7-30-16 Message to Beit Adonai Yisroel
Torah Portion: Numbers 25:10 – 29:40 Pinchas (“dark skinned”)
Haftarah: Jer 1:1 – 2:3 (first Haftorah of Affliction’)
Suggested Acheron K’tuvim: Col 2:13-15
The Broken Vav
Central question of this message: What is the connection between Pinchas, Elijah, and Yeshua?
We are in parasha Pinchas. Pinchas means “dark skinned”.
The parasha takes its name from the second part of the first sentence.
10 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 11 “Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, has turned away My wrath from the sons of Israel, in that he was jealous with My jealousy among them, so that I did not destroy the sons of Israel in My jealousy.
You might have already noticed that most translators of the name Pinchas choose to call him Phinehas (or a variant of that name). If you trust the Masoretic pointing, which here may be reliable, since it doesn’t relate directly to a messianic prophecy (where the Masoretes notably made changes to mask or obliterate the messianic nature of the verses), then the proper pronunciation (and thus the proper transliteration) of his name would be “Pinchas”.
So we can understand his actions in context, let’s back up to last week’s parasha, and see what leads up to the event for which Pinchas is most famous.
25 While Israel remained at Shittim, the people began to play the harlot with the daughters of Moab. 2 For they invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods. 3 So Israel joined themselves to Baal of Peor, and the Lord was angry against Israel. 4 And the Lord said to Moses, “Take all the leaders of the people and execute them in broad daylight before the Lord, so that the fierce anger of the Lord may turn away from Israel.” 5 So Moses said to the judges of Israel, “Each of you slay his men who have joined themselves to Baal of Peor.” 6 Then behold, one of the sons of Israel came and brought to his relatives a Midianite woman, in the sight of Moses and in the sight of all the congregation of the sons of Israel, while they were weeping at the doorway of the tent of meeting. 7 When Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he arose from the midst of the congregation, and took a spear in his hand; 8 and he went after the man of Israel into the tent, and pierced both of them through, the man of Israel and the woman, through the body. So the plague on the sons of Israel was checked. 9 And those who died by the plague were 24,000.
Moses has already demonstrated that he has no problem confronting evil in the camp of Israel, as he did regarding the golden calf, and even with regard to the uprising led by Korach.
So, what paralyzed Moses, so that he didn’t have the courage to act to stop this abomination by his own hand? Was it because he himself was married to a Midianite woman? Did he not see what this man was doing, right there in the courts of the Mishkan?
Some have suggested that the eyes of Moses were blinded to this, so that Pinchas might act, and be found righteous in the eyes of the L-rd.
But it is immediately clear that the quick and decisive action by Pinchas is not only approved by G-d, but secures for him (and his children after him) a special blessing.