The next Torah portion is called “Pinchas” (Phineas) and it goes from Num 25.10 to 29.40. First of all, we notice something different. This Torah portion is named after an individual. This is significant because Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aaron, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah don’t have a portion named after them. Pinchas was the grandson of Aaron and son of Eleazar (Exo 6.25). He will be a type of the Messiah who risked his life to stop the plague of sin, and he turns away God’s wrath and anger. To get the whole context of what Pinchas did, we need to go back to Num 25.1-9.
Israel was at Shittim and Balaam has departed from Balak. The whole incident with Balaam gives us several conclusions. It shows God’s sovereignty and he will use lying spirits to do his bidding (2 Chr 18.19-21). He will also use Stan to test or sift a believer (Job, David). He will deny the prayers of his people (like Yeshua in the garden) and grants the desires of the wicked in wrath to accomplish an agenda that is bigger than the people and of which they know nothing about.
Israel began to play the harlot with the daughters of Moab. These daughters had invited the people to the sacrifices to their gods and the people ate and bowed down to their gods. So Israel joined themselves to Baal-peor (associated with Mount Hor) and the Lord was angry. Yehovah said to Moses that he was going to take all the leaders of the people and hang them up against the sun before the Lord (v 4). So Moses said to the judges of Israel, “Each of you slay his men who have joined themselves to Baal-peor.”
Then one of the sons of Israel came and brought to his relatives a Midianite woman from one of the cities. This was in the sight of Moses and in the sight of all the congregation, while they were weeping at the doorway to the Ohel Moed. That was when Pinchas, the son of Eleazar, saw it and arose from the midst of the congregation and took a spear. He went after the man of Israel in a tent and pierced both the man and the woman through the body at one time (tells you what position they were in). Then the plague was checked, and 24,000 people died. This plague was due to Baal worship.
Balaam was unable to harm Israel, but he suggested that Moab send their daughters to entice the men. Midian decides to join in, and Balaam’s plan was implemented and carried out. If Balaam couldn’t curse them, get Israel to sin and God would do it (Num 31.16). So, that brings us up to the word “degradation.”
We know that Lot got intoxicated and had relations with his two daughters, and two sons were born (Gen 19.33-38). The younger daughter felt uncomfortable about the incest, so she named her son “Ben Ammi” which means “son of my people.” She modestly concealed the baby’s lineage. The older daughter, not wanting to feel uncomfortable about the incest, dealt with it by presenting incest as a valid “alternative lifestyle.” This would justify her behavior and then she would have nothing to feel uncomfortable about. So, she names her son “Moav” which means “from my father.” She made incest the child’s name. Israel is enticed by his descendants.
Two people are openly having sexual relations in Num 25.7-8, which is the culmination of Baal worship. The man’s name was Zimri (my music) and the woman’s name was Cozbi (my lie). He was a prince of Israel (v 14) and she was a Midianite princess (v 15). This was done to discredit Moses. They chose a spot before the Ohel Moed (v 6). They wanted to deliver the people from the restraints of the Torah, they wanted to be “free from the law.”
Now, Zimri was no less “fanatic” than Pinchas was, both were “sincere” but we need to take the Pinchas approach and take action against that which can harm us (Matt 5.29-30). Fighting evil on God’s behalf is in itself peaceful, but everyone must be on the same page and have the same goal. God says in Num 25.12, “Behold, I have given him my covenant of peace.” The word “peace” (shalom) is written in Hebrew with a broken vav (incomplete), meaning peace will be incomplete until Messiah comes (Ezek 37.26). That is what Pinchas did. Peace can only be maintained when we are at peace with God. What he did was not peaceful, but it brought peace.
So, what is “peace.” Many think that peace means that no matter what happens, there should be tranquility and never any fights. That is not the meaning of “shalom.” Shalom comes from the word “shalem” which means “perfect.” That is when there is no friction between God and his people. If the people are experiencing no friction, but there is friction between God and the people, that is not shalom. In order to restore shalom, it was necessary to kill Zimri and Cozbi. That is what God calls a peacemaker (Matt 5.9). But, peacemakers (shalom-makers) are perceived by sinners as doing harm. So, let’s look at the “Law of the Zealot.”
We see the world in two ways. We see the world through the senses by what we see and what we are certain of. Then we see through the spiritual. We feel injustice and there are absolutes and character building. We define ourselves in one of these ways in almost every act we perform. When people define themselves as inhabitants of this world, the connection to the spiritual breaks down. Miracles are connected to the spiritual.
When one is connected to the world, and someone steps in to “shock” the people back to the spiritual, it is to induce them to break away from this world. This is when restoration can begin.
However, in a congregational setting, people pursue the “tingle” provided by the senses (good music, great preaching, good visuals, etc) over the spiritual truth of God and the Torah. As a result, perception of the absolutes of God and the Torah become cloudy and blurred. That is when the plague broke out. Zimri confronts Moses and engages in sexual relations connected with Baal worship in the sight of everyone. Pinchas steps in and takes action. The shock of his violent act caused a collective “breath” and they internalized his revulsion to what was going on. They empathized with the losses of the people and it stopped. The difference between the spiritual and the physical senses came into sharp contrast, and the plague stopped. Zealous behavior tries to raise the conscious awareness of the apathetic to a problem. This should help us view Pinchas in a positive light.
God tells the Israelites to be hostile to the Midianites and strike them because they have been hostile with their tricks. and deceived them in the “affair of Peor (v 18).”
We will pick up here in Part 28.