Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

to the commandments which he had sent them | suffer them to gain strength, 'till 'they have by Moses, be delivered them from those'terrible them for their open enemies.

“What ac calamities which, without his providential care, || count,” said he, * is Moses able to give why had been brought upon them by this sedition : be has bestowed the priesthood on Aaron'and so I will first explain the cause whence this his sons ? For if God determined to bestow sedition arose, and then will give an account that honor on one of the tribe of Levi, fan of the sedition itself, a's also of what settle- more worthy of it than he is; as being 'equal ments Moses made for their governiment after to Moses, by my family, and superior to him it was over.

both in riches and in age. But if God had Corah,* a Hebrew of principal account, determined to bestow it on the eldest tribe, both by his family and by his wealth, one that that of Reubel' might have it more justly; and was also able to speak well, and that could then Dathan and Abiram, and On, the son easily persuade the people by his speeches, Peleth, would have it. For these are the oldsaw that Moses was in an exceeding great est men of that tribe, and potent on account of dignity, and was utiéasy at it, and envied him their great wealth also.” on that account: he was of the same tribe with Now Corah, when he said this, wished to Moses, and of kin to him. He was particu- appear careful of the public welfare ; bat-in larly grieved because he thought he better reality he was endeavoring to procure to have deserved that honorable post, as being more that dignity 'transferred by the multitude to 'opulent, and not inferior to him in his birth : 1 himself. And thus did he, out of a malignant *so he raised'a clamor against him among the design, but with plausible words, discourse "Levites, 'who were of the same tribe, and to those of his own tribe. And when these especially among his kindred, saying, that words did gradually spread to more of the it was a very sad thing that they should people, and the hearers still added to what overlook Moses, while he hunted after, and tended to the scandals that were cast úpon paved the way to glory for himself, and by ill. Aaron, the whole army was full of them. arts should obtain it under pretence of God's Now of those that conspired with Corah, command; while, contrary to the laws, he there were two hundred and fifty of the prinhad given the priesthood to Aaron, not bycipal men, who were eager to have the priestthe common suffrage of the multitude, but hood taken from Moses's brother, and to bring by his own vote, as bestowing dignities in a him to disgrace. Nay, the multitude themtyrannical way upon whom he pleased. He selves were provoked to be seditious, and atadded that this concealed way of imposing tempted to stone Moses: and gathered theňon them was harder to'be borne, than if'it had selves together after an indecent manner, with been done by an open force upon them, be confusion and disorder. And now they all 'cause he did not only take away their power were in a tumultuous manner, raising a chawithout their consent, but even while theymor before the tabernacle of God, to prosewere unapprized of his contrivances against cute the tyrant, and to relieve the 'multitude them; for whosoever is conscious to himself from their slavery under him, who, under that he deserves any dignity, 'atms to get it colour of the Divine commands, laid violent by persuasion, and not by an arrogant method injunctions upon them. For that had it been of violence. But those that believe it impos- God who chose one that was to perform the sible to obtain those honors justly, make a office of a priest, he would have raised a shew of goodness, and do not introduce force ; worthy person to that dignity, and would not but by cunning tricks grow wickedly power- have produced such an one as was inferior to ful. That it was proper for the multitude many others, nor have given him that office : to punish such men, even while they think and in case that he had judged it fit to bethemselves concealed in their designs, and not stow it on Aaron, he would have permitted

[ocr errors]

* Evil example is peculiarly influential, because it ly nost prevalent. This easily accounts for the success of strikes in with the corrupt propensities of human nature. the conspiracy of Corah. B. When it is set in opposition to good pursuits, it is general

the

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

the multitude to bestow it, and not have left it y determination of God: I therefore propose it to be bestowed by his own brother.

still to be contended for by such as please to Now although Moses bad long foreseen this put in for it; only desiring that he who has calumny of Corah, and had seen that the already been preferred, and has already ob-, people were irritated, yet was he not alarmed tained it, may be allowed now also to offer at it. Bat being of good courage, because he himself a candidate.

himself a candidate. He prefers your peace, had given them good advice about their af- and your living without sedition, to this hofairs : and knowing that his brother had been norable employment; although, in truth, it made partaker of the priesthood at the com was with your approbation that he obtained mand of God, and not by his own favor to it. For though God were the donor, yet do bim, he came to the assembly: and, as for the we not offend when we think fit to accept of multitude, he said not a word to them, but it with your good will. Yet would it have spake as loud to Corah as he could ; and being been an instance of impiety, not to have taken very eloquent, and having this natural talent that honorable employinent when he offered among others, that he could greatly move the it: nay, it had been exceedingly unreasonmultitude with his discourses ; he said, “0 able, when God had thought fit any one should Corah, both thou, and all those with thee have it for all time to come, and had made it (pointing to the two hundred and fifty men), secure and firm to him, to have refused it. seem to be worthy of this bonor. Nor do I However, he himself will judge again, who pretend but that this whole company may be it shall be whom he would have to offer saworthy of the like dignity: although they may crifices to him, and to have the direction of not be so rich or so great as you are. Nor matters of religion. For it is absurd that have I given this office to my brother, because Coralı, who is ambitious of this honor, should he excelled others in riches; for thou exceed-deprive God of the power of giving it to whom est* us both in the greatness of thy wealth: he pleases. nor indeed because he was of an eminent fa “Put an end, therefore, to your sedition and mily, for God, by giving us the same common disturbance on this account, and to-morrow ancestor, has made our families equal : nay, morning let every one who desires the priestnor was it out of brotherly affection, which bood bring a censer from home, and come another night yet have justly done. For bither with incense and fire.t And do thou, certainly, unless I had bestowed this honor O Corah, leave the judgment to God; and out of regard to God, and to his laws, I had await to see on what side he will give his denot passed by myself, and given it to another, termination upon this occasion. But do not as being nearer of kin to myself than to my bro- thou make thyself greater than God. Do thou ther, and having a closer intimacy with myself also come, that this contest about this honorthan I have with him. For surely it would not able employment may receive deterinination. be a wise thing for me to expose myself to the And I suppose we may admit Aaron, without dangers of offending, and to bestow the happy offence, to offer himself to this scrutiny; since employment on this account upon another. he is of the same lineage with thyself, and

“But I am above such practices : nor would has done nothing in his priesthood that can be God have overlooked this matter, and seen liable to exception. himself thus despised : nor would he have

6 Come

ye therefore together, and offer your suffered you to be ignorant of what you were incense in public before all the people : and to do, in order to please him. But he hath when you offer it, he whose sacrifice God shall himself chosen one that is to perform that sa accept shall be ordained to the priesthood, cred office to him ; and thereby freed us from and shall be clear of the present calumny on that care.

So that it was not a thing that I Aaron, as if I had granted him that favor bepretended to give; but only according to the cause he was my brother.”'.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

* Reland here observes, that although our Bibles say | Jews and Mahometans, as well as Josephus, are full of little or nothing of these riches of Corah, yet both the

+ Numb. xiv. 6, 7. VOL. 1.-(10.)

CHAP.

2 G

OF THE

DIVINE

PRIESTHOOD.

WHEN

But he came near, and lifted up his hands CHAP. III.

to heaven, and cried out with a loud voice,

in order to be heard by the whole multitude; OF THE DESTRUCTION OF THOSE WHO FOMENTED THE SE- and said, “ O Lord of the creatures that are : DITION; AND

APPROVAL OF AARON's

in the heaven, in the earth, and in the sea; for

thou art the most authentic witness to what I HEN Moses had said this, the multi- have done, that it has all been done by thy

tude left off the turbulent behaviour appointment; and that it was thou that af they had indulged, and the suspicion they fordedst us assistance when we attempted any had entertained of Moses; and commended thing, and shewed mercy to the Hebrews in what he had said; for those proposals were all their distresses. Do thou come now, and good, and were so esteemed of the people. hear all I say; for no action, nor thought, esAt that time therefore they dissolved ihe as- capes thy knowledge; so that thou wilt got sembly. But on the next day they came to | disdain to speak what is true, for my vindicathe congregation, in order to be present at tion; without any regard to the ungrateful imthe sacrifice, and at the determination that was putations of these men.

As for what was to be made between the candidates for the done before I was born, thou knowest best : priesthood. Now this congregation prored as not learning them by report, but seeing à turbulent one, and the multitude were in them, and being present with them when great suspense in expectation of what was to they were done. But for what has been be done." And some of them would have been done of late, and which these men, although pleased if Moses had been convicted of evil they know them well enough, unjustly pre. practices: but the wiser sort desired that they tend to suspect, be thou my witness. When might be delivered from the present disorder I lived a private quiet life, I left those good and disturbance; for they were afraid, that things, which by my own diligence, and by if this sedition went on, the good order of thy counsel, I enjoyed with Raguel, my fathertheir settlement would be destroyed. But the in-law; and I gave myself up to this people, whole body of people do naturally delight in and underwent many miseries on their acclamours against their governors; and, by count.

count. I also bore great labors; at first, in changing their opinions upon the harangues order to obtain liberty for them, and now in of every speaker, disturb the public tran- order to their preservation; and have always quillity. And now Moses sent messengers for shewed myself ready to assist them in every Abiram and Dathan; and ordered them to distress. Now, therefore, since I am suspectcome to the assembly, and wait there for the ed by those very men, whose being is owing holy offices that were to be performed. But to my labors; come thou, as it is reasonable they answered the messengers, that they would to hope thou wilt: thou I say, who shewedst not obey his summons; nay, would not over me that fire at Mount Sinai, and madest me Jook Moses's behaviour, who was growing too to hear its voice, and to see the several wongreat for them by evil practices. Now when ders which that place afforded; thou, who Moses heard this answer, he desired the heads coniniandedst me to go to Egypt, and declare of the people to follow him, and he went to thy will to this people ; thou, who disturbedst the faction of Dathan, not fearing to yo to the bappy estate of the Egyptians, and garedst these insolent people; so they made no op

so they made no op- us the opportunity of Aying from our slavery position, but went along with him. But Da- onder them, and madest the dominion of tban and his associates, when they understood Pharaoh inferior to my dominion ; thou who that Moses, and the principal of the people, didst make the sea dry land for us, when we were coming to them, came out with their knew not whither to go, and didst overwhelm wives and children, and stood before their the Egyptians with those destructive waves tents; and looked to see what Moses would which had been divided for us ; thou who do. They had also their servants at hand to didst bestow upon us the security of weapons defend them, in case Moses should use force. when we were naked; thou who didst make

· the

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

the corrupted fountains to flow so as to be fit || And when thou hast inflicted punishment on
for drinking, and didst furnish us with water those that have endeavored to deal unjustly
that came out of the rocks, when we were in with this people, bestow upon them concord
the greatest want of it; thou who didst pre- and peace. Save tbis multitude that follow
serve our lives with quails, which was food thy commandments, and preserve them free
from the sea, when the fruits of the ground from harm : and let them not partake of the
failed us ; thou who didst send us such food punishment of those that have sinned. For
from heaven as had never been seen before ; 'thou knowest thyself it is not just that, for the
thou who didst suggest to us the knowledge wickedness of those men, the whole body of the
of thy laws, and appoint us a form of govern- Israelites should suffer punishment.
ment : Come thou, O Lord of the whole When Moses had said this with tears in his
world, and that as such a judge and a wit-eyes, the ground was moved on a sudden;
ness to me as cannot be bribed ; and show and the agitation that set it in motion was
how I have never admitted of any gift against like that which the wind produces in waves
justice from any of the Hebrews; and have of the sea. The people were all affrighted,
never condemned a poor man, that ought to and the ground that was about their tents
have been acquitted, on account of one that sunk down at that terrible sound, and carried
was rich; and have never attempted to hurt whatsoever was dear to the seditious into it-
this commonwealth : I am now here present, self; who so entirely perished, that there was
and am suspected of a thing the remotest from not the least appearance that any men had
iny intentions; as if I had given the priesthood ever been seen there : the earth that had
to Aaron, not at thy command, but out of opened itself about them, closing again, and
my own favor to him. Do thou at this time becoming entire as it was before ; insomucb,
demonstrate, that all things are administered that such as saw it afterward did not perceive
by thy providence, and that nothing happens that any such accident had happened. Thus
by chance, but is governed hy thy will, and did these men perish,* and became a de-
thereby attains its end; as also demonstrate monstration of the power of God. And truly,
that thou takest care of those that have done any one would lament them, not only on ac-
good to the Hebrews. Demonstrate this, I count of this calamity that befel them, which
say, by the punishment of Abiram and Da- yet deserves our commiseration; but also be-
than, who condemn thee as an insensible cause their kindred were pleased with their
being, and one overcome by my contrivances. sufferings; for they forgot the relation they
This wilt thou do by inflicting such an open bare to them ; and at the sight of this sad ac-
punishment on those men, who so madly by cident approved of the judgment given against
in the face of thy glory, as will take them them; and because they looked upon

the

peoout of the world, not in an ordinary manner, | ple about Dathan as pestilent men, they thought but so that it may appear that they do not die ihey perished as such, and did not grieve for as other men go out of the world : let that them. ground on which they tread open about them, Moses now called for those that contended with their families and goods. This will be about the priesthood, that trial might be made a demonstration of thy power to all men; and who should be priest, and that he whose sathis method of their sufferings will be an in- crifice God was best pleased with might be struction of wisdom for those that entertain | ordained to that function. So the two hunprofound sentiments of thee. By this means dred and fifty men approached who indeed Í shall be found a good servant, in the pre-were honored by the people, not only on accepts thou hast given by me. But if the ca-count of their ancestors, but also on account luanies they have raised against me be true, of their own power, in which they excelled mayest thou preserve these men from every the others. Aaron and Corah also came evil accident, and bring all that destruction forth; and they all offered incense, in those on me, which I have imprecated upon them. censers which they brought with them, before

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

* Numb. xvi. 33.

the

the tabernacle. Hereupon, so great a fire angry; and that this happened not so much shone out, as no one ever saw in any that is because of the wickedness of those that were made by the hand of man; neither in those punished, as because Moses procured the eruptions out of the earth, that are caused by punishment : and that these men had been subterraneous burnings; nor in such fires as destroyed without any sip of theirs, only bearise of their own accord in the woods, when cause they were zealous about the divine wors the agitation is caused by the trees rubbing ship: as also that he who had been the cause one against another ; but this fire was very of this diminution of the people, by destroy: bright, and had a terrible flame, such as is ing so many men, and those the most excel kindled at the command of God; by whose lent of them all, besides bis escaping any irruption on them all the company, and Coral punishment himseif, had now given the priest himself

, were * destroyed, so entirely, that hood to his brother so firmly, that nobody their very bodies left no remains, Aaron could any longer dispute it with him : for no alone was preserved, and not at all hurt by one else could now put in for it, since he must the fire ; because it was God that sent the fire have seen those that first did so to have miseto burn those only who ought to be burned. rably perished. Nay, besides this, the kindred Hereupon Moses, after these men were de- 1 of those that were destroyed made great ens stroyed, was desirous that the memory of this treaties to the multitu<le to abate the arro, judgment might be delivered down to pos- gance of Moses, because it would be safest for terity, and that future ages might be ac-them so to do. quainted with it; and he commanded Elea Moses, upon his bearing that the people were zar, the son of Aaron, to put their censers near| tumultuous, was afraid they would attempt the brazen altar, that they might be a memo. some other innovation : and that some great rial to posterity of what these men suffered, and sad calamity would be the consequence. for supposing that the power of God might be So he called the multitude to a congregation, eluded. And thus Aaron was no longer es- and patiently heard what apology they made teemed to have the priesthood by the favor for themselves, without opposing them ; and of Moses, but by the public judgment of God; lest he should imbitter the multitude, he only and he and his children peaceably enjoyed | desired the heads of the tribes to bring their that honor afterward.

rods, I with the names of their tribes in

scribed upon them; and he should receive the CHAP. IV.

priesthood in whose rod God should give a sign. This was agreed to ; so the rest brought their rods, as did Aaron also ; who had writ.

ten the tribe of Levi on his rod. These rods TH THE sedition however, was so far from Moses laid up in the tabernacle of God. On

ceasing upon this destruction, that it the next day he brought out the rods, which grew much stronger,t and became more in- | were known from one another hy those who tolerable. And the occasion of its growing || brought them ; they having distinctly noted worse was of that nature, as made it likely the them, as had the multitude also ; and as to calamity would last for a long time. For the the rest, 'in the same form Moses had remen believing already that nothing is doneceived them, in that they saw them still : but without the providence of God, would have they also saw buds and branches grown out it, that these things came thus to pass not of Aaron's rod, with ripe almonds upon them; without God's favor to Moses. They there. the rod having been cut out of that tree. The fore laid the blame upon him, that God was so people were so amazed at this strange sight,

OF WHAT HAPPENED TO THE HEBREWS DURING THIRTY

EIGHT YEARS IN THE WILDERNESS,

[ocr errors]

* It appears here, from the Samaritan Pentateuch, and the Reubenites, but burnt with the Levites, of his own in effect from the Psalmist, as also from the Apostolical tribe. Constitutions, from Clement's first Epistles to the Corin + Numb. xvi. 41. thians, from Ignatius's Epistle to the Magnesians, and Concerning these twelve rods of the twelve tribes of from Eusebius, that Corah was not swallowed up with Israel, see St. Clement's account, much larger than that in

our Bibles. 1 Epist. § 43.

that

« PreviousContinue »