Numbers 5: Korach
Parshat (Section) Korach (also pronounced as Korah) has three chapters (16, 17,
18) from 16:1 to 18:22
We will be using a conventional version of the King James Version for the chapter divisions.
The divisions of chapters 16 and 17 differ from the Christian divisions found in printed poular
texts pf the Hebrew Bible but the verses remain the same.
It should be pointed out that the chapter numbering used in our Hebrew Masoretic text is itself of Christian
origin. The Hebrew original has its own divisions that are quite different.
In the New Koren editions the original divisions are given alongside the conventional Christian ones.
So too in The Living Torah by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan the traditional Hebrew divisions are given alongside the
[Numbers 16:1] NOW KORAH, THE SON OF IZHAR, THE SON OF KOHATH, THE SON OF LEVI,
AND DATHAN AND ABIRAM, THE SONS OF ELIAB, AND ON, THE SON OF PELETH, SONS OF
REUBEN, TOOK MEN:
Levi was the Second Tribe that had been
set aside to serve the Almighty in the Tabernacle Service and in teaching and
overseeing the other Israelites. Within the Tribe of Levi the family of Aaron
had an elevated status. The rest of the Levites may have felt discriminated
against. So too, the Tribe of Reuben was the first born Tribe but apart from
being mentioned first on some ceremonial occasions was denied firstborn status
which had been given to Joseph.
Both Levi and Reuben may have felt that they were being treated unfairly.
In this case they are not demanding equal rights for themselves but rather for
all the Community. Even so these demands for equality may have cloaked
resentment of their own diminution.
Another points mentioned by the Sages is that Reuben was the head of the Tribes
south of the Tabernacle. Korach
came from the Levitical
clan of Kohath
which was also stationed south of the Tabernacle and in a sense neighboring
Reuben. Feelings of dissatisfaction with a social situation can move from one
person to another or be reinforced through each other without open
communication. It is enough that they are in the same area and intuit a common
feeling between them.
[Numbers 16:2] AND THEY ROSE UP BEFORE MOSES, WITH CERTAIN OF THE CHILDREN OF
ISRAEL, TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTY PRINCES OF THE ASSEMBLY, FAMOUS IN THE
CONGREGATION, MEN OF RENOWN:
They were important people, well-known
and probably of proven achievement.
[Numbers 16:3] AND THEY GATHERED THEMSELVES TOGETHER AGAINST MOSES AND AGAINST
AARON, AND SAID UNTO THEM, YE TAKE TOO MUCH UPON YOU, SEEING ALL THE
CONGREGATION ARE HOLY, EVERY ONE OF THEM, AND THE LORD IS AMONG THEM: WHEREFORE
THEN LIFT YE UP YOURSELVES ABOVE THE CONGREGATION OF THE LORD?
and his group of Levites said that all the people were chosen. They were all
holy. They denied the right of Moses to adjudicate and decide how the Law should
be decided. So too, in our day we find anti-Jewish
Reform Jews, and all kinds of religious leaders who deny the interpretations and
decisions of the Sages.
[Numbers 16:4] AND WHEN MOSES HEARD IT, HE FELL UPON HIS
[Numbers 16:5] AND HE SPAKE UNTO KORAH AND UNTO ALL HIS COMPANY, SAYING, EVEN TO
MORROW THE LORD WILL SHEW WHO ARE HIS, AND WHO IS HOLY; AND WILL CAUSE HIM TO
COME NEAR UNTO HIM: EVEN HIM WHOM HE HATH CHOSEN WILL HE CAUSE TO COME NEAR
[Numbers 16:6] THIS DO; TAKE YOU CENSERS, KORAH, AND ALL HIS
[Numbers 16:7] AND PUT FIRE THEREIN, AND PUT INCENSE IN THEM BEFORE THE LORD TO
MORROW: AND IT SHALL BE THAT THE MAN WHOM THE LORD DOTH CHOOSE, HE SHALL BE
HOLY: YE TAKE TOO MUCH UPON YOU, YE SONS OF LEVI.
[Numbers 16:8] AND MOSES SAID UNTO KORAH, HEAR, I PRAY YOU, YE SONS OF
[Numbers 16:9] SEEMETH IT BUT A SMALL THING UNTO YOU, THAT THE GOD OF ISRAEL
HATH SEPARATED YOU FROM THE CONGREGATION OF ISRAEL, TO BRING YOU NEAR TO
HIMSELF TO DO THE SERVICE OF THE TABERNACLE OF THE LORD, AND TO STAND BEFORE
THE CONGREGATION TO MINISTER UNTO THEM?
The Levites had been given a special
position amongst the Children of Israel. They should have been proud of it and
happy with it. Each one of us has their own special task in this world. We
should seek it out and do it as well as we can and not be jealous of others.
[Numbers 16:10] AND HE HATH BROUGHT THEE NEAR TO HIM, AND ALL THY BRETHREN THE
SONS OF LEVI WITH THEE: AND SEEK YE THE PRIESTHOOD ALSO?
What exactly they wanted is not clear.
It could be that the Levites were disgruntled because they were not placed on
the same level as the Cohens
but otherwise were pleased to have been set aside in general. The
may have been disgruntled as not being given the rights of the Firstborn Tribes.
Even though their end aims were not necessarily identical the two groups had
joined together in defying Moes
[Numbers 16:11] FOR WHICH CAUSE BOTH THOU AND ALL THY COMPANY ARE GATHERED
TOGETHER AGAINST THE LORD: AND WHAT IS AARON, THAT YE MURMUR AGAINST
##WHAT IS AARON##. Aaron was the brother
of Moses. The sons of Aaron were to become the
i.e. the Priests. Moses however and his sons were to remain ordinary Levites.
Moses was the head at that time of all Israel but the post was not hereditary.
No special status was promised to his offspring.
[Numbers 16:12] AND MOSES SENT TO CALL DATHAN AND ABIRAM, THE SONS OF ELIAB:
WHICH SAID, WE WILL NOT COME UP:
[Numbers 16:13] IS IT A SMALL THING THAT THOU HAST BROUGHT US UP OUT OF A LAND
THAT FLOWETH WITH MILK AND HONEY, TO KILL US IN THE WILDERNESS, EXCEPT THOU MAKE
THYSELF ALTOGETHER A PRINCE OVER US?
[Numbers 16:14] MOREOVER THOU HAST NOT BROUGHT US INTO A LAND THAT FLOWETH WITH
MILK AND HONEY, OR GIVEN US INHERITANCE OF FIELDS AND VINEYARDS: WILT THOU PUT
OUT THE EYES OF THESE MEN? WE WILL NOT COME UP.
[Numbers 16:15] AND MOSES WAS VERY WROTH, AND SAID UNTO THE LORD, RESPECT NOT
THOU THEIR OFFERING: I HAVE NOT TAKEN ONE ASS FROM THEM, NEITHER HAVE I HURT ONE
##ASS##. Hebrew "chamor"
i.e. donkey. The donkey in those times was the most common beast of burden.
Donkeys are strong, hardy, intelligent, and reliable. They are relatively easy
to raise requiring little attention. Under good conditions a large number of
donkeys would have been available.
entry on donkey contains the following amusing entry.
I have not read the book in question but obviously the author has taken an
opinion out of context and misrepresented it. No-one likes being called a
In contemporary Israel, the term
"Messiah's Donkey" (Chamoro
stands at the center of a controversial religious-political doctrine, attributed
to Rabbi Avraham
Cook, under which it was the Heavenly-imposed "task" of secular Zionists to
build up a Jewish State, but once the state is established they are fated to
give place to the Religious who are ordained to lead the state. The secularists
in this analogy are "The Donkey" while the religious who are fated to supplant
them are a collective "Messiach".
A book on the subject, published in 1998 by the militant secularist
aroused a major controversy in the Israeli public opinion.
Other points of interest concerning Donkeys include:
##During World War I a British stretcher
bearer, John Simpson Kirkpatrick, serving with the Australian and New Zealand
Army Corps, used a donkey named Duffy to rescue wounded soldiers, carrying them
to safety in Gallipoli.##
The future Messiah is depicted as riding
on a donkey:
[Zechariah 9:9] REJOICE GREATLY, O DAUGHTER OF ZION; SHOUT, O DAUGHTER OF
JERUSALEM: BEHOLD, THY KING COMETH UNTO THEE: HE IS JUST, AND HAVING SALVATION;
LOWLY, AND RIDING UPON AN ASS, AND UPON A COLT THE FOAL OF AN ASS.
A mule is an offspring of a female horse
(mare) and a male donkey.
The Torah forbids the production of
mules but once in existence they may be maintained.
#The virtue of the mule is
that a mule is pound-for-pound stronger than a horse of similar size and
inherits the strong will and higher intelligence of the donkey father. Mules
also tend to require less food than a horse of similar size.##
In the First World War the British
created the Zion Mule Corps. For the Zionist cause this was an important first
step. Taking care of mules does not sound very romantic but it was the best
category they could get. In Gallipoli the mules were used to bring supplies and
ammunition to the embattled British, French, and Anzac (Australian and New
Zealand) Troops. The Zion Mule Corps deported themselves well and carried out
their task with bravery and dedication under extremely difficult and dangerous
conditions. It gave a de factor recognition to the Zionist cause as a nation in
being. Through it the early Zionists gained valuable military experience. [The
grandfather (Leo Jacoby) of Yair
served with the British at Gallipoli as a liaison officer between the British
and French contingents.]
Zion Mule Corps - The Zion
Mule Corps was a force of about 700 troops which fought in the British army at
Gallipoli, under Colonel John Henry Patterson. It was the first Jewish fighting
force since ancient times. The force later became part of the Jewish Legion and
subsequently many of its members were leaders in the Jewish
[settlement] and founders of the
For more on Patterson See also:
Colonel John Henry Patterson
(1867-1947) was a pioneer Christian Zionist, commander of the Jewish Legion,
British colonial soldier and administrator, author and friend of Zionist
leaders. He was born Nov 10, 1867 at
South County Longford,
Ireland to a Protestant family.
Following the war, Patterson became
active in supporting the Zionist cause in collaboration with his friend,
who had served under him in the Zion Mule Corps and Jewish Legion. Patterson was
a very important part of a Keren
delegation in the United States in 1921-22, led by
wrote "I make the appeal for funds, then they begin the collection, and no one
leaves the hall because they are waiting for Patterson to speak." (Katz*, pp
In 1934 Patterson sought and was granted
a British disablement pension. He remained close to revisionist Zionist leaders.
In 1936 and 1937 he traveled to Palestine to inspect
forces there. In 1939 and 1940 together with Robert Briscoe and others,
Patterson was involved in fund raising for the
in the USA. In 1940, Jabotinsky
and Patterson were trying to raise a Jewish army of 100,000 in the United States
to fight Nazi Germany.
In 1940 he moved to California with his
He was close to Ben-Zion Netanyahu, father of Benjamin Netanyahu. In 1947, he
suggested the Irgun
hit at British bureaucrats in Palestine. He died June 18, 1947.
[Numbers 16:16] AND MOSES SAID UNTO KORAH, BE THOU AND ALL THY COMPANY BEFORE
THE LORD, THOU, AND THEY, AND AARON, TO MORROW:
##Patterson came from
Dublin of Protestant origin. Like Wingate he
intensely believed in the Bible. Also like Wingate he believed that the
British were descended from the Lost Ten Tribes of Israel.##
[Numbers 16:17] AND TAKE EVERY MAN HIS CENSER, AND PUT INCENSE IN THEM, AND
BRING YE BEFORE THE LORD EVERY MAN HIS CENSER, TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTY CENSERS;
THOU ALSO, AND AARON, EACH OF YOU HIS CENSER.
[Numbers 16:18] AND THEY TOOK EVERY MAN HIS CENSER, AND PUT FIRE IN THEM, AND
LAID INCENSE THEREON, AND STOOD IN THE DOOR OF THE TABERNACLE OF THE
CONGREGATION WITH MOSES AND AARON.
[Numbers 16:19] AND KORAH GATHERED ALL THE CONGREGATION AGAINST THEM UNTO THE
DOOR OF THE TABERNACLE OF THE CONGREGATION: AND THE GLORY OF THE LORD APPEARED
UNTO ALL THE CONGREGATION.
[Numbers 16:20] AND THE LORD SPAKE UNTO MOSES AND UNTO AARON,
[Numbers 16:21] SEPARATE YOURSELVES FROM AMONG THIS CONGREGATION, THAT I MAY
CONSUME THEM IN A MOMENT.
[Numbers 16:22] AND THEY FELL UPON THEIR FACES, AND SAID, O GOD, THE GOD OF THE
SPIRITS OF ALL FLESH, SHALL ONE MAN SIN, AND WILT THOU BE WROTH WITH ALL THE
[Numbers 16:23] AND THE LORD SPAKE UNTO MOSES, SAYING,
[Numbers 16:24] SPEAK UNTO THE CONGREGATION, SAYING, GET YOU UP FROM ABOUT THE
TABERNACLE OF KORAH, DATHAN, AND ABIRAM.
[Numbers 16:25] AND MOSES ROSE UP AND WENT UNTO DATHAN AND ABIRAM; AND THE
ELDERS OF ISRAEL FOLLOWED HIM.
[Numbers 16:26] AND HE SPAKE UNTO THE CONGREGATION, SAYING, DEPART, I PRAY YOU,
FROM THE TENTS OF THESE WICKED MEN, AND TOUCH NOTHING OF THEIR'S, LEST YE BE
CONSUMED IN ALL THEIR SINS.
[Numbers 16:27] SO THEY GAT UP FROM THE TABERNACLE OF KORAH, DATHAN, AND ABIRAM,
ON EVERY SIDE: AND DATHAN AND ABIRAM CAME OUT, AND STOOD IN THE DOOR OF THEIR
TENTS, AND THEIR WIVES, AND THEIR SONS, AND THEIR LITTLE
[Numbers 16:28] AND MOSES SAID, HEREBY YE SHALL KNOW THAT THE LORD HATH SENT ME
TO DO ALL THESE WORKS; FOR I HAVE NOT DONE THEM OF MINE OWN
[Numbers 16:29] IF THESE MEN DIE THE COMMON DEATH OF ALL MEN, OR IF THEY BE
VISITED AFTER THE VISITATION OF ALL MEN; THEN THE LORD HATH NOT SENT
[Numbers 16:30] BUT IF THE LORD MAKE A NEW THING, AND THE EARTH OPEN HER MOUTH,
AND SWALLOW THEM UP, WITH ALL THAT APPERTAIN UNTO THEM, AND THEY GO DOWN QUICK
INTO THE PIT; THEN YE SHALL UNDERSTAND THAT THESE MEN HAVE PROVOKED THE
[Numbers 16:31] AND IT CAME TO PASS, AS HE HAD MADE AN END OF SPEAKING ALL THESE
WORDS, THAT THE GROUND CLAVE ASUNDER THAT WAS UNDER THEM:
[Numbers 16:32] AND THE EARTH OPENED HER MOUTH, AND SWALLOWED THEM UP, AND
THEIR HOUSES, AND ALL THE MEN THAT APPERTAINED UNTO KORAH, AND ALL THEIR
There was some kind of earthquake and
opening of a chasm that engulfed the followers of
and then closed up again. This could have been a natural phenomenon. The miracle
lies in it happening when it did and having the effect it did.
[Numbers 16:33] THEY, AND ALL THAT APPERTAINED TO THEM, WENT DOWN ALIVE INTO THE
PIT, AND THE EARTH CLOSED UPON THEM: AND THEY PERISHED FROM AMONG THE
[Numbers 16:34] AND ALL ISRAEL THAT WERE ROUND ABOUT THEM FLED AT THE CRY OF
THEM: FOR THEY SAID, LEST THE EARTH SWALLOW US UP ALSO.
[Numbers 16:35] AND THERE CAME OUT A FIRE FROM THE LORD, AND CONSUMED THE TWO
HUNDRED AND FIFTY MEN THAT OFFERED INCENSE.
[Numbers 16:36] AND THE LORD SPAKE UNTO MOSES, SAYING,
[Numbers 16:37] SPEAK UNTO ELEAZAR THE SON OF AARON THE PRIEST, THAT HE TAKE UP
THE CENSERS OUT OF THE BURNING, AND SCATTER THOU THE FIRE YONDER; FOR THEY ARE
[Numbers 16:38] THE CENSERS OF THESE SINNERS AGAINST THEIR OWN SOULS, LET THEM
MAKE THEM BROAD PLATES FOR A COVERING OF THE ALTAR: FOR THEY OFFERED THEM
BEFORE THE LORD, THEREFORE THEY ARE HALLOWED: AND THEY SHALL BE A SIGN UNTO THE
CHILDREN OF ISRAEL.
[Numbers 16:39] AND ELEAZAR THE PRIEST TOOK THE BRASEN CENSERS, WHEREWITH THEY
THAT WERE BURNT HAD OFFERED; AND THEY WERE MADE BROAD PLATES FOR A COVERING OF
[Numbers 16:40] TO BE A MEMORIAL UNTO THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL, THAT NO STRANGER,
WHICH IS NOT OF THE SEED OF AARON, COME NEAR TO OFFER INCENSE BEFORE THE LORD;
THAT HE BE NOT AS KORAH, AND AS HIS COMPANY: AS THE LORD SAID TO HIM BY THE
HAND OF MOSES.
## THAT HE BE NOT AS
AND AS HIS COMPANY## According to the simple import of this verse it is a
warning that non-Cohens
should not try and arrogate the duties of
of Judah was a righteous monarch but he took upon himself the task of offering
incense in the Holy of Holies in the Temple in Jerusalem. The Priests warned him
against acting in such a manner but he became angry and continued with his
arrogation. He was immediately struck on his forehead with leprosy and remained
a leper for the rest of his life (2-Chronicles ch.26).
Traditionally this verse is applied to mean not only that non-Cohens
should not try and arrogate the duties of
The injunction against acting like
has also in general terms been taken to mean that one should avoid needless
controversy. Do not argue for arguments sake. Do not defy authority just for the
sake of doing so. Jews should respect the Rabbis and
tradition and not be mislead by those who go against them.
[Numbers 16:41] BUT ON THE MORROW ALL THE CONGREGATION OF THE CHILDREN OF
ISRAEL MURMURED AGAINST MOSES AND AGAINST AARON, SAYING, YE HAVE KILLED THE
PEOPLE OF THE LORD.
Those who died were respected personages
of high quality. The people were angry at their loss and blamed Moses and Aaron.
The Almighty was angry at this insult to HIS representatives and punished the
people severely by sending a plague that killed 14,000 and was only stopped at
the intercession of Aaron.
[Numbers 16:42] AND IT CAME TO PASS, WHEN THE CONGREGATION WAS GATHERED AGAINST
MOSES AND AGAINST AARON, THAT THEY LOOKED TOWARD THE TABERNACLE OF THE
CONGREGATION: AND, BEHOLD, THE CLOUD COVERED IT, AND THE GLORY OF THE LORD
[Numbers 16:43] AND MOSES AND AARON CAME BEFORE THE TABERNACLE OF THE
[Numbers 16:44] AND THE LORD SPAKE UNTO MOSES, SAYING,
[Numbers 16:45] GET YOU UP FROM AMONG THIS CONGREGATION, THAT I MAY CONSUME THEM
AS IN A MOMENT. AND THEY FELL UPON THEIR FACES.
[Numbers 16:46] AND MOSES SAID UNTO AARON, TAKE A CENSER, AND PUT FIRE THEREIN
FROM OFF THE ALTAR, AND PUT ON INCENSE, AND GO QUICKLY UNTO THE CONGREGATION,
AND MAKE AN ATONEMENT FOR THEM: FOR THERE IS WRATH GONE OUT FROM THE LORD; THE
PLAGUE IS BEGUN.
[Numbers 16:47] AND AARON TOOK AS MOSES COMMANDED, AND RAN INTO THE MIDST OF THE
CONGREGATION; AND, BEHOLD, THE PLAGUE WAS BEGUN AMONG THE PEOPLE: AND HE PUT
ON INCENSE, AND MADE AN ATONEMENT FOR THE PEOPLE.
[Numbers 16:48] AND HE STOOD BETWEEN THE DEAD AND THE LIVING; AND THE PLAGUE
The followers of
had attempted to offer up incense and had been stricken with fire from heaven.
The people had protested their deaths and been punished with a plague. Now Aaron
takes the incense and uses its power to stop the plague. This comes to show us
that certain things have to be done properly in which case they bring a
blessing. If they are done improperly (God forbid) they are liable to cause
Aaron put himself on the line to stop the plague and save the People of
[Numbers 16:49] NOW THEY THAT DIED IN THE PLAGUE WERE FOURTEEN THOUSAND AND
SEVEN HUNDRED, BESIDE THEM THAT DIED ABOUT THE MATTER OF KORAH.
[Numbers 16:50] AND AARON RETURNED UNTO MOSES UNTO THE DOOR OF THE TABERNACLE OF
THE CONGREGATION: AND THE PLAGUE WAS STAYED.
[Numbers 17:1] AND THE LORD SPAKE UNTO MOSES, SAYING,
points out that the Levites had just contested the prerogatives of Aaron. We
therefore now have the flowering staff of Aaron to confirm his Divine
appointment. This is followed by a reiteration of some of the rights, duties,
and stringencies of the Cohens
in the Temple Service as well as a re-assertion of the rights of the Levites.
[Numbers 17:2] SPEAK UNTO THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL, AND TAKE OF EVERY ONE OF THEM
A ROD ACCORDING TO THE HOUSE OF THEIR FATHERS, OF ALL THEIR PRINCES ACCORDING TO
THE HOUSE OF THEIR FATHERS TWELVE RODS: WRITE THOU EVERY MAN'S NAME UPON HIS
[Numbers 17:3] AND THOU SHALT WRITE AARON'S NAME UPON THE ROD OF LEVI: FOR ONE
ROD SHALL BE FOR THE HEAD OF THE HOUSE OF THEIR FATHERS.
[Numbers 17:4] AND THOU SHALT LAY THEM UP IN THE TABERNACLE OF THE CONGREGATION
BEFORE THE TESTIMONY, WHERE I WILL MEET WITH YOU.
[Numbers 17:5] AND IT SHALL COME TO PASS, THAT THE MAN'S ROD, WHOM I SHALL
CHOOSE, SHALL BLOSSOM: AND I WILL MAKE TO CEASE FROM ME THE MURMURINGS OF THE
CHILDREN OF ISRAEL, WHEREBY THEY MURMUR AGAINST YOU.
[Numbers 17:6] AND MOSES SPAKE UNTO THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL, AND EVERY ONE OF
THEIR PRINCES GAVE HIM A ROD APIECE, FOR EACH PRINCE ONE, ACCORDING TO THEIR
FATHERS' HOUSES, EVEN TWELVE RODS: AND THE ROD OF AARON WAS AMONG THEIR
[Numbers 17:7] AND MOSES LAID UP THE RODS BEFORE THE LORD IN THE TABERNACLE OF
[Numbers 17:8] AND IT CAME TO PASS, THAT ON THE MORROW MOSES WENT INTO THE
TABERNACLE OF WITNESS; AND, BEHOLD, THE ROD OF AARON FOR THE HOUSE OF LEVI WAS
BUDDED, AND BROUGHT FORTH BUDS, AND BLOOMED BLOSSOMS, AND YIELDED
[Numbers 17:9] AND MOSES BROUGHT OUT ALL THE RODS FROM BEFORE THE LORD UNTO ALL
THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL: AND THEY LOOKED, AND TOOK EVERY MAN HIS
[Numbers 17:10] AND THE LORD SAID UNTO MOSES, BRING AARON'S ROD AGAIN BEFORE
THE TESTIMONY, TO BE KEPT FOR A TOKEN AGAINST THE REBELS; AND THOU SHALT QUITE
TAKE AWAY THEIR MURMURINGS FROM ME, THAT THEY DIE NOT.
[Numbers 17:11] AND MOSES DID SO: AS THE LORD COMMANDED HIM, SO DID
[Numbers 17:12] AND THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL SPAKE UNTO MOSES, SAYING, BEHOLD, WE
DIE, WE PERISH, WE ALL PERISH.
[Numbers 17:13] WHOSOEVER COMETH ANY THING NEAR UNTO THE TABERNACLE OF THE LORD
SHALL DIE: SHALL WE BE CONSUMED WITH DYING?
[Numbers 18:1] AND THE LORD SAID UNTO AARON, THOU AND THY SONS AND THY FATHER'S
HOUSE WITH THEE SHALL BEAR THE INIQUITY OF THE SANCTUARY: AND THOU AND THY
SONS WITH THEE SHALL BEAR THE INIQUITY OF YOUR PRIESTHOOD.
[Numbers 18:2] AND THY BRETHREN ALSO OF THE TRIBE OF LEVI, THE TRIBE OF THY
FATHER, BRING THOU WITH THEE, THAT THEY MAY BE JOINED UNTO THEE, AND MINISTER
UNTO THEE: BUT THOU AND THY SONS WITH THEE SHALL MINISTER BEFORE THE TABERNACLE
[Numbers 18:3] AND THEY SHALL KEEP THY CHARGE, AND THE CHARGE OF ALL THE
TABERNACLE: ONLY THEY SHALL NOT COME NIGH THE VESSELS OF THE SANCTUARY AND THE
ALTAR, THAT NEITHER THEY, NOR YE ALSO, DIE.
[Numbers 18:4] AND THEY SHALL BE JOINED UNTO THEE, AND KEEP THE CHARGE OF THE
TABERNACLE OF THE CONGREGATION, FOR ALL THE SERVICE OF THE TABERNACLE: AND A
STRANGER SHALL NOT COME NIGH UNTO YOU.
[Numbers 18:5] AND YE SHALL KEEP THE CHARGE OF THE SANCTUARY, AND THE CHARGE OF
THE ALTAR: THAT THERE BE NO WRATH ANY MORE UPON THE CHILDREN OF
[Numbers 18:6] AND I, BEHOLD, I HAVE TAKEN YOUR BRETHREN THE LEVITES FROM AMONG
THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL: TO YOU THEY ARE GIVEN AS A GIFT FOR THE LORD, TO DO THE
SERVICE OF THE TABERNACLE OF THE CONGREGATION.
[Numbers 18:7] THEREFORE THOU AND THY SONS WITH THEE SHALL KEEP YOUR PRIEST'S
OFFICE FOR EVERYTHING OF THE ALTAR, AND WITHIN THE VAIL; AND YE SHALL SERVE: I
HAVE GIVEN YOUR PRIEST'S OFFICE UNTO YOU AS A SERVICE OF GIFT: AND THE
STRANGER THAT COMETH NIGH SHALL BE PUT TO DEATH.
[Numbers 18:8] AND THE LORD SPAKE UNTO AARON, BEHOLD, I ALSO HAVE GIVEN THEE
THE CHARGE OF MINE HEAVE OFFERINGS OF ALL THE HALLOWED THINGS OF THE CHILDREN
OF ISRAEL; UNTO THEE HAVE I GIVEN THEM BY REASON OF THE ANOINTING, AND TO THY
SONS, BY AN ORDINANCE FOR EVER.
[Numbers 18:9] THIS SHALL BE THINE OF THE MOST HOLY THINGS, RESERVED FROM THE
FIRE: EVERY OBLATION OF THEIR'S, EVERY MEAT OFFERING OF THEIR'S, AND EVERY SIN
OFFERING OF THEIR'S, AND EVERY TRESPASS OFFERING OF THEIR'S WHICH THEY SHALL
RENDER UNTO ME, SHALL BE MOST HOLY FOR THEE AND FOR THY
[Numbers 18:10] IN THE MOST HOLY PLACE SHALT THOU EAT IT; EVERY MALE SHALL EAT
IT: IT SHALL BE HOLY UNTO THEE.
[Numbers 18:11] AND THIS IS THINE; THE HEAVE OFFERING OF THEIR GIFT, WITH ALL
THE WAVE OFFERINGS OF THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL: I HAVE GIVEN THEM UNTO THEE, AND
TO THY SONS AND TO THY DAUGHTERS WITH THEE, BY A STATUTE FOR EVER: EVERY ONE
THAT IS CLEAN IN THY HOUSE SHALL EAT OF IT.
[Numbers 18:12] ALL THE BEST OF THE OIL, AND ALL THE BEST OF THE WINE, AND OF
THE WHEAT, THE FIRSTFRUITS OF THEM WHICH THEY SHALL OFFER UNTO THE LORD, THEM
HAVE I GIVEN THEE.
[Numbers 18:13] AND WHATSOEVER IS FIRST RIPE IN THE LAND, WHICH THEY SHALL BRING
UNTO THE LORD, SHALL BE THINE; EVERY ONE THAT IS CLEAN IN THINE HOUSE SHALL EAT
[Numbers 18:14] EVERY THING DEVOTED IN ISRAEL SHALL BE THINE.
[Numbers 18:15] EVERY THING THAT OPENETH THE MATRIX IN ALL FLESH, WHICH THEY
BRING UNTO THE LORD, WHETHER IT BE OF MEN OR BEASTS, SHALL BE THINE:
NEVERTHELESS THE FIRSTBORN OF MAN SHALT THOU SURELY REDEEM, AND THE FIRSTLING
OF UNCLEAN BEASTS SHALT THOU REDEEM.
[Numbers 18:16] AND THOSE THAT ARE TO BE REDEEMED FROM A MONTH OLD SHALT THOU
REDEEM, ACCORDING TO THINE ESTIMATION, FOR THE MONEY OF FIVE SHEKELS, AFTER THE
SHEKEL OF THE SANCTUARY, WHICH IS TWENTY GERAHS.
[Numbers 18:17] BUT THE FIRSTLING OF A COW, OR THE FIRSTLING OF A SHEEP, OR THE
FIRSTLING OF A GOAT, THOU SHALT NOT REDEEM; THEY ARE HOLY: THOU SHALT SPRINKLE
THEIR BLOOD UPON THE ALTAR, AND SHALT BURN THEIR FAT FOR AN OFFERING MADE BY
FIRE, FOR A SWEET SAVOUR UNTO THE LORD.
[Numbers 18:18] AND THE FLESH OF THEM SHALL BE THINE, AS THE WAVE BREAST AND AS
THE RIGHT SHOULDER ARE THINE.
[Numbers 18:19] ALL THE HEAVE OFFERINGS OF THE HOLY THINGS, WHICH THE CHILDREN
OF ISRAEL OFFER UNTO THE LORD, HAVE I GIVEN THEE, AND THY SONS AND THY
DAUGHTERS WITH THEE, BY A STATUTE FOR EVER: IT IS A COVENANT OF SALT FOR EVER
BEFORE THE LORD UNTO THEE AND TO THY SEED WITH THEE.
[Numbers 18:20] AND THE LORD SPAKE UNTO AARON, THOU SHALT HAVE NO INHERITANCE IN
THEIR LAND, NEITHER SHALT THOU HAVE ANY PART AMONG THEM: I AM THY PART AND THINE
INHERITANCE AMONG THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL.
[Numbers 18:21] AND, BEHOLD, I HAVE GIVEN THE CHILDREN OF LEVI ALL THE TENTH IN
ISRAEL FOR AN INHERITANCE, FOR THEIR SERVICE WHICH THEY SERVE, EVEN THE SERVICE
OF THE TABERNACLE OF THE CONGREGATION.
The Levites were to receive the First
Tithe of Major Agricultural Produce. A Second Tithe was also required which out
of the seven year sabbatical cycle in years 1,2,4,5 where to be used by the
family themselves when they went up to Jerusalem at Festival Times. In years 3,
and 6 the Second Tith
was to be given to the Levites and the Poor. In year 7 it was the Sabbatical
Year where the agricultural produce belonged to everyone and anyone so there was
According to the Torah only agricultural produce was liable to tithing and even in that case it only applied (according to some opinions) to certain produce grown in the Land of Israel such as wheat, grapes, and olives. Another opinion said it did not apply to fruit grown on trees. Other authorities said that according to the Torah the obligation extended to all agricultural products. Whatever the case the Sages decided that Tithes should be separated from everything produced from the land that was destined for human consumption.
Nevertheless we find that even before the Giving of the Torah the principle of
tithing was known of:
In Genesis 14:20 Abraham gave a tithe to Melchizedek.
Also Jacob promised to give a tithe to the Almighty.
[Genesis 28:20] AND JACOB VOWED A VOW,
SAYING, IF GOD WILL BE WITH ME, AND WILL KEEP ME IN THIS WAY THAT I GO, AND WILL
GIVE ME BREAD TO EAT, AND RAIMENT TO PUT ON,
[Genesis 28:21] SO THAT I COME AGAIN TO MY FATHER'S HOUSE IN PEACE; THEN SHALL
THE LORD BE MY GOD:
[Genesis 28:22] AND THIS STONE, WHICH I HAVE SET FOR A PILLAR, SHALL BE GOD'S
HOUSE: AND OF ALL THAT THOU SHALT
GIVE ME I WILL SURELY GIVE THE TENTH UNTO THEE.
See our Commentary to these verses:
In principle in our
opinion every Israelite should tithe if they can.
To whom the tithes should go is another question.
According to some opinions non-Israelites should also tithe.
In practical terms Jewish Law does not really obligate tithing.
It is left up to the individual.
Nevertheless very many (especially amongst the European "Ashkenazi" Jews) relate
to tithing as an obligation and are very strict about it. It is customary to
give between 10 and 20 per cent but the Sages said that more than 20 % is
forbidden though many pious Jews find ways to get around this restriction.
The money is given to charity. Many give to help support full-time Torah
scholars who in our time fulfill the task of the Levites. Others give half
towards Torah study and another half for other causes.
A blessing is promised for
BRING YE ALL THE TITHES INTO THE STOREHOUSE, THAT THERE MAY BE MEAT IN MINE
HOUSE, AND PROVE ME NOW HEREWITH,
THE LORD OF HOSTS, IF I WILL NOT OPEN YOU THE WINDOWS OF HEAVEN, AND POUR YOU
OUT A BLESSING, THAT THERE SHALL NOT BE ROOM ENOUGH TO RECEIVE IT [Malachi
On the other hand it has to be admitted
that there are some very pious Jews who may well give charity and help others
very generously but do not relate to tithing in our time as an obligation.
Differences of opinion and of practice do exist.
Even the promise of Jacob to tithe (Genesis 28:20) could be understood to say
that first he would fulfil
his basic needs and after that give his tithes.
[Numbers 18:22] NEITHER MUST THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL HENCEFORTH COME NIGH THE
TABERNACLE OF THE CONGREGATION, LEST THEY BEAR SIN, AND
[Numbers 18:23] BUT THE LEVITES SHALL DO THE SERVICE OF THE TABERNACLE OF THE
CONGREGATION, AND THEY SHALL BEAR THEIR INIQUITY: IT SHALL BE A STATUTE FOR
EVER THROUGHOUT YOUR GENERATIONS, THAT AMONG THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL THEY HAVE
[Numbers 18:24] BUT THE TITHES OF THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL, WHICH THEY OFFER AS AN
HEAVE OFFERING UNTO THE LORD, I HAVE GIVEN TO THE LEVITES TO INHERIT: THEREFORE
I HAVE SAID UNTO THEM, AMONG THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL THEY SHALL HAVE NO
[Numbers 18:25] AND THE LORD SPAKE UNTO MOSES, SAYING,
[Numbers 18:26] THUS SPEAK UNTO THE LEVITES, AND SAY UNTO THEM, WHEN YE TAKE OF
THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL THE TITHES WHICH I HAVE GIVEN YOU FROM THEM FOR YOUR
INHERITANCE, THEN YE SHALL OFFER UP AN HEAVE OFFERING OF IT FOR THE LORD, EVEN A
TENTH PART OF THE TITHE.
[Numbers 18:27] AND THIS YOUR HEAVE OFFERING SHALL BE RECKONED UNTO YOU, AS
THOUGH IT WERE THE CORN OF THE THRESHINGFLOOR, AND AS THE FULNESS OF THE
[Numbers 18:28] THUS YE ALSO SHALL OFFER AN HEAVE OFFERING UNTO THE LORD OF ALL
YOUR TITHES, WHICH YE RECEIVE OF THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL; AND YE SHALL GIVE
THEREOF THE LORD'S HEAVE OFFERING TO AARON THE PRIEST.
[Numbers 18:29] OUT OF ALL YOUR GIFTS YE SHALL OFFER EVERY HEAVE OFFERING OF THE
LORD, OF ALL THE BEST THEREOF, EVEN THE HALLOWED PART THEREOF OUT OF
[Numbers 18:30] THEREFORE THOU SHALT SAY UNTO THEM, WHEN YE HAVE HEAVED THE
BEST THEREOF FROM IT, THEN IT SHALL BE COUNTED UNTO THE LEVITES AS THE INCREASE
OF THE THRESHINGFLOOR, AND AS THE INCREASE OF THE
[Numbers 18:31] AND YE SHALL EAT IT IN EVERY PLACE, YE AND YOUR HOUSEHOLDS: FOR
IT IS YOUR REWARD FOR YOUR SERVICE IN THE TABERNACLE OF THE
[Numbers 18:32] AND YE SHALL BEAR NO SIN BY REASON OF IT, WHEN YE HAVE HEAVED
FROM IT THE BEST OF IT: NEITHER SHALL YE POLLUTE THE HOLY THINGS OF THE CHILDREN
OF ISRAEL, LEST YE DIE.
is 1-Samuel ch.11:14 through ch.12
Samuel was a Levite and a descendant of one of the sons of
who had repented at the last minute and been saved. Samuel had been the Judge of
Israel for most of his life but the people wanted a King. Saul was chosen to
rule over Israel and Samuel inaugurates him. Just beforehand however he berates
the people for their ingratitude towards him,
OR WHOSE ASS HAVE I TAKEN? OR WHOM HAVE
I DEFRAUDED? WHOM HAVE I OPPRESSED? [1-Samuel 12:3]
This reminds us of the expressions of
Moses at the beginning of our portion:
[Numbers 16:15] AND MOSES WAS VERY
WROTH, AND SAID UNTO THE LORD, RESPECT NOT THOU THEIR OFFERING: I HAVE NOT TAKEN
ONE ASS FROM THEM, NEITHER HAVE I HURT ONE OF THEM.
It is as if there is some kind of
Poetic Justice in the descendant of
having to feel the same way as his ancestor made Moses
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