Several weeks ago in Mosaic, David Wolpe aptly dubbed the book of Numbers “the great book of grievance.” He had in mind the repeated episodes of anxious Israelite muttering and murmuring that mar—and delay by a generation—what should have been an exultant march from slavery to freedom following the miraculous exodus from Egypt. Now, in this week’s Torah reading of Koraḥ (Numbers 16-18), the litany of complaint reaches a dramatic crescendo as the title character leads several factions of disgruntled Israelites in an attempt to overthrow the leadership of Moses and his brother Aaron. The rebellion is crushed in the most spectacular and devastating manner when the earth splits open and swallows Koraḥ and his followers.
The Bible's Coalition of Complainers
Koraḥ’s failed rebellion against the leadership of Moses shows that a culture based on grievance cannot last.