Cain, Balaam and Korah are fairly familiar figures to readers of the Old Testament and their stories can be found respectively in Genesis 4 v 1-15, Numbers 22-25 and Numbers 16 v 1-35. Cain was, according to the Bible, the first murderer in world history and represented jealous rage, cynicism and selfishness to the Jews. Jude is thereby claiming that his opponents believe neither in God or in the moral order of the world. It is a tragedy to say there is no God, but it is less than human to state that there is no moral order: some of the best known atheists today would never go as far as that! Balaam is the great example of those who taught Israel to sin. We have the main story involving a talking donkey in the first two chapters, but the third tells the reader of the appalling seduction of Israel into worshipping Baal, the most horrific of all the neighbouring nations' idols. Balaam thus stands for greed and envy, but also for wicked seductiveness. Jude declares that the wicked people of his day are choosing to leave the way of holiness for financial gain and teaching others to do the same. Korah rebelled against the guidance of Moses when Aaron and his sons and the tribe of Levi were made priests of Israel. He decided that he would fulfil the priestly function himself and he and his supporters died terribly. He symbolizes all who refuse to accept authority and reach out for things which haven't been given to them. I am reminded in studying this passage of the warning from Jesus for all who would lead someone astray from the right path: ''If anyone causes one of these little ones to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea''. Also, I am reminded of the fall of Adam and Eve when they reached out for something they were told was not theirs to eat. Be careful lest you think you stand in case you fall and that fall will be huge!
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