1 Then Korah the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi decided to speak against Moses. And Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, and On the son of Peleth, descendants of Reuben, were with him. 2 So they stood up in front of Moses, together with 250 leaders of the Israelites. Those leaders were famous men that the people had chosen. 3 They all came to Moses and Aaron and they said, ‘All the Israelites are special, and the LORD is with them. So, you should not say that you are better than the people.’
4 When Moses heard that, he threw himself on to the ground. He prayed. 5 Moses said to Korah and to all the other men, ‘Tomorrow the LORD will show us who is special. He will show us which person is near to him. He will make the person that he chooses come near to him. 6 Do this: Get some pots for yourselves, Korah and all your friends. 7 And put fire and incense in them, in front of the LORD tomorrow. Then the LORD will choose the man who is holy. You make yourselves too important, you descendants of Levi!’
8 Then Moses said to Korah, ‘Listen, you descendants of Levi. 9 The God of Israel has made you separate from all the other Israelites. And he has brought you near to himself, to work in the LORD's Tent. And he has chosen you to stand in front of all the people and to be their servants. But it seems that that is not enough for you. 10 He has brought you near to himself, Korah, and all the other descendants of Levi. But it seems that you want to be priests as well. 11 You are not speaking bad words about Aaron. You are speaking bad words about the LORD.’
12 Then Moses said to Dathan and Abiram the sons of Eliab, ‘Come here.’ They said, ‘No, we will not. 13 You have brought us up out of a country where there is a lot of milk and honey everywhere. You have brought us here, where we will die in the desert. But it seems that that is not enough for you. It seems that you want to be our master as well! 14 You have certainly not brought us into a country where there is a lot of milk and honey everywhere. And you have not given to us fields and vineyards for us and for our descendants. Perhaps you do not want these men to understand what you are really doing. We will not come up!’
15 Moses was angry. He said to the LORD, ‘Do not take any gifts from these men. I did not take anything from them. I did not do anything wrong to them.’ 16 Moses said to Korah, ‘Tomorrow, you and your men must come to the Tent of Meeting. You must come in front of the LORD. Aaron will be there. 17 Each of you must take a pot and you must put incense in it. You must put the pots on the altar in front of the LORD.’ 18 So, each man took a pot. He put incense and fire in it. They stood with Moses and Aaron at the door of the Tent of Meeting. 19 So Korah brought all the people against Moses and Aaron at the door of the Tent of Meeting. And the glory of the LORD appeared to all the people. 20 The LORD said to Moses and Aaron, 21 ‘Stand away from these men so that I can kill them.’
22 But Moses and Aaron threw themselves on the ground. Their faces were touching the ground. And they said, ‘You, our God, are the God of the spirits of all people. When one man sins, will you be angry with all the people?’
23 The LORD said to Moses, 24 ‘Tell the people that they should stand away from the tents of Korah, Dathan and Abiram.’
25 Moses got up from the ground. He went to Dathan and Abiram. The leaders of the Israelites went with him. 26 And Moses said to all the people, ‘Move away from the tents of these very bad men. And do not be touching anything that is theirs. If you do not move away, you might die. You might die when they die because of their sin.’ 27 So the people moved away from the tents of Korah, Dathan and Abiram. Dathan and Abiram were standing with their wives and their children at the door of their tents.
28 Then Moses said to the people, ‘You will know that the LORD chose me to lead you. This is how you will know. 29 If these men die in a usual way, then the LORD did not choose me. 30 But if the LORD causes a completely new thing to happen, you will know something. See whether the ground opens. See whether these men fall alive into Sheol with all their things. If that happens, you will understand something. These men thought that the LORD was not important. That is what you will understand.’
31 When Moses finished speaking, the ground opened. 32 The ground opened. The men, their families and everything that was theirs fell down into the hole. The earth covered Korah and all his men and everything that was theirs, too. 33 They went alive into Sheol. The ground closed over them and they died. 34 As it happened to them, they were shouting loudly. All the Israelites who were round them heard that. So they ran away and they were saying, ‘We might fall into the earth too!’
35 Also fire came out from the LORD. And it killed the 250 men who were offering the incense to God.
36 The LORD said to Moses, 37 ‘Tell Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest that he must take the pots out of the burning fire. That is because those pots are holy. Then you must throw all the burning materials over all the ground round that place. 38 And these men died because they sinned. But the pots that they were holding are holy. That is because they were offering the incense to the LORD. So workers must use hammers to make the pots into thin pieces of metal. Then cover the altar with those thin pieces of metal. Then they will be like a sign for the Israelites.’ 39 So Eleazar lifted the pots up. He hit them until they were flat. He put the flat metal on the altar. 40 Then the people would know that only people from the family of Aaron could burn incense on the LORD's altar. The LORD had told this to Moses.
Aaron saves the Israelites
41 But on the next day, all the Israelites together said bad things about Moses and Aaron. And they said, ‘You are the men who have caused the death of the LORD's people.’ 42 When they turned towards the Tent of Meeting, a cloud was covering it. There was a bright light from the LORD. 43 Moses and Aaron went to the front of the Tent of Meeting. 44 The LORD said to Moses, 45 ‘Get away from the people so that I can kill them.’ Moses and Aaron fell to the ground. 46 And Moses said to Aaron, ‘The LORD is so angry with the people that he is punishing them. People have started to die from a very bad illness! So take your pot and put into it fire from the altar. And put incense on the fire. Then bring it quickly to all the people and make things right with God for them.’ 47 The bad things and illnesses started to happen. But Aaron did what Moses said. 48 He stood between the people who were living and the dead people. The bad things and illnesses stopped. 49 But 14 700 people died because of those things. 50 Aaron went back to Moses at the door of the Tent of Meeting.