The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Book of Numbers
And now a conspiracy was made by Core son of Isaar, a Levite of Caath’s family, with Dathan and Abiron, sons of Eliab, and Hon son of Pheleth, a man of Ruben.
These rose in rebellion against Moses, and there were two hundred and fifty others, whose names stood high in the councils of the people, that took part with them.
And they confronted Moses and Aaron, making their protest thus: You presume too much; are not all the Israelites men set apart? Does not the Lord make his dwelling among all of us alike? We are the Lord’s people; who are you that you should take command of us?✻
At hearing this, Moses cast himself down to earth.
To Core, and to his faction, he said, Wait until to-morrow; then the Lord will make it plain which of us he has set apart for himself, and admit them to his presence. Those whom the Lord has chosen will find access to him.
Let this be the test; bring censers with you, Core and all you that are of his faction,
and tomorrow, in the Lord’s presence, put incense on the lighted coals in them; so the Lord will make his choice, and we shall know which of us he has set apart; it is you, sons of Levi, that presume too much.
And he made this further answer to Core: Listen, men of Levi;
the God of Israel has separated you from the rest of the people and made you his own, to do him service in the tabernacle, and stand up, with the eyes of the whole multitude upon you, as his ministers; does not that content you?
If he has given thee and all thy brother Levites access to himself, must you needs claim the priesthood too?
Must thou and all thy company rebel against the Lord? Aaron, what has he done that you should complain so loudly of him?
Then Moses summoned Dathan and Abiron, sons of Eliab, to his presence, but they refused to come.
What, they said, wouldst thou lord it over us now? When thou hast brought us away from Egypt, a land that was milk and honey indeed, to die here in the desert?
No land of milk and honey for our journey’s end, no fields and vineyards to enjoy; what more wilt thou ask of us? Wilt thou pluck out our eyes too? No, we will not come.
At this, Moses said to the Lord, in great anger, Spurn every gift these men offer thee! Thou knowest that I have never robbed them of an ass, or done them any harm.
Then he said to Core, Present yourselves before the Lord to-morrow, thou and the whole of thy company; you shall stand on one side, and Aaron on the other.
Bring your censers with you, and you shall put incense on them there; you with two hundred censers, and Aaron with his censer all alone.
There, on the morrow, Moses and Aaron stood, and those others did as they were bidden,
and gathered the whole multitude to meet them at the tabernacle door. And the glory of the Lord’s presence was revealed to them all.
But it was to Moses and Aaron that the Lord spoke;
Stand apart, he said, from all the concourse that surrounds you; I mean to make an end of them here and now.
Whereupon they fell flat on the ground, crying out, God all-powerful, Lord of every spirit that breathes, wilt thou take vengeance on all for one man’s fault?
And the Lord said to Moses,
Bid all the rest of the people stand apart from the tents of Core, Dathan, and Abiron.
And Moses, rising to his feet, went over to where Dathan and Abiron stood; with him were the elders of the people.
Withdraw, he told the multitude, from the tents of these rebels; avoid the touch of anything that belongs to them, so that you may not be involved in their guilt.
So they withdrew to this side and that, from the dwelling-places of Core, Dathan and Abiron; and now Dathan and Abiron came out and stood at their tent doors, with their wives and children and all their households.
Here is proof, Moses said, whether it is at the Lord’s bidding I do all you see me do, or prompted by my own spirit.
If these men are left to undergo the common lot of mortality, called to their account as others are called to their account, then they are right; the Lord has given me no commission.
But if the Lord alters the order of nature, so that earth gapes and swallows them up with all that is theirs, and they go down still living to the depths beneath, then you will have proof that they have spoken blasphemy against the Lord.
He had scarce done speaking, when the ground parted under their feet,
gaped open, and swallowed them up, with their tents and all that was theirs.
Still living they went down to the depths beneath, and earth closed over them, and their names were lost to the muster-roll of the people.
And now all the Israelites who stood round and heard the shrieks of the dying fled away, in dread that they too would be swallowed up by the earth;
but not before the two hundred and fifty men who stood there offering incense had perished by fire sent from heaven.
Then the Lord said to Moses,
Bid Aaron’s son, the priest Eleazar, gather up the censers that lie there among the flames, and scatter the coal in them this way and that.
They are forfeit, now, through the death of these sinners;✻ he must beat them out into plates, which he will nail to the altar. Incense has been offered to the Lord in them, and they must be consecrated things, a portent and a warning to every Israelite who sees them.
So the priest Eleazar took these brazen censers from the hands of the dead men the fire had killed, and beat them into plates, which he nailed to the altar,
as a warning to the Israelites of after times. No interloper, that is not of Aaron’s stock, must ever come forward to offer the Lord incense, or he will suffer the fate of Core and his company, the fate which the Lord, through Moses, foretold to them.
Next day, the men of Israel were enraged against Moses and Aaron, for putting the Lord’s people to death.
A conspiracy was formed, and the uproar grew fiercer,
until Moses and Aaron took refuge in the tabernacle. As soon as they entered it, the cloud overshadowed it, and the glory of the Lord’s presence was revealed.
And the Lord said to Moses,
Withdraw yourselves from this multitude which surrounds you; I mean, after all, to make an end of them. And as they lay there with their faces to the ground,
Moses said to Aaron, Take thy censer, and put incense on the lighted coals in it, and go with all speed to find the people and make intercession for them; already the Lord has begun to wreak his vengeance, and destruction rages among them.
Aaron obeyed, and ran into the midst of the throng where the fire was already making havoc;✻ he offered incense
and made intercession for the people, standing there between the dead and the living, and the divine vengeance ceased.
Already fourteen thousand seven hundred men had been smitten by it, not counting those who perished in the rebellion of Core.
But now the destruction was over, and Aaron went back to meet Moses at the tabernacle door.
The Holy Bible