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Num 25:1 And Israel abode in Shittim, and the people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab.
Ver. 1. To commit whoredom. ] By the wicked counsel of Balaam, who knew well, that no one means hath more enriched hell than beautiful faces, and therefore taught Balak to lay this stumblingblock before the children of Israel; and is therein held by some to have sinned against the Holy Ghost. Howsoever he goes out in a stench, as it is usually said of his master the devil.
Num 25:2 And they called the people unto the sacrifices of their gods: and the people did eat, and bowed down to their gods.
Ver. 2. Unto the sacrifices of their gods. ] Unto their idol feasts; for Sine cerere et libero friget Venus. Gluttony is the gallery that lechery walketh through.
And bowed down to their gods. ] Nemo repente fit turpissimus: by degrees they were drawn to open idolatry. If a man’s foot slip into the mouth of hell, it is a miracle if he stop ere he come to the bottom. Principiis obsta. Dally not with the devil; sin is very insinuative; and the old serpent, if he once get in his head, will quickly wind in his whole body.
Num 25:3 And Israel joined himself unto Baalpeor: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel.
Ver. 3. Joined himself to Baalpeor. ] Separated himself to that shame, Hos 9:10 that abominable and shameless service of Priapus, as Jerome and Isidore understand it, as Maachah the mother of Asa seems to have done, 1Ki 15:13 and other filthy persons, whose fashion was, as soon as their sacrifice was ended, to step aside into the grove of their god, and there, like brute beasts, promiscuously to satisfy their lusts, &c. Vah scelus infandum!
Num 25:4 And the LORD said unto Moses, Take all the heads of the people, and hang them up before the LORD against the sun, that the fierce anger of the LORD may be turned away from Israel.
Ver. 4. Take all the heads. ] The chieftains: their greatness might not bear them out. Potentes potenter torquebuntur. Hell is paved, said one of old, with the bald pates of shavellings, and with the crests of great commanders, who had ever opposed with crest and breast whatsoever stood in the way of their sins and lusts.
Num 25:5 And Moses said unto the judges of Israel, Slay ye every one his men that were joined unto Baalpeor.
Ver. 5. Unto the judges of Israel. ]. Those of them that had not defiled themselves; else with what face could they punish others? or look upon those, that before their faces had been hanged up against the sun, whose destruction was for ever to be remembered? Mic 6:5
Num 25:6 And, behold, one of the children of Israel came and brought unto his brethren a Midianitish woman in the sight of Moses, and in the sight of all the congregation of the children of Israel, who [were] weeping [before] the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.
Ver. 6. In the sight of Moses. ] This man’s face was hatched over with detestable impudence; he thought, it may be, that being so great a man, none durst meddle with him. Pliny a reports of Proculus Caesar, that by him, viginti virgines intra dies quindecim faetum conceperunt. Louis II of France inviting our Edward IV to the French court, Recte erit cognate, saith he, iucundi vivemus et suaviter, teque oblectabis cum lectissimis faeminis, &c. - he should have added, "But know, that for all these things thou must come to judgment": Ecc 11:9 that would have haply allayed his lust, cooled his courage, and not have come in with his - Adhibebo tibi Cardinalem Borbonium; is, quicquid peccaris, pro ea quam habet potestate, facile expiabit. Thou shalt take thy full pleasure, and then my cardinal shall give thee full pardon. b
a Plin, lib. vii.
b Comineus, lib. vi.
Num 25:7 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;
Ver. 7. He rose up. ] A heroical act, by an extraordinary motion: as was also that of Ehud; and therefore is not to be made a rule of practice, as Burchet conceited, when by this example he held himself warranted to kill a great personage in this kingdom, whom he took to be a vicious man, and God’s enemy.
Num 25:8 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 belly. So the plague was stayed from the children of Israel.
Ver. 8. And thrust both of them through. ] So they died in the flagrancy of their lust; as did likewise one of the Popes, taken in the act, and slain together with his harlot, by the husband of the adulteress. Mention is likewise made by William Malmesbury, of one Walter, bishop of Hereford, A. D. 1060, his offering to force his seamstress; she resisted what she might, but finding him too strong for her, thrust her shears into his belly, and gave him his deathly wound. a
a Godw., Catal.
Num 25:9 And those that died in the plague were twenty and four thousand.
Ver. 9. Twenty and four thousand. ] Twenty and three thousand, saith St Paul, 1Co 10:8 insisting only in the special punishment of the people, who were provoked to sin by that other thousand, their princes, Num 25:4 and all to show, quam frigida et ieiuna sit eorum defensio, &c., saith Junius, a how poorly they plead for themselves, that think to excuse their sins by alleging the examples of their superiors.
a Jun., Parallel.
Num 25:13 And he shall have it, and his seed after him, [even] the covenant of an everlasting priesthood; because he was zealous for his God, and made an atonement for the children of Israel.
Ver. 13. Because he was zealous for his God. ] Enraged, as a jealous man, with a holy hatred of sin, and inflamed with love to God, Quem aliter amare non didicerat, as Chrysostom speaks of Basil. Non amat, qui non zelat, saith Augustine. a He is no friend to God that is not zealous for him. To one that desired to know what kind of man Basil was, there was presented in a dream, saith the history, a pillar of fire, with this motto, Talis est Basilius, Basil is such a one, all on a light fire for God.
a Contra Adamant., cap. 13.
Num 25:14 Now the name of the Israelite that was slain, [even] that was slain with the Midianitish woman, [was] Zimri, the son of Salu, a prince of a chief house among the Simeonites.
Ver. 14. A prince of a chief house. ] Whom yet Phineas spared not; as neither did John Baptist spare Herod; nor Nathan David; nor Bishop Lambert King Pippin, whom he freely reproved to his face for his adultery, A.D. 798, though he were afterwards therefore slain by the harlot’s brother. a Odo Severus, the twenty-second Archbishop of Canterbury, A.D. 934, dealt like plainly with King Edwin, excommunicated his concubines, and caused one of them, on whom the king doted unreasonably, to be fetched out of the court by violence, burnt her in the forehead with a hot iron, and banished her into Ireland. b
a Epitome Hist. Gall., p. 30.
b Godw., Catal.
Num 25:17 Vex the Midianites, and smite them:
Ver. 17. Vex the Midianites. ] As more malicious and mischievous than the Moabites; as appears, (1.) By their detaining of Balaam, when the Moabites dismissed him in great displeasure; (2.) By the wickedness of their women, who by Cozbi may seem to have been meretrices meretricissimae, such as afterwards was Julia, Messalina, and that Romish Lucretia, concubine to Pope Alexander VI., of whom Pontanus, a
“ Hoc tumulo dormit Lucretia nomine, sed re
Thais, Alexandri filia, sponsa, nurus. ”
a Lib. ii. tum.
Num 25:18 For they vex you with their wiles, wherewith they have beguiled you in the matter of Peor, and in the matter of Cozbi, the daughter of a prince of Midian, their sister, which was slain in the day of the plague for Peor’s sake.
Ver. 18. For they vex you with their wiles. ] Not with their wars; they outwit you, out smart by counterfeit courtesy, cut-throat kindness; they have deceived you into those sister sins, fornication and idolatry, which God hath so severely punished.
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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Numbers 25". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
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