Remember folks, the idea of the Pentateuch being two separate but similar sources that were mashed together is just ridiculous! Obviously, this story is totally different from the previous one. Nothing about it is the same, especially the part where the Israelites grumble to Moses, or where God tells Moses to separate himself from the sinning Israelites so he can kill them quickly, or the part where Aaron has to burn incense. Nope, this is totally a unique story that didnít just happen a few paragraphs ago!
Okay, so theyíre painfully similar, but letís just act as though they arenít and instead focus on the plot of this new story. First, the Israelites approach Moses the day after God executed a bunch of Israelites for rebuking Moses to rebuke Moses. In particular, they accuse Moses of killing so many of the Lordís men. Already, Iím flabbergasted. How could the possibly blame Moses for their fallen comrades? Even if the Israelites were particularly dense, they should realize that Moses doesnít have the power to cause sinkholes or make divine flames appear, and that these powers come from God. And if God is the one doing the killing, how could they possibly claim that the killed men were followers of God?
And after what just happened to their 250 heroes, youíd think they would have learned what happens to complainers, I mean, the whole point of adding the deadís fallen censers to the altar was to remind everyone what happens to traitors. This isnít quite a bad a leaving a severed head on a pike, but it should still get the point across! Is God really this bad at predicting how his chosen race will respond to his death threats?
Anyway, right after they complain, God shows up and tells Moses to separate himself from the Israelites so he may kill them quickly, but, ever being the rebellious one, Moses falls on his face and tells Aaron to burn incense and atone for the Israelitesís sins so they wonít have to die from the horrible plague that is apparently appearing from nowhere!