Numbers 16:37
Speak to Eleazar the son of Aaron the priest, that he take up the censers out of the burning, and scatter you the fire yonder; for they are hallowed.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(37) Speak unto Eleazar the son of Aaron . . . —Aaron was shortly to be employed in an act of sacerdotal ministration and intercession, for which he would have become disqualified had he been ceremonially defiled by contact with things pertaining to the dead.

16:35-40 A fire went out from the Lord, and consumed the two hundred and fifty men that offered incense, while Aaron, who stood with them, was preserved alive. God is jealous of the honour of his own institutions, and will not have them invaded. The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord. The censers are devoted, and, as all devoted things, must be made serviceable to the glory of God. This covering of the altar would remind the children of Israel of this event, that others might hear and fear, and do no more presumptuously. They brought destruction on themselves both in body and soul. Thus all who break the law and neglect the gospel choose and love death.Aaron as High Priest and as one of those that offered incense Numbers 16:17, could not be defiled by going among the dead.

The censers were not to be used again for censers, nor the coals on them for kindling the incense to be offered before the Lord. Yet neither of them could fittingly be employed for common purposes. The censers therefore were beaten into plates for the altar; the coals were scattered at a distance.

37-40. Speak unto Eleazar—He was selected lest the high priest might contract defilement from going among the dead carcasses. Unto Eleazar, rather than to Aaron, partly because the tronblesome part of the work was more proper for him, and partlly lest Aaron should be polluted by going amongst those dead carcasses; for it is probable this fire consumed them, as lightning somethnes doth others, by taking away their lives, and leaving their bodies dead upon the place.

Out of the burning, i.e. from among the dead bodies of those men who were burnt. Burning put for those who are burnt, as captivity for the captives, Numbers 21:1, and poverty for the poor, 2 Kings 24:14.

The fire, i.e. the cinders or ashes which are left in or near their censers.

Yonder, i.e. far from the altar and sanctuary, into an unclean place, where the ashes were wont to be cast; by which God shows his rejection of their services.

They are hallowed; either,

1. By God’s appointment, because they were presented before the Lord by his express order, Numbers 16:16,17. Or,

2. By God’s just judgment, because they, together with the persons that used them, were accursed and devoted by God, and therefore were the Lord’s, and not to be employed in any profane or common use, as appears from Leviticus 27:28. But the first reason is the chief, and is rendered by God himself, Numbers 16:38. Speak unto Eleazar the son of Aaron the priest,.... His eldest son, that was to succeed him as high priest, and who perhaps was upon the spot to see the issue of things; and who, rather than Aaron, is bid to do what follows, partly because Aaron was now officiating, burning incense, and that he might not be defiled with the dead bodies; and partly because it was more proper and decent for the son to do it than the father; and it may be also because it was for the further confirmation of the priesthood in the posterity of Aaron:

that he take up the censers out of the burning; either out from among the dead bodies burnt with fire from the Lord, or out of the burning of the incense in them; these were the censers of Korah and the two hundred fifty men with him:

and scatter thou the fire yonder; the fire that was in the censers; the incense burning in them was to be cast out and scattered here and there, or carried to some unclean place at a distance, as a token of the rejection of the services of these men: and thus the Lord answered the prayer of Moses, that he would not have respect to their offering, Numbers 16:15; if incense is intended there; though that seems to refer only to Dathan and Abiram, and not to these two hundred fifty men:

for they are hallowed, incense being offered in them before the Lord, and therefore were not to be made use of in common service.

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 hallowed.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
37. out of the burning] From the heap of burnt corpses.

for they are holy] These words probably belong to the next verse (see n. there). The fire-pans had previously been the private property of the 250 princes (see on Numbers 16:6); but when they had once been employed for a sacred purpose, and had been in contact with sacred incense, they had acquired (according to a very wide-spread Semitic notion) a new quality of sacredness, which made it dangerous and wrong to use them in future for secular purposes. For this Semitic idea cf. Numbers 19:21; Ezekiel 44:19; Ezekiel 46:20; Leviticus 6:27; Haggai 2:12 f.; Isaiah 45:5; and see art. ‘Holiness’ in DB. ii.Verse 37. - Speak unto Eleazar. This is the first time that any special duty is assigned to Eleazar, who was destined to succeed to the high-priesthood. We may suppose that he was sent instead of his father because the duty of gathering up the censers could hardly have been carried out without incurring legal defilement by contact with the dead. Out of the burning. Or, "out of the burnt." Septuagint, ἐκ μέσου τῶν κατακεκαυμένων. From amongst the charred and smouldering corpses. Scatter thou the fire yonder; for they are hallowed. The censers had been made holy even by that sacrilegious dedication, and must never revert to any common uses; for the same reason the live coals which still remained in them were to be emptied out in a separate place. And immediately the earth clave asunder, and swallowed them up, with their families and all their possessions, and closed above them, so that they perished without a trace from the congregation. אתם refers to the three ringleaders. "Their houses;" i.e., their families, not their tents, as in Numbers 18:31; Exodus 12:3. "All the men belonging to Korah" were his servants; for, according to Numbers 26:11, his sons did not perish with him, but perpetuated his family (Numbers 26:58), to which the celebrated Korahite singers of David's time belonged (1 Chronicles 6:18-22; 1 Chronicles 9:19).
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