Numbers 16:3
And they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron, and said to them, You take too much on you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the LORD is among them: why then lift you up yourselves above the congregation of the LORD?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(3) Ye take too much upon you . . . —Or, enough for you (comp. Gen. 14:28), i.e., you have held the priesthood and the government long enough; or, Let it be enough for you to be numbered amongst the holy people without usurping dominion over them. It is evident from the whole tenour of the address that Korah laid claim to a universal priesthood on behalf of the people, designing probably to secure the chief place in that priesthood for himself.

Numbers 16:3. They — Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, and the rest, who were all together when Moses spake these words, (Numbers 16:5-7,) but after that, Dathan and Abiram retired to their tents, and then Moses sent for Korah and the Levites, who had more colourable pretences to the priesthood, and treats with them apart, and speaks what is mentioned, Numbers 16:8-11. Having despatched them, he sends for Dathan and Abiram, (Numbers 16:12,) that he might reason the case with them also apart. Against Aaron — To whom the priesthood was confined, and against Moses — Both because this was done by his order, and because, before Aaron’s consecration, Moses appropriated it to himself. For whatever they intended, they seem not now directly to strike at Moses for his supreme civil government, but only for his influence in the disposal of the priesthood. Ye take too much upon you — Hebrew, רב לכם, Rab-lachem. It is much or sufficient for you, as the same phrase is used Deuteronomy 1:6; Deuteronomy 2:3. Their meaning seems to be, that Moses and Aaron ought not to confine the priesthood to their family alone, but be satisfied with being upon a level with their brethren, who were all holy, they said, a kingdom of priests, a holy nation, as they are called, Exodus 19:6; a people separated to the service of God, and, therefore, no less fit to offer sacrifices than you are. The same phrase is retorted upon these rebellious Levites by Moses, Numbers 16:7. The Lord is among them — By his tabernacle and cloud, the tokens of his gracious presence, and therefore ready to receive sacrifices from their own hands.

Ye — Thou, Moses, by prescribing what laws thou pleasest about the priesthood, and confining it to thy brother; and thou, Aaron, by usurping it as thy peculiar privilege.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.All the congregation are holy - Compare the marginal reference. Korah's object was not to abolish the distinction between the Levites and the people, but to win priestly dignity for himself and his kinsmen Numbers 16:10. This ultimate design is masked for the present in order to win support from the Reubenites by putting forward claims to spiritual equality on behalf of every Israelite. 3. they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron—The assemblage seems to have been composed of the whole band of conspirators; and they grounded their complaint on the fact that the whole people, being separated to the divine service (Ex 19:6), were equally qualified to present offerings on the altar, and that God, being graciously, present among them by the tabernacle and the cloud, evinced His readiness to receive sacrifices from the hand of any others as well as from theirs. They, i.e. either Korah, and the two hundred and fifty princes, which may seem probable by comparing this with Numbers 16:12,25,27, where we find Dathan and Abiram in another place, even in their tents, whither it is likely they were gone by consent to form and strengthen their party there, while Korah and the rest went to Moses. Or, Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, and the rest, who were all together when Moses spake those words, Numbers 16:5-7; but after that Dathan and Abiram retired to their tents, and then Moses sent for Korah and the Levites, who had more special and more colourable pretences to the priesthood, and treats with them apart, and speaks what is mentioned Numbers 16:8-11; and then having dispatched them, he sends for Dathan and Abiram, Numbers 16:12, that he might reason the case with them also apart.

Against Aaron, to whom the priesthood was confined, and against Moses, both because this was done by his order, and because before Aaron’s consecration Moses appropriated it to himself. For whatever they intended, they seem not now directly to strike at Moses for his supreme civil government, but only for his interest and influence in the disposal of the priesthood, as may appear by the whole context, and particularly by Numbers 16:5,10,15, &c.

Ye take too much upon you, by perpetuating the priesthood in yourselves and family, with the exclusion of all others from it. Are holy; a kingdom of priests, a holy nation, as they are called Exodus 19:6; a people separated to the service of God, and therefore no less fit to present themselves before God, and to offer sacrifice and incense for themselves, than you are.

The Lord is among them, by his tabernacle and cloud, the tokens of his special and gracious presence, and therefore ready to receive all their sacriiiccs and services from their own hands.

Wherefore lift ye up yourselves; thou, Moses, by prescribing what laws thou pleasest about the priesthood, and confining it to thy brother; and thou, Aaron, by usurping it as thy peculiar privilege? And they gathered themselves together against Moses, and against Aaron,.... They met together by appointment, and went up in a body to Moses and Aaron:

and said unto them, ye take too much upon you; the one to be king, and the other to be priest; for they imagined that Moses took the civil government into his hands, and Aaron the priesthood, of themselves, without any call of God to either; but the contrary is most certain, Hebrews 3:2; the Israelites, those of the other tribes besides Levi and Reuben, thought that Moses took too much upon him of his own head, to take the Levites instead of the firstborn, and confer a dignity on his own brethren, the sons of Kohath, who were near akin to him, and on all the sons of Levi, as Aben Ezra observes; and the Levites they conspired against him, because they were given to Aaron and his sons; and Dathan and Abiram entered into a conspiracy, as the same writer thinks, because he had removed the birthright from Reuben their father, and had given it to Joseph; for it is probable they suspected him, because of Joshua his minister; and Jarchi conjectures that Korah was angry because Moses had conferred the government of the Kohathites on Elizaphan, the son of Uzziel, the youngest son of Kohath, when he himself, Korah, was the eldest son of an elder son of Kohath: or "it is", or "let it be enough for you" (m); or more than enough, as Jarchi; it is sufficient that you have had the government, both in things civil and religious, so long as you have; it is time to give it up to others, who are as well qualified as yourselves. The time past may suffice for the exercise of your despotic and arbitrary power; though it seems to be chiefly levelled against Aaron, and his priesthood, which they thought Moses had conferred on his brother of himself, any instruction from God:

seeing all the congregation are holy, everyone of them; having all heard the words of the Lord on Sinai, as Jarchi notes; and were all fit to be priests, and to offer sacrifice in and for their families, as they had used to do, before the separation of Aaron and his sons to the priesthood:

and the Lord is among them; in the tabernacle, to whom they could approach and offer their offerings without a priest to do it for them:

wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the congregation of the Lord? since they were all upon a level, everyone holy to the Lord, and might draw nigh unto him, and officiate as priests; wherefore they represent it as great pride and vanity in them; in Moses to take upon him to dispose of the priesthood at his pleasure, and make Aaron the high priest of the people; and in Aaron to take this office upon him, and to be an high priest, and not all the sons of Levi, but over all the children of Israel.

(m) "sat est vel satis sit", Pagninus, Vatablus, Drusius, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; so Aben Ezra.

And they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron, and said unto them, {a} Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, {b} every one of them, and the LORD is among them: wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the congregation of the LORD?

(a) Or let it suffice you: meaning, to have abused them this long.

(b) All are equally holy: therefore no one should be preferred above other: thus the wicked reason against God's ordinance.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
3. Ye take too much upon you] lit. Enough for you! ‘Your overweening claims have gone far enough!’Verse 3. - They gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron. They had risen up before Moses, i.e., made a tumult in his presence, because they regarded him (and rightly) as the actual ruler of Israel in religious as well as in secular matters. At the same time, the attack of Korah and his company (with whom alone the narrative is really concerned here) was directed especially against the ecclesiastical rule which Moses exercised through his brother Aaron. Ye take too much upon you. רַב־לָכֶם, "much for you," probably in the sense of "enough for you" (cf. the use of רַב in Genesis 45:28), i.e., you have enjoyed power long enough; so the Targum Palestine. It may, however, be taken with the following כִּי as meaning, "let it suffice you that all the congregation," &c.; and so the Septuagint, ἐχέτω ὑμῖν ὅτι, κ.τ.λ. The Targum of Onkelos renders it in the same sense as the A.V. All the congregation are holy, every one of them. This was perfectly true, m a sense. There was a sanctity which pertained to Israel as a nation, in which all its members shared as distinguished from the nations around (Exodus 19:6; Leviticus 20:26); there was a priesthood which was inherent in all the sons of Israel, older and more indelible than that which was conferred on Aaron's line - a priesthood which, apart from special restrictions, or in exceptional circumstances, might and did assert itself in priestly acts (Exodus 24:5, and compare the cases of Samuel, Elijah, and others who offered sacrifice during the failure of the appointed priesthood). It Moses had taken the power to himself, or it he had (as they doubtless supposed) restricted active priestly functions to Aaron because he was his brother, and wholly under his influence, their contention would have been quite right. They erred, as most violent men do, not because they asserted what was false, but because they took for granted that the truth which they asserted was really inconsistent with the claims which they assailed. The congregation were all holy; the sons of Israel were all priests; that was true - but it was also true that by Divine command Israel could only exercise his corporate priesthood outwardly through the one family which God had set apart for that purpose. The same God who has lodged in the body certain faculties and powers for the benefit of the body, has decreed that those faculties and powers can only be exercised through certain determinate organs, the very specialization of which is both condition and result of a high organization. The congregation of the Lord. There are two words for congregation in this verse: קָהָל here, and עֵדָה before. The former seems to be used in the more solemn sense, but they are for the most part indistinguishable, and certainly cannot be assigned to different authors. (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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