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B'Midbar/Numbers 16:1 Korah son of Izhar son of Kohath son of Levi separated himself (Artscroll)
The first word of the text, , comes from the root meaning 'to take' and it is a transitive verb - that is, a verb that expects a direct object. Yet as the passage goes on, there is no object. This causes the ancient commentators to deduce that the verb is to be taken reflexively: he took himself.Targum Onkelos changes the verb to , "and he separated himself", reflecting the ancient traditional understanding that Korah drew away from Moshe, Aharon and the rest of the people; that he gathered others about him and followed his own heart rather than the instructions of the G-d of Israel. In order to justify his position, he sustained a dispute with the leadership that, of course, eventually led to the confrontation that the following verses tell us about.
The prophet Jeremiah tells us that, "the heart is more deceitful than anything else and mortally sick" (Jeremiah 17:9, CJB), to warn us of the dangers of following our hearts rather than G-d. The heart has always been seen as the seat of the emotions; that part of us that is governed by feelings rather than logic, by blindness rather than sight, by passing infatuation rather than long-term covenant commitment. Our emotions have great power to deceive us: what we want, what we desire, can be very persuasive in leading us to draw false conclusions, to build castles in the air and even to go astray from our covenant with G-d. Yeshua comments, "For out of the heart come forth wicked thoughts, murder, adultery ... these are what really makes a person unclean" (Matthew 15:19-20, CJB).
So are the heart and emotions to be written off as believers? Are we to become simply cold, unfeeling slaves, mechanically following the logic of G-d's commandments? No, of course not! But our hearts and emotions are to become our servants rather than our masters; we are to govern them rather than being governed by them. And all to be governed by the Ruach HaKodesh, living in us. David writes, "May [the L-rd] grant you your heart's desire" (Psalm 20:5, NASB). G-d places His desires in our hearts so that He may then fulfill them; as we spend time with G-d, getting to know Him, we "prove what the will of G-d is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect" (Romans 12:2, NASB). He shows us "the good way, that we may walk in it and find rest for our souls" (Jeremiah 6:16, NASB). As we align our hearts with G-d, think His thoughts and desire His desires, we find that instead of separating ourselves, we are drawn into closer and closer relationship with Him.
Further Study: D'varim 10:12-16; Psalm 51:12-19(10-17); Luke 6:43-45
Application: Why not check the state and orientation of your heart. Are you aligned with G-d or have you drawn away to follow your own desires and thoughts? It can get to all of us, so it is always important to check our spiritual compass regularly with G-d.
© Jonathan Allen, 2004
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