Bamidbar Seventeen: Choosing Aaron

Eleazar, Aaron’s son, is given the task of of taking the fire pans of Korah and his followers and making them into plates to become an overlay for the altar so that they will serve as a reminder to the people of this experience. “So Eleazar the kohen took the copper censers which the fire victims had brought, and they hammered them out as an overlay for the altar, as a reminder for the children of Israel, so that no outsider, who is not of the seed of Aaron, shall approach to burn incense before the Lord, so as not to be like Korah and his company, as the Lord spoke regarding him through the hand of Moses (Numbers 17:4-5).” In this way, the hope is that no one else will be tempted to follow Korah’s bad example, and if they do they’ll at least remember what happens to those who try to usurp the position of the priestly class. However, the next day, the people begin to complain about Moses and Aaron again. They blame them for Korah’s death, saying that they have killed people of God. God’s presence then appears and He tells Moses and Aaron to step aside so that He can consume the congregation of the people of Israel. As is their custom, they fall on their faces.

Moses tells Aaron to quickly atone for the people before God, because He is setting a plague on the people. The plague has spread and killed 14,700 people because of Korah by the time Aaron stops it. Then, God speaks to Moses again. “Speak to the children and take from them a staff for each father’s house from all the chieftains according to their fathers’ houses; twelve staffs, and inscribe each man’s name on his staff. Inscribe Aaron’s name on the staff of Levi, for there is one staff for the head of their fathers’ house. You shall place the staffs in the Tent of Meeting before the Testimony where I commune with you. The staff of the man whom I choose will blossom, and I will calm down from Myself the complaints of the children of Israel which they are complaining against you (Numbers 17:17-20).” Spoiler alert: Aaron’s staff is the one to blossom, and once again, the people can see that Aaron is the chosen one.

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