Three guys took a group of two hundred fifty Israelites to tell Moses that they were just as holy as everyone else in the congregation. Moses told them to prepare their censers with incense and gather at the tent of meeting when God will decide who is holy and who isn’t.
This is another chapter of repetition as the same things are repeated at least twice. The paragraphs following the order above is the action being carried out in the same amount of detail instead of the author saying, “and they did just that.” Is that easier? Maybe I’ll rewrite the Bible and call it the Plain, Everyday Language EditionTM.
Anyway, long story short, the two hundred fifty-three men show up armed with censers and are ready for a smoke-off with Aaron and Moses for God’s affection. Well, God already picked his winner and it’s Moses. The families and possessions of the families of the three men, including slaves and animals were swallowed up by the earth and sent down to Sheol alive.
I was reading another of the tracts that were sent to me by a SecretSatanTM and according to the author of that tract, Sheol is Hell. According to Hebrew scholars, it is not, it is sort of a (my term) waiting room for the dead. Guess which one I tend to believe more? (if you’re new here, the answer is the Hebrew scholar).
Continuing on, God isn’t done killing people. After the first wave of death, Eleazar gathered up the now holy censers and pounded them out as another decoration for the altar. This was to remind everyone that only a descendant of Aaron is permitted to offer incense to God. Well, the rest of the congregation didn’t like the fact that the earth opened and swallowed up all those people, so they let it be known. And God, who is a reasonable and thoughtful listener of complaints…who am I kidding? God started killing all of them until Aaron stepped between God and the congregation to make atonement for the people. Anyway, more than fourteen thousand died before Aaron could light up the censer. So I’m guessing that somewhere in the neighborhood of fifteen thousand people died in that chapter.