Korah: Swallowed Alive by the Earth



Some notorious historical figures might have remained anonymous if they hadn’t tried to grab on to more than they could hold. But by refusing to be content with what they had, and by trying to get more than they deserved, they ended up with nothing. Korah, one of the Israelite leaders, was such a person.

Korah was a Levite who assisted in the daily functions of the tabernacle. Shortly after Israel’s great rebellion against God, Korah instigated his own mini-rebellion. He recruited a grievance committee and confronted Moses and Aaron. Their list of complaints boils down to three statements: (1) you are no better than anyone else; (2) everyone in Israel has been chosen by the Lord; (3) we don’t need to obey you. It is amazing to see how Korah twisted the first two statements – both true – to reach the wrong conclusion.

Moses would have agreed that he was no better than anyone else. He would also have agreed that all Israelites were God’s chosen people. But Korah’s application of these truths was wrong. Not all Israelites were chosen to lead, Korah’s hidden claim was this: “I have as much right to lead as Moses does.” His error cost him not only his job – a position of service that he enjoyed – but also life.

Korah’s story gives us numerous warnings: (1) Don’t let the desire for what someone else has make you discontented with what you already have. (2) Don’t try to raise your own self-esteem by attacking someone else’s. (3) Don’t use part of God’s Word to support what you want, rather than allowing its entirety to shape your wants. (4) Don’t expect to find satisfaction in power and position; God may want to work through you in the position you are now in.

The ESV Study Bible, Large Print edition features the content of the award-winning ESV Study Bible with a highly readable, large-print type. Extensive study notes, charts, maps, and articles make this study Bible a valuable resource for serious readers, students, and teachers of God’s Word.

Strengths and Accomplishments

  • Popular leader; influential figure during the exodus
  • Mentioned among the chief men of Israel (Exodus 6)
  • One of the first Levites appointed for special service in the tabernacle

Weakness and Mistakes

  • Failed to recognize the significant position God had placed him in
  • Forgot that his fight was against someone greater than Moses
  • Allowed greed to blind his common sense

Lessons From His Life

  • There is sometimes a fine line between goals and greed
  • If we are discontented with what we have, we may lose it without gaining anything better

Vital Statistics for Korah

Key Verses for Korah

“Moses also said to Korah, ‘Now listen, you Levites! Isn’t it enough for you that the God of Israel has separated you from the rest of the Israelites community and brought you near himself to do the work at the Lord’s tabernacle and to stand before the community and minister to them? He has brought you and all your fellow Levites near himself, but now you are trying to get the priesthood too’ “ (Numbers 16:8-10)

Korah’s story is told in Numbers 16:1-40. He is also mentioned in Numbers 26:9; Jude 1:1.

Scripture Study Resources

ESV Study BibleStudy Bibles give you a deeper understanding of God’s Word with tools for life application like commentary, maps, charts, concordance, and study notes. Search our popular translations- NIV, ESV, NKJV, KJV and more!

Believer’s Bible Commentary: Second Edition – A Bible commentary is a written, systematic series of explanations and interpretations of Scripture. Commentaries often analyze or expound on individual books of the Bible, chapter by chapter and verse by verse. Some commentary works provide analysis of the whole of Scripture.

The New Strong’s Expanded Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible – The best concordance for word study! This exclusive new edition of a legendary classic puts generations of biblical research at your fingertips. A valuable tool for pastors, teachers, and students of the Bible. 

Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words – This classic word study resource allows you to study the meaning of biblical words in the original languages without spending years learning Greek or Hebrew. A great resource for students, seasoned pastors, and anyone who enjoys biblical word studies–even if they have little to no formal training in Hebrew or Greek.

Halley’s Bible Handbook – The beloved and classic Bible companion has been thoroughly updated, while retaining its time-honored features and Dr. Halley’s highly personal style, to offer even greater clarity, insight, and usefulness.

Click here to print or download the scripture character study on “Korah: Swallowed Alive by the Earth”


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