Nu 25:1-18. The Israelites'
Whoredom and Idolatry with Moab.
1. Israel abode in Shittim—a verdant
meadow, so called from a grove of acacia trees which lined the eastern
side of the Jordan. (See Nu 33:49).
3. Israel joined himself unto
Baal-peor—Baal was a general name for "lord," and Peor for a
"mount" in Moab. The real name of the idol was Chemosh, and his rites
of worship were celebrated by the grossest obscenity. In participating
in this festival, then, the Israelites committed the double offense of
idolatry and licentiousness.
4. The Lord said unto Moses, Take all the heads of
the people, and hang them up—Israelite criminals, who were
capitally punished, were first stoned or slain, and then
gibbeted. The persons ordered here for execution were the principal
delinquents in the Baal-peor outrage—the subordinate officers,
rulers of tens or hundreds.
before the Lord—for vindicating the
honor of the true God.
against the sun—that is, as a mark of
public ignominy; but they were to be removed towards sunset (De 21:23).
5. judges of Israel—the seventy elders,
who were commanded not only to superintend the execution within their
respective jurisdictions, but to inflict the punishment with their own
hands. (See on 1Sa 15:33).
6, 7. behold, one of the children of Israel
… brought … a Midianitish woman—This flagitious
act most probably occurred about the time when the order was given and
before its execution.
who were weeping before the door of the
tabernacle—Some of the rulers and well-disposed persons were
deploring the dreadful wickedness of the people and supplicating the
mercy of God to avert impending judgments.
8. the plague—some sudden and widespread
9. those that died in the plague were twenty and
four thousand—Only twenty-three thousand perished (1Co 10:8) from pestilence. Moses includes
those who died by the execution of the judges [Nu 25:5].
11-13. Phinehas … hath turned my wrath
away—This assurance was a signal mark of honor that the stain
of blood, instead of defiling, confirmed him in office and that his
posterity should continue as long as the national existence of
14. Zimri, … a prince … among the
Simeonites—The slaughter of a man of such high rank is
mentioned as a proof of the undaunted zeal of Phinehas, for there might
be numerous avengers of his blood.
17. Vex the Midianites, and smite
them—They seem to have been the most guilty parties. (Compare
18. they vex you with their
wiles—Instead of open war, they plot insidious ways of
accomplishing your ruin by idolatry and corruption.
their sister—their countrywoman.