Bible Teaching aimed at helping you enjoy the Scriptures which are the Word of GOD!
Preaching by: John J. Malone, Sr - JABSBG*
1 ¶ And Israel abode in Shittim, and the people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab.
2 And they (the Moabite women) called the people (Israel) unto the (sexually decadent) sacrifices of their gods: and the people did eat, and bowed down to their gods.
3 And Israel joined himself (through sexual misconduct) unto Baalpeor: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel.
4 And the LORD said unto Moses, Take all the heads of the people, and hang (crucify) them up before the LORD against the sun, that the fierce anger of the LORD may be turned away from Israel.
5 And Moses said unto the judges of Israel, Slay ye every one his men that were joined unto Baalpeor.
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.
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;
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.
9 And those that died in the plague were twenty and four thousand.
10 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
11 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.
12 Wherefore say, Behold, I give unto him my covenant of peace:
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.
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.
15 And the name of the Midianitish woman that was slain was Cozbi, the daughter of Zur; he was head over a people, and of a chief house in Midian.
16 ¶ And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
17 Vex the Midianites, and smite them:
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.
Perhaps there was no greater jeopardy in the wilderness for the Israelites than the matter of Baal-Peor. It was an incredible subtrefuge by the enemy of Israel, and was master-minded, we learn , by Balaam, the traiterous mediumistic prophet who sold out the children of Israel.
I am reminded of the warning in 1st Corinthians 12 , that we not be ignorant of spirtual things. There are also evil spirits, and they have their minions on earth, like Balaam, the Midianite king.
Balak, the enemy of Israel, and the king of Moab, attempted to project spiritual forces against Israel to cause them to fail. Balaam consummately failed to get the job done through mediumistic device, despite his hefty wages from Balak.
The Enemy Within
God’s people have three spiritual enemies: the world, the flesh, and the devil. The world and the devil are overrated, and the joint experience of Balak and Balaam together shows us that even the most dedicated and direct consiracy of the two can only result in the blessing of God’s people!
However, the flesh is an entirely different matter, and is the reason that Balaam’s strategem was just that. Balaam taught Balak exactly how to stumble Israel, and the latter implemented it to perfection. He no doubt called upon the temple whores of his realm to do their best.
So, the combination of sorcery and whoredom among the Moabites did its seductive work against Israel, and they were compromised from within.
The strategem of Balak/Balaam went further, and was far more subtle than appeared on the surface.
The “joining” of Israel to “Baalpeor” actually meant that Israel was genetically compromised, and at the level of leadership no less. The Moabites thereby infiltrated the very “engine of God” created to bring about the Son of God through the virgin Mary.
God “reacted” quickly to this endeavor, commanding Moses to hang the leaders of the people who were so compromised, and then Moses commanded those judges remaining to “slay ye” every other compromised man.
The Master Stroke
Make no mistake about it, however: the master-stroke of the matter of Baalpeor was to follow, and it involved “Zimri, the son of Salu, a prince of a chief house among the Simeonites (v. 14).” Simeon and Levi were full blood brothers, and “blessed” and judged together by their father in his death . It’s not a stretch to view rivalry in their progeny, and Zimri saw an occasion against Moses (a Levite), when he must have been remarkably unpopular for commanding the execution of so many Israelites.
There’s more here. At the foot of Mount Sinai – a previous time of similar failure in Israel – God offered to Moses that he would make a new nation from his own progeny , discarding Israel. Moses successfully interceded, demonstrating his qualification for priesthood. The people had gathered themselves unto Aaron the high priest as an alternative to Moses while he was away in the mount, receiving the word of God.
Moses was married to a Midianite, Zipporah, the daughter of Jethro, priest of Midian: a chieftain of the Midianites. The firstborn son of Moses – Gershom – was by Zipporah, and in the lineal sense, would stand in Moses place. The Midianites were descendants of Abraham, through Keturah, the wife who followed Sarah.
Therefore, there was a PLAUSIBLE alternative to God’s plan with Moses, then Joshua. Moses was politically vulnerable, the people mourning the loss of thousands of their loved ones by plague ( 23,000 ) and execution (1,000 – v.9).
Attacking God Through Moses
Zimri was available. He set up a celebratory pleasure tent, afforded to kings in the sight of their subjects: a well-established practice by the nations around them (and even later, for instance, by Nebuchadnezzar outside Jerusalem). He paraded Cozbi, “the daughter of a prince of Midian (Zur, v. 15)” (
could that prince have been Balaam?), “in the sight of Moses and in the sight of all the congregation of the children of Israel.”
A bold “in your face” move, to be sure, by Zimri (and the Midianites). Moses could do nothing, frozen by the previous controversy over Zipporah. Upon her introduction to the children of Israel in the wilderness, when brought with their two sons by her father (Moses had sent her home while he led the children of Israel out of Egypt), she was met with rejection by Aaron and Miriam apparently because she was Ethiopian. The Lord judged Miriam’s jealousy and contention in that matter with seven days of leprosy.
But here, in the matter of Zimri, was a bolder defiance, and one from another tribe. While Moses was the human object of the attack, the rebellion by Zimri was most certainly against God Himself. Zimri and Cozbi would provide a clear alternative to the leadership of Moses, who, after all, was responsible for executing 1,000 leaders in Israel, and hanging the chief princes in infamy.
At the instant of this brazen and bold challenge to Moses, it seems the nation of Israel was frozen in disobedience and grief. Only Phinehas knew what to do, and he acted quickly, and forthrightly. He had no spirit of fear, but of power, principled love, and wise judgment .
Bringing swift judgment, he not only made his point, but won his reward, and preserved the nation Israel.
Num 31:8 They killed the kings of Midian with the rest of their slain, Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur, and Reba, the five kings of Midian. And they also killed Balaam the son of Beor with the sword.
Num 25:15 And the name of the Midianite woman who was killed was Cozbi the daughter of Zur, who was the tribal head of a father’s house in Midian.
Cozbi was the daughter of Zur not Balaam. Both Balaam and Zur are killed in chapter 31.