Who They Were that Ventured to Make Schisms, and Did Not Escape Punishment.
I. Above all things, O bishop, avoid the sad and dangerous and most atheistical heresies, eschewing them as fire that burns those that come near to it. Avoid also schisms: for it is neither lawful to turn one's mind towards wicked heresies, nor to separate from those of the same sentiment out of ambition. For some who ventured to set up such practices of old did not escape punishment. For Dathan and Abiram, who set up in opposition to Moses, were swallowed up into the earth. But Corah, and those two hundred and fifty who with him raised a sedition against Aaron, were consumed by fire. Miriam also, who reproached Moses, was cast out of the camp for seven days; for she said that Moses had taken an Ethiopian to wife. Nay, in the case of Azariah and Uzziah, the latter of which was king of Judah, but venturing to usurp the priesthood, and desiring to offer incense, which it was not lawful for him to do, was hindered by Azariah the high priest, and the fourscore priests; and when he would not obey he found the leprosy to arise in his forehead, and he hastened to go out, because the Lord had reproved him.
That It is Not Lawful to Rise Up Either Against the Kingly or the Priestly Office.
II. Let us therefore, beloved, consider what sort of glory that of the seditious is, and what their condemnation. For if he that rises up against kings is worthy of punishment, even though he be a son or a friend, how much more he that rises up against the priests! For by how much the priesthood is more noble than the royal power, as having its concern about the soul, so much has he a greater punishment who ventures to oppose the priesthood, than he who ventures to oppose the royal power, although neither of them goes unpunished. For neither did Absalom nor Abdadan escape without punishment; nor Corah and Dathan. The former rose against David, and strove concerning the kingdom; the latter against Moses, concerning pre-eminence. And they both spake evil; Absalom of his father David, as of an unjust judge, saying to every one: |Thy words are good, but there is no one that will hear thee, and do thee justice. Who will make me a ruler?| But Abdadan: |I have no part in David, nor any inheritance in the son of Jesse.| It is plain that he could not endure to be under David's government, of whom God spake: |I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after my heart, who will do all my commands.| But Dathan and Abiram, and the followers of Corah, said to Moses: |Is it a small thing that thou hast brought us out of the land of Egypt, out of a land flowing with milk and honey? And why hast thou put out our eyes? And wilt thou rule over us?| And they gathered together against him a great congregation; and the followers of Corah said: |Has God spoken alone to Moses? Why is it that He has given the high-priesthood to Aaron alone? Is not all the congregation of the Lord holy? And why is Aaron alone possessed of the priesthood?| And before this, one said: |Who made thee a ruler and a judge over us?|
Concerning the Virtue of Moses and the Incredulity of the Jewish Nation, and What Wonderful Works God Did Among Them.
III. And they raised a sedition against Moses the servant of God, the meekest of all men, and faithful, and affronted so great a man with the highest ingratitude; him who was their lawgiver, and guardian, and high priest, and king, the administrator of divine things; one that showed as a creator the mighty works of the Creator; the meekest man, freest from arrogance, and full of fortitude, and most benign in his temper; one who had delivered them from many dangers, and freed them from several deaths by his holiness; who had done so many signs and wonders from God before the people, and had performed glorious and wonderful works for their benefit; who had brought the ten plagues upon the Egyptians; who had divided the Red Sea, and had separated the waters as a wall on this side and on that side, and had led the people through them as through a dry wilderness, and had drowned Pharaoh and the Egyptians, and all that were in company with them; and had made the fountain sweet for them with wood, and had brought water out of the stony rock for them when they were thirsty; and had given them manna out of heaven, and had distributed flesh to them out of the air; and had afforded them a pillar of fire in the night to enlighten and conduct them, and a pillar of a cloud to shadow them in the day, by reason of the violent heat of the sun; and had exhibited to them the law of God, engraven from the mouth, and hand, and writing of God, in tables of stone, the perfect number of ten commandments; |to whom God spake face to face, as if a man spake to his friend;| of whom He said, |And there arose not a prophet like unto Moses.| Against him arose the followers of Corah, and the Reubenites, and threw stones at Moses, who prayed, and said: |Accept not Thou their offering.| And the glory of God appeared, and sent some down into the earth, and burnt up others with fire; and so, as to those ringleaders of this schismatical deceit which said, |Let us make ourselves a leader,| the earth opened its mouth, and swallowed them up, and their tents, and what appertained to them, and they went down alive into hell; but he destroyed the followers of Corah with fire.