1 Yahweh spoke to Moses saying, 2 “Tell Eleazar, son of Aaron the priest, to take the censers from the blaze and scatter the fire some distance away, for the censers are now holy 3 because these men sinned at the cost of their lives. Let the censers be made into plates to cover the altar, because they have been offered before Yahweh and are sacred. Let them be a sign to the Isra elites.”
4 So Eleazar the priest took the bronze censers of those men who were burned during the offering and had them hammered out to make a covering for the altar 5 and to serve as a reminder to the Israelites that no one who is not a priest, a descendant of Aaron, should draw near to burn incense before Yahweh, lest he become like Korah and his followers, just as Yahweh had said to Eleazer through Moses.
Aaron pleads for the people
6 On the following day, the entire community of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron, saying, “You have brought death to the people of Yahweh.” 7 As the community was rising together against Moses and Aaron, they turned toward the Tent of Meeting; and there was the Cloud covering it, and the Glory of Yahweh appeared. 8 And Moses and Aaron went to the door of the Tent of Meeting.
9 Yahweh spoke to Moses and said, 10 “Stand away from this community; I am going to destroy them here and now.” The two of them threw themselves face downward on the ground. 11 Then Moses said to Aaron, “Take the firepan, fill it with burning coals from the altar, put incense in it and hurry to the community to ask the mercy of Yahweh for them. The anger has come down from Yahweh and the terrible disease has begun.” 12 Aaron did as Moses said and ran among the community, but the terrible disease was already at work among them. He put in the incense and asked for the mercy of Yahweh on the people. 13 Then he stood between the living and the dead, and the terrible disease stopped. 14 There were 14,700 victims of the terrible disease, not counting those who died because of Korah. 15 Then Aaron came back to Moses at the Tent of Meeting; the ter rible disease had been stopped.
16 Yahweh spoke to Moses and said, 17 “Tell the people of Israel to give you walking sticks, one for each tribe; that is twelve sticks for the leaders of the twelve tribes, and write the name of each on his stick; 18 and on the stick of Levi write the name of Aaron because he is the first among the families of Levi. 19 Then put them in the Tent of Meeting before the ark, at the place where I meet you. 20 The man whose stick sprouts will be the one I have chosen; this is how I shall stop the complaints that the Israelites make against you.”
21 Moses spoke to the Israelites, and each of their leaders gave him a stick, twelve sticks in all for their tribes; and Aaron’s stick was among them. 22 Moses placed them before Yahweh in the Tent of the Meeting. 23 On the following day, Moses came to the Tent of the Testimony and there, already sprouting, was Aaron’s stick, standing for the tribe of Levi. Buds had opened, flowers had blossomed, and almonds had already ripened. 24 Moses took all the sticks away from before Yahweh and brought them back to all the people of Israel; they examined them and each one took back his own stick.
25 Then Yahweh said to Moses, “Put back Aaron’s stick before the Ark and keep it as a sign to these rebels, so that I will no longer hear their complaints and they may not die.” 26 Moses did as Yah weh had commanded.
Atonement: the duty of the priesthood
27 The people of Israel said to Moses, “We are lost! We are all to die! 28 Anyone who draws near the Holy Tent of Yahweh dies! Are we doomed to die to the last one?”