The revolt against Aaron (Sir 45:18-45:22)

“Outsiders conspired against Aaron.

They envied him in the wilderness.

There was Dathan with his followers.

There was Abiram with his followers.

There was the company of Korah.

They were filled with wrath and anger.

The Lord saw it.

He was not pleased.

In the heat of his anger

They were destroyed.

He performed wonders against them.

He consumed them in a flaming fire.

He added glory to Aaron.

He gave him a heritage.

He allotted to him

The best of the first fruits.

He prepared bread of first fruits

In abundance.

They eat the sacrifices of the Lord.

He gave it to him

And his descendants.

But in the land of the people

He has no inheritance.

He has no portion

Among the people.

The Lord himself

Is his portion

The Lord himself

Is his inheritance.”

In this section Sirach is relying on Numbers, chapter 16, about a revolt of some Levi tribe members, particularly Korah, along with Dathan and Abiram from the tribe of Reuben. It was not clear why Sirach called them outsiders since there were about 250 of those Israelites in the desert who actually revolted against Moses and Aaron. This uprising was put down, when Moses called for an incense face-off. Then Yahweh made the ground catch fire and split up so that this fire swallowed up these trouble makers. Aaron was then given more glory. This is why he and his descendants receive the best of the first fruits of the harvest. However, the Levites were not given any territory in the new Promise Land like the other tribes. Their portion was the Lord himself. That was their inheritance. Once again, this was an attempt to explain the situation of the later Levitical priests.

Prayer for help (Ps 88:1-88:2)

A song, a psalm of the Sons of Korah. To the choirmaster leader, according to Mahalath Leannoth, a Maskil of Heman the Ezrahite

“Yahweh!

God of my salvation!

At night,

I cry out in your presence!

Let my prayer come before you!

Incline your ear to my cry!”

Psalm 88 is a psalm of the sons of Korah, the Temple singers. However, this Mahalath Leannoth refers to some kind of musical instrument for those who were sick. On top of that this is called a maskil of Heman, the Ezrahite. Who is he? He may have been a grandson of Samuel, the man called Heman appointed by David to be a Temple Singer in 1 Chronicles, chapter 6. However, there he is called a Kohathite, not an Ezrahite. This is a cry of desperation. God is his salvation. He cries all night in the presence of God. He wanted his prayers to come to God. In the classical sense he wanted God’s ear to listen to his cry.

Song of praise for the Temple (Ps 84:1-84:2)

To the choirmaster leader, according to the Gittith, a psalm of the Sons of Korah

“How lovely is your dwelling place!

Yahweh of hosts!

My soul longs,

Indeed it faints

For the courts of Yahweh.

My heart sings for joy!

My flesh sings for joy!

I sing to the living God!”

Psalm 84 is a choral song of praise for the Temple on Mount Zion. This psalm is part of the series of Korah psalms, the Temple singers, using Gittith, a stringed instrument. This psalmist loves the house of Yahweh as his soul longs for and faints for the courtyards of Yahweh. His heart and flesh sings for joy to the living God.

Listen to God (Ps 49:1-49:4)

To the choirmaster leader, a psalm of the Korahites

“Hear this!

All you peoples!

Give ear!

All inhabitants of the world!

Both low and high!

Rich and poor together!

My mouth shall speak wisdom.

The meditation of my heart shall be understanding.

I will incline my ear to a proverb.

I will solve my riddle to the music of the harp.”

Psalm 49 continues the string of choral psalms of the Sons of Korah of the last few psalms. This psalmist is like a wise sage. He wanted all the people of the whole world to hear him. This was not confided to Israel, but the more universal wisdom literature. He wanted the ears of the high and the low people as well as the rich and the poor. This is another indication that classism and economic woes have a long history. The mouth of the psalmist would speak with wisdom and understanding. He knew about proverbs and riddles with the background music of the harp.

Beautiful Mount Zion (Ps 48:1-48:3)

A song, a psalm of the Korahites

“Great is Yahweh!

Greatly to be praised

In the city of our God!

His holy mountain,

Beautiful in elevation,

Is the joy of all the earth.

Mount Zion is

In the far north,

In the city of the great king.

Within its citadels

God has shown himself

A sure defense.”

Psalm 48 is yet another of the 11 psalms of the sons of the Korah, like the preceding ones. There is a glorification of Mount Zion, the northern mountain in Jerusalem, where the Temple and the palace of David were built. Yahweh was great and thus greatly praised. His holy beautiful mountain was a joy to the whole world. This Mount Zion was in the far northern part of the city of the great king, the city of David. Within its walls, God had shown himself to be a great defender of this mountain.

God is with us (Ps 46:1-46:3)

To the choirmaster leader, a psalm of the Korahites, according to Alamoth, a song

“God is our refuge.

God is our strength.

He is a very present help in trouble.

Therefore we will not fear!

Even though the earth should change.

Even though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea.

Even though its waters roar and foam.

Even though the mountains tremble with its tumult.”

Selah

Psalm 46 is another of the psalms or songs of the sons of Korah. However, this is a victory song that inspired Martin Luther to write his famous hymn, “A Mighty Fortress.” In fact, it is a hymn of Mount Zion that was to be sung by an Alamoth, who was a soprano or female voice. God was their refuge and strength. He was present during any time of trouble. Therefore they would not fear. Even though great changes on the earth were taking place, they would not be afraid. There was a mention of the underwater earthquakes, tsunamis, or above ground earthquakes, when God would be there. At this thought there is a musical interlude or pause, a Selah.

My tongue is like a pen (Ps 45:1-45:1)

To the choirmaster, according to Lilies, a Maskil of the Korahites a love song

“My heart overflows with a goodly theme.

I address my verses to the king.

My tongue is like the pen of a ready scribe.”

This psalm is like a love song at a royal wedding. It is obviously a choral song. Once again, it is like the preceding psalms, this is a Maskil of the sons of Korah, who were first mentioned in 1 Chronicles, chapter 9. There name appears on 11 psalms, 3 of them right here. The melody for this must have been like the tune about the lilies, perhaps a 6th chord. Psalm 69 has the same melody. The psalmist said that his heart was overflowing with goodness. This is clearly not David. He was addressing these verses to the king. His tongue was a pen so that he was a worthy scribe.