The Israelites worship Baal. Phinehas kills people for God. The Midianites strike back.
VERSE 1. Israel stayed in Shittim; and the people began to play the prostitute with the daughters of Moab;
play the prostitute. That is, the men committed sexual immorality with Moabite women.
Sexual intercourse was an integral part of Canaanite fertility rites.
Bu their partaking, the Israelite men tempted themselves into the spiritual apostasy of worshiping Baal.
VERSE 2. for they called the people to the sacrifices of their gods. The people ate and bowed down to their gods.
The people ate. The Israelite men ate a sacrificial meal that spiritually united them with Baal.
Baal Peor. Baal was depicted as a slender male with big eyes and ears. And a tall hat.
VERSE 4. The LORD said to Moses, “Take all the chiefs of the people, and hang them up to the LORD before the sun, that the fierce anger of the LORD may turn away from Israel.”
VERSE 5. Moses said to the judges of Israel, “Everyone kill his men who have joined themselves to Baal Peor.”
Any Israelite who had worshipped Baal is to be killed.
While Moses was delivering this verdict, a dramatic event took place:
VERSE 6. Behold, one of the children of Israel came and brought to his brothers a Midianite woman in the sight of Moses, and in the sight of all the congregation of the children of Israel, while they were weeping at the door of the Tent of Meeting.
Midianite woman. A Midianite woman is dragged before the assembly. But no man is dragged before the assembly.
in the sight of. Moses sees the Midianite woman. As does the whole assembly.
while they were weeping. They were weeping due to the verdict Moses delivered in verse 5 above.
VERSE 7. When Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose up from the middle of the congregation, and took a spear in his hand.
Phinehas. He is a son of Aaron.
VERSE 8. He went after the man of Israel into the pavilion, and thrust both of them through, the man of Israel, and the woman through her body. So the plague was stopped among the children of Israel.
thrust both of them through. Phinehas killed both the Midianite woman and an Israelite man.
died by the plague. A plague was evidently implied in the statement about God’s anger in verse 3 above.
In the Old Testament, the Israelites often fell into the apostasy of worshipping Baal. In this case, 24,000 people died. Read more »
VERSE 10. The LORD spoke to Moses, saying,
VERSE 11. “Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, has turned my wrath away from the children of Israel, in that he was jealous with my jealousy among them, so that I didn’t consume the children of Israel in my jealousy.
my wrath. The LORD God was angry at the Midianite woman and the Israelite man.
I give to him my covenant of peace. The man who just killed two people is awarded a prize for peace.
What is the prize for peace? We learn it in the next verse:
VERSE 13. It shall be to him, and to his offspring after him, the covenant of an everlasting priesthood, because he was jealous for his God, and made atonement for the children of Israel.’ ”
an everlasting priesthood. For killing the two sinners, Phinehas received a prize for peace. What is that prize?
Phinehas and his descendants receive an everlasting priesthood.
VERSE 14. Now the name of the man of Israel that was slain, who was slain with the Midianite woman, was Zimri, the son of Salu, a prince of a fathers’ house among the Simeonites.
VERSE 15. The name of the Midianite woman who was slain was Cozbi, the daughter of Zur. He was head of the people of a fathers’ house in Midian.
VERSE 16. The LORD spoke to Moses, saying,
The people of the LORD God are to provoke a war.
VERSE 18. for they harassed you with their wiles, wherein they have deceived you in the matter of Peor, and in the incident regarding Cozbi, the daughter of the prince of Midian, their sister, who was slain on the day of the plague in the matter of Peor.”
in the matter of Peor. The Midianite people led the Israelites into the worship of Baal.
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