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:
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(2) And they rose up . . . —i.e., in rebellion.

Two hundred and fifty princes . . . —It has been inferred from Numbers 27:3, where it is stated that Zelophehad, the Manassite, did not take part in the rebellion, that these princes, or chief men of the congregation, belonged to the other tribes of Israel as well as that of Levi. They are called Korah’s company because he was their leader, and it is probable from Numbers 16:8 that a large number of them belonged to the tribe of Levi.

16:1-11 Pride and ambition occasion a great deal of mischief both in churches and states. The rebels quarrel with the settlement of the priesthood upon Aaron and his family. Small reason they had to boast of the people's purity, or of God's favour, as the people had been so often and so lately polluted with sin, and were now under the marks of God's displeasure. They unjustly charge Moses and Aaron with taking honour to themselves; whereas they were called of God to it. See here, 1. What spirit levellers are of; those who resist the powers God has set over them. 2. What usage they have been serviceable. Moses sought instruction from God. The heart of the wise studies to answer, and asks counsel of God. Moses shows their privileges as Levites, and convicts them of the sin of undervaluing these privileges. It will help to keep us from envying those above us, duly to consider how many there are below us.The "princes" appear to have belonged to the other tribes (compare Numbers 27:3). CHAPTER 16

Nu 16:1-30. The Rebellion of Korah.

1, 2. Now Korah, the son of Izhar—Izhar, brother of Amram (Ex 6:18), was the second son of Kohath, and for some reason unrecorded he had been supplanted by a descendant of the fourth son of Kohath, who was appointed prince or chief of the Kohathites (Nu 3:30). Discontent with the preferment over him of a younger relative was probably the originating cause of this seditious movement on the part of Korah.

Dathan and Abiram, … and On—These were confederate leaders in the rebellion, but On seems to have afterwards withdrawn from the conspiracy [compare Nu 16:12, 24, 25, 27; 26:9; De 11:6; Ps 106:17].

took men—The latter mentioned individuals, being all sons of Reuben, the eldest of Jacob's family, had been stimulated to this insurrection on the pretext that Moses had, by an arbitrary arrangement, taken away the right of primogeniture, which had vested the hereditary dignity of the priesthood in the first-born of every family, with a view of transferring the hereditary exercise of the sacred functions to a particular branch of his own house; and that this gross instance of partiality to his own relations, to the permanent detriment of others, was a sufficient ground for refusing allegiance to his government. In addition to this grievance, another cause of jealousy and dissatisfaction that rankled in the breasts of the Reubenites was the advancement of Judah to the leadership among the tribes. These malcontents had been incited by the artful representations of Korah (Jude 11), with whom the position of their camp on the south side afforded them facilities of frequent intercourse. In addition to his feeling of personal wrongs, Korah participated in their desire (if he did not originate the attempt) to recover their lost rights of primogeniture. When the conspiracy was ripe, they openly and boldly declared its object, and at the head of two hundred fifty princes, charged Moses with an ambitious and unwarrantable usurpation of authority, especially in the appropriation of the priesthood, for they disputed the claim of Aaron also to pre-eminence [Nu 16:3].

They, i.e. Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, last mentioned.

Rose up, i.e. conspired together, and put their seditious design in execution.

Before Moses; not privily and obscurely, but openly and boldly, not fearing nor regarding the presence of Moses, who was an eye-witness of their conspiracy.

Famous, for place and birth. And they rose up before Moses,.... To his face, openly and publicly, in a bold and audacious manner; with impudence, as the Targum of Jonathan:

with certain of the children of Israel; some out of the several tribes, but perhaps chiefly of the tribe of Reuben, as Jarchi:

two hundred and fifty princes of the assembly; or "congregation" (i), who were princes in the several tribes to which they belonged, heads of houses and families of their fathers, rulers of thousands, hundreds, &c.

famous in the congregation; or "called" (k) to the tabernacle of the congregation; who, when the great men among the people were gathered together to consult about any affair, were called, as Ben Melech observes:

men of renown, or "of name" (l); in high esteem among the people for their birth and rank, their wealth and riches, wisdom and prudence; and were so before they came out of Egypt, as Aben Ezra remarks; so that the persons concerned in this rebellion were not the mob and dregs of the people, but men of the greatest figure and fame, and therefore was likely to be of bad consequence.

(i) "congregationis", Pagninus. (k) "vocati", Montanus, Drusius. (l) "viri nominis", Montanus, Drusius.

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:
2. called to the assembly] Selected from the congregation to meet in assembly. LXX. σύνκλητοι βουλῆς explains that they met to give counsel.Verse 2. - And they rose up before Moses. It is suggested that the Reubenites were aggrieved because their father had been deprived of his birthright in favour of Judah, and that Korah was aggrieved because the Uzzielites had been preferred in the person of Elizaphan to the Izharites (chapter 3:30). These accusations have nothing whatever in the narrative to support them, and are suspicious because they are so easy and so sure to be made in such cases. In all ecclesiastical history the true reformer, as well as the heretic and the demagogue, has always been charged with being actuated by motives of disappointed ambition. Without these gratuitous suppositions there was quite enough to excite the anger and opposition of such discontented and insubordinate minds as are to be found in every community. With certain of the children of Israel. These were gathered front the tribes at large, as implied in the statement that Zelophehad a Manassite was not amongst them (Numbers 27:8). Famous in the congregation. Literally, "called men of the congregation." Septuagint, σύγκλητοι βουλῆς, representatives of the host in the great council (cf. chapter Numbers 1:16; 26:9). (cf. Deuteronomy 22:12). The command to wear Tassels on the Edge of the Upper Garment appears to have been occasioned by the incident just described. The Israelites were to wear ציצת, tassels, on the wings of their upper garments, or, according to Deuteronomy 22:12, at the four corners of the upper garment. כּסוּת, the covering in which a man wraps himself, synonymous with בּגד, was the upper garment, consisting of a four-cornered cloth or piece of stuff, which was thrown over the body-coat (see my Bibl. Archol. ii. pp. 36, 37), and is not to be referred, as Schultz supposes, to the bed-coverings also, although this garment was actually used as a counterpane by the poor (see Exodus 22:25-26). "And upon the tassel of the wing they shall put a string of hyacinth-blue," namely, to fasten the tassel to the edge of the garment. ציצת (fem., from ציץ, the glittering, the bloom or flower) signifies something flowery or bloom-like, and is used in Ezekiel 8:3 for a lock of hair; here it is applied to a tassel, as being made of twisted threads: lxx κράσπεδα; Matthew 23:5, "borders." The size of these tassels is not prescribed. The Pharisees liked to make them large, to exhibit openly their punctilious fulfilment of the law. For the Rabbinical directions how to make them, see Carpzov. apparat. pp. 197ff.; and Bodenschatz, kirchliche Verfassung der heutigen Juden, iv. pp. 11ff.
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