(This Torah Teaching is for Shabbat of June 12th, 2021)
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Korach (קֹרַח)— Hebrew for the name “Korah,” which in turn means “baldness, ice, hail, or frost,” and has a connotation of Korah without a covering as he coveted the Priest’s position as his covering and thereby brought a curse upon himself and those he deceived into joining his rebellion. Korach is the second word in the parashah ands the 38th weekly Torah portion (פָּרָשָׁה, parashah) in the annual cycle of Torah reading and the fifth in the Book of Numbers. It tells of Korah’s failed attempt to overthrow Moses. It constitutes Numbers 16:1–18:32
Parsha B’ha’alotkha Summary
Korach incites a mutiny challenging Moses’ leadership and the granting of the kehunah (priesthood) to Aaron. He is accompanied by Moses’ inveterate foes, Dathan and Abiram. Joining them are 250 distinguished members of the community, who offer the sacrosanct ketoret (incense) to prove their worthiness for the priesthood. The earth opens up and swallows the mutineers, and a fire consumes the ketoret-offerers.
A subsequent plague is stopped by Aaron’s offering of ketoret. Aaron’s staff miraculously blossoms and brings forth almonds, to prove that his designation as high priest is divinely ordained.
God commands that a terumah (“uplifting”) from each crop of grain, wine and oil, as well as all firstborn sheep and cattle, and other specified gifts, be given to the kohanim (priests).
An Amazing Pattern Revealed for us to Learn from:
The amazing thing that is revealed in the origin and process of Korach’s rebellion is that it is the same pattern that occurred in heaven with Lucifer’s rebellion originating in a focus on self, and the desire for self-exaltation! As you can see in the whiteboard depiction below all self focus, self-exaltation, and self-seeking leads to rebellion against God and severs oneself from the source of life and thus leads to self-destruction! Unfortunately, it also leads to the demise of others who align themselves with the rebellious as well. In contrast, God is selfless love… may we pattern ourselves after His likeness leading to life eternal!
I Samuel 11:14 – 12:22
The prophet Samuel (a descendant of Korach, the protagonist of this week’s Torah portion) gathers the Jews to firmly install Saul as king of Israel. During the course of his address to the Jews he called out, “Here I am; bear witness against me before God and before His anointed; whose ox did I take, or whose ass did I take, or whom did I rob; or whom did I oppress, or from whose hand did I take a bribe…” This echoes Moses‘ statement in this week’s Torah reading: “I have not taken a donkey from a single one of them, and I have not harmed a single one of them.”
The nation gathers at Gilgal for a second coronation of King Saul–the first one having lacked a convincing consensus. They offer sacrifices and rejoice together. The prophet Samuel then delivers a talk: he asks the people to testify that he never committed crimes against the people, and they confirm. He discusses how God saved and aided them every step of the way and chastises them for wanting a flesh and blood king. He assures them that God will be with them if they follow in His ways, and of the consequences they will face if they do not follow God’s word.
To underscore the seriousness of his words, Samuel asks God to send a thunderstorm, although it was not the rainy season. The Jewish people got the message and asked Samuel to intercede on their behalf and to have the thunderstorm cease. The haftorah ends with a reassurance: “For God will not forsake His people for His great name’s sake; for God has sworn to make you a people for Himself.”
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Torah Parashah teaching with video and audio and illustrations by Rabbi Isaac. © 2021 Assembly of Called-Out Believers. Use by Permission.