The Priest on the Throne

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Korach

Regular Shabbat Readings

Read / Listen to these Portions

  • Korach (קורח | Korah)
  • Torah: Numbers 16:1-18:32
  • Haftarah: 1 Samuel 11:14-12:22
  • Gospel: John 19:1-17

Note: The regular readings are often interrupted with special readings on Jewish holidays, special Sabbaths, and Rosh Chodesh. Refer to the annual Torah Portion schedule for these special portions.

Portion Outline

  • Torah
    • Numbers 16:1 | Revolt of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram
    • Numbers 17:1 | The Budding of Aaron's Rod
    • Numbers 18:1 | Responsibility of Priests and Levites
    • Numbers 18:8 | The Priests' Portion
  • Prophets
    • 1Sa 11:1 | Saul Defeats the Ammonites
    • 1Sa 12:1 | Samuel's Farewell Address

Portion Summary

Korah (korach, קורח) was the name of a prominent Levite. It is also the name of the thirty-eighth reading from the Torah. It comes from the first verse of this week's reading, which says, "Now Korah the son of Izhar... took action" (Numbers 16:1). This week's Torah reading tells the story of how Korah led an unsuccessful rebellion against Moses and Aaron. After thwarting the insurrection, God confirms Aaron in the priesthood and provides additional legislation regarding priestly and Levitical privileges and responsibilities.


But the Lord said to Moses, “Put back the rod of Aaron before the testimony to be kept as a sign against the rebels, that you may put an end to their grumblings against Me, so that they will not die.” (Numbers 17:10)

Moses and the Children of Israel kept Aaron’s staff in the ark as a testimony of God’s choice of the house of Aaron. According to Jewish legend, though, “The same staff was held in the hand of every king until the Temple was destroyed, and then it was hidden away. That same staff also is destined to be held in the hand of King Messiah.” (Numbers Rabbah 18:23)

The Bible never mentions any of the kings of Judah wielding the staff of Aaron. For the kings to wield the priestly staff would seem to blur the distinctive roles of the monarchy and the priesthood. However, the staff of Aaron symbolized God’s choice of a man for office. One can imagine the kings of Israel displaying Aaron’s staff as part of their effort to prove their divine appointment to the throne. Lest there be any grumblers or rebels who opposed the new king’s ascent to the throne, let them look upon Aaron’s staff and remember what God does to grumblers and rebels. After all, the staff was to be “kept as a sign against the rebels, that you may put an end to their grumblings.” (Numbers 17:10) Therefore, it is reasonable to suppose that the kings of Judah might have taken the staff of Aaron in hand as one of their coronation rituals. At the end of Judean monarchy, however, the ark was lost (or hidden away) and Aaron’s staff with it.

The Midrash Rabbah assures us that when Messiah comes, Aaron’s staff will be placed into His hand. As a proof text, it cites a verse from Psalm 110, the psalm most quoted by the Apostles as they taught about Yeshua:

That same staff also is destined to be held in the hand of King Messiah (may he come speedily in our days), as it says [in Psalm 110:2], “The Lord will stretch forth Your strong scepter from Zion, saying, ‘Rule in the midst of Your enemies.’” (Numbers Rabbah 18:23)

Moses was the prophet and king. Aaron was the priest. When Yeshua comes again, He comes as a king, but he is also a prophet and a priest. In that regard He unites the monarchy and the priesthood and is worthy to wield the staff of Aaron. In Yeshua, the two offices of king and priest are reconciled.

May He come speedily in our days!

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