“Now  Korach [baldness] the son of K’hat [Kohath, allied or to ally oneself], the son of Levi [attached], along with Datan [strong] and Aviram [exalt my Father], the sons of Eli’av [El is my Father], and On, the son of Pelet [escape, deliverance, swiftness] descendants of Re’uven [Behold a son ] took men and rebelled against Moshe [drawn out , rescued].  Siding with them were 250 men of Isra’el, leaders of the community, key members of the council, men of reputation [but not Levites].” ~ Numbers16:1,2

The Punishment of Korah

The Punishment of Korah (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

[Is there a hidden message in the names of these verses? If you read the names from latter to first it could read: [You will be] rescued or drawn out of the [flood] waters, [if you] behold the Son, [who will bring] escape, deliverance swiftly! O El is Father, exalt El, [be] strong and attached  [to Him] like an ally, or mourn, shaving the hair of your head~]

“When Moshe heard this he fell on his face.”~ v. 4

“Then he said to Korach [baldness]…”…ADONAI will show who are His and who is the holy person… near to Himself…”.~v.5

“…Take censers…put fire …incense in them …”. ~v.6

Korach  and the Kohathites, sons of Levi, were servants in the Tabernacle, assigned to assist Aharon the cohen [priest] and his sons: “They are to carry out his duties and the duties of the whole community before the Tent of Meeting …in charge of all the furnishings…their one responsibility in regard to the people of Isra’el is to serve him [Numbers 3:7-9]”:

  • “The K’hat [Kohath] clans were to camp next to the tabernacle, toward the south [Numbers 3:29].”
  • “They were responsible for the ark, the table [of Bread of Presence], the Menorah, the altars [sacrificial & incense], the utensils the cohanim use when they serve in the Holy Place, the curtain, and everything involved with the maintenance of these things [Numbers 3:31].”

Moshe said to Korach [baldness], ” Listen…is it for you [sons of Levi] a mere trifle that the Elohim of Isra’el has separated you…to bring you close to Himself…do the work…of ADONAI and stand before the community serving them? [Numbers 16:8-9]”

  • Moshe accused Korach [baldness] :”Now you want the office of cohen too? [v.10-11]”
  • When Moshe sends for Datan [strong] and Aviram [exalt my Father], also Levites, they refuse [v.12-14]!
  • Korach [baldness] assembles all the 250 with fire in their censers; he is still  angry  against Moshe the next morning. No mourning, no repentance, nor grief  in his heart noted in the morning!

“But I tell you that anyone who nurses anger against his brother will be subject to judgement; that whoever calls his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing!” will be brought before the Sanhedrin; that whoever says, ‘Fool!’ incurs the penalty of burning in the fire of Gei-Hinnom [Matthew/ Mattityahu 5:22]!”

English: The Fire of Atonement, as in Numbers ...

English: The Fire of Atonement, as in Numbers 16:41-50, watercolor by James Tissot (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  • The glory of ADONAI appears to all  in the morning and ADONAI commands the earth to open and swallow Korach, Datan and Aviram and all their households. “So they and everything they owned went down alive into Sh’ol. …Then fire came out…and destroyed the 250 men who had offered the incense [v.31-35]”.

The brass fire pans became holy and were hammered into plates to cover the  incense altar: “…to remind the people of Isra’el that an ordinary person not descended from Aharon is not to approach and burn incense before ADONAI [16:39-40]”.

  • Baldness [qorha or qarah, Korach] is “mourning” baldness, when the head hair of an Isra’elite is shaved to grieve, and clothes are torn, as a mark of mourning for the dead.
  • The culture of mourning today includes entering the house, lamenting and grieving, sitting “shiva”, 7 days, with mirrors covered, bringing food, preparing a meal, bringing comfort and consolation [see Jeremiah 16:5-9].
  • Otherwise, Isra’elites were FORBIDDEN to shave their heads, lest they be like the peoples around them.
  • In the Tanakh [Holy Scriptures] hair has a increasing importance and is called the crown of glory when gray [Proverbs  16:31].
  • Fallen hair or natural baldness is considered “clean” while a red and /or white spot on the scalp is “unclean” and under Levitical law as in Leviticus 13:40-45.

Pending judgement of ADONAI  and possible death, should have brought a change in Korach the Levite. As in Isaiah 3:24, there should have been :

“…instead of perfume, a stench; instead of a belt, a rope; instead of a well-set hair, a shaved scalp; instead of a rich robe, a sackcloth skirt; and a slave-brand instead of beauty.”

It may be said of Korach and the sons of Levi:

“That day Adonai Elohim-Tzva’ot [LORD of Hosts] called on you to weep and mourn, to shave your heads and wear sackcloth; but instead one sees joy and celebrating, killing of oxen, slaughtering of sheep, eating of meat, drinking of wine–‘Let’s eat and drink now, because tomorrow we’ll be dead!’ [Isaiah 22:12-13]”.

Was the “mark of mourning”, the shaved head on Elisha when he was taunted by boys , misunderstanding him, in Kings 2:23? Was he grieving the death of  prophet Eliyahu  the Tishbite [ Tishbe ~recourse ] of Gilead, [~heap of testimony east of the Yarden ] and so shaved his head? Natural baldness or mourning?

  • As the fiery chariot with horses of fire separated Eliyahu [Elijah] from Elisha. Elisha grieved and  cried out, “My father! My father! The chariots and horsemen of Isra’el [2 Kings 2:12]”. Then he lost sight of Eliyahu , seized his clothes, tearing them in half! Picking up Eliyahu’s prayer shawl, he struck the Yarden [Jordan], saying, ” Where is ADONAI, the G-d of Eliyahu?” And the Yarden divided! [v. 11-14]

“Elisha left to go up to Beit-El [House of El]. As he was on his way up the road, some boys came out of the town [not recognizing him for healing the waters of Yericho with salt to halt death & miscarriage,{v.19-22}?] and began making fun of him [ Lev. 21:5 Priests shall not make baldness on their heads for the dead ?]. ‘Go on up, baldy! Go on up, baldy!’ He looked behind him, saw them, and put a curse on them in the name of ADONAI, whereupon 2 female bears came out of the woods and mauled 42 of the boys [v. 23-24]”!

The cohen [priest] of  the sons of Aaron could not make himself unclean except for close blood relatives, “…because he is a leader among his people… [Leviticus 21 v.4]

“Rather they [cohanim] are to be holy for their God…they are the ones who present ADONAI with offerings made by fire, the BREAD of their God…[v.6].

Korach [baldness] was a K’hat son of Levi  but not a cohen. Also, Korach was not Aharon’s descenant, and so, was not forbidden to shave his head? Yet he certainly had “baldness” of the heart and neither mourned nor shaved his head . His “baldness  of the heart” was his sin and so he was judged by the Holy One.

Elisha a follower of Eliyahu the prophet mourned and grieved his death,  shaved his head as his mark of mourning for the dead.

Conclusion: Baldness

  1. While from natural causes, it  was not uncommon to shave heads as signs of mourning (2 Kings 2:23; Isa. 3:24). With the  Isra’elites  artificial baldness was a sign of mourning (Isa. 22:12; Jer. 7:29; 16:6); it also marked the conclusion of a Nazarite’s vow (Acts 18:18; 21:24; Num. 6:9).
  1. a. The cohanim were forbidden to shave heads ; they were disqualified for the priesthood if they had any defect (Lev. 21:20). One had to be perfect to present the BREAD of ADONAI.
  2. The people of the land such as the Egyptians shaved their heads, only allowing the hair to grow as a sign of mourning!
  3. Baldness is often alluded to (Micah 1:16; Amos 8:10; Jer. 47:5)
  4. The Isra’elites were forbidden to follow the customs of surrounding nations in making themselves bald (Deut. 14:1) except for mourning the dead.

Baldness references

Lev. 21:5 Priests shall not make baldness on their heads.

Deut. 14:1 God’s children are not to disfigure themselves in mourning.

2 Ki. 2:23-24 Bears destroy the children that mocked Elisha.

Isa. 3:24 The judgments which shall be for the pride of the women.

15:2 The lamentable state of Moab.

Jer. 16:6 Do not make yourself bald for the dead that are punished.

47:5 The destruction of the Philistines.

48:37 Moabites shall be bald with beards clipped.

Eze. 7:18 The mournful repentance of them that escape.

27:31 And they shall make themselves utterly bald for thee.

Amos 8:10 I will bring baldness upon every head.

Mic. 1:16 Micah exhorts to mourning.

Baldness [from Wikipedia]

The religious meaning of hair dates back before the Bible as a symbol of faith, truth and higher mind.  Jesus, Sampson & the prophets, never cut their hair because they believed it further connected them to God. Sampson’s story is that of a judge or religious leader with long hair and super-natural powers that become weak when his head was shaved. Conversely, the shaving of the head can be an act of grieving. The symbolic nature of hair depends on the religious tradition of each culture.

Jewish men are often seen with long, flowing beards that they never cut. The older they get, the longer the beard and the greater the wisdom. This symbolizes their connection to the divine element. Ancient Israelites considered baldness a sign of calamity and grief.

Baldness of the Head and Heart

Was the “mark of mourning”, the shaved head on Elisha when he was taunted by boys , misunderstanding him, in Kings 2:23? Was he grieving the death of prophet Eliyahu the Tishbite [ Tishbe ~recourse of Gilead, ~heap of testimony east of the Yarden ] and so shaved his head? Natural baldness or mourning?


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