Imagens das páginas

sion from the sacred offices, to which they believed they had a natural claim. They were joined by a number of discontented Israelites, men of wealth and influence, who bore unwillingly the civil authority of Moses, which enforced order and obedience from all alike. Filled with a bitter spirit of jealousy, they exclaimed: “You take too much upon you; for all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them: wherefore then do you lift yourselves up above the congregation of the Lord ?' When Moses heard their complaints, he fell down upon his face, conscious of his own humbleness. Then, as if inspired by Divine counsel, he said to Korah and all those who had joined him : ‘Indeed, to-morrow the Lord will show who are His, and who is holy, and will bring him near to Himself: him whom He has chosen will He bring near to Himself.' Then he commanded them to take censers, to fill them with fire, and to offer incense in them on the next day, when God would make manifest His will. And then, turning more particularly to Korah, he addressed him thus : Hear me, you sons of Levi: does it seem a small thing to you, that the God of Israel has separated you from the congregation of Israel to bring you near to Himself to do the service of the Tabernacle of the Lord, and to stand before the congregation to minister to them ? And He has brought thee near to Himself and all thy brethren, the sons of Levi, with thee: and must you seek the priesthood also ?' Lastly he summoned Dathan and Abiram before him ; but they refused to appear, sending the insolent answer : • Is it a small thing that thou hast brought us up out of a land that flows with milk and honey, to kill us in the wilderness, except thou make thyself altogether a prince over us? Moreover, thou hast not brought us into a land that flows with milk and honey, or given us inheritance of fields and vineyards : wilt thou put out the eyes of

these men ? we will not come up. Moses, deeply grieved and mortified, poured out his prayer before God: “Respect not Thou their offering; I have not taken one ass from them, nor have I hurt one of them.' On the following morning, Korah and his mutinous companions assembled before the Tabernacle, each bearing in his hand a censer filled with incense. They were joined by Moses and Aaron. The glory of the Lord shone before the congregation, and He said to the two brothers : Separate yourselves from among this congregation, that I may consume them in a moment. But they fell down upon their faces and exclaimed: 0 God, the God of the spirits of all flesh, shall one man sin, and wilt Thou be wroth with all the congregation ?' God listened to this fervent appeal, and He bade them command the children of Israel to stand aloof from the tents of Korah and of Dathan and Abiram, lest they be consumed by all the sins' of these wicked men.' Then Moses proclaimed in a loud voice: * Hereby you

shall know that the Lord has sent me to do all these works, and that I have not done them of my own mind : if these men die the common death of all men, or if they be punished with the punishment of all men, then the Lord has not sent me. But if the Lord makes a new thing, and the earth opens its mouth, and swallows them up, with all that appertain to them, and if they go down alive into the pit; then shall you understand that these men have provoked the Lord. And, the Biblical narrative continues : ' And the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, and their houses, and all the men, that appertained to Korah, and all their goods; they and all that appertained to them went down alive into the pit, and the earth closed upon them: and they perished from among the congregation.

And there came out a fire from the Lord, and consumed the two hundred and fifty men that offered incense.'

The people, seized with consternation and horror,

sought to flee among the din of clamouring voices; for they were afraid that the earth would devour them all. Then the censers of the rebellious sinners were, by the command of God, collected together, and, being beaten flat, employed for a covering of the altar; they were thus preserved as eternal witnesses of the crime and its terrible punishment; or, as the sacred historian observes, to be a memorial to the children of Israel that no stranger who is not of the seed of Aaron shall come near to offer incense before the Lord, lest he be as Korah and as his company. But on the morrow the people's indignation burst forth anew; they complained that Moses and Aaron had killed their brethren, and once more they rose up in revolt. The Lord punished them with a terrible plague, smiting more than fourteen thousand of the Israelites. Aaron, by the request of Moses, entreated the pardon of God, and purified the people by an incenseoffering, and then the plague was stayed.


[NUMB. XVII.] The authority of Aaron as High-priest, and as the spiritual mediator between God and Israel, was to be openly manifested and confirmed by a striking sign, in order that his supremacy might for ever be secured and recognised. Each tribe was commanded to bring one rod inscribed with its name; that of the tribe of Levi was to bear the name of Aaron. The rods were given to Moses, who took them into the Tabernacle. Now the tribe whose rod would blossom and bud was to be considered as specially elected and favoured by God. And the Bible narrates :

It came to pass, that on the morrow Moses went into the Tabernacle, and, behold, the rod of Aaron for the house of Levi was budded, and brought forth buds, and bloomed blossoms, and yielded almonds. . And the Lord said

to Moses, Bring Aaron's rod again before the Testimony to be kept for a token against the rebels; that thou mayest silence their murmurings before Me, lest they die.'



It will be remembered that during the events just related the Israelites were encamped at Kadesh, a city lying in a mountain defile which leads in a direct line into Canaan. This is one of the dreariest and most sterile approaches to the Holy Land, at the extreme south of Judea, from which it is shut off by towering crags and rocky heights.

Now in this wild and desolate country the Israelites suffered grievously from want of water. As usual, they appealed to Moses and Aaron, upbraiding them severely:

Why have you brought us into this wilderness, that we and our cattle should die there? This is an evil place, no place of seed or of figs, or of vines or of pomegranates, nor is there water to drink. Moses prayed to God, and received comfort; yet his faith wavered: like Aaron, he doubted the word or the power of the Lord. Still he was prepared to do His bidding. He called the whole congregation together, and leading them to one of the numerous rocks round Kadesh, he exclaimed sternly: • Hear now, you rebels; must we obtain water for you out of this rock?' Then he lifted his staff, and smote the stone; and, behold, before the eyes of the amazed and delighted multitude, the water gushed forth in abundance, streaming down in a copious supply sufficient for man and beast. Moses and Aaron stood lost in shame and confusion, and the Lord said to them: 'Because you did not believe Me to sanctify Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this

congregation into the land which I have given them.' The place of this miraculous deed was called Meribah, or Strife, because there the children of Israel strove with the Lord, and He was sanctified in them.'

At Kadesh Miriam died, the eldest of Jochebed's three children, the first Hebrew prophetess; and there, at the entrance to the Land of Promise, she was buried.


[NUMB. XX. 899.] In order to advance from Kadesh straight into Canaan, the Hebrews had to pass through the territory of the Edomites. Moses sent messengers to their king, asking for permission to travel through his land. Although the request was in an imploring tone and courteous manner, and although Moses pledged himself that his hosts should strictly keep on the high or royal road, neither turning to the right nor to the left, touching neither fields nor vineyards, and fully paying for what they ate and drank, the king of Edom declined the proposal most fiercely ; and in order to resist any attempt on the part of the Hebrews to enter by force, he at once set out against them with a numerous army. Moses deemed it prudent to avoid a conflict with so powerful an enemy, and led his people back south-eastward, till he encamped at Hor, a peak in the range of mount Seir, south of the famous Petra. That rugged station of the wandering Israelites became to them of peculiar interest by a melancholy event, the death of Aaron. The summons came to the servant of God, when he was 123 years old, and it was obeyed without a murmur. In the sight of all that congregation which had so often attacked him with complaints and murmurs and threats, and which, by constant revolts, had again and again tried his meek spirit,'Aaron, accompanied

« AnteriorContinuar »