v³ z¹ 1-9. Balak's teaching and its results. z² 10-18. Yahaveh's action and its results.
z¹ a 1-3-. Sin of the People. b -3-5. Punishment enjoined. a 6. Sin of the People. b 7-9. Punishment executed.
1: And Israel abode (i.e. till after Moses' death. Cp. Josh. 2:1; 3:1, and see Mic.6:5) in Shittim (Heb. = "the meadows of the acacias". Called Abel-shittim in 33:49), and the people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab.
2: And they (i.e the daughters of Moab) called the People to the sacrifices of their gods (feminine pronoun): and the People did eat, and bowed down to their gods.
3: And Israel yoked himself to Baal-peor (Baal = lord; Peor was the mountain on which he was worshiped [25:18. Josh .22:17]. Baal was a Moabitish idol, and those who called [v.2] the Israelites were the prostitutes necessary for his worship by others. Cp. Hos. 9:10. Jer. 11:13. Peor also means "opening", and may have relation to this "worship"):
and the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel (cp. Ps. 106:28,29).
4: And the Lord said to Moses, “Take all the princes of the people (or chiefs. the number not stated here, but must have been 1,000, and included in the 24,000 of v.9, and excluded in 1 Cor. 10:8. The 23,000 mentioned in 1 Cor. 10:8 "fell in one day": the day of the plague, vv.9,18. And those who were hanged prior to that [vv.4,5], are not included), and hang them up before the Lord against the sun (i.e. impaled or nailed to a stake, as in crucifixion), that the fierce anger of the Lord may be turned away from Israel.”
5: And Moses said to the judges of Israel, “Slay you all every one his men that were joined (yolked) to Baal-peor.”
6: And, behold, one of the sons of Israel came and brought unto his brethren a Midianitish woman in the sight of Moses, and in the sight of all the congregation of the sons of Israel, who were weeping before the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.
7: And when Phinehas (Heb. = mouth of brass, mouth of a serpent. Cp. Ps. 106:30), the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose up from among the congregation, and took a javelin in his hand;
8: And he went after the man of Israel into the tent (Heb. kubbåh, a high and vaulted pleasure tent, used in worship of Baal. Occurs only here), and thrust both of them through, the man of Israel, and the woman through her belly (Heb. kobåh,the part between the ribs and loin. Occurs only here). So the plague was stayed from the sons of Israel.
9: And those that died in the plague were twenty and four thousand (this includes the 1,000 previously "hanged", vv.4,5, as well as those who died of the "plague". These must have been the 23,000 of 1 or.10:8 which "fell in one day").
z² c 10-13. Phinehas and his reward. c 14-18. Midianites and their wiles.
10: And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying,
11: “Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, has turned My wrath away from the sons of Israel, while he was zealous for My sake among them, that I consumed not the sons of Israel in My jealousy.
12: Wherefore say, ‘Behold, I give to him My covenant of peace:
13: And he shall have it (see Ps. 106:30,31 and Mal. 2:4,5. Cp. 1 Chron. 6:4-15. 1 Sam. 22:18. 1 Kings 2:27 with 1 Sam. 14:17. Ezra was of his line [Ezra 7:1,5]), and his seed after him, even the covenant of an everlasting priesthood (restored to Phinehas, and remained with him, after Eli); because he was zealous for his God, and made an atonement for the sons of Israel.’ ” `(see Ex. 29:33)
14: Now the name of the Israelite that was slain, even that was slain with the Midianitish woman, was Zimri (= musical), the son of Salu (= weighed, only occ.), a prince of a chief house among the Simeonites.
15: And the name of the Midianitish woman that was slain was Cozbi (= false, deceitful), the daughter of Zur (= a rock); he was head over a people, and of a chief house in Midian (= strife, brawling, contention).
16: And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying,
17: “Vex the Midianites (cp. Chapter 31), and smite them:
18: For they vex you with their wiles (= seductions, Heb. nêkal, occ. only here), wherewith they have beguiled you in the matter of Peor, and in the matter of Cozbi, the daughter of a prince of Midian, their sister, which was slain in the day of the plague for Peor's sake.” (i.e. the "one day" of 1 Cor. 10:8)