(Koʹrah) [possibly, Bald; Baldness].
1. One of Esau’s three sons by his Hivite wife Oholibamah; born in Canaan prior to Esau’s withdrawal to the mountainous region of Seir. (Ge 36:2, 5-8, 14; 1Ch 1:35) Korah was a sheik of the land of Edom.—Ge 36:18.
A “sheik Korah” is listed at Genesis 36:16 as a son of Eliphaz and grandson of Esau. However, the name does not appear among the descendants of Eliphaz at Genesis 36:11, 12 or 1 Chronicles 1:36. The Samaritan Pentateuch omits the name at Genesis 36:16, and some scholars suggest its appearance in the Masoretic text may be the result of a copyist’s error.
2. One of the sons of Hebron of the tribe of Judah.—1Ch 2:43.
3. A Kohathite Levite of the family of Izhar. (Ex 6:16, 18, 21; 1Ch 6:1, 2, 22 [Amminadab was perhaps an alternative name for Izhar.]) During Israel’s wilderness trek Korah rebelled against the authority of Moses and Aaron, doing so in league with the Reubenites Dathan, Abiram, and On, as well as 250 “chieftains of the assembly” or “men of fame.” (Nu 16:1, 2) They contended that “the whole assembly are all of them holy and Jehovah is in their midst,” asking, “Why, then, should you lift yourselves up above the congregation of Jehovah?” (Nu 16:3-11) Moses later sent to call Dathan and Abiram, but they refused to be present, thinking Moses had no right to summon them. (Nu 16:12-15) Korah, his assembly, and High Priest Aaron were told to present themselves before Jehovah, all supplied with fire holders and burning incense.—Nu 16:16, 17.
The following day Korah and the 250 men with him, all carrying fire holders with burning incense, stood at the entrance of the tent of meeting with Moses and Aaron. Jehovah’s glory appeared to all the assembly and God spoke to Moses and Aaron, telling them to separate themselves from the midst of the assembly, “that I may exterminate them in an instant.” However, Moses and Aaron interceded for the people, and God then directed Moses to have the assembly get away from the tabernacles of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram. This was done. (Nu 16:18-27) Shortly thereafter, “the earth proceeded to open its mouth and to swallow up them and their households and all humankind that belonged to Korah and all the goods.” They and all that belonged to them went down alive into Sheol, and the earth covered them over.—Nu 16:28-34.
Those who were before the tent of meeting with the incense-filled fire holders did not escape, for “a fire came out from Jehovah and proceeded to consume the two hundred and fifty men offering the incense.” (Nu 16:35) Korah himself was with them at that time and thus perished in that fire from God.—Nu 26:10.
The fire holders of those who conspired with Korah were made into metal plates with which to overlay the altar. This was done “because they presented them before Jehovah, so that they became holy; and they should serve as a sign to the sons of Israel.” (Nu 16:36-40) Despite this powerful evidence of divine judgment, the very next day the whole assembly of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron, complaining, “You men, you have put Jehovah’s people to death.” This gave rise to indignation on God’s part, and despite the pleas of Moses and Aaron, 14,700 died as a result of a scourge from Jehovah, halted only after Aaron made atonement for the people. (Nu 16:41-50) Thereafter, Aaron’s priestly position was confirmed by the budding of his rod.—Nu 17.
That the sons of Korah did not follow their father in rebellion seems apparent from the Bible record, for it states: “However, the sons of Korah did not die.” (Nu 26:9-11) Korah’s descendants later became prominent in Levitical service.—See KORAHITE.
The writer of the book of Jude linked Cain, Balaam, and Korah together when warning Christians to guard against animalistic men who “have perished in the rebellious talk of Korah!” Korah evidently sought glory for himself. He challenged Jehovah’s appointments, becoming a rebel, and thus justly suffered death as a consequence of his improper course of action.—Jude 10, 11.