In his New Testament epistle, St. Jude warns about heretics
who presume priestly roles they have not been given:
But these men
blaspheme whatever things they know not: and what things soever they
naturally know, like dumb beasts, in these they are corrupted. Woe unto
them, for they have gone in the way of Cain: and after the error of
Balaam they have for reward poured out themselves, and have perished in
the contradiction of Core.
This is the
"Core" to whom he refers -- a man who led an insurrection in defiance
of Moses and asked "why do you raise yourself up above the people?
Aren't we all holy?" This is the story of what happened to
those who failed to remember that our being a priestly people doesn't
mean that we are ordained priests able to carry out the ministry of
those with Holy Orders:
And behold Core
the son of Isaar, the son of Caath, the son of Levi, and Dathan and
Abiron the sons of Eliab, and Hon the son of Pheleth of the children of
Ruben, Rose up against Moses, and with them two hundred and fifty
others of the children of Israel, leading men of the synagogue, and who
in the time of assembly were called by name. And when they had stood up
against Moses and Aaron, they said: Let it be enough for you, that all
the multitude consisteth of holy ones, and the Lord is among them: Why
lift you up yourselves above the people of the Lord?
When Moses heard this, he fell flat on his face: And speaking to Core
and all the multitude, he said: In the morning the Lord will make known
who belong to him, and the holy he will join to himself: and whom he
shall choose, they shall approach to him. Do this therefore: Take every
man of you your censers, thou Core, and all thy company. And putting
fire in them tomorrow, put incense upon it before the Lord: and
whomsoever he shall choose, the same shall be holy: you take too much
upon you, ye sons of Levi.
And he said again to Core: Hear ye sons of Levi. Is it a small thing
unto you, that the God of Israel hath spared you from all the people,
and joined you to himself, that you should serve him in the service of
the tabernacle, and should stand before the congregation of the people,
and should minister to him? Did he therefore make thee and all thy
brethren the sons of Levi to approach unto him, that you should
challenge to yourselves the priesthood also, And that all thy company
should stand against the Lord? for what is Aaron that you murmur
Then Moses sent to call Dathan and Abiron the sons of Eliab.
But they answered: We will not come. Is it a small matter to thee, that
thou hast brought us out of a land that flowed with milk and honey, to
kill us in the desert, except thou rule also like a lord over us? Thou
best brought us indeed into a land that floweth with rivers of milk and
honey, and hast given us possessions of fields and vineyards; wilt thou
also pull out our eyes? We will not come.
Moses therefore being very angry, raid to the Lord: Respect not their
sacrifices: thou knowest that I have not taken of them so much as a
young ass at any time, nor have injured any of them.
And he said to Core: Do thou and thy congregation stand apart before
the Lord tomorrow, and Aaron apart. Take every one of you censers, and
put incense upon them, offering to the Lord two hundred and fifty
censers: let Aaron also hold his censer.
When they had done this, Moses and Aaron standing, And had drawn up all
the multitude against them to the door of the tabernacle, the glory of
the Lord appeared to them all.
And the Lord speaking to Moses and Aaron, said: Separate yourselves
from among this congregation, that I may presently destroy them.
They fell flat on their face, and said: O most mighty, the God of the
spirits of all flesh, for one man's sin shall thy wrath rage against
And the Lord said to Moses: Command the whole people to separate
themselves from the tents of Core and Dathan and Abiron.
And Moses arose, and went to Dathan and Abiron: and the ancients of
Israel following him, He said to the multitude: Depart from the tents
of these wicked men, and touch nothing of theirs, lest you be involved
in their sins.
And when they were departed from their tents round about, Dathan and
Abiron coming out stood in the entry of their pavilions with their
wives and children, and all the people.
And Moses said: By this you shall know that the Lord hath sent me to do
all things that you see, and that I have not forged them of my own
head: If these men die the common death of men, and if they be visited
with a plague, wherewith others also are wont to be visited, the Lord
did not send me. But if the Lord do a new thing, and the earth opening
her mouth swallow them down, and all things that belong to them, and
they go down alive into hell, you shall know that they have blasphemed
And immediately as he had made an end of speaking, the earth broke
asunder under their feet: And opening her mouth, devoured them with
their tents and all their substance. And they went down alive into hell
the ground closing upon them, and they perished from among the people.
But all Israel, that was standing round about, fled at the cry of them
that were perishing: saying: Lest perhaps the earth swallow us up also.
And a fire coming out from the Lord, destroyed the two hundred and
fifty men that offered the incense.
And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Command Eleazar the son of Aaron
the priest to take up the censers that lie in the burning, and to
scatter the fire of one side and the other: because they are sanctified
In the deaths of the sinners: and let him beat them into plates, and
fasten them to the altar, because incense hath been offered in them to
the Lord, and they are sanctified, that the children of Israel may see
them for a sign and a memorial.
Then Eleazar the priest took the brazen censers, wherein they had
offered, whom the burning fire had devoured, and beat them into plates,
fastening them to the altar: That the children of Israel might have for
the time to come wherewith they should be admonished, that no stranger
or any one that is not of seed of Aaron should come near to offer
incense to the Lord, lest he should suffer as Core suffered, and all
his congregation, according as the Lord spoke to Moses.
The following day all the multitude of the children of Israel murmured
against Moses and Aaron, saying: You have killed the people of the
Lord. And when there arose a sedition, and the tumult increased, Moses
and Aaron fled to the tabernacle of the covenant.
And when the were gone into it, the cloud covered it, and the glory of
the Lord appeared.
And the Lord said to Moses: Get you out from the midst of this
multitude, this moment will I destroy them.
And as they were lying on the ground, Moses said to Aaron: Take the
censer, and putting fire in it from the altar, put incense upon it, and
go quickly to the people to pray for them: for already wrath is gone
out from the Lord, and the plague rageth.
When Aaron had done this, and had run to the midst of the multitude
which the burning fire was now destroying, he offered the incense: And
standing between the dead and the living, he prayed for the people, and
the plague ceased.
And the number of them that were slain was fourteen thousand and seven
hundred men, besides them that had perished in the sedition of Core.
And Aaron returned to Moses to the door of the tabernacle of the
covenant after the destruction was over.