Bible Review 16:3, June 2000
Supporting Roles


By Elie Wiesel

What an ugly and overwhelming story, that of Korah! Disconcerting on more than one level, distressing in more than one sense, it confronts the reader and forces him to reread it, so overwhelming and invasive is its perplexity. It is not at all astonishing that Rashi, the greatest of our biblical and talmudic interpreters, felt the need to draw our attention to the Midrash and its rich discussion of this first revolt—organized against Moses.a

Truth to tell, Korah is difficult to understand. Something about him escapes us and troubles us. Could it be that he is so nearly transparent, it seems easy, too easy, to grasp his motives, which can only be described as vile and base?

Here is a person who should be content with his lot. He belongs to a famous tribe, he is related to the great chiefs of the nation, he is respected in high places—and yet he remains unsatisfied. Never at peace with himself. We sense he is agitated inside, sapped by hostile, ill-fated forces; he tends toward destruction, and in the end he destroys himself.

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