Dedicated to the writings of Saint Luke.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Rewriting Phinehas

The Bible does not link the Balaam episode with the Phinehas incident. According to Feldman, Josephus makes Balaam the originator of the Phinehas incident. Feldman also notes that Josephus changes the order of the Biblical event recorded in Num. 15:1-8 from immoral acts, plague, Phinehas killing the Israelite with a javelin and the woman with whom he is having sex, and the end of the plague with the plague beginning after Phinehas killed the two engaged in sex.

“Then stood up Phinehas, and executed judgment: and [so] the plague was stayed.” Psalm 106:30

The Biblical account then says: Thus the plague was stayed from the people of Israel. Nevertheless those that died by the plague were twenty-four thousand. And the LORD said to Moses, “Phin'ehas the son of Elea'zar, son of Aaron the priest, has turned back my wrath from the people of Israel, in that he was jealous with my jealousy among them, so that I did not consume the people of Israel in my jealousy.

Therefore say, 'Behold, I give to him my covenant of peace; and it shall be to him, and to his descendants after him, the covenant of a perpetual priesthood, because he was jealous for his God, and made atonement for the people of Israel.'” Numbers 25:8-13

As noted, the Psalmist presents him as an intercessor with God. Intertestamental literature celebrates Phinehas as one who made atonement for Israel (Sir. 45:38). The Jewish historian, Josephus, considers him the greatest man of his age (Ant. 4.152) yet he omits “the covenant of a perpetual priesthood” received by Phinehas and his descendants after him. Josephus does record in agreement with the Bible that Moses sent an army against the land of Midian and appointed Phineas for the commander.

Copyrighted 2008


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wouldn't you say that Rev 2.14 at least indicates that Balaam was the instigator and initiator of the Phinehas incident? Or were you simply speaking of the "OT"?

9:55 AM


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