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Monday, July 15th, 2024
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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Bible Commentaries
Numbers 25

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-5


Verses 1-5:

Israel remained encamped at Shittim for a considerable time; from their arrival in Arboth until they crossed the Jordan.

"Shittim," shortened from Abel-Shittim, or "Field of acacias." It was during their stay here that some of the men of Israel began to commit fornication with Moabite women. These were likely temple prostitutes, who engaged in sex as an act of worship to their gods.

"They," the women of Moab, then encouraged the men of Israel to join them in making sacrifices to their gods, and to partake of the feasts in their honor, see Ps 106:28.

"Baal-peon" the name of Baal (Chemosh) as the god of reproduction. Worship of this deity was characterized by acts of sexual depravity.

The Septuagint was etelesthe to beelphegor, "was consecrated or initiated unto Baal-peon" This was violation of the first three of the Ten Commandments.

This conduct angered Jehovah. He ordered Moses to put to death the "heads" or chiefs of the people, in punishment for this sin. The text implies that these chiefs were grossly negligent in their duty by failure to prevent this sin, and that many actually participated in it, as in the case of Zimri, verse 14. They were to be either impaled or crucified, likely having first been stoned to death, and their corpses exposed to the sun. This was to demonstrate that these were devoted to God’s wrath upon sin, see De 21:23.

"Judges," shaphat, "act as a magistrate." The verb form describes the duties of those who were appointed at Sinai. These were apparently not the same as the "heads" or chiefs of the people.

"Slay ye every one..." the command to the "judges." This command was not the same as the previous command to execute the "heads" of the people. It pertained to all who were guilty of going after Baal-peor, not merely to the chiefs.

Verses 6-9

Verses 6-9:

The text infers that God sent a plague upon Israel in judgment for their sins of immorality and idolatry in connection with Baal-peor. This was in additon to the execution of the chiefs responsible for this debacle. Representatives of the congregation gathered at the door of the Tabernacle, in mourning because of the sin and its punishment.

One of the men of Israel brought into Israel’s camp a "Midianitish women," literally, the Midianitish woman." He was a prominent person in Israel (verse 14), and the circumstances were in such flagrant violation of Jehovah’s will as to be deeply imbedded into the nation’s memo

The text implicates the Midianitas in this affair, and infers that they may have been among the instigators of it. It implies that the Israelite man may have taken the Midianitish woman into the Tabernacle itself.

Phinehas was the only son of Eleazar, Ex 6:25, and was his successor to the office of high priest. He entered the tent where the guilty pair were, and ran both through with a javelin. In this he was not acting from a petty spirit of fleshly anger. It was a judicial act of Divine justice, to purge Israel’s camp from sin.

Phinehas’ action halted the plague which took 24,000 lives.

Verses 10-13

Verses 10:13:

The terms "zealous" and "jealousy" are identical in the Hebrew text: qina They refer to the manner in which Phinehas acted, to vindicate the holiness of Jehovah, and the manner in which Jehovah acted to execute judgment upon those who desecrated His Name and House.

God bestowed a special blessing upon Phinehas for his zeal. He established him and his descendants as the lineage for the office of high priest. This shows how God honors those who honor Him.

Verses 14-15

Verses 14, 15:

The man involved in this affair was a prominent leader of the tribe of Simeon: Zimri, son of Salu. This was not an uncommon name in Israel. Nothing more is known of him. It is tragic that the only note of this man in history is his shameful death for a blatant act of immorality and contempt for Jehovah God.

The Midianite woman involved was named Cozbi. She was the daughter of a prominent Midianite chief named Zur. Nu 31:8 identifies him as one of five kings slain in a battle with Israel’s army. The role of this woman infers that the Midianites were deeply involved in the hostilities against Israel, along with the Canaanite nations.

Verses 16-18

Verses 16-18:

The text reveals that the Midianites were the instigators of the plot against Israel, possibly at the direction of Balaam. God decreed that Moses and Israel should execute judgment upon them for their complicity.

"Vex," tsarar, "to be distressed," also translated "to be in trouble, oppress, afflict, bind up." The Midianites had oppressed Israel; now God instructed Moses to be His agent to oppress them.

"Wiles," nekel, "fraud, deceit," dolioteti (Sept.) "deceit, craft, guile."

"Beguiled," nakal, "to deceive," the root word for "wiles."

The meaning: the Midianites had conspired to deceive Israel to cause them to violate Jehovah’s law, and thus bring upon themselves His judgment. For this cause, God commanded Moses to oppress Midian.

God will not allow to go unpunished any hand that is raised against His people, see 1Ch 16:21, 22; Ps 105:14, 15.

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Numbers 25". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/numbers-25.html. 1985.
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