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The Kebra Nagast, by E.A. Wallis Budge, [1932], at

97. Concerning the Murmuring of ISRAEL

   And once again the children of ISRAEL murmured concerning the ministration of the priests before the Lord, saying, "Are we not ISRAEL, we the seed of ABRAHAM, and why cannot we also offer up sacrifice like them in p. 175 the Tent of Witness by the Tabernacle of the Law of God, the holy ZION, with censers and incense and the holy instruments? Why should MOSES, and his brother AARON, and their children alone do this? Are we not people whom God hath chosen as much as they are, and shall we not do His Will?" And when MOSES heard [this] he said unto them, "Do ye whatsoever ye will." And the elders of ISRAEL went and had made seventy censers wherewith to cense ZION and to praise God, and they took incense and coals in the censers, and went and came into the Holy of Holies to offer up incense. And immediately they threw the incense into the censers, at the first swing of them fire came forth from the censers, and they were burned up straightway and melted away. And as wax melteth before the face of the fire, even so did they melt away; and as grass withereth when flame approacheth it, even so were they consumed, together with their instruments, and there was nothing left of them except their censers. And God said, "Sanctify to Me these censers for My Tent" (or, Pavilion), and they shall be used for My offerings, for they are consecrated by the death of those men."1

   Now the censer is MARY, and CHRIST, the Son of God, the Godhead, is the coals, and the odour of the incense is the perfume of CHRIST, and through the perfume of Him Apostles, and Prophets, and Martyrs, and Monks, have rejected the world and inherited the kingdom of heaven. And the chains of the censers are the ladder which JACOB saw, to which [the angels] clung as they went up and came down; and upon the perfume of the incense the prayers of the pure go up to the throne of God.

   And when the flame had burned up the sinners, the people who were kinsmen of these who had been destroyed reviled MOSES and AARON, and said unto them, "Ye have made our elders to perish"; and they p. 176 took up stones to stone MOSES and AARON.1 And God was exceedingly wroth with ISRAEL, and He abominated as a filthy rag the counsel of DATHAN and ABIRAM, the sons of KORAH. And the Word of God made a sign to the earth, and the earth opened her mouth and swallowed them up, together with all their companions, and their wives, and their children, and their beasts. They went down into SHEÔL alive, and the earth shut herself up over them. And as for the people who had been associated with them and had heard their revilings [of MOSES] God sent upon them a plague, and they died forthwith. And MOSES and AARON came with incense and censers, and they wept before God, and entreated Him for forgiveness for the people, saying, "Remember, O Lord, ABRAHAM Thy friend, and ISAAC Thy servant, and ISRAEL Thy holy one, for we are their seed, and the children of Thy people. Cool Thy wrath in respect of us, and make haste to hear us, destroy us not, and remove Thy punishment from upon Thy people." And God the Merciful saw the sincerity of MOSES, and had compassion upon them.

   And God spake unto MOSES and said unto him, "Speak thou to this people and say unto them, 'Sanctify ye yourselves, and bring ye for each of the houses of your fathers a rod,' and write ye [the name] upon it so that ye may know their rods, thou and thy brother AARON. Now of your houses let AARON write upon his rod, but upon thine own rod make no mark, for it shall be a perfect miracle for the children of thy people, a vindication for the wicked, and a sign of life for all those who believe. If thou didst write [thy name] now with them, they would say unto thee, 'This hath been a worker of miracles from of old by the word of God'; let them say this when I have shown them a miracle by it (i.e., the rod). But for the house of thy father write upon the rod of AARON."2


p. 175

1 See Numbers xvi.

p. 176

1 Compare Exodus xvii. 4; Numbers xvi. 41.

2 Numbers xvii. 8.
















Next: 98. Concerning the Rod of MOSES and the Rod of AARON