of the Final Judgment.

Jono: Sure.

Nehemia: Whoo!

Jono: There we go. Okay. “So, the glory of Yehovah appeared to all the congregation. And Yehovah spoke,” man, boy, oh, boy, don’t you think you’d feel like you’re in trouble then. “And Yehovah spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, ‘Separate yourselves from among this congregation, that I may consume them in a moment.’” So, again, he was like, “I’ve had enough, I’m going to wipe them out, I’ll make another nation out of you and Aaron,” probably. But, “They fell on their faces, and said, ‘O God, the God of the spirits of all flesh, shall one man sin, and You be angry with all the congregation?’ So Yehovah spoke to Moses...”

Nehemia: Can we stop there for a second?

Jono: Sure.

Nehemia: I feel like we need to slow down. There are two things here that are really powerful. One is this phrase, “el, elohi haruchot lechol basar,” which you could translate literally, “mighty one, the God of the spirits of all flesh”, which…wow! Do you not get excited?

Keith: Oh, I, you know…

Nehemia: “El, elohi haruchot lechol basar.” Whoo!

Keith: Yeah.

Nehemia: And that only appears twice in the Bible, the other place is Numbers 27:16. So only twice do we have that phrase where God is referred to as “el, elohi ruchot lechol basar.” Actually in 27:16 he’s called, “Yehovah elohi haruchot lechol basar.” His name; He’s not just “el,” the mighty one God, He’s Yehovah, the God of the spirits of all flesh. That’s, I think, a powerful image there.

Then also it says, “shall one man sin, and You be angry with the entire congregation?” Of course, this reminds me immediately of the negotiation that Abraham had hundreds of years earlier, many hundreds of years earlier, with God over Sodom and Gomorrah.

Jono: Sure.

Nehemia: Where he’s trying to negotiate, he’s saying, “what if there are 50 righteous people; you’re not going to kill everybody, right? Let’s kill only the unrighteous people.” This reminds me of something in Jewish history which, if I could just take a quick tangent here, which is, there was this group of people after the Holocaust who called themselves, The Avengers, “hanokmim,” and they were Jews who had survived Holocaust. They decided that they were going to kill as many Germans as they could. And they actually hatched a plot to poison the water supply of Hamburg and kill maybe hundreds of thousands of people. In the end, their plot was foiled by... they needed the poison and they went to the Jewish leaders in Israel, and the Jewish leaders in Israel said, “what are you, crazy? There are people who are criminals, and we’re going to go after those criminals. We’re going to hunt them to the ends of the earth, but we’re not going to kill innocent people who didn’t commit these crimes.”

Jono: Sure.

Nehemia: I think that here is where they learned this concept; that, if one man sins, you don’t go and kill everybody.

Jono: You know what that reminds me of? Now, just the two connections that you made there, Nehemia, and where it says, “the God of the spirits of all flesh,” takes me to Ezekiel 18, verse 4, where he says “Behold, all souls are Mine; The soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is Mine; The soul who sins shall die.” And that the children do not pay for the sins of the father, and vice versa. But it just reminded me of that, anyhow.

Nehemia: There it is.

Jono: “So Yehovah spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the congregation, saying, ‘Get away from the tents of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram.’ Then Moses rose and went to Dathan and Abiram, and the elders of Israel followed him. And he spoke to the congregation, saying, ‘Depart now from the tents of the wicked men! Touch nothing of theirs, lest you be consumed in their sin.’ So they got away from around the tents of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram; and Dathan and Abiram came out and stood at the door of their tents, with their wives, their sons, and their little children. And Moses said: ‘By this you shall know that Yehovah has sent me to you to do all these works, for I have not done them by my own will. If these men die naturally like all men, or if they are visited by the common fate of all men, then Yehovah has not sent me. But if Yehovah creates a new thing, and the earth opens its mouth and swallows them up with all that belongs to them, and they go down alive into the pit, then you will understand that these men have rejected Yehovah.’”

Nehemia: Do you have “pit” in yours, Johnson? Verse 30?

Keith: It is, “But if the LORD brings about something totally new, and the earth opens its mouth and swallows them, with everything that belongs to them, and they go down alive into the grave, Sheol...”

Jono: Ah, you’ve got grave?

Nehemia: The Hebrew has “Sheol,” and Sheol in the Tanach is... basically, Sheol is this spiritual realm where people... where their spirits go when they die. In the way it’s described in the Tanach, in the Greek, this is usually translated in, like…for example, in the New Testament it’ll talk about Hades, but really, it’s attempting to translate into Greek terms the Hebrew concept of “Sheol.” Sheol is simply the realm of the dead.

One of the things we know about “Sheol,” we’re told by King Solomon in the book of Ecclesiastes. I know this is a little off topic, but let’s really quickly read what he says, his conclusion there. It’s Ecclesiastes chapter 9, and it says, verse 10, it says “All that you find in your hand to do, do with your might, for there is no action or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol to which you are going.” And earlier in the chapter of Ecclesiastes 9 he tells us everyone goes to the same place.

Jono: Whether they’re good or they’re bad, whether they’re righteous or they’re unfaithful, the wicked…

Nehemia: Everyone.

Jono: …they all go to Sheol.

Nehemia: Everyone goes to Sheol.

Jono: Amen.

Nehemia: Now you might ask, “well, okay, so what’s the advantage of being righteous or unrighteous? You know, why bother?” My first answer to that is, don’t do it for the reward. There’s an ancient Jewish proverb that says, don’t serve the master in order to get rewards. Serve the master, not to get the reward, just because you love him, and the master being the Creator of the universe, Yehovah.

But on top of that, we do have this concept of the Final Judgment, where it says in Daniel, chapter 12, verse 2, “Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth, some shall arise for eternal life, and some for eternal contempt for derision.” So, there’ll be this Final Judgment in which those who are sleeping in Sheol, whose souls are down there in Sheol, essentially in a state of unconsciousness, as Ecclesiastes described it, will be awakened and there will be a Final Judgment.

Jono: Amen. And so, the interesting thing is, I’m glad you picked that up. Keith, I did do a search on that in the King James, and in the King James, that word, “Sheol,” is translated I think thirty odd times, as “grave”, as it says in your translation, another thirty odd times says, “Hell,” and three times as “the pit.” And it’s interesting that they should put “hell,” in there; they went down into hell! They did.

Keith: Yes.

Jono: So, Keith?

Keith: Well, I want to do something and this whole story - and I’m going to keep saying the same thing - this whole story, really just makes me think a lot about groupthink and what’s going on and all of that. So, I’m going to back away from that and just let the Bible speak for a second.

There’s something else that really comes across in this story that I think is important, and that is that there’s one little item that Moses asked them to do and then this is the issue, he says, “so bring your censer.” Now when I hear censer, obviously what I want to know is what’s this issue with the censer? And there’s this great story, you guys - I mean this story is one that I remember from a long, long time ago, in 2nd Chronicles 26:19, the man named Uzziah who had a similar situation with a censer.

And what he did was he brought out his censer and he was basically trying to establish his authority both as king and priest, and it says in 26:19, “But Uzziah, with a censer in his hand for burning incense, was enraged; and while he was enraged with the priests, the leprosy broke out on his forehead before the priests in the house of Yehovah, beside the altar of incense.” And if you read the entire story you understand what’s going on, but there’s this issue again of the censer.

So, Moses says to them... listen, he could’ve said this - he could’ve said, “hey, listen, guys, you want to have a contest? Just be like Elijah. Elijah says it’s time for Yehovah to choose between us and between them, where the fire’s going to fall down…” Instead, Moses does something really interesting. He says, “Okay, I’ll tell you what. You guys want to determine who’s going to be holy, you want to determine who’s going to be the priest? Grab a censer.”

And so, what was the censer? So then they have the censer, the fire in the censer, the incense, I’ve seen this at different times, and there’s another thing in Ezekiel 8:11, it also talks about this, “Standing in front of them were seventy elders of the house of Israel, with Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan standing among them, each man with his censer in his hand and the fragrance of the cloud of incense rising.” So, what’s the picture? So, the picture’s almost like this: we know that Moses had a conversation “panim-el-panim,” I think it is “face to face” with Yehovah, a conversation with him, they had dialogue back and forth. So, Moses says this, “You think that I’m going too far? You think me selecting Aaron is going too far? Let’s use this symbol of prayer, of incense; let’s use this to be the thing. You go ahead and put your fire in there. Let’s meet out here and then let the choice be made.”

When I see that I think to myself, “okay, where do we see that in other places?” And, again, the story in 2nd Chronicles 26 is interesting because Uzziah is saying, “I’m going to prove to you that I’m both king and priest, I’ve got my censer in my hand for burning incense, my prayers are accepted, just like He smells this incense.”

And again, I might be going too far here, but there’s something that really, really hit me about a month ago and that is - I’m going to bring up the story when I was in Rome. So, one of the things about Rome, and that we also see in Jerusalem if you go to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, or many other churches. And I wasn’t being funny, I was watching a procession at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and as I’m there, it’s a really phenomenal place because in it you’ve got six different denominations, two different calendars, and everybody’s basically marching around to determine who’s got the better parade, and I’m not trying to be funny.

Jono: Alright.

Keith: So, you’ve got one denomination coming in, another denomination coming in - when I say denomination I’m talking about these different groups, Greek Orthodox, etc. Well, one of the things that they do is they put the incense in this little deal, and they swing it back and forth and the smell goes up. And to be honest - I mean, Nehemia you know this because you’ve been in there many times - but when I walk in there it’s not a smell that’s pleasing, it’s really quite toxic. And they’re basically having their censer and they’re swinging it back and forth, and I guess that’s supposed to make me stand back and say, “okay, their prayers are being accepted,” I’m not sure what it is, but it’s not, like I said, it gets my eyes a little bit watery.

But the image of Moses selecting the censer is significant because what did the censer represent? And why did he pick that? Why didn’t he say, “okay, you guys, everyone bring your tallit, or everyone bring your…” whatever? Why the censer? So, I just think the whole thing is interesting that he picked that, and again, 2nd Chronicles kind of gives me a parallel to look at.

Jono: Thank you for that reference. “And so, it came to pass, as he finished speaking all these words, that the ground split apart under them, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, with their households and all the men with Korah, and all their goods. So, they and all those with them went down alive into the pit and the earth closed over them.” Keith, my goodness, “the earth closed over them and they perished from among the assembly. Then all Israel who were around them fled at their cry, for they said, ‘Lest the earth swallow us up also!’” They were gone, the earth swallowed them. They were swallowed by the earth.

Keith: And yet we have this - and this is a complicated one, just going to bring it up - so is it our understanding that all of the entire family of those went down into the earth?

Jono: It doesn’t say explicitly I suppose, but it’s certainly implied because there they were at the tent and it makes a point of saying, doesn’t it, in verse 27…

Keith: “Their wives and their children.”

Jono: “Their wives, their sons, and their little children,” to illustrate it even further. And it seems like they all “went down alive into the pit and the earth closed over them, and they perished from among the assembly.” Now, that’s really...

Nehemia: Now, hold on a second. Can we jump ahead to Numbers, chapter 26?

Keith: Right.

Nehemia: Where the story is being regurgitated.

Keith: There it is.

Nehemia: It’s being retold. Again, you’ve got parallel passages, you’ve got to read all of them. Chapter 26, verses 9 to 11, maybe one of you guys can read that?

Jono: You got it, Keith?

Keith: Yes. Verse 9, “And the sons of Eliab were Nemuel, Dathan and Abiram. The same Dathan and Abiram were the community officials who rebelled against Moses and Aaron and were among Korah's followers when they rebelled against the LORD. The earth opened its mouth and swallowed them along with Korah, whose followers died when the fire devoured 250 men. And they served as a warning sign. The line of Korah, however, did not die out.”

Jono: Ah, verse 11!

Nehemia: There it is, reversed.

Jono: What do you have in 11?

Keith: “The line of Korah, however, did not die out.”

Nehemia: Right, well, is that not what it says in yours?

Jono: Yeah, I’ve got...

Keith: That’s what it says.

Nehemia: What?

Jono: Hold on, let me tell you what I’ve got. I’ve got here in verse 11, it says, “Nevertheless the children of Korah did not die.”

Nehemia: And there it is. Literally, you could say, “the sons of Korach did not die.” So, there were these people who were connected to Korach, who said, “Our dad’s wrong, we can’t be involved in this.” That becomes a very important thing later on, because if you to the Psalms you’ll read, for example, Psalm 42 says, “For the conductor, a ‘maskil’,” which is a certain type of Psalm, “of the sons of Korach.”

So we’ve got one, two, Psalm 42, 44, 45,46, 47, 48, 49, 84, 85, 87 - these are all Psalms of the sons of Korach, and then finally, 88. So we’ve got eleven Psalms that are written and performed and sung by the sons of Korach. So, although their father... and you know, it’s just like the verse you were talking about in Ezekiel, Jono, where it talks about if the father sins and the son repents, the son doesn’t carry that sin with him. That’s exactly what happened with the sons of Korach: their father sinned, they said, “We need to step away from here, we don’t believe in what he’s doing, he’s wrong about this.” They were righteous and they were spared, and they became the authors of eleven Psalms.

Jono: There it is. Brilliant.

Keith: Amen.

Jono: Thank you for that. “And a fire came out from Yehovah and consumed the two hundred and fifty men who were offering incense. Then Yehovah spoke to Moses, saying: ‘Tell Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, to pick up the censers,’” get this Keith, “pick up the censers out of the blaze, for they are holy, and scatter the fire some distance away. The censers of these men who sinned against their own souls, let them be made into hammered plates as a covering…” now, Nehemia, “…a covering for the altar.” What is that? What do you have there?

Nehemia: Yeah, well, rikui-, “tzipui,” rather, is, yeah, a covering. But I want to go and read… Keith could you read verses 2 and 3 in your translation? This is really interesting how you translated it.

Keith: 2 and 3 of what?

Nehemia: Of Numbers 17, the chapter that we’re in.

Keith: 2? What are you talking about? Numbers 2 and 3? What are you talking about, Nehemia? We’re in 16.

Nehemia: Wait...

Keith: What are you talking about?

Nehemia: Okay.

Keith: We’re in 16:33 and 34.

Nehemia: Okay. Look, I’m following the version Jono’s reading. I’m like, “mine’s so different I can’t believe it.”

Keith: It’s because you’re in the wrong chapter.

Nehemia: Now I know why. I’m in the right chapter, there it is. Okay

Jono: Moving right along, okay, so he made it. He made a covering for the altar.

Nehemia: Okay. So what verse are you in?

Keith: Jono, you got to keep this, no, this is funny, Nehemia says, so Jono says, no, this is classic, so Jono speaks verse and he says, “what does it say in Hebrew?” And then Nehemia’s like, “boy, I’ll tell you what - those English translations are terrible.”

Nehemia: Now, hold on a second. Hold on, before you guys make fun of me, hold on. So, Numbers 17, chapter 1… or excuse me chapter 17, verse 1, in the Hebrew is… in the King James version, in your English, Numbers 16:36, so I’m actually right when I say verses 2 to 3.

Jono: Whoa!

Keith: 33 and 34.

Nehemia: When I say verses 2 to 3 those are the verse numbers in the Hebrew, in yours, that’s verses 37 to 38, so I’m actually right this time, I’m in the right chapter…

Jono: Now you’re really…

Nehemia: No, no, so I was right. I was just looking in the Hebrew text, I don’t know what it says in the English, I’ve got to pull it up here on my little program. So, what I want you to read Keith, it is the same verses. Read verses 37 and 38, which in the Hebrew is 17:2-3

Keith: So, let’s just say this - we’re both right, okay? We’re in 16 in the English…

Nehemia: I’m right in the Hebrew, you’re right based on the Nearly Inspired version.

Keith: Okay, got you. So, “Tell Eleazar son of Aaron, the priest, to take the censers out of the smoldering remains and scatter the coals some distance away, for the censers are holy— the censers of the men who sinned at the cost of their lives. Hammer the censers into sheets to overlay the altar, for they were presented before Yehovah and have become holy.”

Nehemia: “For the censers are holy — the censers of the men who sinned at the cost of their lives.” And what Jono read is something a little bit different, which is, “The censers of these men who sinned against their own souls...”

Jono: Yeah.

Nehemia: “…let them be made into hammered…” So that’s actually quite different, isn’t it?

Jono: It’s different, yeah.

Nehemia: Yeah. And what you could translate this... and look, I’ll admit here - the Hebrew is complicated. What makes it complicated is it appears that verse 2 continues in mid-sentence into verse 3. That’s where I think the confusion enters. But the way I would translate this is, “for the censers of these sinners have been sanctified by their lives,” by the cost of their lives. So, in other words, they sanctified these sinners by, or excuse me - the sinners sanctified these censers by losing their lives when they offered them.

Jono: Wow. And so, they hammered those censers into some sort of covering for the altar, right?

Nehemia: Yeah. “Tzipui,” yeah.

Jono: “So Eleazar…”

Keith: And again, you guys, I think one of the keys - again, the reason I brought up this issue of the censer earlier and that Moses picked that; think about it. He picks that, that becomes the issue that’s this sort of symbol whose prayers are we going to receive in this situation, but then to make those censers into something for the altar just, to me, is really powerful, like…

Jono: It is, isn’t it? Because, yeah.

Keith: Yeah. I mean this was rebellion, but we’re going to take the censers because the censers themselves were holy, so think of it - Moses tells them, bring this holy thing, the very thing that they brought, there’s a separation between the two and the very issue that they brought which was this – “are you the only ones that are holy? We also are holy.” “Okay, bring the censers.”

Jono: Bring the censers

Keith: And those censers end up being used on the altar. That’s amazing to me.

Nehemia: Now, how did they fall for this? That’s what I want to know. Because didn’t they...

Keith: That’s what I’m telling you…psychologist…

Nehemia: Didn’t they remember what happened with Nadav and Avihu who brought, you know...

Jono: But it’s not...

Nehemia: …who got burned up...

Jono: Yeah, sure.

Nehemia: …because they brought the strange incense. I mean how did...

Jono: Strange fire, yeah.

Nehemia: …strange fire. What this tells me is they were really confident in their cause. You know, Keith made the remark before that they were against Yehovah, but I don’t think that’s fair. They thought that Yehovah was on their side because they had a justification.

Jono: Sure.

Nehemia: They were justifying in their minds, “God’s on our side, we’re in the right.”

Keith: What are you talking about? They’re backslapping Him, calling Egypt “the land of no good.”

Nehemia: No, they’re backslapping Moses and saying, “we can see the presence of Yehovah, we can sense that we feel that, we see it going on. But you, Moses? We trust in Yehovah, it’s you we don’t trust, Moses.” So, he says, “Okay, well, let’s test that, bring you censers; I think I know what’s going to happen.”

Jono: Let’s see, so they made the covering for the altar “Because they presented them before Yehovah, therefore they are holy; and they shall...”

Nehemia: I’ve got to add one more thing, which is what Moses says, and maybe we didn’t get to this yet... let’s see…no, I think we read this part that, no we didn’t. So, where Moses prays to Yehovah and says, “don’t accept their incense.”

Jono: Yes. That’s right.

Nehemia: “Please, don’t accept their incense,” which I think confirms that these people, in their minds, they were in the right. It wasn’t like they said, “Okay, that God of Israel, he's not up to snuff so we’re going to appoint a new leader and get a new God.” No, they’re saying, “Moses is claiming to speak for the God of Israel, but we see him speaking to all of us, so we’re all holy. Let’s all have this ability to interact with God.”

Keith, you mentioned before about prayers. I think Yehovah accepts prayers from everybody and I think you’d agree with that, but here he was very specific about incense. So specific that even Aaron’s two sons, who were a part of the people who were allowed to bring incense, but they brought it at the wrong time and in the wrong circumstances…

Keith: Yes.

Nehemia: …they were burned up. So, this is something where God has got all these rules and regulations - we read in Exodus and we tried not to fall asleep while we’re reading this because it’s so much detail, but then when it comes to applying that detail, the detail’s important. He gave you the detail because the detail’s important. I think that’s the point here - that these people were claiming “Well, you know, who cares about the details? We feel God’s love, we see His miracles, we don’t need the details because we’ve got direct access to God. Who needs those details?” And Moses is like, “Okay, you want to test that… we’ve been through this story before, you’re going to see what’s going to happen.”

Jono: Let’s do it again. Yeah. Now, Nehemia, let’s just…

Nehemia: Yeah?

Jono: And before we go further because you just said something, and I just want to jump off the topic for a second and clarify what you said. You said that Yehovah, He hears all prayers, that He accepts all prayers. Proverbs 28, verse 9, how do you understand this? “The one who turns away his ear from hearing Torah, even his prayer is an abomination.”

Keith: Amen.

Nehemia: So, let me clarify. What I’m trying to say is, he hears the prayers of all people. Meaning, all people have the potential to have their prayers heard. I don’t think Keith meant this, but Keith’s words could’ve been taken out of context to mean that, “oh, Yehovah’s only going to accept the prayers of a priest.” And I don’t think anybody would really say that; that’s definitely not the case, even though there are probably groups who would say, “oh, you’ve got to be the ordained person in order to make the proper prayers.”

Keith: What are you talking about? You’ve got to be a Methodist if you want your prayers heard.

Nehemia: Okay. You got to be properly ordained, but I think anybody who reads Scripture is going to see that obviously Yehovah accepts everyone’s prayers if they come to Him with humility and righteousness.

Jono: Amen.

Nehemia: So, a person can get themselves invalidated - their ability to submit prayers to him invalidated, but everyone has that potential, that’s my point.

Keith: And let me just say this, and I hope people are getting this as we’re going through the Torah portions because it’s a very, very powerful concept. I keep talking about it almost every week, where there’s sort of the line, the thing that jumps off the page, “help us to see the hidden…” You know, we talk about this all the time, but if I were to go on anything that we’ve talked about so far, and when you’re a speaker you’ll say to people, “if you don’t remember anything else, remember this.”

And Yehovah does this in this chapter, which I think is a long chapter if you start at 16 and you start talking about Korah and Dathan and Abiram and you’re reading and you’re reading and you’re reading, and then it gets to the end of verse 40 and it says this, “This was to remind the Israelites that no one except a descendant of Aaron should come to burn incense before Yehovah, or he would become like Korah and his followers.” So, no matter what we would say, speaking again on why they overlaid this over the altar. So, imagine this - when you come and you see this, it’s like the tzitzit, when I see the tzitzit...

Jono: That’s right.

Keith: …it reminds me of this. When I see the cloud falling down, when I see the ark going forward, when I see these things, this is what it reminds me of. And here he says, “when you see this let it remind you of something.” There’s Aaron and his sons, and then there’s the Levites, and then there’s... I think that’s an important line that he’s leading us to.

Jono: Amen. Sure. And even after all of that, fellows, even after all of that, it says in verse 41, the first four words I have is, “On the next day.”

Keith: Uh oh.

Jono: The very next day, Keith, I can’t believe it, “On the next day all the congregation of the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron, saying, ‘You have killed the people of Yehovah.’ Now it happened, when the congregation had gathered against Moses and Aaron, that they turned toward the Tabernacle of Meeting; and suddenly the cloud covered it, and the glory of Yehovah appeared.”

Now, the last three times this happened, it wasn’t good, okay? “And then Moses and Aaron came before the Tabernacle of meeting. And Yehovah spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Get away from among the congregation, that I may consume them.’ And they fell on their faces. So, Moses said to Aaron, ‘Take a censer and put fire on it from the altar and put incense on it and take it quickly to the congregation and make atonement for them; for wrath has gone out from Yehovah. The plague has begun.’ Then Aaron took it as Moses commanded and he ran into the midst of the assembly; and already the plague had begun among the people. So he put the incense…”

Keith: Can you imagine?

Jono: Can you imagine? “He put in the incense…”

Keith: They’re just dropping.

Jono: “…he made atonement for the people and he stood between the dead and the living; so the plague stopped. Now those who had died in the plague were,” get this, “fourteen thousand seven hundred, besides those who died in the Korah incident. So, Aaron returned to Moses at the door of the Tabernacle of Meeting, for the plague had stopped.” Oh, my goodness.

Keith: Just under 15,000 people. And when I read that, again, one of the things that I’m dealing with is this idea of grabbing the censer. So here, again, now, you’ve got the censer, and he takes the censer, and he puts incense in it and runs in amidst the people. So, can you imagine, can you picture what Aaron’s doing? I mean…

Jono: Oh, the urgency is just incredible in those few verses.

Keith: Yeah. And what the plague must’ve been. I mean, boom, they’re dropping just like that, click, click, click… I mean that’s under just 15,000 people, total.

Jono: Yeah. In a matter of what appears to be minutes, maybe even seconds, Nehemia?

Nehemia: Yeah, it’s got to hurt.

Jono: It’s got to hurt.

Nehemia: On the other hand, you’ve got 600,000 warriors, which is something like 3,000,000 people in the whole nation. So, 14,000 - it’s a lot, but you know, I mean it is a lot. Let’s think about 9/11 where 3,000 people were killed in a country of 300,000,000, that was significant, so 14,000 - I’m not dismissing that. On the other hand, he could’ve killed in a blink of an eye, without a problem, he could’ve killed 300,000 or... he was ready to kill…

Jono: All of them.

Nehemia: He was talking about killing all of them except Moses and Aaron.

Jono: Sure.

Nehemia: So, I think we should look at the... I like to look at the cup half full.

Jono: Sure.

Keith: I don’t know how you look at the cup half full in this situation, and here’s why. Be any one of those people that are, the 14,950, or be any of those that are connected to it, it’s like, so they were upset over the killing over 250.

Nehemia: Yeah.

Keith: In other words, 250 died and they said, “You’ve killed the Lord’s people.” And from them saying that... now, take 250 and multiply it, you know, 15,000 divided by 250, how many hundreds of percent is that.

So again, I understand the whole issue of the total, but I’m dealing with this issue of death. I mean, just be there amongst those people - you come out, there’s a fight, there’s 250 people rising up against Moses. Oh, there’s another fight against Moses. Okay, what’s going to happen? Moses is going to pray for them, it’ll be okay. No. We’re going to have a contest. They come out and they’re dead.

And the people are like what the heck? Because remember now - when they died the people fled. This was like a traumatic situation, this wasn’t just, “okay, you guys come over here, you guys come over there.” No, the earth opened up, and then from the earth opening up, just when we get over that, now we got a plague. I mean I can imagine that causing...

Jono: If, and let’s just do a little bit of math here, and I think I’ve got this right. If it had taken, let’s say an enormous amount of time and the urgency that we read these verses…

Keith: Right.

Jono: …let’s say it took about 25 minutes for Moses to get this together, give the instruction to Aaron, for Aaron to run out and take the censer...

Keith: Right.

Jono: …and to put it incense on it, and to... we’re still talking about every second 10 people dropping dead.

Keith: That’s what I’m saying. Are you kidding me? I mean that would just be traumatic. I mean boom, boom, boom…

Jono: Yeah.

Keith: I mean, I can’t imagine.

Jono: Every second 10 people dropping dead in the space of 25 minutes. It’s amazing.

Keith: That’s impressive math.

Nehemia: Wow.

Jono: Now, listen, you were talking about object lessons before, Keith - we’re talking about the covering that’s hammered out of the censers, and so on and so forth. Here’s another one, and chapter 17 is dedicated to it, “And Yehovah spoke to Moses, saying: ‘Speak to the children of Israel, and get from them a rod from each father’s house, all their leaders according to their fathers’ house — twelve rods. Write each man’s name on his rod. And you shall write Aaron’s name on the rod of Levi. For there shall be one rod for the head of each father’s house. Then you shall place them in the Tabernacle of Meeting before the Testimony, where I meet with you. And it shall be that the rod of the man whom I choose will blossom; thus I will rid Myself of the complaints of the children of Israel, which they have made against you.”

Keith: You know ever since I really, really took the Torah as to be the living word of God, and it not just being some sort of book for great stories, but that it really is the word of God, there are times when I will read some section of the Bible and I have to get up from my chair and walk away. And you know, Nehemia and I had this happen- I got to tell the story because when we were writing the book “A Prayer To Our Father: Hebrew Origins of the Lord’s Prayer,” which is now in Chinese, we would be studying together.

Now, just imagine this picture: he’s over here in the United States, we never attempted to write a book, all we were doing first was just doing study, sincere study. So, we were at my dining room table, we’ve got three computers, seven books, we’re sitting there, and sometimes one of us would stop and get up and leave the table. And we’d have to leave the table because the revelation was just so amazing.

So Nehemia after a while ended up doing the same thing - he’d get up, he’d walk out, walk out my front door, and start dancing. And that’s kind of what I want to do right now, because when I read these sections, when I hear this stuff, I’m thinking, man, doesn’t anybody just want to stop, get up, go out the front door, and start dancing? He says, “The staff belonging to the one man I choose will sprout…”

Keith: Amen.

Keith: “…and then I,” and here’s my point, “I will rid myself,” wait a minute, can I say that again? Yehovah says this, “The staff belonging to the man I choose will sprout,” He doesn’t say this – “and then, Moses, you won’t have to hear the grumbling” – He says, “I’m going to rid myself of this constant grumbling.” Point being made.

Yehovah’s like, “listen, they can say what they want to say, they can say it how they want to say it, they’re grumbling against Me, and I’ve had it.” I just think that is so amazing. And He’s like, look…

Jono: “I’m going to rid Myself of these complaints.”

Keith: “I’m going to rid Myself.” He’s taking it personal, for goodness sake.

Jono: And you know what else He says here, Keith, in verse 5, and you said yours has got “sprouted”, right? I’ve got “the rod that blossoms”.

Keith: Exactly.

Jono: But what actually happens in the end, we read from verse 8, “Now it came to pass on the next day Moses went into the Tabernacle of Witness, and behold, the rod of Aaron, of the house of Levi, had sprouted and put forth buds, and...”

Keith: Come on.

Jono: “…had produced blossoms and yielded ripe almonds.”

Keith: That’s amazing.

Jono: How…man, I wonder how they tasted.

Keith: When He does it…

Nehemia: Wow.

Keith: …when He does it, He does it good. That’s amazing.

Jono: That’s amazing.

Keith: That’s just amazing.

Jono: You know what, Keith, we…

Nehemia: Can I ask a question here?

Keith: Yes.

Jono: I was just going to say, no, I was just going to say we could all get up and walk out and do a little dance.

Keith: Let’s walk out and do a dance; we’ll see you guys next week. And this has been Torah Pearls.

Nehemia: Aussie, Aussie, Aussie.

Keith: Oi! Oi! Oi!

Jono: Oi! Oi! Oi!

Nehemia: So why a staff? Why did he take twelve staffs?

Jono: No, I always looked at the staff as a symbol of authority, right?

Keith: Was this not the symbol of authority or leadership, or what?

Nehemia: The Hebrew word for staff is “mateh,” and “mateh,” also means a tribe. The reason it means tribe is because the head of the tribe, his symbol of authority is the staff. So, when He says, “the staff that I choose,” essentially, He’s choosing a tribe.

What I think He’s saying here is, He’s reiterating His choice of the tribe of Levi. And within Levi, because He had this whole thing just now with Korach, and they want to be Kohanim. So the point is that, “I haven’t rejected them; the ones who rebelled got swallowed up, and the ones who brought the incense who shouldn’t have, they got burnt up, but I still choose Levi, and within Levi I still choose Aaron’s line as the Kohanim.” I think that’s the message.

Keith: Amen.

Jono: There it is.

Keith: Amen.

Jono: “Then Moses brought out all the rods from before Yehovah to all the children of Israel; and they looked, and each man took his rod. And Yehovah said to Moses, “Bring Aaron’s rod back before the Testimony to be kept as a sign,” here it is, Keith, again, “as a sign against the rebels, that you may put their complaints away from Me, lest they die.” And thus, Moses did just as Yehovah had commanded him, so he did.”

Keith: Yes.

Jono: “So the children of Israel spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Surely we die, we perish, we all die! Whoever even comes near the Tabernacle of Yehovah must die. Shall we all utterly die?’”

Nehemia: Well, one more thing which... because we actually missed something back in chapter 16, verse 24.

Jono: Yeah?

Nehemia: I just remembered this.

Jono: Please.

Nehemia: Could you read that in your translation, Keith? Numbers 16:24.

Keith: 16:24?

Nehemia: Yeah.

Keith: It says here, “Say to the assembly, ‘Move away from the tents of Korah, Dathan and Abiram.’”

Nehemia: The tent. So, what do you have there instead of tents?

Jono: Yeah. I’ve got tents; I’ve got tents as well.

Nehemia: Really? So, the Hebrew word there, and I’m reminded because at the end here it says, “Whoever comes close to the Tabernacle of Yehovah shall die,” that was at the end of chapter 17. The word there for “Tabernacle” is “Mishkan,” and that’s exactly the word that appears in Numbers 16:24. “Speak to the congregation, saying, ‘Go up from around the Mishkan of Korach, Dathan and Abiram.’” The “Tabernacle” of Korach, Dathan and Abiram.

Jono: Oh. Wow!

Nehemia: They may have actually made for themselves a Tabernacle.

Keith: There it is.

Nehemia: It doesn’t say tents. This really is the paradigm of the high place. You know, the high place is where Yehovah says, “only bring offerings…” that’s in Leviticus 17, “…only bring offerings to the entrance of the Tent of Meeting, anywhere else that’s spilling blood.” If you go bring in your streets, or on your hilltops, or wherever you want, offerings, and it’s not to the Tabernacle, you’re a murderer; it’s as if you spilled blood.

Where that Tabernacle was - the Tabernacle of Yehovah - it moved from time to time. Every time... sometimes it was a day, sometimes it was a long time, we read about that. Then eventually the place was chosen permanently. The place He chose to place His name forever became Jerusalem in the time of David and Solomon. So already, back here in the desert, they’re building a rival Tabernacle, the “Mishkan” of Korach.

Keith: That’s only a Torah Pearl, that’s all it is, is a pearl that you want to sandbag us on.

Jono: Oh.

Keith: We go over the verse, and you don’t tell us that? That’s huge, Nehemia.

Jono: I’m glad we came back on that because now... doesn’t that illustrate, though, Keith, it illustrates, in verse, 14, also in… where they just protest and they say, “we will not come up…”

Keith: No, we’re not coming up.

Jono: …in verse 12 and it goes on, “we’re not coming up, we’ve set up our own Tabernacle here, and we’re not acknowledging Yours anymore, this is the gear right here, this is what we’re doing.”

Nehemia: Okay.

Keith: Yeah.

Nehemia: I want to give credit to the King James version because there in the King James, I just looked it up, it says, “Speak unto the congregation, saying ‘Get you up from about the Tabernacle of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram.’”

Jono: Whoa!

Nehemia: So.

Keith: There it is.

Nehemia: It’s right there in the King James, and it’s certainly there in the Hebrew, “Mishkan.”

Keith: Amen. Amen.

Jono: Boy oh boy, that really does illustrate it, doesn’t it? Goodness me.

Nehemia: Big difference.

Jono: Huge difference.

Nehemia: Yeah.

Jono: Keith, will you take us through chapter 18?

Keith: Ha!

Nehemia: We got some important things; I don’t think I can get past verse 2, what are you talking about?

Jono: Go on; let’s see if we can do this one in the Newly Inspired Methodist Bible. Keith, take it from here, my friend, you’re driving the bus now.

Keith: “The LORD said unto Aaron, ‘You and your sons and your father’s family are to bear the responsibility for offenses against the sanctuary, also you and your sons alone are to bear the responsibility for offenses against the priesthood. Bring your fellow Levites from your ancestral tribe to join you and assist you when you and your sons minister before the Tent of Meeting.” Nehemia, what does it say in the Hebrew?

Nehemia: Do you just think that Jono is from England or something like that?

Keith: I don’t know, this guy’s amazing. I love his voice.

Nehemia: Alright.

Keith: Yeah, so “Bring your fellow Levites from your ancestral tribe to join you and assist you when you and your sons minister before the Tent of the Testimony.”

Nehemia: Whoo! I want to shout when I hear that. So, you’ve got this, “they will join you,” and then, again, in verse 4 it also says, “and they will join you.” When I read that, something pops for me, which is that this is a play on words with the name Levi, which in Hebrew is “Le-vi”. When we first read about this it was in Genesis 29, verse 34, when Levi is born - the son of Leah - it says, “and she conceived again and she gave birth to a son and she said, “this time my husband will join me for I have given him three sons. Therefore, she calls his name Levi.” And why does she call his name Levi? Because “join” here in Genesis 29:34 is the word “yelaveh” - yelaveh, Levi - it’s a play on words. In this case, it’s actually the name explanation.

Here we have that name explanation turning into a word pun, in Numbers 18, verse 2, and then again verse 4, where it says, “yelavuh,” they will join, and “venilvuh,” and they will join. So twice we have the same root as the name Levi. So you could translate this... legitimately, in verse 2 it says, “and also your brother the tribe of Levi, the tribe of your father, bring him close and they will Levite you” - and they will serve you - because Levite, “to Levite,” means to join.

Now the reason I get so excited about this verse is there’s another passage that... there are actually two more passages, that use this exact same word pun, and it’s in a prophetic sense. The first one is, if we can jump over to the book of Isaiah real quick, Isaiah chapter 14, verse 1, it says, “for Yehovah shall have mercy upon Jacob and He shall once again choose Israel and He will place them upon their land and the sojourner shall Levite upon them and be added upon the house of Jacob.”

So here it’s talking about Israel in the end-time being brought back to his land after being scattered to the four corners of the earth, and at that time when Yehovah brings us back to the land, the sojourner, the ger, the one who joins the covenant, same word as in Exodus that we read over there in Exodus chapter 12:32-39, the ger, he’s going to join himself upon Israel and be added to the house of Jacob.

Jono: Amen.

Nehemia: So that’s exciting to me.

Keith: Amen.

Nehemia: So they’re going to be Levited, they’re going to join the sojourners, and then again we have this in more detail in Isaiah 56, and we probably brought this passage before - I’m going to, really quickly, because I know we’re running out of time, really quickly read through this. Starting at verse 3, it says, “Let not the son of the gentile who Levites himself to Yehovah,” “hanilvah el Yehovah,” same word, exact same word, as appeared in Genesis, and again in Numbers, and there in Isaiah 14. “The son of the gentile who Levites himself to Yehovah he shall not say, ‘Yehovah is surely separating me from his people.’”

That’s a very powerful word pun in Hebrew because we’ve got the contrast between join and separate. So, he’s joined himself to Yehovah, and Yehovah tells him, “don’t say Yehovah separated me from His people.” In other words, that’s his natural inclination to say, “I’ve joined Yehovah but I’m really not part of His people.” I’ve joined him, but I haven’t joined his people. Yehovah says to him, “don’t say that.”

Then he goes back in verse 6 and he continues in Isaiah 56, “And the sons of the gentiles who joined themselves to Yehovah, who Levite themselves to Yehovah,” “nilvim”, the same word, “to serve Him and to love the name of Yehovah, to be His servants, all those who keep the Sabbaths from desecrating it and grab hold of My covenant, I will bring them to My holy mountain and let them rejoice in my house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their peace offerings shall be acceptable on My altar, for My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations." Whoo! That’s exciting.

Keith: Yes. Amen.

Nehemia: Now, the fact that it’s talking here about the burnt offerings - that feeds back into the word pun that’s related to Levite, because the Levites were involved in bringing the burnt offerings. They were the ones who assisted the Kohanim, the priests, and here He’s saying, “I’m going to accept the sacrifices even of these gentiles who joined themselves to Yehovah, who Levite themselves to Yehovah.” So that’s exciting to me.

Keith: Amen. Amen. Amen!

Nehemia: There it is.

Jono: Go on, Keith you’re still driving the bus.

Keith: Oh, I’m not driving this thing. Well, you know, there might be other… No, no, there are major things here, it says, “You are to be responsible for the care of the sanctuary and the altar, so that wrath will not fall on the Israelites again. I Myself have selected your fellow Levites from among the Israelites as a gift to you.” And that’s an important one because, when He says they’re a gift - maybe it says something different but I’m looking at the NIV.

Jono: No, there’s an emphasis here, I’ve got it also in the King James. It says, “and they are a gift to you, given by Yehovah.” Further down it also says, “I give your priesthood to you as a gift for service.”

Keith: Yeah, and when I read this there’s a sobering issue of - these are the ones who are selected to come near to Me, and yes, in fact, it probably is a tough pill to swallow when you’re not selected. “I’m not selected, why am I not one? I’m just like you, I want to have my own Mishkan, I want to have my own censers, I want to have my own thing.”

But you know, this focus ends up being, what has Yehovah determined? What has He selected? Who has He chosen? And then, okay, that’s the issue. And then to say there’s that - here’s the gift, but don’t play around with the gift. Here’s the gift, there’s a real serious thing that comes with the gift, and if having given you the gift, don’t try to take the gift. It seems to be pretty serious.

Nehemia: Well, I think for the Levites the challenge was even greater, because it’s not just that they weren’t selected. I mean, in a sense, they’re finalists. I mean, they can smell it, they can literally smell it, they’re so close they can almost taste it, but they don’t get it.

Jono: Not like the cohen, right?

Nehemia: And that’s the point - that the Levites, with Korach, because he’s like, “well, wait a minute, I was chosen, I was set apart. Why can’t I go and bring these sacrifices into the Temple? I see him doing it, I’m the one who’s slaughtering it, I’m the one who’s skinning it, doing all the dirty work. Why can’t I just bring the sacrifice?” And well, that’s what Yehovah said.

Keith: Amen. Amen.

Jono: There it is. Alright, are we going to jump along here because we’re running out of time...

Keith: Running out of time.

Jono: I want to jump all the way, unless there’s something that you want to point, I’m jumping to verse…

Nehemia: To verse what?

Jono: Now, Nehemia?

Nehemia: No, we’ve got to do verse…we’ve got to do the whole thing of the “bechor”, of the firstborn. So remember, He said He took the Levites in place of the firstborn, but that doesn’t mean that His connection to the first... and that was essentially... there were a certain number of Levites and a certain number of firstborn, and so He essentially used those Levites to redeem those firstborn. But the other firstborns who come in the future also still need to be redeemed because they became Yehovah’s on the day of the plague of the firstborn over in Egypt, the Tenth Plague. So maybe you could read, Keith, verses 15 through, I don’t know, 16, 17?

Keith: Okay. “The first offspring of every womb, both man and animal, that is offered to Yehovah is yours. But you must redeem every firstborn son and every firstborn male of unclean animals. When they are a month old, you must redeem them at the redemption price set at five shekels of silver, according to the sanctuary shekel, which weighs twenty gerahs.”

Nehemia: There it is.

Keith: It sounds familiar.

Nehemia: There it is. Yep. Now, we’ve visited this before, but here it’s being reiterated. You know, this covenant with the Levites, the choosing the Levites, does not invalidate Yehovah’s connection to the firstborn.

Keith: Amen.

Jono: Okay. So, “Then Yehovah said to Aaron: ‘You shall have no inheritance in the land, nor shall you have any portion among them; I am your portion and your inheritance…”

Keith: Amen.

Jono: “…among the children of Israel.” Boy, how about that.

Nehemia: Yeah. Can we just say something, real quick, or maybe talk just 30 seconds on verse 19?

Jono: Sure.

Nehemia: We’ve got, “this covenant of salt it is forever before Yehovah for you and your offspring with you.” There’s an eternal covenant being made here. Can we please read the verse about the eternal covenant?

Jono: This is what it says - I mean, this is the second time that I remember reading about the covenant of salt, too. “All the heave offerings of the holy things, which the children of Israel offer to Yehovah, I have given to you and your sons and daughters with you as an ordinance forever; it is a covenant of salt forever before Yehovah with you and your descendants with you.”

Nehemia: Okay. And you’re right, we have read that already, it was Leviticus 2:13 that we read about the eternal covenant of salt. But you know, it’s being reiterated here, and how many eternal covenants do we have? We might as well point them out and look at them and mention them.

Jono: Sure.

Nehemia: Okay.

Jono: Go on, then.

Nehemia: Oh, no, that’s it. I think it speaks for itself.

Keith: Amen.

Jono: You know what, I’m missing something here, because, no, honestly the covenant of salt - I don’t get it. What, there’s only one…

Nehemia: Well, the salt is the symbol of the covenant. Every sacrifice has salt that’s brought with it.

Jono: Has salt, sure. Oh, okay.

Nehemia: Every flour sacrifice has, every meat sacrifice has an attached flour sacrifice and with the flour, or with the grain offering, you then bring salt.

Jono: Okay.

Nehemia: And that salt is the symbol of this covenant.

Jono: So, everything is accompanied with salt and therefore it’s the symbol of covenant.

Nehemia: I mean, imagine eating food without any salt; what that would taste like. I mean, I think it’s hard for a lot of people in the Western world because everything we buy that’s processed food is so heavily laden with salt, we’re like, “why would I add salt? This tastes great.” Yeah, but now, making something from scratch, make soup from scratch and taste it without any salt and you’ll see the difference.

Jono: There it is.

Nehemia: It’s a profound difference.

Jono: Sure.

Nehemia: I think that’s why salt is something that the flavor really stands out. And that’s why it’s such a powerful symbol of this covenant - you can’t miss the salt.

Jono: Fair enough.

Keith: Amen.

Jono: Keith?

Keith: No, I was going to just say I think it is... and looking at the sign…and what was really funny is when Nehemia said, “so let’s look at how many everlasting covenants,” Jono’s like, “okay…”

Jono: You’re going to list that, right? You’re going to list?

Nehemia: No, no, so I didn’t say let’s look at all of them, I said when we come to one that’s an everlasting covenant, let’s slow down a bit, and…

Jono: Let’s focus on it.

Nehemia: And focus on it.

Keith: Yeah, yeah.

Jono: You picked up on that, Keith, very good. So, “Behold, I have given the children of Levi all the tithes in Israel as an inheritance in return for the work which they perform, the work of the Tabernacle of Meeting. Hereafter the children of Israel shall not come near the Tabernacle of Meeting, lest they bear the sin and die. But the Levites shall perform the work of the Tabernacle of Meeting, and they shall bear their iniquity; it shall be a statute forever, throughout your generations, that among the children of Israel they shall have no inheritance. For the tithes of the children of Israel, which they offer up as a heave offering to Yehovah, I have given to the Levites as an inheritance; therefore, I have said to them, ‘Among the children of Israel they have no inheritance.’” So, if we’re to understand this, the priests have Yehovah, He is their portion, He is their inheritance. And then...

Nehemia: Well, everyone back then…you know, 98% of the population, and really up until 200 years ago, were farmers. So, what He’s saying is, they’re not going to get land to farm because their piece of land is Yehovah.

Jono: Amen.

Nehemia: Now, they do have six cities that they end up getting. But you know, that’s places to live and maybe raise a few goats, or something. You can’t really live off a few goats, as you probably know. So that’s basically the idea, that their service to Yehovah, that then is what will provide them food. And they’re provided food; whatever sacrifices are brought they get a piece. There’s a tithe that’s given to the Levites, they get a tenth of the tithe, 1% essentially of the total. And they get all these different gifts and offerings and heave offerings, and you know... those are all the different things they get.

Jono: “And then Yehovah spoke...

Nehemia: That’s their portion.

Jono: “…spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Speak thus to the Levites, and say to them: When you take from the children of Israel the tithes which I have given from them as your inheritance, then you shall offer up a heave offering of it to Yehovah, a tenth of the tenth.’” A tenth of the tithe, right? “And your heave offering shall be reckoned to you as though it were the grain of the threshing floor and the fullness of the winepress. Thus, you shall also offer a heave offering to Yehovah from all your tithes which you receive from the children of Israel, and you shall give Yehovah’s heave offering from it to Aaron the priest.” Okay, so if I am to understand this correctly, the tithe that the Levites receive, a tenth of that is then given to the Kohen, right? Is that basically what it’s saying?

Nehemia: Exactly. They’ve got to kick back to the Kohen.

Jono: Okay. So, it’s a tithe of the tithe. Okay. “You may eat it in any place, you and your household, for it is your reward for your work in the Tabernacle of Meeting.” And this is the last verse…

Keith: Does it say reward?

Jono: Reward. It’s their reward for the work in the Tabernacle of Meeting.

Keith: Yes.

Jono: Last verse, “And you shall bear no sin because of it, when you have lifted up the best of it. But you shall not profane the holy gifts of the children of Israel, lest you die.” Wow. There you go.

Okay. So, we’ve been listening to the Torah Pearls. Thank you, Nehemia Gordon, Keith Johnson, my friends; I appreciate you coming back on. So next week we are in Chukat. Chukat? Numbers 19, verse 1 to 22 verse 1. And until then, dear listeners, be blessed and be set apart by the truth of our Father’s word. Shalom.

You have been listening to The Original Torah Pearls with Nehemia Gordon, Keith Johnson and Jono Vandor. Thank you for supporting Nehemia Gordon’s Makor Hebrew Foundation. Learn more at

We hope the above transcript has proven to be a helpful resource in your study. While much effort has been taken to provide you with this transcript, it should be noted that the text has not been reviewed by the speakers and its accuracy cannot be guaranteed. If you would like to support our efforts to transcribe the teachings on, please visit our support page. All donations are tax-deductible (501c3) and help us empower people around the world with the Hebrew sources of their faith!

Makor Hebrew Foundation is a 501c3 tax-deductible not for profit organization.

Subscribe to "Nehemia's Wall" on your favorite podcasts app!
iTunes | Android | Spotify | Google Play | Stitcher | TuneIn

Share this Teaching on Social Media

Related Posts:
Prophet Pearls - Korach (1 Samuel 11:14-12:22)
Torah and Prophet Pearls
Hebrew Voices Episodes
Support Team Studies
Nehemia Gordon's Teachings on the Name of God

  • Gin May says:

    This has to be one of my favourite Torah portions so far. My favourite verse is 18:20,”And Yehovah said to Aaron,’ You shall have no inheritance in their land, neither shall you have any portion among them..'” Imagine a Levite hearing this for the first time and thinking,” What?! I get no inheritance? No land? How will I make a life for myself? Don’t I get anything?” And then, he hears Yehovah say something really profound,”‘ I am your portion and your inheritance among the sons of Israel.'” I can now imagine this same Levite thinking,”Wow, Yehovah’s my portion. He is my inheritance. Forget land, I get Yehovah! Hallelu Yah!” I think it’s just really profound that Yehovah is the Levite’s portion. That’s better than inheriting the whole world!

    • Reyes Nava says:

      Gin May,

      That is great insight. To see things through the humanity of others gives great perspective to our own lives. And even though the issue with the Levites was the physical land, our own souls can rejoice in the same portion (Lamentations 3:21-24).

      This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope.
      Through Yehovah’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.
      “Yehovah is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I hope in Him!”


  • Karen Griffith Snyder says:

    Nehemiah is a burnt offering different from an animal burnt for sins and if there is another temple built would the people in Israel even let us give an offering to be burnt since they consider us gentiles. One more thing in the OT God also divorced Judah and in the NT it says I will make a new covenant with us not like the one he made before. Can u explain these things to me and I love ur teachings by the way! Shalom Brother!

  • Melanie Mather says:

    In the first part of chapter 16, each man is to take his censer, now that brings up several images of objects, what kind of artifact would everyone have as a offering plate or mobile scent burner? A common artifact of people era? I can imagine that people might have to burn scent to cover up smells. But here they are trying to use some kind of man crafted item to offer some kind of fragrance “offering” to God? So the object is that all these people, these wealthy enough to have property of all sorts, have worship tools?

  • Steve says:

    This shows 4 generations since they entered Egypt and are now in the desert, ” Now Korach the son of Yitz’har, the son of K’hat, the son of Levi,”. That is unlikely to indicate 400-420 years.

  • daniel says:

    I understand ‘men of renown’ as fame and glory seekers, those wanting to make a name for themselves, and create a legacy for themselves and their descendants. They covet power and authority. I didn’t realize they had gone so far as making a rival tabernacle! Thanks – always informative.

    • daniel says:

      I think ‘poking out their eyes’ refers to taking away their freedom to go as they will. They could be saying, “we’re not going up there or anywhere with you – unless you poke out our eyes and make us helpless as babies.”.

  • Rocky says:

    Since Korach and his own had themselves their own miskhan what does it speak of, did they actually have a complete copy so to speak of the actual one ordered to be built? And regardless were they setting it up along with the other? Did they have an whole other sacrifice system?
    Or does it speak of how man sets up all the other systems regardless of its name religious system as it has today. With 30,000 plus different systems looks clear to me ..

    Do this and Live verses do the other and …..

  • franz danny roca mayora says:

    podria ser en español para tu amigo en peru si se puede solo es una sugerencia gracias por siempre por compartir tus estudios los tengo traducidos y los estudio mucho con las escrituras

  • Oral Torah comes from this evil of self-determination, which is just another way of saying to the Almighty, “We want the last word in the matter, to rule ourselves by our own designs, rather that be subject to thy Will expressed to us through Moses and Your written Laws.”

  • This rebellions of Korah and co are the seeds of democracy, as apposed to theocracy represented in Moses. Democracy means the rule of the people, which is an abomination exercising idolatry worship of self determination, as apposed to the fear and reverence we are obligated to the Sovereignty and Omnipotence of the Almighty.

  • yzquest says:

    I think mutts are the most beautiful of dogs . Each one unique and special hand crafted from The All Mighty.Ihave been blessed with two lovely fuzzy babies .
    You all rock !Torah pearls rock!keep up the feast of trialogging good thought !!!! So much I have to lcome back for seconds …
    May YHVH keep my heart humble my thoughts actions and heart pure May YHVH open my eyes of understanding so that I can see truth from error and walk with ease and contentment on the path of righteousness through narrow gate.

  • Nicholas Mansfield says:

    By YHWH I enjoyed this one more than any other I’ve listened to so far. Aren’t the rebels given the same title as the Enoch/Genesis Bani Elohim because they are looked upon by Yah as evil?
    Yes Ridgebacks are great dogs but they get pretty wild when you chastise them for nailing the old KFC bones in the flat rubbish bag.

  • Batyah Kyla says:

    Nehemiah, Keith brought up the thing about the “censer’ and used both 2 Chron 26:19 and Ezek 8:11 to tie into these men being commanded by Mosheh to bring their “censers’ but what Mosheh told these men to bring were their machetah/firepan whereas in the other two they had a mikteret/censer. What is the difference? When I read these I understood them to be two different articles of usage – one is to carry live coals while the other one is used to burn incense in.
    Would you please explain this since you did not address it during this Torah discussion? Thanks!

  • Owen Murphy says:

    Does the word ‘envy’ not describe the rebellions of Korah and co.?

  • Owen Murphy says:

    The Worldwide Church of God taught the tithing principle to be – 10% of ones gross income as the ‘first tithe’ 10% of ones gross income as the second tithe, which was to be saved for attending the annual Feast of Tabernacles and a third tithe, which was to be paid every third year and sixth year in a cycle of 7 years. Holy Day offerings from residual income was taught as well with ‘Festival sites’ competing as to the amount of Holy Day offerings. Additional ‘building fund offerings’ were taught to support the complex in Pasadena California and the ‘fleet’ of aircraft, a Grumman G2 – A Falcon fanjet and a King air prop driven plane. The ministry was paid and automobiles for them individually as well as an expense account. Once they were ‘ordained’ the ministry were exempt from paying 2nd and 3rd. tithe, but still required to pay 1st. tithe. The mileage many ministers racked up required replacing their autos every two years due to high mileage and used car value. In home member visits were required of the ministry with a weekly accounting of same and some detail, The ministry were allowed one day a week off, as many were pastors of at least one and as many as four churches and the Sabbath was taken up time wise for them.

  • Owen Murphy says:

    Korah and their ‘tents’ – This certainly resembles the the ‘tents’ of Orthodox Christianity and their competing tents/ cathedrals – Anglican St. Pauls – Romes St. Peters – Mormons Tabernacle – Evangelicals – Crystal Cathedral etc etc. Church buildings and denominational adherence.

  • Walter says:

    It is about Aaron whom God choose — I am a direct descendant of Aaron and have received Aaron’s Blessing which he passed on to his decendants!