And they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron, and said unto them, You take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the LORD is among them: why then lift you up yourselves above the congregation of the LORD?
All Commentaries on Numbers 16:3 Go To Numbers 16
Ambrose of Milan
Let the dissidents learn to fear the agitation of the Lord and to obey the priests. What does this mean? Did the cleft in the earth not swallow Dathan and Abiram and Korah because of their dissention? For when Korah and Dathan and Abiram incited men to rebel against Moses and Aaron and separate themselves from them, they rose up and said, “Let it be sufficient for you that the whole assembly is holy, every one of them, and that the Lord is in them.” Whence the Lord was angered and spoke to the entire assembly. He examined them. Since “the Lord knows who are his,” he led the holy ones to himself. Those whom he did not choose he did not lead to himself. And the Lord commanded that Korah and all those who had risen up with him against Moses and Aaron, the priests of the Lord, select for themselves altars and put incense upon them, in order that the one elected by the Lord might himself be confirmed as holy among the Levites of the Lord. And Moses said to Korah, “Listen to me, sons of Levi: is this insignificant to you that God has separated you from the assembly of Israel?” And further down: “Do you thus seek to exercise the priesthood, you and your entire assembly who have congregated against the Lord? What is Aaron that you murmur against him?” You are considering then what the causes of their offense were. They were willing to exercise the priesthood unworthily, and for that reason they dissented. Moreover, they murmured and disapproved of the judgment of God in their election of their priests. Therefore a great dread seized all the people. The terror of punishment enveloped them all. Nevertheless, because all the people prayed that not all of them perish because of the insolence of a few, those guilty of the crime were singled out, and men with their leaders were set apart from the body of the people. The earth bellows and is rent apart in the midst of the people. A gulf is opened into the depths. The guilty are snatched up and removed from every element of this world, so that they will not contaminate the air by their breath, or the sky by their sight, or the sea by their touch or the earth by their tombs.