The Israelites are now in Shittim, among the daughters of Moab (note that Moab was the first born son of Lot and one of his daughters after they fled Sodom and Gomorrah). The Israelites have, after being warned not to, sacrificed, eaten and bowed to the gods of the Moabites.
What is the author trying to tell us here, after ALL the supposed wonders and miracles performed by Jehovah and Moses, the Israelites quickly turn to other peoples deities? Are the Israelites looking for ANY way to relieve themselves from the subjugation of Jehovah and Moses? Are the wonders and miracles exaggerated by the author, when in reality, the didn’t really exist, which explains why the Israelites are so quick to turn to other gods?
Not surprisingly, Jehovah’s reactions was not one of “righteousness and forgiveness”:
Numbers 25:4 – And Jehovah said unto Moses, Take all the heads of the people, and hang them up before Jehovah against the sun, that the fierce anger of Jehovah may be turned away from Israel.
This time, Moses was happy to comply with the demand for blood:
25:5 – And Moses said unto the judges of Israel, Slay ye every one of his men that were joined unto Baal-peor.
Go to verse 25:3 “And Israel joined himself unto Baal-peor”… this makes it sound like the entire congregation committed this transgression. Yet we are told in 25:5 that it was only certain ones of Israel that did so. This is important to know because the definition of “all” or “forever” does not translate into what we know as today. So the next time we see “all” or “forever” used we must understand that the meaning quite possibly does not mean what we think.
So an Israelite man brings and Midianite woman in the presence of Moses, in front of *all* (verse 25:6) the congregation who were weeping.
25:7 – And when Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose up from the congregation, and took a javelin in his hand; 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.
Commandment Number 6 of 10: Thou shalt not Kill
Note that it wasn’t until blood was shed (a sacrifice?) that the plague was stopped. Going back to Commandment #6: I made the argument that this commandment only applies to Israelite vs Israelite. Anyone else? Free to kill as seen in verse 25:7, since there is NO MENTION of Phinehas being punished for breaking this commandment. In fact, by breaking this commandment he did a good thing by stopping the plague.
Don’t agree? Jehovah agrees:
25:10 – And Jehovah spake unto Moses, saying, Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, hath turned my wrath away from the children of Israel, while he was zealous for my sake among them, that I consumed not the children of Israel in my jealousy.
So, by killing these two individuals, Jehovah was pleased and was no longer angry at Israel. The deeper meaning exposes itself further:
25:13 – And he shall have it (covenant of peace), 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.
Atonement = offering. In this case, the atonement was the murder of two people. Murder = Atonement. In other words: Phinehas, by offering the blood and lives of two people, made an atonement for the transgressions of the Israelites.
Human Sacrifice. And Jehovah was pleased with it, after all he “stayed” the plague and even mentioned he turned away his wrath because of it.
No human sacrifice in the Bible? Abraham was more than willing to please Jehovah. Phinehas did it and it pleased Jehovah. Spoiler alert: These aren’t the only instances.
The punishment doesn’t stop there. We find out that the Israelite was of the tribe of Simeon, son of a prince. The Midianite woman was the daughter of head of a chief house in Midian. In other words, two important people from each nation. Also note, Midian was a son of Abraham, brother of Isaac, hence distant relatives.
25:16 – And Jehovah spake unto Moses, saying, Vex the Midianites, and smite them: 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.
So now all the Midianites must suffer the consequences.
“Righteous and Forgiving”
So, despite ALL the supposed signs, miracles, and wonders, the Israelites easily intermingle with other nations. Despite ALL the murder, death, plagues, fires, disease, and other mortal punishments at the hand of Jehovah, they easily turn to other nations.
What are we, as readers, missing? Did these miracles truly exist? If so, are the Israelites beyond stubborn? OR, is the author exaggerating about the miracles and we are seeing the normal course of human activity when two nations meet. Especially when you take into consideration that Midian was a son of Abraham, uncle to Jacob/Israel.
If Jehovah truly was the creator of the universe, why can he not control his own people? Punishment after punishment, they still disobey… so is he really almighty? Is this the work of an all powerful god?
If it’s not obvious by now, Jehovah has very little control of his *inheritance*, his seed, his own people.
If that’s not a sign of a deity that is not all powerful I don’t know what is.