Numbers 16:1 Korah son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, and certain Reubenites—Dathan and Abiram, sons of Eliab, and On son of Peleth—became insolent[a] 2 and rose up against Moses. With them were 250 Israelite men, well-known community leaders who had been appointed members of the council. 3 They came as a group to oppose Moses and Aaron and said to them, “You have gone too far! The whole community is holy, every one of them, and the Lord is with them. Why then do you set yourselves above the Lord’s assembly?”
4 When Moses heard this, he fell facedown. 5 Then he said to Korah and all his followers: “In the morning the Lord will show who belongs to him and who is holy, and he will have that person come near him. The man he chooses he will cause to come near him. 6 You, Korah, and all your followers are to do this: Take censers 7 and tomorrow put burning coals and incense in them before the Lord. The man the Lord chooses will be the one who is holy. You Levites have gone too far!”
a. Numbers 16:1 Or Peleth—took men
This, to me, sounds like one of those westerns where someone is being called out to a shoot out.
Here's what the easy English site has to say.
Moses and Aaron were leaders, but they were God’s servants, too. Korah did not want to serve God
. He did not want to serve the people. He wanted to be a leader so that he would have power
. So he opposed Moses and Aaron and he tried to become a leader himself.
Korah was from Levi’s tribe. His duties were to help the priests.
He was from Kohath’s clan. So he looked after the most sacred objects in God’s Tent
). He had a very important job. But he was not content with this.
He wanted to be a priest. But he did not want to be a priest for the right reasons.
Probably, he thought that it was a more important job. And he wanted more power and authority
He persuaded 250 other important leaders to join him.
Then he went to Moses. But he did not say that he wanted to be a priest
. Instead, he said that all the Israelites were holy.
They were all God’s people
. He said that Moses and Aaron were not more important or holy than any other Israelite. He did not care that God had given special authority to Moses and Aaron
. Korah was jealous of Moses and Aaron. He saw that they had power over the people.
It seems that he wanted to have that same power. So he rebelled against them.
Studylight.org has more to say about Korah.
This rebellion, like all, had a leader and followers. This leader was Korah, descended from Kohath. Both Moses and Korah were descended from Kohath, but by different sons (Moses through Amram [Numbers 26:58-59], and Korah through Izhar)
The Kohathites had the most exalted duty among the Levites
; their charge was to carry the most holy things of the temple, after Aaron and his sons had covered them with the specially prepared coverings (Numbers 4:15
The name Korah means “baldness.” Old baldy was going to give Moses a tough time!
Korah was not content with what the LORD had called him to do in serving with the other Levites of the family of Kohath. He accused Moses of pride and exclusionary leadership.
It was significant this accusation was made publicly, in front of two hundred and fifty leaders of the congregation . . . men of renown. Men like Korah are always playing to an audience, always trying to draw a following after themselves - after Moses has already gathered the nation and led them this far, of course!
You take too much upon yourselves, for all the congregation is holy, every one of them, and the LORD is among them: This was a clever attack. Korah acted as if he is represented the people and fought for their interests.
The truth was that he desired a following and a position for himself.
“Moses, you shouldn’t be the leader. Let everyone be a leader. God can speak to everyone.” Rebels and divisive persons have always used such words for their cause.
Significantly, Korah proclaimed the holiness of the people (all the congregation is holy) and regarded strong leadership as unnecessary (You take too much . . .) at the very time when the nation was not holy and desperately needed strong leadership! Korah, like many rebels and divisive persons, completely misread the state of the “flock” - because he was not a true shepherd.
Why then do you exalt yourselves above the congregation of the LORD? Korah accused Moses (and Aaron) of pride and self-seeking.
The truth was that Moses had not aspired to his position, that God had indeed called him, and Moses did not in fact see himself as above the congregation.
On a human level, Korah was successful because these followed him. The “Korahs” of the ministry are difficult enough to deal with
, but the people who follow them - the two hundred and fifty leaders . . . representatives . . . men of renown - who lack the discernment to oppose the “Korahs” can be even more painful.
I feel a little conflicted about these commentaries. See, when someone asks me about my religious affiliation, I tell them I'm a Southern Baptist. As a Southern Baptist, I was taught that I am a saint and God can speak directly to me. Of course, I'm a Christian, not a Jew. So that puts my belief system in a different light. I'll have to keep reading to figure this one out.