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[54] And now Moses called for those that contended about the priesthood, that trial might be made who should be priest, and that he whose sacrifice God was best pleased with might be ordained to that function. There attended two hundred and fifty men, who indeed were honored by the people, not only on account of the power of their ancestors, but also on account of their own, in which they excelled the others: Aaron also and Corah came forth, and they all offered incense, in those censers of theirs which they brought with them, before the tabernacle. Hereupon so great a fire shone out as no one ever saw in any that is made by the hand of man, neither in those eruptions out of the earth that are caused by subterraneous burn-rags, nor in such fires as arise of their own accord in the woods, when the agitation is caused by the trees rubbing one against another: but this fire was very bright, and had a terrible flame, such as is kindled at the command of God; by whose irruption on them, all the company, and Corah himself, were destroyed, 1 and this so entirely, that their very bodies left no remains behind them. Aaron alone was preserved, and not at all hurt by the fire, because it was God that sent the fire to burn those only who ought to be burned. Hereupon Moses, after these men were destroyed, was desirous that the memory of this judgment might be delivered down to posterity, and that future ages might be acquainted with it; and so he commanded Eleazar, the son of Aaron, to put their censers near the brazen altar, that they might be a memorial to posterity of what these men suffered, for supposing that the power of God might be eluded. And thus Aaron was now no longer esteemed to have the priesthood by the favor of Moses, but by the public judgment of God; and thus he and his children peaceably enjoyed that honor afterward.

2

1 It appears here, and from the Samaritan Pentateuch, and, in effect, from the psalmist, as also from the Apostolical Constitutions, from Clement's First Epistle to the Corinthians, from Ignatius's Epistle to the Magnesians, and from Eusebius, that Corah was not swallowed up with the Reubenites, but burned with the Levites of his own tribe. See Essay on the Old Testament, p. 64, 65.

2 WHAT HAPPENED TO THE HEBREWS DURING THIRTY-EIGHT YEARS IN THE WILDERNESS.

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