Rashi says that Korach saw with ruach hakodesh (divine inspiration) that the prophet Samuel would descend from him. Yet Rashi also implies he had the bad traits of jealousy and arrogance.

How could he have ruach hakodesh if he had the bad traits of jealousy and arrogance?

it seems one must be clean of all bad traits before reaching this level as explained in the book Mesilas Yesharim

  • @Nafkamina you mean bilaam? rashi there explains
    – ray
    Jun 22, 2014 at 10:57

6 Answers 6


I would propose - but have no source for it - that Korach's bad traits of jealousy and arrogance were a result of his prophesy.

In other words, Korach was a simple Jew happy to go along with Moshe's guidance until he saw - with Ruach HaKodesh - that his descendants would be great people.

At that point he became arrogant - he was the progenitor of a great lineage! Subsequently he became jealous; why shouldn't such an important person as himself be recognised as such.

By then he was no longer entitled to Ruach HaKodesh; we clearly see from his fatal bad decisions that he could no longer forsee upcoming events.

  • 1
    I have definitely seen it brought down (will try find a source) that this Ruach Hakodesh of his future descendants was his entire impetus for attempting to overthrow Moshe. This would support your idea. Although, I'm not sure what you mean by "simple Jew", Korach was undoubtedly a great Tzaddik (as evidenced by that fact that he had that ruach hakodesh in the first place).
    – nosh
    Jun 30, 2020 at 14:56

Tiferes Tzion says that even though Korach lacked the refinement of character to receive prophecy, Ruach Hakodesh still rested upon him because he lived in a holy environment that was conductive to Ruach Hakodesh.

  • but the barriers come from the human being not the environment as explained in shaarei kedusha and other places
    – ray
    Jun 22, 2014 at 11:00

Perhaps Korach experienced his ruach hakodesh at the giving of the Torah during which even the lowest handmaid experienced a prophecy greater than that of Ezekiel? (Rashi on Shemot 15:2)

  • i think that's a different matter entirely and who says it continued.
    – ray
    Jun 22, 2014 at 17:55
  • It needn't have continued. He could have forseen that shmuel would descend from him at Sinai and remembered that vision. Jun 22, 2014 at 18:15
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    at sinai they were granted nevua to see God so to speak. nevua is not omniscience. i appreciate your answer but i think it's just conjecture at best
    – ray
    Jun 22, 2014 at 19:44

Perhaps it was because at least at the beginning he was of a righteous nature.

Bamidbar Rabbah 18:3 says:

אָמְרוּ חֲכָמִים חָכָם גָּדוֹל הָיָה קֹרַח וּמִטּוֹעֲנֵי הָאָרוֹן, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (במדבר ז, ט): וְלִבְנֵי קְהָת לֹא נָתָן כִּי עֲבֹדַת הַקֹּדֶשׁ עֲלֵהֶם

"The sages have said, “Korach was a great sage and was one of the bearers of the ark, as stated (in Bamidbar 7:9), ‘But to the children of Kohath He gave no [wagons], because they had the service of the holy objects, which they carried on their shoulders.’" (Sefaria Translation)

And also the Zohar 3:49a notes Korach was the Levi with the greatest potential and G-d created him in the image of the Heavenly.

So conceivably, at least prior to the traits of jealousy and arrogance coming into play, he was deserving of Ruach HaKodesh.


I learned in Mesivta that although Korach and his followers were rebellious, in actuality Korach believed that he was correct, but if he investigated deep down he would've realized that he was only doing this out of jealousy. He was being blinded by his yetzer, which justified his jealousy for a Leshem Shemayim machloket.

And thus why people should never follow machlokot between gedolim, like for an example between Reb Eybshitz and the Yaavetz, because when it looks like they are "fighting" , but in reality they are studying together in Gan Eden while those who followed the machloket inherited gehinom


I'll try to add a thought without referring to a specific tradition.

Korach lacked refinement of character but how was any of the men Ruach Hakodesh ever revealed something without flaw? Moshe was not and he knew, which seems contributed to him being the most humble man on earth and particularly inclined to listen to G-d and follow suit. However Moshe killed an Egyptian overseer in a rage of fury. G-d still called Moshe to service in the desert. Years later Moshe disobeyed G-d by striking the rock in a rage of fury (same hidden flaw of character surfacing again) and in the aftermath Moshe was not allowed to enter Israel, still G-d did not stop using Moshe as leader of Yisrael while he lived.

Put very simply, I conclude from this that the prerequisite for G-d to approach a man and convey something to him is not perfection in the man (that's not ever been seen happening) but G-d deciding to do so. If G-d never covered the hidden sins before His face, as David prayed (well aware that properly, who may stand before G-d in a sacred place? He who is completely pure - that's no man), then there would be no G-d approaching a human, as things have come to stand, at all.

As a side note: No offense meant but "level" and "conductive" in this context both seem to sound indicative of inclinations to schools of thought that sound esoteric to me. I seem to find in the Torah that Ruach Hakodesh is not into esoterics but very opposed to any system of it.

  • A source for your thoughts would help; otherwise it conflicts with everything the classics say about Ruach haKodesh. as the question states. Jun 22, 2014 at 8:12

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