…the ground that was under them split apart, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them and their households and every human being that was Korah’s, and all the possessions. And they went down, they and all that was theirs, alive to Sheol, and the earth covered over them, and they perished from the midst of the assembly.
And the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them and Korah when the community died, when fire consumed two hundred and fifty men and they became a sign. But the sons of Korah did not die.
—Bamidbar/Numbers 16:32-33, 26:10-11 (Alter translation)
Eleven psalms — 42, 44-49, 84, 85, 87 and 88 — open with a reference to “sons of Korach [bnei Korach]. Sources differ on whether these are attributed to Korach’s sons, dedicated to them, or were meant to be sung by descendants of Korach (JPS uses “Korahites”) in the Temple service. In any case, these psalms include some beautiful, often nature-laden, language:
To the director of music. A maskil for the sons of Korach.
As a hind craves for streams of water, so my soul craves for You, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When will I come and appear before God?
My tears have been my bread day and night
for they say to me all the day, Where is your God?… (psalms 42:1-4)
–Translation by Amos Hakham,
The Bible: Psalms with the Jerusalem Commentary by Amos Hakham.
The “Opening the Book” series was originally presented in cooperation with the independent, cross-community Jewish Study Center and with Kol Isha, an open group that for many years pursued spirituality from a woman’s perspective at Temple Micah (Reform). “A Song Every Day” is an independent blog, however, and all views, mistakes, etc. are the author’s.