Punishment of the risen Levites – Sandro Botticelli

Punishment of the risen Levites   Sandro Botticelli

“Korah, the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, and Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, and Avnan the son of Pelegus, the children of Reuben, rose up against Moses, and with them two hundred and fifty husbands of the sons of Israel, meetings, people eminent.

And they gathered themselves together against Moses and Aaron, and said unto them, It is full unto you; all society, all are holy, and among them is the Lord! why do you put yourself above the people of the Lord?

And when Moses heard this, he fell on his face and said to Korah and to all his associates, saying, “The Lord will show who is his, tomorrow, and who is holy, to draw him near to Himself; and whom he will choose, he will bring him near to himself; This is what you will do: Korah and all his associates take censers and tomorrow put fire in them and pour in them smoking before the Lord; and whom the Lord chooses, he will be holy. Fully you, sons of Levi! And Moses said to Korah: Listen, sons of Levi! Is it too small for you that the God of Israel separated you from the society of Israel and brought you closer to Himself, so that you would perform services at the tabernacle of the Lord and stand before the community, serving for them? He brought you near, and with you all your brothers, the sons of Levi, and you are also seeking the priesthood. So you and all your company are gathered against the Lord. What Aaron, why are you grumbling at him?

And Moses sent Moses to call Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab. But they said: we will not go! Is it not enough that you brought us out of the land where milk and honey flow to destroy us in the desert? and you still want to rule over us! Did you bring us into a land flowing with milk and honey, and gave us fields and vineyards for us? Do you want to blind the eyes of these people? will not go!

Moses was very upset and said to the Lord, “Do not turn your sight to their offering.” I did not take any of them an ass and did no harm to either of them.

And Moses said to Korah: Tomorrow you and all your company shall be before the Lord, you, they and Aaron; and take every one of your censers, and put incense in them, and bring to you before the Lord each one of his censer, two hundred and fifty censers; you and Aaron, every censer.

And he took every man his censer, and put a fire in them, and poured into them smoking, and stood at the entrance to the tabernacle of the congregation; also Moses and Aaron. And Korah gathered all the congregation against them to the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.

And the glory of the Lord appeared to the whole of society. And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron, saying, Separate from this congregation, and I will consume them in a moment. They fell on their faces and said: “God, the God of the spirits of all flesh!” one man sinned, and you are angry with the whole society? And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Say unto the congregation, Depart from all sides from the habitation of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram.

And Moses arose, and went to Dathan and Abiram, and the elders of Israel followed him. And he said to the congregation, “Depart from the tents of these wicked people, and do not touch anything that belongs to them, lest you perish in all their sins.” And they departed from all sides from the dwelling of Korea, Dathan and Abiram; and Dathan and Abiram went out and stood at the door of their tents with their wives and their sons and with their small children.

And Moses said, Behold, from this ye shall know that the LORD hath sent me to do all these works, and not at their own will [I do this]: if they die, how all men die, and such punishment will befall them which [sees] all people, then the Lord did not send me; but if the Lord creates extraordinary things, and the earth opens its mouth and swallows them up and everything that they have, and they live will descend into hell, then know that these people have despised the Lord.

Only he said these words, the earth was scattered under them; and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up and their houses, and all the men of Korah, and all the goods; and they went down with all that belonged to them, living in the underworld, and the earth covered them, and they perished from the midst of society.

And all the Israelites that were around them fled at their cry, so that, they said, the earth did not swallow us.

And fire came out from the Lord, and devoured those two hundred and fifty men who offered incense. “Numbers 16: 1-35

The fresco unfolds the dramatic events of the Levite uprising against Moses, the “meekest man.” The Lord protected His chosen one and revealed a miracle by punishing rebels.

As in the fresco “Temptations of Christ”, in the center of the fresco “Punishment of the risen Levites” is located a smoking altar, and behind it – a partially destroyed Arch of Constantine.

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