The Beautiful Legacy of Korah
מורשתו היפה של קורח
Torah Portion Korah
Korah is the antagonist in this weeks Torah reading (i.e. the baddy) and it is Korah who leads the rebellion against Moses.
The portion for this week starts with the rebels, Korah and those with him, approaching Moses and Aaron saying;
“You take too much upon yourselves, for all the congregation is holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the Lord?”
Now, we'll move quickly through this but the story continues and Moses goes on to tell Korah and his company to present themselves to YHWH on the following day with censers and burning incense. Moses explains that through this process that YHWH will show who is holy and who he has chosen to lead Israel.
Moses goes on to say;
“Hear now, you sons of Levi: 9 Is it a small thing to you that the God of Israel has separated you from the congregation of Israel, to bring you near to Himself, to do the work of the tabernacle of the Lord, and to stand before the congregation to serve them; 10 and that He has brought you near to Himself, you and all your brethren, the sons of Levi, with you? And are you seeking the priesthood also?
I quote this because it gets at the core of the rebellion, been that Korah and his company wanted to be the priests of Israel. (Please understand that you can be a Levite in Israel but not necessarily a priest, priests were from the tribe of Levi but had to be of the clan of Aaron).
This is not the point of me writing this post but this attempt to rebel against the priesthood makes me think. If time is cyclical, and it is, and that therefor the events that we read in the Torah are both history, present, and future, then why is it that so many people are boldly claiming that Aaron and the Levite Priests are no more, useless even, done away with? Perhaps we should be mindful and on the look out for another rebellion against the priesthood...
But the story goes on and needless to say, YHWH validates Moses' and Aaron's place within Israel. The men that presented censers to YHWH are consumed with fire and Dathan and Abiram, men from Korah's company, including Korah, are swallowed by the earth.
Thus, YHWH puts a decisive end to the rebellion and His position towards Korah is made clear. Reading this, it stands to reason that the legacy of Korah, if it were to be summed up in one word, would be 'rebellion'. One could even argue that Korah is a type of the devil, rebelling against God, or perhaps even a type of Anti-Christ attempting to remove Moses (a type for the Messiah).
Yet the legacy of Korah is something far different and not so clear cut. In order to understand though, we must look elsewhere in the Bible to learn more of Korah. The Book of Chronicles, for example, has a wealth of information about Biblical characters that is often neglected. It is in Chronicles that we learn that Korah and his descendants were gatekeepers to the Tabernacle;
1 Chronicles 9
17 And the gatekeepers were Shallum, Akkub, Talmon, Ahiman, and their brethren. Shallum was the chief. 18 Until then they had been gatekeepers for the camps of the children of Levi at the King’s Gate on the east.
19 Shallum the son of Kore, the son of Ebiasaph, the son of Korah, and his brethren, from his father’s house, the Korahites, were in charge of the work of the service, gatekeepers of the tabernacle. Their fathers had been keepers of the entrance to the camp of the Lord.
When you picture the Tabernacle in the time of the Torah, understand that Korah and his clan where gatekeepers to the Tabernacle. Thus, you could not approach the tabernacle without going through the likes of Korah. It was a position of high esteem.
We further learn in the Book of Chronicles that the Korahites were also in charge of baking the show bread for the Temple, and that they played a big part in the worship service in the Temple (1 Chronicles 9:33-34).
Which brings us to a beautiful contradiction. Whilst Korah is known for his rebellion, his children were known, and are to this day, known for their worship of YHWH. Did you know that many of our Psalms, that which we love, that we worship our great Father with were written by the Sons of Korah?
Some of the most beautiful verses in the Bible were written by Korah's descendants and prayed daily.
Psalm 42 - A Contemplation of the Sons of Korah
1 As the deer pants for the water brooks, So pants my soul for You, O God.
Psalm 44 - A Contemplation of the Sons of Korah
8 In God we boast all day long, And praise Your name forever.
Psalm 46 A Psalm of the Songs of Korah
1 God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, Even though the earth be removed, And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
3 Though its waters roar and be troubled, Though the mountains shake with its swelling.
Other examples include Psalm 84 to 88.
My favorite verse of the Sons of Korah is this;
9 O God, behold our shield, And look upon the face of Your anointed.
10 For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God Than dwell in the tents of wickedness.
11 For the LORD God is a sun and shield; The LORD will give grace and glory; No good thing will He withhold From those who walk uprightly.
12 O LORD of hosts, Blessed is the man who trusts in You!
It really blows me away that the Sons of Korah, of the rebellious Korah himself, who was a gatekeeper, whose company dwelt in the tents of wickedness, are the ones that wrote the verse;
Better to be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than to dwell in the tents of wickedness
No doubt this Son of Korah had his forefather in mind when he penned this beautiful verse, and in a surprising way, Korah's legacy is something very beautiful, interwoven even in the verses of the Psalms.
There are those that say that Korah had a passion for God that we should all strive for. That Korah, despite his enviable passion, used it for evil while his sons used Korah's passion for good.
Personally, I don't know, but I am humbled by the passion of the clan of Korah and warmed knowing that there is hope yet that we can all leave a beautiful legacy (hopefully without been swallowed by the earth mind you).