Parshas Korach

Words in bold represent changes to the traditional translation based on the Aramaic translation/commentary attributed to Onkelos the Ger.

Parshas Korach

Chapter 16


1. Korach, son of Yitzhar son of Kehas son of Levi, separated (himself)[1] with Dasan and Abiram, sons of Eliav, and Ohn son of Peles, descendants of Reuven.

2. They stood to Moshe’s face[2] with[3] men from the children of Israel – 250 leaders[4] of the congregation who meet at set times,[5] men of renown.[6]

3. They gathered against Moshe and against Aharon. They said to them, “It’s enough for you because the entire congregation, they are all holy and Hashem’s presence rests among them. And why do you raise yourselves over Hashem’s community?”

4. Moshe heard and he fell on his face.

5. He spoke with[7] Korach and with his entire congregation, saying, “In the morning, Hashem will make known who is fit for Him[8] and (who is) the holy one, and draw (him) near to before Him, and (the one) in whom He will find favor[9] He will draw near to His service.

6. Do this: Take for yourselves take fire pans, Korach and all his congregation.

7. Put fire in them and place spice incense on them before Hashem tomorrow. The man whom Hashem will favor, he is holy.[10] It’s enough for you, sons of Levi!”

8. Moshe said further to Korach, “Hear now, sons of Levi!

9. Is it too small for you that the God of Israel has separated you from the congregation of Israel to draw you near to before Him, to perform the service of Hashem’s Tabernacle and to stand before the congregation to serve them?

10. He has drawn you near and all your brethren the sons of Levi with you. Do you also request the high priesthood?

11. Therefore, you and all your congregation that have gathered together are against Hashem. What is Aharon that you complain against him?”

12. Moshe sent to call to Dasan and Aviram, sons of Eliav; they said, “We will not go up!

13. Is it a small thing that you brought us up from a land that makes milk and honey[11] to kill us[12] in the wilderness, that you would also rule over us?


14. Also, you have not brought us to a land that makes milk and honey and given us a possession of fields and vineyards.[13] Would you send (people) to blind[14] the eyes of those men? We will not go up!”

15. Moshe was greatly distressed. He said to Hashem, “Do not accept their offering with favor.[15] Not donkey of one of them have I taxed,[16] and I haven’t I wronged any of them.”[17]

16. Moshe said to Korach, “You and all your congregation are summoned to[18] before Hashem tomorrow – you, them and Aharon.

17. (Each) man take his fire pan and place spice incense on them; (each) man bring his fire pan before Hashem – 250 fire pans, and you and Aharon (each) man his fire pan.”

18. (Each) man took his fire pan and they put fire on it and they placed spice incense on them, and they stood at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting, and Moshe and Aharon (did likewise).

19. Korach gathered against them the entire congregation at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting. Hashem’s glory was revealed[19] to the entire congregation.


20. Hashem spoke with Moshe and to Aharon, saying,

21. “Separate from among this congregation and I will destroy them in an instant!”

22. They fell on their faces and they said, “God, God of the spirits of all flesh! If one man sins, will there be anger[20] with the entire congregation?”

23. Hashem spoke with Moshe, saying,

24. “Speak with the congregation, saying: Withdraw from around the dwelling of Korach, Dasan and Aviram.”

25. Moshe arose; he went to Dasan and Aviram, and the elders of Israel went after him.

26. He spoke to the congregation, saying, “Please get away from the dwellings[21] of these guilty[22] men and don’t touch anything that is theirs lest you be struck[23] in all their sins.”

27. They withdrew from around the dwelling(s) of Korach, Dasan and Aviram. And Dasan and Aviram came out and stood at the entrance of their tents, and their wives, and their children and their infants.

28. Moshe said, “By this you will know that Hashem sent me to do all these deeds, that they are not from my desire:[24]

29. if these die like the death of all people, and what happens to them is like what happens to all people, it wasn’t Hashem who sent me.

30. And if Hashem will create a creation and the ground opens its mouth and swallows them and all that is theirs, and they go down while alive to Sheol,[25] you shall know that these men angered Hashem.”

31. It happened as he finished speaking all these words (that) the ground that was under them split.

32. The earth opened its mouth and swallowed them and the people of their houses, and all the people who were for Korach and all their wealth.

33. They and all that was theirs went down while alive to Sheol. The earth covered over them and they vanished from among the community.

34. All Israel who were around them fled at their voices, for they said, “Lest the earth swallow us!”

35. A fire went out from before Hashem and consumed the 250 men who offered the incense.

Chapter 17

1. Hashem spoke with Moshe, saying:

2. Say to Elazar son of Aharon the priest to separate[26] the fire pans from between those consumed,[27] and send the fire away,[28] because they have been sanctified –

3. the fire pans of these sinners who sinned against their souls. Make them (into) hammered plates as a covering for the altar because they brought them before Hashem and they became sanctified. They shall be for a sign to the children of Israel.

4. Elazar the priest took the copper fire pans that those who burned had offered. He hammered them (into) a covering for the altar –

5. a remembrance to the children of Israel in order that no secular person[29] who is not of Aharon’s descendants[30] will draw near to burn[31] spice incense before Hashem and he will not be like Korach and like his congregation, as Hashem told him through the hand of Moshe.

6. The entire congregation of the children of Israel complained from the next day against Moshe and against Aharon, saying, “You caused Hashem’s people to die!”[32]

7. It happened when the congregation gathered against Moshe and against Aharon, they turned towards the Tent of Meeting and behold, the cloud covered it and the Hashem’s glory was revealed.

8. Moshe and Aharon came in to before the Tent of Meeting,


9. Hashem spoke with Moshe, saying,

10. “Remove (yourselves) from among this congregation and I will consume them in an instant.” They fell on their faces.

11. Moshe said to Aharon, “Take the fire pan and put fire from upon the altar on it. Place spice incense and go quickly to the congregation and atone for them because the wrath has gone forth from before Hashem. The plague has begun!”

12. Aharon took (it) as Moshe said. He ran to among of community and behold, the plague had begun against the people. He placed the spice incense and atoned for the people.

13. He stood between the dead and between the living and the plague was stopped.

14. Those who died in the plague were 14,700, aside from those who died because of the argument of Korach.[33]

15. Aharon returned to Moshe at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting and the plague was stopped.


16. Hashem spoke with Moshe, saying:

17. Speak with the children of Israel and take from them one staff[34] per father’s house from all of their leaders according to their fathers’ house(s) – 12 staffs. (Each) man’s name you shall write his on his staff.

18. And write Aharon’s name on the staff of Levi because (there will be) one staff for the head of their fathers’ house(s).

19. Store them[35] in the Tent of Meeting before the testimony, that My word will meet with you there.

20. It will be that the man whom I will find favorable, his staff I will cause to bloom. I will rid from before[36] Me the complaints of the children of Israel that they complain against you.

21. Moshe spoke with the children of Israel. All their leaders gave to him a staff per leader, one staff for each leader according to their fathers’ house(s) – 12 staffs – and Aharon’s staff was among their staffs.

22. Moshe stored the staffs before Hashem in the Tent of the testimony.

23. It happened (on) the next day (that) Moshe entered the Tent of the testimony and behold, the staff of Aharon for the house of Levi had bloomed. It put forth buds, produced blossoms, and bore (bunches of) almonds.

24. Moshe brought out all the staffs from before Hashem to all the children of Israel. Each man identified[37] and took his staff.


25. Hashem said to Moshe, “Return Aharon’s staff (to) before the testimony, to serve as a sign to (this) stubborn people[38] (so that) their complaints will stop from before Me[39] may and they won’t die.”

26. Moshe did as Hashem commanded him; so he did.

27. The children of Israel said to Moshe, saying, “Behold, the sword killed some of us, the earth swallowed some of us, and some of us died in a plague![40]

28. All who draw near to Hashem’s Tabernacle will die! We are doomed to die![41]

Chapter 18

1. Hashem said to Aharon: You, and your sons, and your father’s house with you – you shall atone for[42] sin(s) of the Sanctuary.[43] And you and your sons with you shall atone for the sin(s) of your priesthood.

2. And also your brethren the tribe of Levi, your father’s tribe, draw near to you.[44] They will be added to you[45] and minister to you, and you and your sons with you (will serve) before the Tent of the testimony.

3. They will keep your charge and the charge of the entire Tent, but to the furnishings of the Sanctuary and to the altar they shall not draw near so[46] they won’t die – both them and you.[47]

4. They shall be added to you and keep the charge of the Tent of Meeting for all the service of the Tent. And a secular person shall not draw near to you.

5. You shall keep the charge of the Sanctuary and the charge of the altar, and there will no longer be wrath on the children of Israel.

6. And I, behold I have brought your brothers the Levites near[48] from among the children of Israel; they are given to you as a gift before Hashem, to perform the work of the Tent of Meeting.

7. And you and your sons with you shall guard your priesthood in every aspect of the altar and to inside the partition. You shall serve the service of a gift; I give your priesthood and a[49] secular person who draws near shall be executed.[50]

8. Hashem spoke to Aharon: And I, behold I give to you the charge of My gifts,[51] for all the sacred things of the children of Israel. To you I give them as for distinction, and to your sons as an eternal statute.[52]

9. This will be for you from the most holy[53]that which remains from the fire: all their offerings for all their flour offerings, and for all their sin offerings, and for all their guilt offerings that they return to Me; they will be most holy, it is yours and your sons’.[54]

10. In the most holy (condition) you shall eat them; all males shall eat it. It shall be holy to you.

11. This shall be yours what is set aside of their gifts for all the elevation (offerings)[55] of the children of Israel. I have given them to you, and to your sons and to your daughters with you, as an eternal portion. Anyone[56] pure in your household may eat it.

12. All the best[57] of the oil, and all the best of wine and grain – the first of them that they will give before Hashem, I give them to you.

13. The first fruits of all that is in their land that they will bring before Hashem will be for you. Every pure (person) in your household may eat them.

14. Everything banned[58] in Israel will be for you.

15. All first issue of the womb for all flesh that is offered before Hashem – of man and of animal – will be for you, only you must redeem the firstborn of man, and the firstborn of unclean animals you must redeem.

16. And his redemption (price), from the age of one month, he shall be redeemed in his valuation of silver – five sela[59] of the holy sela; it is 20 maah.[60]

17. Only the firstborn of cattle, or the firstborn of sheep, or the firstborn of goats may not be redeemed. They are holy; their blood you shall throw against[61] the altar and burn their fat (as) an offering[62] to be accepted with favor before Hashem.[63]

18. And their meat like the chest of the elevation (offering) and like the right thigh, it will be for you.

19. All the holy gifts that the children of Israel separate before Hashem I give to you, and to your sons, and to your daughters with you, as an eternal statute. It is an eternal covenant of salt before Hashem for you and for your sons[64] with you.

20. Hashem said to Aharon: In their land you shall not inherit and there will not be a portion for you among them. The gifts that I have given you, they are your portion and your inheritance[65] among the children of Israel.


21. And to the sons of Levi, behold I give every tithe in Israel as an inheritance in exchange for their services that they perform, the service of the Tent of Meeting.

22. And the children of Israel shall not draw near any more to the Tent of Meeting to incur guilt,[66] to die.

23. The Levites – they[67] shall perform the service of the Tent of Meeting, and they will incur their guilt. It is an eternal statute for your generations, and among the children of Israel they will not inherit an inheritance.

24. Because the tithe of the children of Israel that they will separate as a gift to Hashem I give to the Levites as an inheritance. Therefore, I have said to them (that) among the children of Israel they will not inherit an inheritance.

25. Hashem spoke with Moshe, saying:

26. And to the Levites speak, and say to them: When you take from the children of Israel the tithe that I gave to you from them as your inheritance, separate from it Hashem’s gift, tithe from the tithe.

27. That which you separate will be considered for you like grain from the threshing floor and like the fullness of the press.[68]

28. so also you shall separate a gift before Hashem[69] from all the tithes that you take from the children of Israel. You shall give a gift before Hashem from it to Aharon the priest.

29. From all your gifts you shall separate every gift of Hashem from everything that is best, the sacred part of it.

30. And say to them: Through your separating its best part from it, is shall be considered for the Levites like the produce of a threshing floor and like the produce of a press.

31. You may eat it in every place – you and the people of your households – for it is wages for you in exchange for your work in the Tent of Meeting.

32. You will not incur guilt because of it through your separating its best part from it, and the sacred (things) of the children of Israel you shall not desecrate so[70] you won’t die.

[1] As opposed to “took (himself).”

[2] Rather than “before Moshe.”

[3] Literally, “and.”

[4] The Hebrew “nasi” is generally translated “prince.”

[5] Rather than “who are called to assemble.”

[6] Literally, “men of name.”

[7] Rather than “to.”

[8] Rather than “who is His.”

[9] Rather than “(the one) whom He will choose.”

[10] Rather than “the holy one.”

[11] As opposed to “flowing with milk an honey.”

[12] The Hebrew, often translated as “to kill us,” actually uses a more passive term that might better be translated “to have us die.”

[13] Onkelos pluralizes “field” and “vineyard.”

[14] Rather than “gouge.”

[15] Rather than “turn towards their offering.”

[16] As opposed to “taken.”

[17] Literally, “one of them.”

[18] Chumash: “be.”

[19] Rather than “appeared.”

[20] As opposed to “will You be wrathful.”

[21] Rather than “tents.”

[22] Chumash: “evil.”

[23] Rather than “swept away.”

[24] Chumash “heart.”

[25] Literally, “the pit,” a word used to describe the grave and, occasionally, Hell.

[26] Rather than “pick up.”

[27] Chumash: “burned.”

[28] Rather than “throw…away.”

[29] Rather than an “outside person.”

[30] Literally, “seed.”

[31] Chumash: “smoke.”

[32] Rather than “you have killed….”

[33] Rather than “the matter of Korach.”

[34] Literally, “a staff, a staff.”

[35] Rather than “place them.”

[36] Chumash: “upon.”

[37] Rather than “saw.”

[38] Rather than “rebellious people,” (literally, sons of rebellion).

[39] Chumash: “upon Me.”

[40] Chumash: “Behold, we’re perishing! We are lost; all of us are lost!”

[41] Onkelos changes the question “Are we doomed to perish?” to an exclamation.

[42] Rather than “bear.”

[43] Hebrew: Mikdash.

[44] Rather than “with you.”

[45] As opposed to “they will join you.”

[46] Literally, “and.”

[47] Literally, “also them, also you.”

[48] Rather than “I have taken….”

[49] Chumash: “the.”

[50] Rather than “die.”

[51] Hebrew: t’rumah.

[52] As opposed to “an eternal portion.” (The Hebrew can go either way.)

[53] Literally, “holy of holies.”

[54] Rather than “for you and for your sons.”

[55] Rather than “wavings.”

[56] Literally, “all.”

[57] Literally, “fat.”

[58] Hebrew: cheirem.

[59] Rather than “shekel,” an equivalent denomination.

[60] Rather than “geira,” again an equivalent denomination.

[61] Literally, “on.”

[62] As opposed to “a fire offering.”

[63] Rather than “for a pleasing aroma to Hashem.”

[64] Rather than “descendants” (literally, “seed”).

[65] Chumash: “I am your portion and your inheritance.”

[66] Rather than “to bear a sin.”

[67] Onkelos pluralizes “The Levi” and its accompanying pronoun.

[68] Rather than “the vat.”

[69] As opposed to “Hashem’s gift.”

[70] Literally, “and.”

© Copyright 2022 Rabbi Jack Abramowitz