Numbers 16:6 says:

זאת עשו קחו לכם מחתות קרח וכל עדתו.

This do: take you censers, Korah, and all his company;

I'm struggling to understand the last three words which are in the third person when the previous verse started with:

... וידבר אל קרח ואל כל עדתו לאמר

And he spoke unto Korah and unto all his company, saying ...

Are the last three words of Verse 6 the words Moshe said or words of the narrative explaining who Moshe was talking to?

Compare to Verse 16:

ויאמר משה אל קרח אתה וכל עדתך היו לפני ה אתה והם ואהרן מחר

And Moses said unto Korah: ‘Be thou and all thy congregation before the LORD, thou, and they, and Aaron, to-morrow;

where Moshe uses the second person.

I have not found any commentary discussing this question.

  • Anthony, welcome to Mi Yodeya, and thanks very much for bringing your interesting question here! I look forward to seeing you around. If you haven't yet, take a look around and see if there are other Q&As here that interest you. We've got 12 others on parshat-korach so far, and hundreds more on parshanut-torah-comment generally.
    – Isaac Moses
    Commented Jun 19, 2015 at 14:40
  • Moshe's command in 16:6 might otherwise be interpreted as referring to only Korach (as the instigator), while the rest of them would just be commanded to watch. Therefore, it is made clear that EACH ONE OF THEM was to bring their own machtah. What's not clear to me is why it's in third rather than second person. Commented Jun 19, 2015 at 15:12

2 Answers 2


When Moshe Rabbeinu says אתה והם he is only talking to Korach. Here he is addressing Korach and his crew. There is no other easy for the Torah to describe this. He is addressing them by calling on them as "כל עדתו".

He might be also hinting at the message of the wife of On ben Peles, that they don't gain by fighting Moshe since they are still not leaders. Instead of following Moshe they'd be following Korach. This is why he is calling them כל עדתו, his whole group, instead of y'all. They are merely Korach's subordinates.


Rav Hirsch connects 16 and 17 to state that this is addressed to everyone who would even think of backing Korach. The pretense was of "equal rights" but the truth was that only one person would survive attempting to bring the incense. Remember, that even Nadav and Avihu, who were eligible to inherit the role of Kohen Gadol, died as a result of improperly trying to bring incense.

Moshe rabbeinu is pointing out that anyone following Korach is putting his life on the line knowing that everyone else would die.

Rav Hirsch states that incense is

the action symbolising the highest degree of giving oneself up completely, without any reservation whatsoever,

This is a fateful (and fatal) arrogant assumption, not just for the 250 men standing with Korach but the Levites who were standing near the Mikdash רב לכם בני לוי but also for anyone who regarded themselves as represented by the 250 men.

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