Sexual Sin Endangers the Hebrew People! (Weekly Portion, Pinchas, Numbers ch. 25) 24 June, 2013, Tammuz 16, 5773
Duration 18.9 minutes
1 Now Israel remained in Acacia Grove, and the people began to commit harlotry with the women of Moab.
Not only the women of Moab prostituted themselves but also those of Midian as we learn later. Moab and Midian were together in this matter. Balak King of Moab had consulted with the elders of Midiah and then hired Bilaam to curse Israel. Bilaam (Balaam) had intedned to curse the Israelites but God had forced him to bless them.
The women of Moab and Midian making themselves available was done at the advice of Balaam.
As it says later: # Numbers 31:15 And Moses said to them: Have you kept all the women alive? 16 Look, these women caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to trespass against the LORD in the incident of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the LORD. #
2 They invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods. 3 So Israel was joined to Baal of Peor, and the anger of the LORD was aroused against Israel.
Who was Baal of Peor?
The Lithuanian god was named Perkunas. The Baltic and Slavic peoples worshipped Perun. The possibility that the Baltic peoples (Estonians, Latvians, Lithuanians) are descended from Moab and Ammon should be examined.
Perun is said to be related to Thor. The god Thor is very similar to depictions of baal.
4 Then the LORD said to Moses, Take all the leaders of the people and hang the offenders before the LORD, out in the sun, that the fierce anger of the LORD may turn away from Israel.
5 So Moses said to the judges of Israel, Every one of you kill his men who were joined to Baal of Peor.
6 And indeed, one of the children of Israel came and presented to his brethren a Midianite woman in the sight of Moses and in the sight of all the congregation of the children of Israel, who were weeping at the door of the tabernacle of meeting.
7 Now when Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose from among the congregation and took a javelin in his hand;
8 and he went after the man of Israel into the tent 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.
Pinchas [Phineas] stopped the plague by killing the male and female guilty parties. Balaam had given the Midianites and Moabites the advice to prostitute their womenfolk and seduce the Israelites. Consequently he was put to death when he fell into Israelite hands.
Joshua 13: 22 The children of Israel also killed with the sword Balaam the son of Beor, the soothsayer, among those who were killed by them.
9 And those who died in the plague were twenty-four thousand.
This incident is also recalled in the Book of Psalms.
28 They joined themselves also to Baal of Peor,
And ate sacrifices made to the dead.
29 Thus they provoked Him to anger with their deeds,
And the plague broke out among them.
30 Then Phinehas stood up and intervened,
And the plague was stopped.
31 And that was accounted to him for righteousness
To all generations forevermore.
10 Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying:
11 Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, has turned back My wrath from the children of Israel, because he was zealous with My zeal among them, so that I did not consume the children of Israel in My zeal.
In the previous portion (Balak) we saw how Balaam had been called by Balak the King of Moab and by the elders of Midian to curse the Israelites. He attempted to do so but was unsuccessful. Every time he tried to curse them he could only utter a blessing. He saw that God was on their side. He therefore counselled the Midianites and Moabites to cause Israel to son which would make God angry with them and that could be their undoing.
The Midianites and Moabites therefore sent their daughters to have sexual intercourse with the Israelites and to convince their paramours to worship Baal Peor. A plague broke out. A Prince from the Tribe of Shimeon had taken a Princess of Midian and was physically conjoined with her in his tent. All the community knew what was happening. Pinchas took a spear and ran them both through. This stopped the plague. God blesses Pinchas.
12 Therefore say, Behold, I give to him My covenant of peace;
Pinchas was promised a covenant of Peace. Sometimes violence is necessary to bring peace to the community.
13 and it shall be to him and his descendants after him a covenant of an everlasting priesthood, because he was zealous for his God, and made atonement for the children of Israel.
14 Now the name of the Israelite who was killed, who was killed with the Midianite woman, was Zimri the son of Salu, a leader of a father's house among the Simeonites. 15 And the name of the Midianite woman who was killed was Cozbi the daughter of Zur; he was head of the people of a father's house in Midian.
The Midianites were so eager to cause Israel to sin that they were prepared to prostitute the daughter of their prince.
16 Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: 17 Harass [Hebrew "Tsror" i.e. be an enemy towards] the Midianites, and attack them; 18 for they harassed you [Hebrew: "Tsararu", were enemies to you] with their schemes by which they seduced you in the matter of Peor and in the matter of Cozbi, the daughter of a leader of Midian, their sister, who was killed in the day of the plague because of Peor.
Someone who deliberately causes another to sin does a worse thing than physically attacking them and should be treated accordingly.
In regard to the plague and Phinchas (Numbers ch.25): The Israelites had been fornicating with heathen women and worshipping idols. They were punished and then saved from disaster by the zealotry of Phinchas the son of Eliezer son of Aharon. The Commentary, Nativot Shalom (Rabbi Sholom Noach Berezovsky 1911 - 2000) comments on the above incident. Phinchas according to tradition was descended on the maternal side from both Joseph and Jethro. Pinchas was a forerunner for the Messiah son of Joseph who will head the Ten Tribes. Nativot Shalom points out that the Messiah son of David will rectify the matter of correct Faith amongst all ISRAEL. Before the Messiah son of David comes there will appear the Messiah son of Joseph [who will be from Ephraim]. We see that the Israelites were both fornicating and worshipping the idol Peor.
Pinchas ends the matter and stops the plague by stopping the fornication. Sexual intercourse with non-Israelites in Biblical Times was forbidden. To what degree of severity this prohibition existed is debated. At all events everyone agrees that it was never considered as serious as idolatry. Why then in the incident of Pinchas does it seem that fornication with non-Israelite women was the main offence? One explanation could be based on the Talmudic opinion that all idolatry was motivated by sexual lust and a want to find allowance for sex that was otherwise prohibited. Nativot Shalom gives another explanation that is not contradictory but rather explanatory. He says that sexual impurity precedes deviations in belief. The Messiah son of Joseph will heal the Israelites of their sexual immorality. This will be necessary to prepare them to receive correct knowledge and true belief that shall be given them by the Messiah son of David.