Rich as Korah

If one would ask a native Hebrew speaker to describe a person who has great wealth, one would hear the following Hebrew expression: ‘Ashir Ka-Korach’ {עשיר כקורח} which literally means ‘rich as Korah’ – yes, the same person from the Bible.

The Bible tells us that Korah and his company were important people but did not mention anything about Korah’s wealth:

“And they rose up before Moses, with a number of the people of Israel, 250 chiefs of the congregation, chosen from the assembly, well-known men.” (Numbers 16:2)

So what is the origin of this Hebrew expression?

The story of Korah and his company appears once again in the Torah in the Book of Deuteronomy:

“And what he did to Dathan and Abiram the sons of Eliab, son of Reuben, how the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, with their households, their tents, and every living thing that followed them, in the midst of all Israel.” (Deuteronomy 11:6)

Based on the description of the verse above, an old Jewish legend tells (with much exaggeration) about the enormous wealth of Korah. Many years later, in medieval Europe, a new Yiddish/German expression gained popularity among the Jewish communities – this expression was: ‘ Reich Wie Korach’ or in English ‘Rich as Korah’.

Eventually this Yiddish expression entered the Hebrew language and became the ‘official’ Hebrew way to describe a person of great wealth.