And The Plague Was  Stopped …

Second Passover?

Trying times are upon us, my dear readers – and, like everyone else, I am seeking the answers. The words that ring in my mind these days, are the words from Numbers 16: “And the plague was stopped”- and even though I know very well the Hebrew word, עָצַר atsar (“stopped”), that is used here, I was still  blessed to read  in my Bible program the list of all the possible biblical meanings of this word:

1) to restrain, retain, close up, shut, withhold, refrain, stay, detain 1a) (Qal) 1a1) to restrain, halt, stop 1a2) to retain 1b) (Niphal) to be restrained, be stayed, be under restraint”.

To restrain, retain, close up, shut, withhold, refrain – that is exactly what we need today isn’t it? But how did it happen then? How was the plague stopped? Let us study this chapter together, and try to understand exactly what God says to us today. C.S. Lewis wrote: suffering is God’s “megaphone to rouse a deaf world”. If so, undoubtedly God is speaking very loudly these days – so let us try to understand what it is that He is saying to us.

Before we move to the book of Numbers, I would like to share some thoughts. I do need to issue a very stern warning though: this is not a prophecy! For me personally, it was a powerful revelation and that’s why I would like to share it with you, but there is no way I would pretend to know the “ultimate truth”. Like you, I have more questions than answers, but I just want to bring your attention to two obvious facts.

The first one is the “when” of the plague – the timing. Coronavirus is happening right before Passover (this year, Passover starts on April 8th ) – exactly at the time when the plagues in Egypt were happening. Are we witnessing a second Passover? In our previous, before-Corona, life (that feels so remote to us now, although it was only a few weeks ago), we were very aware of – and alarmed by – the growing anti-Semitism in the world. Might it be that the God of Israel is standing behind His people? Might it be that He is using this plague in order “to rouse a deaf world” and to shake off from it the hatred of His people? Of course, there is coronavirus here in Israel as well, and our lives here have become  as scary and surreal as everywhere else: empty streets, closed stores, crowds of masked people waiting before the entrance to supermarkets etc.; yet the approaching Passover makes me think, again and again, about the Egyptian plagues: did the people of Egypt realize that it was all about the Hebrews—that they were key to that story? Jewish people are always the  key to God’s plan and God’s heart  – and I  can’t help but  think that somehow, Israel is one of the keys to unlocking today’s story.     But once again, this is not a prophecy, I may well be wrong  – I am simply sharing my personal thoughts and my personal feelings with you.

Even more significant – and less obvious – is a second factor that I would like to bring to your attention: the “where” of the plague. If we consider which countries were hit the hardest (outside China), we realize that this topography may not be by chance and may well have to do with the attitude of these countries – in the  past or in the present – towards His people.  Trust me, the suffering of the simple people in these countries seems as unfair and as incomprehensible to me as it seems to you – but these are the sad but true facts, and I am just trying to decipher God’s message through these facts. Once again, I may l be wrong. Once again, my heart goes out to all the suffering, whatever country they are from – and like you (and like Abraham in the Bible), I am asking God how can it be that innocent people are suffering and dying because of the sins of the others. But the numbers are soaring – and these are the facts and not just my personal thoughts.


Between the Dead and the Living

And now, let’s open Numbers 16. I suppose, most of you know the story of Korah and his rebellion – how “they rose up before Moses with some of the children of Israel, two hundred and fifty leaders of the congregation, representatives of the congregation, men of renown[1]. You probably remember “that the ground split apart under them, and the earth … swallowed them up”[2]. What I find very interesting in this chapter, though, is the fact that it’s not right after the Korah rebellion that the plague began: as a punishment for this rebellion, just 250 people, along with their households, were swallowed up by the earth – and the story seemed to be finished. But it was on the next day, when “all the congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron, saying, “You have killed the people of the LORD,” that the “wrath has gone out from the LORD” and “the plague has begun.”. What made God so angry?

There is no better commentary on Scripture than Scripture itself, so in search of an explanation, let us consider another well-known story: when Moses saw the people sinning with the golden calf, his “anger became hot”[3] and he broke the tablets that God gave to him. We know that not only did God not rebuke him for doing so, but He Himself was so angry that He wanted to destroy the people! The obvious conclusion: God is angry when something that is not His, is called by His name. And that’s exactly what happens in the story from Numbers: when the Israelites call those people who rebelled against Moses (and by doing so rebelled against the God of Moses), “people of the Lord,” – “wrath has gone out from the LORD. The plague has begun.”[4]

14,700 people died from this plague (almost like the death toll in the world now – at the time of writing this post it’s 13,071).  But how was the plague stopped? We read that Aaron put fire and incense in his censer and “ran into the midst of the assembly … and made atonement for the people.[5]. – and here is the key verse that I’ve kept hearing in my head ever since it all began: And he stood between the dead and the living; so the plague was stopped.[6]

Friends, I am not making any conclusions here – it is not my place, after all. I do want to know, however, how the plague can be stopped. Let us think together and seek the answers together; I invite you to share here your comments and your thoughts. Maybe, together we will understand how the plague was stopped.




[1] Num.16:2

[2] Num.16:31-32

[3] Exodus 32:19

[4] Num.16:46

[5] Num.16:46-47

[6] Num.16:48


In these difficult days, when it feels indeed as if God is hiding His face from His people, I invite you to check out my books  – because now I understand that some of them have been written for such a time like this!. You can get them  from my page on this blog:   

About the author

Julia BlumJulia is a teacher and an author of several books on biblical topics. She teaches two biblical courses at the Israel Institute of Biblical Studies, “Discovering the Hebrew Bible” and “Jewish Background of the New Testament”, and writes Hebrew insights for these courses.

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  1. Leinani Aiono Le Tagaloa

    Our intercession is vital. Let’s take the holy fire of our prayers and run between the plague and the people!

    1. Julia Blum

      Amen to that!May the Lord reveal to us how He can use us these days – that the plague would be stopped.

  2. Miyuki.S

    When this plague stated, I received a word from Jesus.
    “visualizing of His presence”
    After that I have seen that the plague makes to wipe out everything which stands between Jesus and us.
    It seem His hand making all people in the world can see God Himself as their own redeemer.
    So I think this is His “calling”. And it may be the last one.

    He’s making a way as He did as ever.
    Many scriptures fulfill during only about a month staying at as you know this is what His rejoice is staying at home, leaving every vanity and focusing the truth which is “Jesus is with us whatever happens”

    God Almighty, God of Israel and also God of each of us who made universe and keep it sets His hand by His will for this time which He has made before the foundation of the world. (Eph 1:4)

    At the last minute of this plague, I lost two who both needed some daily care in my family. He took them to His place.
    I knew that timing had some meaning in His plan for me.
    So I have been asking since then “Why it had to be at that time?”
    After while He reminds me Abijah the son of Jeroboam who rose with His mercy before his wicked father casted behind by God.
    I believe my family whom I love to have rose on His graceful timing before the plague starts.

    I believe what happening in the whole world is like “stony wind fulfilling His word” (ps 148:8).
    And it makes the way to fulfill many other scriptures and after that He reveals us that “Do not I fill heaven and earth?” (Jer 23:24) has been done from the very beginning.

    Thank you Mis.Blum for your work always.
    This is my portion of this season.
    I think I wanna share this if you like it.

    1. Julia Blum

      Thank you for this comment Miyuki. It’s so wonderful to feel that your heart is at peace in these difficult times!

  3. Henrietta wisbey

    Having just joined this conversation I am reminded of the prophet Habakkuk who in his quest to find answers to all that was going on around him concluded by saying But the Lord is in His Holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before Him. Hab.2:20.
    I also reflect on the description from Rev.8 where there is silence in heaven about the space of half an hour coinciding with the angel opening the seventh seal.
    We are witnessing incredible things and maybe our only response will flow from the silence of waiting and watching as the Lord of creation, the judge of all the earth does what is right. Time for pause.

    My thoughts as i wait

    1. Julia Blum

      Thank you Henrietta. Years ago, when I was writing my first book (on the book of Job), I was absolutely amazed to find out this little remark at the end of chapter 31: “The words of Job are ended”. And only after that God started to answer him. Only when our words are ended – than we can hear His Word… I actually wanted to write a post based on these words, – so as it often happens, we do think alike.

  4. Hassan Kayssi

    Dear Julia ,
    thanks for writing the article and sharing your thoughts …

    The timing is interesting indeed; i’m constantly observing , going back in history and analyzing to understand if this is a message of sorts from the master of the universe.

    I had a dream two years ago it was horrifying, I was at my grandmother house in Baghdad and all of sudden I see water rising and a deluge was coming , I ran away to the second floor trying to escape but I could not then I suffocated and drowned . the fear not just i’m drowning as much as God Presence , the judgement day and the fear I have not done enough mitzvah .

    When the Italian Dr. in Bergamo describing how his patient feeling of drowning 🙁
    this freaked me out , does this mean this is it
    the dream was a warning ?

    Thank You

    Hassan Kayssi
    Toronto – Canada

    1. Dot Healy

      Dear Kassan, God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind. (2 Peter 1:7). This comes to us when we fully surrender our lives to Him through Yeshua our Messiah. It’s not about how many mitzvas we have done – although of course good works do follow our surrender. God wants us to have true Shalom in ALL thiings – a peace that passes understanding.

  5. Mario Torres

    I believe this very same thing!!! An its sad that many believe celebrating other things an applying it to Yeshua Sacrifice is okay. I pray all will wake up an stop believing themselves to be G-D

  6. Colleen

    Thank you for this study and this word. I don’t claim to be a prophet, but as I was studying yesterday on the plagues and the passover, I found it very interesting that here in New York, our Governor has set a projection date of peak for this virus at 20 days. I took out my calendar and counted 20 days from his statement put us at April 16. The last day of Passover. I know this virus is going around the world and everyone’s peak will be different, but I got an excitement in my spirit when I saw that. Again, I too don’t pretend to be prophetic, but God does seem to move according to the Jewish holidays in many instances.

  7. Bill Gunn

    As all believers praise Hashem now and throughout Passover perhaps the truth of the plague and the plague itself will be lifted. Bill Gunn

    1. Julia Blum

      Amen to that Bill. Let’s hope and pray together!

  8. Mary Divine

    It was because Korah was jealous and wanted to take Moses’ and Aaron’s positions. . Therefore he questioned God’s authority. God had ordained Moses and Aaron. Who was Korah and his rebellious friends to question what God had put in place After their deaths the people of Israel began to grumble, saying that Korah and his friends were God’s people, thus they too were questioning Moses and Aaron’s position. Aaron’s job as High Priest was to be in charge of the altar of incense. Therefore It was through the altar, coming between the dead and the living that the plague was halted. as the incense came between the dead and the living, so the cross is the answer to halt death and bring life. Jesus was between the two thieves, one destined for life, the other, to live.
    Just thoughts. Mary Divine.

  9. Dorothy Healy

    Julia, you are not alone in linking the timing of this pandemic to Passover (a couple of recognized prophets saw this coming before it landed, and said it would run until Passover). In the light of this, I think it is no coincidence that you to brought out the scriptures you did: the Exodus, the Korah rebellion, and also Moses breaking the tablets, to see if these can shine some light on the grave situation we are facing.

    I see all these stories from Torah, not just as history, but as a prophetic foreshadowing of the Messiah. The breaking of the ‘Word of God’ by Moses when he found sin in the camp, clearly foreshadows the crucifixion of Christ. In Exodus this was a catalyst for the revealing of the Lord’s mercy, grace, forgiveness, etc. Then the words from Numbers that have been resonating for you: “And he (Aaron the High Priest) stood between the dead and the living; so the plague was stopped,” also, in my opinion, speak of the atoning death of Christ. Of course, all of these therefore, point to Passover. So, just maybe, we will see the hand of God defeating this plague come Passover – what a testimony this would be!

    1. Dennis Cozzolino

      Amen, Dorothy. Maybe, that is what the President was referring to when he was referring to Easter as his timeline for changing some rules. He has people with him who love the Lord (Pence, Sekulow, Perry, Carson and hopefully others) and hopefully they are all getting their guidance from the Word. Let’s pray God stops this evil in it’s tracks and may our leaders and “we, the people,” give the Almighty, the God of Israel all the praise, glory and THANKSGIVING for doing so and may our leaders remember they were put in their positions by God Himself, “Our Creator and Sustainer of the universe.” Daniel5:21 and many other times in scripture God reminds us and them of that fact. Thank you, Lord, all praise, glory and thanksgiving belong to You.

      1. sharon tedesco

        thank you each one for your thoughtful comments1 I am moved to tears reading them and enjoying the unity and sense of being “in one accord”.
        I am not a student yet but do look forward to joining soon.
        I hope someone will be willing to share with me any understanding or experience you have had in connection “the counting of the Omer?” None of my friends have any idea about it.
        I have been to Israel and would love to return again.
        I am also deeply in Love with yeshua.
        Thank you!

  10. John Akin

    Thank you for the compelling discussion.
    I don’t pretend to have any answers, but I do believe that Yeshua is our Atonement.