Bits of Torah Truths, פרשת פינחס, Parashat Pinchas, What it Means to be a God Fearer
In this weeks reading following the sin of Israel at Baal Peor, we read the following, א וַיְהִי אַחֲרֵי הַמַּגֵּפָה פ וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָֹה אֶל-מֹשֶׁה וְאֶל אֶלְעָזָר בֶּן-אַהֲרֹן הַכֹּהֵן לֵאמֹר: ב שְֹאוּ אֶת-רֹאשׁ | כָּל-עֲדַת בְּנֵי-יִשְֹרָאֵל מִבֶּן עֶשְֹרִים שָׁנָה וָמַעְלָה לְבֵית אֲבֹתָם כָּל-יֹצֵא צָבָא בְּיִשְֹרָאֵל: ג וַיְדַבֵּר מֹשֶׁה וְאֶלְעָזָר הַכֹּהֵן אֹתָם בְּעַרְבֹת מוֹאָב עַל-יַרְדֵּן יְרֵחוֹ לֵאמֹר: ד מִבֶּן עֶשְֹרִים שָׁנָה וָמָעְלָה כַּאֲשֶׁר צִוָּה יְהוָֹה אֶת-מֹשֶׁה וּבְנֵי יִשְֹרָאֵל הַיֹּצְאִים מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם: [שני] ה רְאוּבֵן בְּכוֹר יִשְֹרָאֵל בְּנֵי רְאוּבֵן חֲנוֹךְ מִשְׁפַּחַת הַחֲנֹכִי לְפַלּוּא מִשְׁפַּחַת הַפַּלֻּאִי: ו לְחֶצְרֹן מִשְׁפַּחַת הַחֶצְרוֹנִי לְכַרְמִי מִשְׁפַּחַת הַכַּרְמִי: ז אֵלֶּה מִשְׁפְּחֹת הָראוּבֵנִי וַיִּהְיוּ פְקֻדֵיהֶם שְׁלֹשָׁה וְאַרְבָּעִים אֶלֶף וּשְׁבַע מֵאוֹת וּשְׁלֹשִׁים: ח וּבְנֵי פַלּוּא אֱלִיאָב: ט וּבְנֵי אֱלִיאָב נְמוּאֵל וְדָתָן וַאֲבִירָם הוּא-דָתָן וַאֲבִירָם קְרִואֵי [קְרִיאֵי] הָעֵדָה אֲשֶׁר הִצּוּ עַל-מֹשֶׁה וְעַל-אַהֲרֹן בַּעֲדַת-קֹרַח בְּהַצֹּתָם עַל-יְהוָֹה: י וַתִּפְתַּח הָאָרֶץ אֶת-פִּיהָ וַתִּבְלַע אֹתָם וְאֶת-קֹרַח בְּמוֹת הָעֵדָה בַּאֲכֹל הָאֵשׁ אֵת חֲמִשִּׁים וּמָאתַיִם אִישׁ וַיִּהְיוּ לְנֵס: יא וּבְנֵי-קֹרַח לֹא-מֵתוּ: 26:1 Then it came about after the plague, that the Lord spoke to Moses and to Eleazar the son of Aaron the priest, saying, 26:2 ‘Take a census of all the congregation of the sons of Israel from twenty years old and upward, by their fathers’ households, whoever is able to go out to war in Israel.’ 26:3 So Moses and Eleazar the priest spoke with them in the plains of Moab by the Jordan at Jericho, saying, 26:4 ‘Take a census of the people from twenty years old and upward, as the Lord has commanded Moses.’ Now the sons of Israel who came out of the land of Egypt were: 26:5 Reuben, Israel’s firstborn, the sons of Reuben: of Hanoch, the family of the Hanochites; of Pallu, the family of the Palluites; 26:6 of Hezron, the family of the Hezronites; of Carmi, the family of the Carmites. 26:7 These are the families of the Reubenites, and those who were numbered of them were 43,730. 26:8 The son of Pallu: Eliab. 26:9 The sons of Eliab: Nemuel and Dathan and Abiram. These are the Dathan and Abiram who were called by the congregation, who contended against Moses and against Aaron in the company of Korah, when they contended against the Lord, 26:10 and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up along with Korah, when that company died, when the fire devoured 250 men, so that they became a warning. 26:11 The sons of Korah, however, did not die. (NASB) What is interesting about Bamidbar / Numbers 26 and the numbering of the people is in Bamidbar / Numbers 26:11 we read that not all of Korach’s sons had died in the rebellion in Parashat Korach. Note in verses 9-10 “The sons of Eliab: Nemuel and Dathan and Abiram” are not numbered because they died. We find here the Torah informs us of this fact about Korach’s sons here in the text instead of doing so back in Parashat Korach. The reason Moshe wrote about this at this time was to teach us, by the inspiration of God, something about what was going on in the rebellion of Korach and the sons of Reuben. The root cause of Korach’s rebellion may have been due to Datan and Aviram. This speaks of a redeeming quality of Korach, that not all of his sons were involved in the rebellion, some remained righteous and obedient to the Lord. On the other hand, Datan and Aviram and all of their houses and their offspring perished. It seems as if Datan and Aviram were instigators in this situation. This teaches us the company that we keep effects us deeply, even to lead us into sin and ungodliness or rebellion to the Lord God in heaven which ultimately leads to death. Rashi states in his commentary on Bamidbar / Numbers 26:11 Part 1, saying, “ובני קרח לא מתו BUT THE SONS OF KORAH DID NOT DIE — They were in the plot originally, but at the moment when the rebellion broke out they had thoughts of repentance in their hearts; therefore a high spot was fenced round for them in Gehinnom and they stayed there (Sanhedrin 110a).” Rashi tries to answer the question of how they could not have died saying they may have had repentance in their hearts. In Bamidbar / Numbers 16:32 “All the people belonging to Korach” suggests that his sons were also swallowed up by the earth. Rashi says there was a high spot fenced round about them in Gehinnon so they did not die. The idea of an elevated area being secured for them in gehinom. (נִתְבַּצֵּר “secured”) is an expression of עִיר מִבְצָר (“fortified cities”) (Bamidbar / Numbers 32:36) means that the Lord did something in their hearts so they did not join in the rebellion. The Lord God fortified (strengthened) their hearts for righteousness sake. This is rabbinically described as Hashem arranging an elevated place for them, such that they would not descend too far into hell, and thus they did not die. The concept being drawn out here in the rabbinic commentary is that children are usually like their parents (in this situation would have also been rebellious), the rabbis say their children also descended into a rebellious spirit, but the Lord halted their descent to save some of the children of Korach. This leads us back to the glory of God that is found in His mercy and graciousness towards His people. What the rabbis are suggesting here is that the wickedness of Reuben, Data, and Aviram had been greater than that of Korach, or even that of his sons. Korach’s sons not having joined the rebellion because the Lord God Almighty worked in their hearts to stay away from the rebellion. Here is a Torah example of the Lord God working in the hearts of men to remain faithful to His Word. We are not told whether they had repented due to their fathers sins. But what is remarkable and speaks of the glory of God in His mercy and grace is how the Lord works in our hearts to save our souls. This is what we are taught in the Apostolic Writings. This is what we are to look for each day seeking the Lord God Almighty in His Messiah to do for us, to save our souls, to keep us on the straight and narrow path, and to remain faithful to Him! In Yeshua the Messiah we look for God’s mercy, His forgiveness, and His helping us to overcome the sinfulness of this world. This is what it means to be God fearers who trust in the Lord for His provision each day!