Thursday, June 23, 2011

Is Korach a Mini Pharaoh?

There are at three parallels between the Korach and Exodus stories.

  1. The disputing parties fight a duel involving staffs. At the beginning of the Exodus story, we see the famous staff-into-snake confrontation; the end of the Korach story gives us the slightly less famous battle of the blossoming staffs.
  2. In both stories Moshes's enemies are destroyed at the hand of God through a supernatural display of His might, and the outburst is tamed after Moshes's prayerful intervention. 
  3. The Exodus story ends with the splitting of the sea; at the end of the Korach story the earth splits.
Now, let me be the first to concede, that these parallels are not the strongest. The final one is particularly weak, in that the splitting earth and the splitting sea are indicated via two very different verbs. (In point of fact we're told that the earth opened, not that it split.) however, I am somewhat tempted by the notion that the (divine) author alluded to Pharaoh and the Exodus story in His depiction of Korach's story,  much as a movie maker might give his villain certain familiar, readily identifiable, characteristics. It just feels right when movie bad guys have weird accents, or bad hair styles, or a cat sitting on their lap; likewise, perhaps such allusions to Pharaoh and the Exodus were expected motifs at that moment in antiquity. 

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