Now they that died in the plague were fourteen thousand and seven hundred, beside them that died about the matter of Korah.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Numbers 14:29, was more and more fulfilled:
beside them that died about the matter of Korah; these are not taken into the number here, even the two hundred fifty men of Korah's company, and the families of Dathan and Abiram, Numbers 16:32; how many they were is not certain, but they were but few in comparison of these.Now they that died in the plague were fourteen thousand and seven hundred, beside them that died about the matter of Korah.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)49. them that died about the matter of Korah] i.e. the 250 princes. It should be noticed that the death of Korah himself is nowhere related in the chapter, Numbers 16:24; Numbers 16:27 a might seem to imply that Korah was about to be swallowed up in the earth with Dathan and Abiram; and this supposition is adopted by the writer of Numbers 26:10. But apart from the critical reasons for distinguishing the narratives, and for reading ‘the tabernacle of Jehovah’ in Numbers 16:24; Numbers 16:27, it would be very strange that Korah should have been separated from his adherents in their punishment. In the fusing of the two stories by the compiler, a statement of the personal fate of Korah fell out of the chapter.Verse 49. - Fourteen thousand and seven hundred. A very large number to have died in the course of a few minutes, as the narrative seems to imply. The plague was undoubtedly of a supernatural character, and cannot be considered as a pestilence or other natural visitation. Beside them that died about the matter of Korah. These were
(1) the two hundred and fifty men who offered incense,
(2) Dathan and Abiram, and their families,
(3) probably Korah himself,
(4) possibly some other partisans of Korah (see on verse 32), making in all about 300 souls.
Thus we get the round number of 15,000 as the total of those that perished on this occasion. Leviticus 9:5) the tabernacle, and God commanded them to rise up (הרמּוּ, Niphal of רמם equals רוּם; see Ges. 65, Anm. 5) out of this congregation, which He would immediately destroy. But they fell upon their faces in prayer, as in Numbers 16:21-22. This time, however, they could not avert the bursting forth of the wrathful judgment, as they had done the day before (Numbers 16:22). The plague had already commenced, when Moses told Aaron to take the censer quickly into the midst of the congregation, with coals and incense (הולך, imper. Hiph.), to make expiation for it with an incense-offering. And when this was done, and Aaron placed himself between the dead and the living, the plague, which had already destroyed 14,700 men, was stayed. The plague consisted apparently of a sudden death, as in the case of a pestilence raging with extreme violence, though we cannot regard it as an actual pestilence.
The means resorted to by Moses to stay the plague showed afresh how the faithful servant of God bore the rescue of his people upon his heart. All the motives which he had hitherto pleaded, in his repeated intercession that this evil congregation might be spared, were now exhausted. He could not stake his life for the nation, as at Horeb (Exodus 32:32), for the nation had rejected him. He could no longer appeal to the honour of Jehovah among the heathen, seeing that the Lord, even when sentencing the rebellious race to fall in the desert, had assured him that the whole earth should be filled with His glory (Numbers 14:20.). Still less could he pray to God that He would not be wrathful with all for the sake of one or a few sinners, as in Numbers 16:22, seeing that the whole congregation had taken part with the rebels. In this condition of things there was but one way left of averting the threatened destruction of the whole nation, namely, to adopt the means which the Lord Himself had given to His congregation, in the high-priestly office, to wipe away their sins, and recover the divine grace which they had forfeited through sin, - viz., the offering of incense which embodied the high-priestly prayer, and the strength and operation of which were not dependent upon the sincerity and earnestness of subjective faith, but had a firm and immovable foundation in the objective force of the divine appointment. This was the means adopted by the faithful servant of the Lord, and the judgment of wrath was averted in its course; the plague was averted. - The effectual operation of the incense-offering of the high priest also served to furnish the people with a practical proof of the power and operation of the true and divinely appointed priesthood. "The priesthood which the company of Korah had so wickedly usurped, had brought down death and destruction upon himself, through his offering of incense; but the divinely appointed priesthood of Aaron averted death and destruction from the whole congregation when incense was offered by him, and stayed the well-merited judgment, which had broken forth upon it" (Kurtz).
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