Torah Portion Korah
The Encroacher and the Clergy
The key word to the understanding of Numbers 3 is karev, which should be rendered not as “approach” but, in prohibitive contexts, as “encroach” and, in permissive contexts, as “qualify” (Num. 3:6; 18:2; Jer. 30:21; Ezek. 42:13; 44:16). So karev means “qualify” at Qumran (e.g., IQS 6:16–19, 7:21, 8:18–20) and in rabbinic Hebrew (e.g., Mish. Eduy. 5:7, 8:7). The Akkadian cognate qerēbu also attests the prohibitive sense “encroach.”
The prohibition against encroaching upon the sanctuary is expressed in the formula hazar ha-karev yumat, “a stranger who encroaches shall be put to death.” This formula occurs four times, all in the Book of Numbers (1:51; 3:10, 38; 18:7). In the first two instances it is directed to the Levitical cordon outside the sanctuary, and in the latter two, to the priestly cordon within. It decrees that the sacerdotal guards are to put to death any unauthority decrees that the sacerdotal guards are to put to death any unauthorized encroacher upon the sancta. The uniqueness of this formula is contained in its penalty. Elsewhere crimes against the sanctuary are punishable by God alone, never by man (e.g., improper officiating by priests, in Exod. 28:43; 30:20–21; Lev. 10:6, 9; improper handling of the sancta by Levites, in Num. 4:15, 19–20—note the Kal form of the verb yamut). Only here is a crime against the sanctuary punishable by human agency (Hofal, yumat). The reason lies in the consequences of the act indicated by the verb karev, “encroach.” Illicit contact with sancta produces divine wrath (ketsef, e.g., Num. 1:53) or plague (negef, e.g., Num. 8:19), which not only is liable to strike down the sinner but to engulf the entire community as well (e.g., Num. 17:11–15, 27–28; 25:9, 18–19; 31:16). That is why the establishment of the sacral guards is often coupled with the motive clause “that wrath shall no longer strike the Israelites” (Num. 1:53; 18:5; see 8:19). It is therefore crucial that the intruder be stopped before he carries out his intended encroachment lest he trigger the deadly consequences. The sanctuary guards must cut down the criminal before God cuts down everyone else!
The right to kill with which the sacral cordon is empowered is not to be confused with the legal category of capital punishment whereby death is set as just payment for a particular crime. The action of the guards has nothing to do with justice. The proper category for describing their function goes back to the root purpose of their guarding: mishmeret as a military category. The encroacher, though he be an Israelite, is the enemy who has it in his power to cause the death of all Israel. Since he is bent on encroachment, words will not dissuade him; in fact, to argue can only augment the danger. He must be struck down in his tracks.
However, what if the guards fail in their responsibility and encroachment takes place? Will the entire community of Israel be exposed to God’s unbounded wrath? Despite the foregoing remarks, the answer is no; only the guards bear the brunt of divine anger. This revolutionary teaching, this unprecedented self-imposed restriction of God’s powers, is the innovation of Numbers 18 and is discussed in Excursus 40.
9 thoughts on “Did you know? Korah & Encroachment in the camp”
I have said it and said and said it,
I am fully convinced that the moment the ark becomes public again, a GREAT SLAUGHTER will occur across the land either Death or Leporsy ..as it’s crystal clear to me when it past biblical history those whom Violated precepts either were at times taken out wholly alive , or Died by fire or were given Leporsy. The Messy antic movement is in for a tremendous awaking soon. they will not listen they go as far as utterly deny the very words of yeshua.. I have stood and heard them make excuse after excuse some even closed their Bibles and left the room as they preferred tradition , friends and fellowship over the plain truth of our fathers words ..my YHVH have mercy on us all…
What an exciting teaching! I always regret when your teachings have ended. I want more every time.
Thank you for your obedience to serve the Lord as you serve the brethren.
Thank you Rico for this teaching and I encourage you to remain strong as the enemy responds with their folly.
Love your work. Question? How far could a ger go if he wanted to present an offering at the tabernacle? How about the Temple during Yeshua’s days? How about the future Temple? How about a goy?
He could bring it only to certain place but not inside the temple.
Wow!! Rico, this teaching is amazing!! May everyone who listens to this teaching make teshuva, then walk as an honorable child of the Most High Elohim!! We need to stand up for what is YHVH’s truth!!…..not our truth!! We need to be like Caleb, Joshua, and Pinchas!! Yes, there are so many that believe in God, but they don’t believe Him!! Their excuse is that the bible is written by man!! Their God is in a box!!
This teaching needs to be a public or free teaching.
Wow!!! Great teaching Rico. And so needed in today’s time! May all hear, understand and submit to Yah’s authority. Blessings!!!
Powerful and wonderful commentary6. Thanks so much, Rico.