15 Apr. Numbers 25:1-18

15 Apr. The Israelites worship the Baal at Mount Peor

“While the people of Israel were still camped at Acacia, the men began sinning sexually with Moabite women. The women invited them to their sacrifices to their gods, and the Israelites ate food there and worshipped these gods. So the Israelites began to worship Baal of Peor, and the LORD was very angry with them.”

“The LORD said to Moses, ‘Get all the leaders of the people and kill them in open daylight in the presence of the LORD. Then the LORD will not be angry with the people of Israel.” So Moses said to Israel’s judges, ‘Each of you must put to death your people who have become worshippers of Baal of Peor.’

“Moses and the Israelites were gathered at the entrance to the Meeting Tent, crying there. Then an Israelite man brought a Midianite woman to his brothers [for sex] in plain sight of Moses and all the people. Phinehas son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, the priest, saw this, so he left the meeting and got his spear. He followed the Israelite into his tent and drove his spear through both the Israelite man and the Midianite woman."

“Then the terrible sickness among the Israelites stopped. This sickness had killed 24,000 people.”

“The LORD said to Moses, ‘Phinehas son of Eleazer, the son of Aaron, the priest, has saved the Israelites from my anger. He hates sin as much as I do. Since he tried to save my honour among them, I will not kill them.’”

“’ So tell Phinehas that I am making my peace agreement with him. He and his descendants will always be priests, because he had great concern for the honour of his God. He removed the sins of the Israelites so that they would belong to God...’”

“The LORD said to Moses, ‘The Midianites are your enemies, and you should kill them. They have already made you their enemies, because they tricked you at Peor and because of their sister Cozbi, the daughter of a Midianite leader. She was the woman who was killed when the sickness came because the people sinned at Peor.’”

          (Numbers 25:1-18)
 

 

While the Israelites were camped at Abel Shittim (‘the valley of acacia trees’) on the Plains of Moab opposite Jericho, some of the Israelite men were tempted into having casual sexual relationships with local Moabite women.

As a consequence, many of them became infected with a transmittable sexual disease and became sick. Some of them died from this disease.

An even more significant consequence of these encounters was that some Israelite men become involved in the religious practices of the Moabite women, and started to worship the local Baal at Mount Peor (see 4 on the map on 13 April). Baal worship was common in Moab at that time, and the Israelite men were attracted by the feasting and sexual impropriety implicit in the worship of a fertility god.

The LORD was furious that, once again, the Israelites had turned away from him to worship a pagan god, so he instructed Moses to put any offending Israelites to death for disobeying God.

While this was being discussed outside the Tent of the Lord’s Presence (the ‘Meeting Tent’), Phinehas the priest spotted an Israelite man taking a Moabite woman into his tent to have sex with him and his brothers. He grabbed his spear, entered the tent, and thrust it straight through the man and woman having sexual intercourse.

This action was praised by the LORD, who agreed to cure those with sexually transmitted diseases, and confirmed that Phinehas and his family (Aaron’s descendants) would fulfil the role of priests in perpetuity, as Phinehas had “had great concern for the honour of his God.” (Numbers 25:13)

Nevertheless, this whole sad affair confirmed the terrible consequences of the Israelites tolerating the religious practices of their neighbours, and prompted the LORD to instruct Moses to destroy the Midianites as dangerous enemies.

The photo (by Levi Clancy) shows the view from Mount Nebo looking towards the Dead Sea across the Plains of Moab.

You can read more @ https://www.thebiblejourney.org/biblejourney2/26-the-journey-continues-from-sinai-to-moab/the-israelites-defeat-the-kings-of-midian/


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