Numbers 17: Why Were IsraEl’s Leaders Afraid of Dying?
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People often misunderstand the question that the leaders of IsraEl asked at Numbers 17:12-13:
‘Now, are we going to be cut off, destroyed, and consumed?
Since everyone who touches the Tent of Jehovah dies, are we now going to be totally destroyed?’
They asked this question just after their walking sticks had been placed before the Chest of Proofs and Aaron’s walking stick was chosen by God. It was easy to think that they might die for touching the sticks because of what happened a little bit earlier. The Law forbade touching the Sacred Tent, but some did that previously in Numbers 16:42:
‘Then a mob gathered against Moses and Aaron, and they foolishly ran into the Tent of Proofs.’
As a result of this, a plague came upon the whole camp. So these leaders, who had just taken their walking sticks back, must have recognized their guilt and remembered how touching God’s Holy Tent made them deserving of death. However, the rule only applied to the Tent itself, not to anything that had been inside of it.