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Serpents are quiet, cunning, quick to act when a threat is imminent. A serpent bought a curse on mankind (Genesis 3) and we now meet a “serpent” who boldly and decisively saved his people from those who would deceive them to destruction. Later, Eliyahu (Elijah) also learned that God’s preferred way to communicate with His people is not through thunder and lightning but a “still small voice.”
The Torah reading פינחס Pinchas (“Phinehas,” Numbers 25:10–29:40) starts with the culmination of the events in the prior portion (parashah). The culmination of Israel “playing the harlot” with idolatry ended when Pinchas (Phineas), Aaron’s grandson, speared a Shimonite chieftain and a Midianite chieftain’s daughter through with a spear. Both of them were mentioned by name so they were both people of reputation.
“While Israel remained at Shittim, the people began to play the harlot with the daughters of Moab.” (Numbers 25:1 NASB)
This event was so significant, it’s even spoken about in the book of Revelation (Jude 1:11; Revelation 2:14). We can miss the why if we don’t understand the why of the original event.
Continue reading Numbers 25:10-29:40: A ‘snake’ again becomes an icon of salvation
Adultery is seen as no big deal in today’s society. Consider, though, how the hurt person in the relationship feels. That’s why Israel’s running after false gods and treating YHWH with contempt or apathy is compared to adultery many times in Scripture. This kind of unfaithfulness and rebuilding of the relationship between Creator and created is the subtext of this passage — פינחס Pinchas (“Phinehas”).
Continue reading Parashat Pinchas (פינחס): Numbers 25:10-30:1
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The prophet Bilam (Balaam) is not an isolated individual, an anomaly in Scripture. He was not the first or last emissary to the Gentiles. God did not leave them without guidance. Bilam is a foreshadowing of the ministry of Saul of Tarsus, aka the apostle Paul, whose experience on the road to Damascus echoes the account in the Torah reading בָּלָק Balak of Bilam’s experience with a “recalcitrant” she-donkey.
Continue reading Numbers 22:1-25:9: God sent emissaries to the Gentiles too