The Sons of Korah
Q: Some Psalm titles attribute them to the “sons of Korah.” Who are these people?
A: Korah was “the son of Izhar, son of Kohath. (Numbers 16:1)” Numbers 4:2-3 tells us that the Lord set aside able-bodied “sons of Kohath from among the sons of Levi ... from thirty years old up to fifty years old ... to do the work in the tent of meeting.” The chapter describes their specific duties in the tabernacle, along with those of the sons of Gershon and the sons of Merari.
The Korah named in certain Psalms was evidently the same person as the one who, with others, “assembled themselves against Moses and against Aaron” and accused them of exalting themselves “above the assembly of the Lord. (Numbers 16:3)” Moses in turn accused Korah of wrongly attempting to “seek the priesthood. (v. 10)”
After Moses pronounced the Lord’s judgment, “the ground under them split apart. And the earth ... swallowed them up, with their households and all ... who belonged to Korah and all their goods. So they ... went down alive into Sheol, and the earth closed over them.... (vv. 31-33)”
Some of Korah’s heirs remained alive and continued serving in the tabernacle: “The sons of Kohath ... [and] Korah ...” were among “the men whom David put in charge of the service of song in the house of the Lord after the ark rested there. They ministered with song before the tabernacle ... until Solomon built the house of the Lord in Jerusalem. (1 Chronicles 6:22, 31-32)”
So even though Korah died under divine judgment, the Lord allowed his heirs to continue serving Him. They led liturgical worship, quite possibly chanting and singing antiphonally (back and forth among two or more individuals or groups). This pattern remains common among Christian congregations who continue the Biblical pattern of liturgical worship.
Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version™, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles.
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Walter Snyder is a Lutheran pastor, conference speaker, author of the book What Do Lutherans Believe, and writer of numerous published devotions, prayers, and sermons.
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Newspaper column #587:1