The Rebellion of Korah is an episode that is so popular that it was ripped out of its place in the timeline and added to the movie the 10 commandments. This central narrative of Numbers is foundational in its own right. It is the culmination of the stories that have come before. The fullness of the rebellion of the people of Israel. And this chapter contains within it pointers to something much greater. Something that is a part of every human life. A piece of mankind that will one day reach its own culmination of rebellion.
For the first time in the narrative portions in the center of the book of Numbers we encounter a chapter that seems out of place. The narratives of this central portions are put aside for a moment to address matters of sacrifice and an accessory for clothing. This chapter seems so out of place in the midst of what we have just been reading. But when we slow down and examine all that this chapter has to say we find that it is not out of place. Rather this chapter is deploying countermeasures to combat the rising rebellion in the midst of Israel.
The pattern continues this week. Israel in their lack of faith in the power of their God has slandered the promise that God has given them. The inhabitants of the land are too great! And now in their fear, Israel takes it one step further and slanders the plan that YHVH has to bring them to their inheritance. And this week we find the limits that YHVH has for this people. The people who have seen Him work over and over, and yet they still doubt. And that doubt leads to drastic consequences.
First it was the manna. Then it was the leader. This week Israel speaks out again. This time against the Promised Land. And we begin to see a pattern forming. An outcome that is consistent in these stories that make up the middle of the book of Numbers. The motivations are different in each of these cases, but the resulting action is the same. The tongue is indeed the untamable beast.