Parashsh Pinchas (in Numbers/B’Midbar 25:10-30:1) immediately follows the attempted cursing and desired destruction of the Jewish people at the hands of “the destroyer,” Balak, the King of Moav and the false-prophet and sorcerer Bil’am (referenced in last week’s commentary). In review, three times, Balak entreats Bil’am to curse God’s people and three times he cannot, as God blocks him both angelically and through a talking donkey. In turn, the false-prophet declares the opening words of our Ma Tovu,
“How lovely are your tents O Jacob, your dwelling places O Isra’el.”
Yet before we are lulled into a false sense of security, Parashah Balak merges into Parashah Pinchas (were from Balak), in Numbers 25:1-3 the Sidra notes,
“Isra’el stayed in Sheetim, and there the people began whoring with the women of Moav. These women invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods. With Isra’el thus joined to Ba’al P’or, the anger of Adonai blazed up against Israel.”
At this point enters Pinchas! He was the son of El’azar, the son of Aharon the Cohen HaGadol who for the zeal of Adonai drove a spear through Zimri, the son Salu leader of one of the clans of the tribe of Shim’on and a woman from Midyan named Kozbi, the daughter of Tzur, (Numbers 25:7-15). But, what was the reason for Pinchas’ killing of Zimri and Kozbi? Was it out of vengeance or out of his own strength? No! It was because, not only had Balak sought to fulfill his desires in destroying Israel from within (through sexual sin and spiritual compromise) but also due the Israelites abandoning the worship of the one true God and serve the demonic, Ba’al P’or! In the end, for Pinchas’ righteousness, Adonai made,
“... a covenant with him and his descendant after him that the office of cohen will be there forever. This is because he was zealous on behalf of his God and make atonement for the people of Isra’el.” (Numbers 25:13).
Of this, our lesson from the beginning of this week’s Parashah is of vital importance, where we must not turn our back on Adonai or to go after other gods or false faiths and serve them, but to remain faithful to the Lord unto the end.
In the Aser’et Ha ‘Dib’rot(Ten Utterances), Adonai, in Exodus 20:3 commanded of Israel, “You are to have no other gods before me,” which for us even today reminds that of all things, God desires an eternal and covenantal relationship with us, and that his love for us is so great, that he does not desire to share us with anyone, especially that of a false or imaginary deity.
Secondly, in Exodus 34:14 we read, “… you are not to bow down to any other god, since Adonai - whose very name is Jealous - is a jealous God.” In saying that Adonai is jealous is to communicate something about his divine nature. Of this, God in his compassion does not want us to be consumed by falsehood or haSatan (Satan, the Adversary), the god of this world. For in the end, all God has ever wanted with us is a relationship with us and that we might be molded by his love and transformed by the power of his Ruach HaKodesh. In pointing back to our Parashah however, where do we place this zeal which Pinchas held? One author notes, in speaking of the jealousy of Adonai, one scholar notes - “There is a difference between God’s zeal. God’s zeal has a future and a hope, but the driving force of human zeal is only about one’s own life, interests and earthly advantages.”
Although our passage in no way is to justify for us today to kill the unrighteousness, we nevertheless see that Pinchas loved God, knew God’s heart and held a passion for his Torah and commands.
For us as believers in Yeshua, may we be zealous for Torah, zealous for serving Adonai great love and in being a witness to our people, Israel. May Adonai pour out on us his shalom and cause us to embrace the fulness of what it means to be a Kingdom of Priests!
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