Tag Archives: Numbers 26

Numbers 25:10-29:40: A ‘snake’ again becomes an icon of salvation

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

Parashat Pinchas (פינחס): Numbers 25:10-30:1

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

Numbers 25:10–30:1: Losing your first love

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 the Torah reading פינחס Pinchas (“Phinehas”).

Continue reading Numbers 25:10–30:1: Losing your first love

Numbers 26–27: Accounting for light and righteousness in Israel

After various plagues and judgments over the 40 years of wandering in wilderness, God called for Israel to be counted again. It was also time to divide the Promised Land among the 12 tribes, based on the wisdom of God’s light and righteousness.

Thought questions

  • What does it mean to divide the land by lots?
  • Is the count by אלף elef, by clans or by thousands adding up to 601,000?
    • What is the significance of the word census in Num. 26:2 being the Hebrew word ראש rosh, which means “head”?
    • How many “heads” or “divisions” did each tribe have? (Compare the use of אלף elef in Joshua 6:15.)
  • If the Hebrew words Urim and Thurim mean “light” and “righteousness,” respectively, how does the use of decision-making objects named after those words relate to the division of the Promised Land among the tribes?