And when Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose up from among the congregation, and took a javelin in his hand;
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)And when Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest . . . —In accordance with this punctuation, the designation the priest (which generally denotes the high priest) refers to Aaron, not to Phinehas. Eleazar was the high priest at this time (Numbers 20:26); and consequently—although as a general rule any designation which follows the words “the son of such an one” refers to the former, not to the latter noun—it appears most probable that the designation the priest has reference here to Aaron, not to Phinehas, who, although a priest, was not the high priest at this time. He was invested, however, with civil as well as ecclesiastical authority. (See 1Chronicles 9:20, where he is described as a ruler—Hebrew, nagid.)Numbers 25:7. Phinehas rose up — The psalmist says, He stood up and executed judgment; which seems to import that he acted as a judge; but in a crime so presumptuous, and so openly committed, he thought it not necessary to wait for a judicial process against the offenders, but cut them off directly with his own hand. It is thought too, not without reason, that the number and dignity of the offenders intimidated the judges from executing their office. So that unless Phinehas, by this seasonable zeal for God, and the interests of the public, had supported the authority of the laws, either a total anarchy had ensued, or the whole body of the people been exposed to the severest judgments from God.Numbers 25:15 and Numbers 31:18). Her high rank proves that Zimri had not fallen in with her by mere chance, but had been deliberately singled out by the Midianites as one whom they must at any price lead astray.
Weeping before the door of the tabernacle - The plague Numbers 25:9 had already broken out among the people: and the more God-fearing had assembled at the door of the tabernacle of God (compare the marginal reference.) to intercede for mercy, when Zimri committed the fresh and public outrage just described.
who were weeping before the door of the tabernacle—Some of the rulers and well-disposed persons were deploring the dreadful wickedness of the people and supplicating the mercy of God to avert impending judgments.
he rose up from among the congregation; who were weeping at the door of the tabernacle, or from the midst of the court of judicature, set for trying and judging such persons who were charged with idolatry; for he was not only the son of the high priest and his successor, but a ruler over the Korahites, and had, besides his priestly office, a civil authority, 1 Chronicles 9:20.
and took a javelin in his hand; a spear or pike; the Jews say (y) he snatched it out of the hand of Moses; and, according to Josephus (z), it was a sword; but the word rather signifies an hand pike; this being ready at hand, he took it up and pursued the criminal.And when Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose up from among the congregation, and took a javelin in his hand;
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Verse 7. - Phinehas, the son of Eleazar. See on Exodus 6:25. He seems to have been the only son of Eleazar, and his natural successor in the office of high priest. Numbers 25:1, Numbers 25:2). Whilst encamped at Shittim, in the steppes of Moab, the people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab: they accepted the invitations of the latter to a sacrificial festival of their gods, took part in their sacrificial meals, and even worshipped the gods of the Moabites, and indulged in the licentious worship of Baal-Peor. As the princes of Midian, who were allied to Moab, had been the advisers and assistants of the Moabitish king in the attempt to destroy the Israelites by a curse of God; so now, after the failure of that plan, they were the soul of the new undertaking to weaken Israel and render it harmless, by seducing it to idolatry, and thus leading it into apostasy from its God. But it was Balaam, as is afterwards casually observed in Numbers 31:16, who first of all gave this advice. This is passed over here, because the point of chief importance in relation to the object of the narrative, was not Balaam's share in the proposal, but the carrying out of the proposal itself. The daughters of Moab, however, also took part in carrying it out, by forming friendly associations with the Israelites, and then inviting them to their sacrificial festival. They only are mentioned in Numbers 25:1, Numbers 25:2, as being the daughters of the land. The participation of the Midianites appears first of all in the shameless licentiousness of Cozbi, the daughter of the Midianitish prince, from which we not only see that the princes of Midian performed their part, but obtain an explanation of the reason why the judgment upon the crafty destroyers of Israel was to be executed upon the Midianites.
(Note: Consequently there is no discrepancy between Numbers 25:1-5 and Numbers 25:6-18, to warrant the violent hypothesis of Knobel, that there are two different accounts mixed together in this chapter-An Elohistic account in Numbers 25:6-18, of which the commencement has been dropped, and a Jehovistic account in Numbers 25:1-5, of which the latter part has been cut off. The particular points adduced in proof of this fall to the ground, when the history is correctly explained; and such assertions as these, that the name Shittim and the allusion to the judges in Numbers 25:5, and to the wrath of Jehovah in Numbers 25:3 and Numbers 25:4, are foreign to the Elohist, are not proofs, but empty assumptions.)
Shittim, an abbreviation of Abel-Shittim (see at Numbers 22:1), to which the camp of the Israelites in the steppes of Moab reached (Numbers 33:49), is mentioned here instead of Arboth-Moab, because it was at this northern point of the camp that the Israelites came into contact with the Moabites, and that the latter invited them to take part in their sacrificial meals; and in Joshua 2:1 and Joshua 3:1, because it was from this spot that the Israelites commenced the journey to Canaan, as being the nearest to the place where they were to pass through the Jordan. זנה, construed with אל, as in Ezekiel 16:28, signifies to incline to a person, to attach one's self to him, so as to commit fornication. The word applies to carnal and spiritual whoredom. The lust of the flesh induced the Israelites to approach the daughters of Moab, and form acquaintances and friendships with them, in consequence of which they were invited by them "to the slain-offerings of their gods," i.e., to the sacrificial festivals and sacrificial meals, in connection with which they also "adored their gods," i.e., took part in the idolatrous worship connected with the sacrificial festival. These sacrificial meals were celebrated in honour of the Moabitish god Baal-Peor, so that the Israelites joined themselves to him. צמד, in the Niphal, to bind one's self to a person. Baal-Peor is the Baal of Peor, who was worshipped in the city of Beth-Peor (Deuteronomy 3:29; Deuteronomy 4:46; see at Numbers 23:28), a Moabitish Priapus, in honour of whom women and virgins prostituted themselves. As the god of war, he was called Chemosh (see at Numbers 21:29).
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