Numbers 16:32 MEANING

Numbers 16:32
(32) And the earth opened her mouth . . . --Had this verse stood alone it might have been inferred that Korah and his family shared the fate of Dathan and Abiram and their families and households. in regard to the sons of Korah, however, there is direct evidence that they did not share in the punishment of Dathan and Abiram (see Note on Numbers 16:27): and in regard to Korah there is ground for the belief that he perished by fire with the 250 men who offered incense with him. It is true, indeed, that in Numbers 26:10 Korah is mentioned in conjunction with Dathan and Abiram (see Note in loc.); but in the other places in which reference is made to the conspiracy, the fate of the chief conspirators is separated. Thus, in Deuteronomy 11:6 we read only of what God did unto Dathan and Abiram and their households and tents; and in Psalm 106:17 we read that "The earth opened and swallowed up Dathan, and covered the company of Abiram," whilst in the following verse it is added that "The flame burned up the wicked." If Korah's tent remained in its appointed place amongst the Kohathites, it may reasonably be supposed that the chasm did not extend beyond the tents of Dathan and Abiram; or if Korah had pitched a tent for himself adjoining the tents of Dathan and Abiram, it may be inferred that those only of his household remained in it who shared in the conspiracy, and that his sons remained amongst the other Kohathites, or withdrew with the rest of the congregation at the command of Moses. It is most natural to suppose that Korah was at this time before the door of the Tabernacle, with the 250 men of his company who had presumed to offer incense, and that he shared their doom. Ibn Ezra observes that in the song of the Red Sea there is no mention made of the drowning of Pharaoh, but only of his chariots and hosts; whilst in Psalm 136:15 we read that Pharaoh and his host were overthrown in the Red Sea.

Verse 32. - And their houses, i.e., their families, as in Numbers 18:13. And all the men that appertained unto Korah. Literally, "all the men who to Korah." Whether it means his dependants, or his special partisans, is uncertain: Perhaps some had clung to his fortunes in blind confidence when the rest gat up from his mishcan.

16:23-34 The seventy elders of Israel attend Moses. It is our duty to do what we can to countenance and support lawful authority when it is opposed. And those who would not perish with sinners, must come out from among them, and be separate. It was in answer to the prayer of Moses, that God stirred up the hearts of the congregation to remove for their own safety. Grace to separate from evil-doers is one of the things that accompany salvation. God, in justice, left the rebels to the obstinacy and hardness of their own hearts. Moses, by Divine direction, when all Israel were waiting the event, declares that if the rebels die a common death, he will be content to be called and counted an imposter. As soon as Moses had spoken the word, God caused the earth to open and swallow them all up. The children perished with their parents; in which, though we cannot tell how bad they might be to deserve it, or how good God might be otherwise to them; yet of this we are sure, that Infinite Justice did them no wrong. It was altogether miraculous. God has, when he pleases, strange punishments for the workers of iniquity. It was very significant. Considering how the earth is still in like manner loaded with the weight of man's sins, we have reason to wonder that it does not now sink under its load. The ruin of others should be our warning. Could we, by faith, hear the outcries of those that are gone down to the bottomless pit, we should give more diligence than we do to escape for our lives, lest we also come into their condemnation.And the earth opened her mouth and swallowed them up,.... Dathan and Abiram, their wives, sons, and little ones, that stood at the door of their tents with them, and all their goods, as follows: the earth, as if it was a living creature or a beast of prey, opened its mouth and swallowed them up, as such a creature does its prey:

and their houses; which may be meant both of their families or households, and of the tents they dwelt in, which were their houses; see Deuteronomy 1:6,

and all the men that appertained unto Korah: not Korah himself, for he was with the two hundred fifty men that had censers, and with Aaron at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation offering incense, and thereby making trial to whom the priesthood belonged; and who, it is highly probable, perished by fire with the two hundred fifty men, as Josephus, Aben Ezra, and others are of opinion; but the family of Korah, and not all of them, for his sons died not at that time, Numbers 26:11; and there were of his posterity in the times of David, to whom several of the psalms are inscribed, Psalm 42:1; these were either out of the way upon business, the providence of God so ordering it for their safety; or they disliked the proceedings of their father, and joined not with him; or if they did at first, repented of it and forsook him, as it is probable on of the tribe of Reuben also did, since no mention is made of him in the destruction:

and all their goods: their household goods, their substance and riches, their gold, silver, cattle, and whatever they were possessed of: a very extraordinary case this and which perhaps gave rise to some fabulous things among the Heathens; however, if they can be credited, this ought not to be thought incredible; as Amphiaraus, who with his chariot and its rider are said to be swallowed up in the earth, struck by a thunderbolt from Jupiter, and were never seen more (w); and other stories are told of persons praying to their deities for secrecy and shelter, and the earth has opened and hid them; as Althemenes, when he had slain his father (x); and the nymph Thalia pregnant by Jupiter, who, for fear of Juno, wished the earth might open and take her in, and it accordingly did, as is reported (y).

(w) Apollodorus de Deorum Origine, l. 3. p. 157. (x) lb. p. 134. (y) Macrob. Saturnal. l. 5. c. 19.

Courtesy of Open Bible