Zeal – Balak, Pinchas, Matot
The latter portion of the Book of Bamidbar discusses at length the story of Pinchas.
At the end of Perashat Balak we are introduced to Pinchas as a zealot. He murdered two people who were in the act of making love. These two people were no ordinary people. The man was Zimri Ben Salu of the tribe of Shimon. The woman was the Median Princess Kozvi Bat Tzur. Beney Yisrael was introduced to the local people and their religion. Perhaps they both believed in pluralism. After all the best way to make peace with gentiles is to marry them.
Zimri and Kozvi decided to celebrate this peace between nations by having their nuptials in a tent in the middle of the Israelite camp. They did this in front of Moshe and the religious elders. The elders had no clue how to stop this terrible act. At this moment Instead of lynching the lovers and their supports as Moshe had commanded they went to sanctuary to cry over their defeat. Then the zealot Pinchas took a javelin and skewered the two.
According the Midrash twelve super natural miracles occurred to Pinchas for this act of Bravery against assimilation. (Bamidbar Rabah – 20 -25)
- Although Zimri and Kozvi had finished their act of togetherness an angel kept them from separating.
- This angel closed their mouths so they could not scream to their fellow tribesmen for help.
- He successfully aimed the javelin at her femininity and got Pinchas’ Sexual organ while it was secure inside. This was to spare Pinchas from the critics who would have claimed that he went in to Zimri’s tent fulfill his own sexual needs.
- The Iron part of the javelin was elongated so that both could be stabbed.
- His arms were strong enough to carry the load of two people hanging from a javelin.
- The wooden part of the javelin was strong enough to support this weight.
- The angel turned them over so that the crowd of onlookers could demonstrate the embarrassment.
- Blood did not drip onto Pinchas, who was a Kohen, which would have made him impure.
- G-d kept the two of them alive on the javelin so that Pinchas would not become impure from dead bodies.
- The angel lifted the door post of the tent so that Pinchas could carry them hanging upright on the javelin.
- When Zimri’s fellow tribesmen saw their crowned princes hanging from a javelin they wanted to lynch.
- Pinchas. An caused them to suffer from a terrible plague.
For this act G-d gave the Sign of Peace to Pinchas the Zealous Killer . This is in Perashat Pinchas. (Bamidbar 25-12)
Our Rabbis of Blessed Memory have said that if you start by performing a Mitzvah you are given the merit to finish the Mitzvah.
In Perashat Matot G-d commands Beney Yisrael to take total revenge on Media. (Bamidbar 31) Pinchas was chosen to be the Mashuach Milchama which was a Priestly General who lead the troops into battle. Pinchas was the first person to kill a Median in their fight of Brotherly love against the Jews. He also got to lead the Jewish people into a war with Media which killed off all of the men, women and children. Only 23,000 young girls who had not been with men were allowed to live instead they were enslaved. (Bamidbar 31-35)
I don’t know about you but I find genocide a little difficult to deal with. I have discussed the above by citing from the Torah and Midrashim.