Moabite Women Numbers 25
Posted by adventbiblestudy on December 4, 2015
Numbers 25:1-9 NLTse While the Israelites were camped at Acacia Grove, some of the men defiled themselves by having sexual relations with local Moabite women. (2) These women invited them to attend sacrifices to their gods, so the Israelites feasted with them and worshiped the gods of Moab. (3) In this way, Israel joined in the worship of Baal of Peor, causing the LORD’s anger to blaze against his people. (4) The LORD issued the following command to Moses: “Seize all the ringleaders and execute them before the LORD in broad daylight, so his fierce anger will turn away from the people of Israel.” (5) So Moses ordered Israel’s judges, “Each of you must put to death the men under your authority who have joined in worshiping Baal of Peor.” (6) Just then one of the Israelite men brought a Midianite woman into his tent, right before the eyes of Moses and all the people, as everyone was weeping at the entrance of the Tabernacle. (7) When Phinehas son of Eleazar and grandson of Aaron the priest saw this, he jumped up and left the assembly. He took a spear (8) and rushed after the man into his tent. Phinehas thrust the spear all the way through the man’s body and into the woman’s stomach. So the plague against the Israelites was stopped, (9) but not before 24,000 people had died.
This may not seem to have a lot to do with the Tabernacle, but one of the priests did react to the situation later in this story. As we can clearly see, this story is another contrast to lessons Moses had been teaching the people about the qualities God expected His priests to have. When we look back to Leviticus 21, we see where Moses taught lessons about the type of woman a priest should, and should not marry.
“Priests may not marry a woman defiled by prostitution, and they may not marry a woman who is divorced from her husband, for the priests are set apart as holy to their God. You must treat them as holy because they offer up food to your God. You must consider them holy because I, the LORD, am holy, and I make you holy. (Leviticus 21:7-8 NLTse).
Here we see a much more serious matter. The real danger began when Moabite women invited Israelite men to attend some religious services. They not only worshiped the gods of Moab, those Israelite men had sexual relationships with the Moabite women. Notice the fact they also eat together is also listed. Now look at the order Moses recorded the events. First came sexual relations, then the women invited them to attend sacrifices for their gods. After that, the Israelites feasted with them and worshiped the gods of Moab. Seems like a strange order to follow when you take time to look at it. Why is sexual relations listed first?
I think Jesus supplied the answer to that question. “You have heard the commandment that says, ‘You must not commit adultery.’ But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. So if your eye–even your good eye–causes you to lust, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your hand–even your stronger hand–causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. (Matthew 5:27-30 NLTse).
When we look at the results of the encounters in Numbers 25, we can understand why Jesus taught this as such a serious matter. People lost there lives over those encounters. Put yourself into the scene to understand the reason for the sequence of those events.
Moab heard about Egypt. They knew Israel was a large group of slaves who escaped. That’s all those countries thought about Israel, a large group of slaves with no rights, education, and little value. As far as those nations were concerned, Israel was open game for anyone to swoop in and enslave them. That was the vision of justice all those nations shared. The only problem was, Israel had over 600,000 fighting men. That’s why only men were numbered. God wanted people to understand Israel was a formidable force to deal with.
Then those nations began to realize, Israel was led and protected by a God. Not one of their make believe gods. Kings and priests knew who really led those gods. They knew who was in charge. They also knew those gods didn’t have any power. Those kings knew they were on their own against the threat approaching their borders.
There is something about a woman. Women have power few men understand. They can capture a man with their eyes. Women know just how to accent their eyes with colors and black shadows. They know how to turn their heads, look at a man from the side of their eyes, and without saying a word, tell any man exactly what he wants to hear. Women know, the less said, the better.
Woman know what men are looking for. Moab knew the men from Israel were slaves. Those Moabite women knew how the Israelite men would be attracted to finely dressed, painted women. Those type of women were so near, but never within touching distance. Moabite women knew that under the right circumstances, those Israelite men would look at them as the fulfillment of every dream and fantasy.
It wasn’t difficult for the Moabite women to attract those Israelite men. In their minds, waking up next to such a beautiful woman was like being on the top of the world. For a slave it was a sense of freedom as well as a sign of success. To men, a beautiful woman is more than a trophy.
They dreamed about a beautiful women. Once the suggestion of sexual relationships with such women presented itself, imaginations drifted. They pictured themselves lying in bed with such women. No other thought entered their minds. No thoughts about a conversation, how to provide for such a woman, or how they would react to day to day activities. Life to them turned into thoughts of hours in bed with the world a million miles away. To men, that was success.
On one hand, we see a total lack of thought and planning. We see a total loss of senses. We also see a drastic separation from God. On the other hand, we see well laid plans. Women planning to use gifts God gave them for somewhat selfish desires. It’s plain to see, human desires were at work in both parties. A close examination will reveal, those desires were worlds apart.
Once those Moabite woman lured their prey with their bodies, and selfish lusts were satisfied, it was time for the next phase in the plan. Something told the Moabite women, their Israelite men experienced a separation from God, they knew it was time to fill that spiritual void. The women invited Israel to take part in their pagan festivals and pay homage to their gods. At the time it seemed like a simple, and natural transition. After all, they were in love and what could possibly go wrong?
Love can be an overwhelming force. When love slips into lust, the art of seeking self gratification, it becomes a self consuming power. Solomon referred to lust as a ditch, pit, or grave. Wisdom will save you from the immoral woman, from the seductive words of the promiscuous woman. She has abandoned her husband and ignores the covenant she made before God. Entering her house leads to death; it is the road to the grave. The man who visits her is doomed. He will never reach the paths of life. (Proverbs 2:16-19 NLTse).
Once those men traveled down that path, there was no return. They no longer had any loyalty for families who opposed their decision, desire to defend, or fight for a nation who looked down on the women they fell in love with. Lust had more control than they imagined.
In a way this event tells us a great deal about a similar situation facing the world today. Most people would think it has something to do with the porn industry, prostitution, child slavery, and other form of sexual crimes. Maybe it does. But the emotional or psychological side of this story centers on control. When we look at one of the greatest threats this world faces today, there is one that not only centers on control, but emphasizes it. That is the treat from radical religious factions dedicated to overthrowing the world. Overthrow to world to obviously control it. Where is their control going to center?
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out, their control begins with religion, and they use their religious beliefs to oppress women. More than oppress women. Those radical factions want to enslave women. In their perfect world, women have no rights. Women are nothing but a possession. Women have no mind, will, or emotions. Where do those men get those kind of ideas?
Pray about this yourself and see what answers God gives you. Whenever this world is in danger, God has the answer. Amazing how few people want to bother asking their Creator how to solve a major problem.
Look at some of the parallels here. The Moabites used sex to lure Israelite men. Radical factions today use the same shiny lure. They wrap it is a different package, but the end results are the same. The first step was to use sex to attract attention. Once that was achieved, they introduced a distorted from of religion. Radicals today are coping what the Moabites did. What does that tell us about radical leaders today?
I’m not a psychology major by any means, but common sense tells us, whenever people exhibit a totally radical view on any subject, there are major psychological problems. Deep psychological problems. When people go as far as raping, killing, enslaving, and forcing children into prostitution, something is radically wrong. Something in their lives caused some kind of short in their brain between common sense and survival instincts. When people are convinced eternal life depends upon killing, raping, and enslaving people, something went wrong in their lives a long time ago.
Let’s look at those radical groups today and pray about them for a while. Then we’ll wait for a few obvious details to come to the surface. We know those leaders use the Internet to recruit members, communicate, plan, arrange travels, purchase supplies, train recruits, and to an unknown extent, steal. They may even be involved with Internet porn and prostitution. Tracking people on the Internet is the easiest thing to do today. Your computer, laptop, and phone each contain an ID number designed to be used by thousands of companies spending millions of dollars to track everyone. But those radical leaders seem to be flying either above or below the grid. And no one is sure how they do it. They may be responsible for developing some of the most sophisticated software programs designed to mask the identity of the computer and user. Or at least they are trained well enough to know how to install and use the most sophisticated software programs and hardware available.
The world has been in a cyber war for years. Governments have been spying on governments, companies on companies, and companies and governments on everyone. They may be gathering half the information God has on people. (Just a thought.) The point is, billions of dollars are spent by the richest countries and companies in the world to stay one step ahead of each other. But those radical factions seem to be ahead of all of them. They have to be in today’s state of war. One wrong move and a missile from thousands of miles away can reach them in a second. And no one would ask any questions. How can you survive against such odds? Proper preparation.
How do you survive and remain anonymous when the entire civilized world is hunting for you? What does that tell us about those radical leaders? They are highly educated individuals with a chip on their shoulders the world put there. Something made them really mad at this world. So mad it pushed them into a life of crime and murder. How could that happen to such an extent?
If you graduated at the top of your class and no one wanted to offer you a job because your ideas were so advance, no one could envision them, how would you feel? How would you feel about women when you had natural desires, but women looked down on you, because you were smart? Doesn’t that explain why those men despise women?
Those men feel the world owes them something. They graduated with enormous student loans and no way to pay them. No one appreciated their gifted knowledge. Worse of all, their hopes, dreams, and desire of female companionship went unanswered. They felt the whole world was against them. So they rebelled. They used their gift of knowledge to hatch a plan to take over the world.
Like every dictator set on conquering the world, their greatest fear is – anyone smarter than themselves, and anyone wise enough to figure out their real motive. So their plans including wiping out educated people as well as the education system. It’s like dictators want to plunge the world into the dark ages.
Something about that theory attracted recruits to their cause. They recruit on a number of levels. The most frequently used promises are woman, in a sexual, as well as the promise of total control over women. Dictators used forms of controlled breeding to one extent or another. Women not fit for breeding their idea of a master race were reduced to sex slaves, or worse.
Another promise is wealth. Since dictators don’t have funds on hand, they preach hate messages about people, groups, organizations, and governments with money. Then they figure out how to get what they claim is their lawful share, most of the time relying on violence and murder. In this day and age, the most threatening dictators turn to computer science. Many forms of Internet theft are copied, initiated, and refined. Imagine an army raising funds via Internet fraud. This can range from the usual tried and true E-mail scams, to online porn, prostitution, and branch out to more sophisticated ventures such as hacking into banks, which is the most discussed form of Internet theft. But there are other types of Internet theft. Identity theft is the most common. Stealing charge card numbers, or enough information to apply for loans or charge cards. One other type of Internet theft remains which is information or data theft. This is the most wide spread type of Internet theft, the easiest, and safest, based on the fact no one in this world has outlawed data theft. Of course data theft leads to identity theft. But no government is going to write a single law outlawing data theft. Not as long as governments are the world’s biggest abusers of data theft. And not as long as billion dollar companies exist and flourish on data theft. No one has any idea how much money is made selling stolen customer lists, sold as customer leads or lead generation, and other data such as research, patent information, and other related company secrets. But no one is willing to pass any laws against that type of cyber theft, or the sale of that type of data. This is where modern day terrorist can excel and prosper.
Simple programs can be purchased, leased, or copied, a nice word for stolen. More sophisticated software problems are being developed everyday. This is where terrorist excel. This is where they can raise funds without being detected, and use their custom made programs to mask their identity. This cyber war goes much deeper than most people imagine.
Some people may add drugs as another form of income. But in most cases, terrorists will tend to shy away from the competition in this area. They don’t want to pick a fight with people as heavily armed as themselves and willing to defend their turf. But this seems to be the area most governments concentrate their efforts.
Did you notice one detail missing in Numbers 25? Moses didn’t mention the names of the ring leaders in Moab. Those women didn’t come up with that plan on their own. Moab heard Israel coming and made plans. Those women were a victim of circumstances. Looking back at previous stories, we see God gave Israel one victory after another. That happened after a number of countries turned Moses and his band of refugees away. In the previous story spanning a number of chapters, Balak heard Israel approaching his border. Instead of facing Israel with his army, Balak decided on another approach. He would fight fire with fire. Balak figured out Israel was led by a prophet, so he hired one of his own. Balak called the best prophet in the land, Balaam. That didn’t do Balak much good.
One other important detail is missing. A very important detail. Moses didn’t follow the laws of the prophets here. Moses failed to identity how God gave him the information.
Then the people of Israel traveled to the plains of Moab and camped east of the Jordan River, across from Jericho. Balak son of Zippor, the Moabite king, had seen everything the Israelites did to the Amorites. And when the people of Moab saw how many Israelites there were, they were terrified. The king of Moab said to the elders of Midian, “This mob will devour everything in sight, like an ox devours grass in the field!” So Balak, king of Moab, sent messengers to call Balaam son of Beor, who was living in his native land of Pethor near the Euphrates River. His message said: “Look, a vast horde of people has arrived from Egypt. They cover the face of the earth and are threatening me. Please come and curse these people for me because they are too powerful for me. Then perhaps I will be able to conquer them and drive them from the land. I know that blessings fall on any people you bless, and curses fall on people you curse.” (Numbers 22:1-6 NLTse).
See how looking back reveals what we need when we need it. We’re trying to figure out who was behind those Moabite women, and God answered that question in chapter 22. Balak’s first plan failed, so he went to plan B.
Looking back a few more chapters, we see how former masters from Egypt tried gaining control by complaining about the manna God provided everyday. That thought spread through the camp from the outside in. When that failed, Satan tried to attack Moses through his family. In Numbers 12 and 13, we saw how Satan shifted from one plan to another. This told us a few things about the enemy. He never stoped trying. Always expect the unexpected. And God always see problems long before we do.
So how did Moses get information to write those chapters about Balaam and Balak? Divine inspiration of course. Moses didn’t tell us exactly how God provided the information, but look at the details God gave Moses. Now don’t you think God is able to provide that type of detailed information and more on today’s terrorists? We know He can. Then why aren’t people asking?
Did Moses really need to follow the laws of the prophets and tell us how and when God gave him that information about Balaam? Moses made it clear, he spoke with God as a friend. Isn’t that enough information for us?
Now we can clearly see how Balak moved from his first plan to use a prophet to curse Israel, to women and religion to defile the community of ex-slaves. The question is, if Moses received such detailed information about the first plan, why didn’t God warn Moses about the Moabite women? We can’t be sure when God gave Moses the information. God may have waited until after those threats passed.
The fact of the matter is, Moses and Israel were under the threat of an attack. More of a curse. Moses and the people were down in the valley taking a break while Balak and Balaam were hard at work trying to destroy them. What does that tell you about how God works? At this time you should be reviewing a few close calls in your life you later found out God was hard at work in the back ground.
Once the threat reached a religious level, God put His people into action. The LORD issued the following command to Moses: “Seize all the ringleaders and execute them before the LORD in broad daylight, so his fierce anger will turn away from the people of Israel.” Notice the command came from God. This time Moses told us how God spoke to him loud and clear. Look at the next step. So Moses ordered Israel’s judges, “Each of you must put to death the men under your authority who have joined in worshiping Baal of Peor.” See how there is an order to the procedure? It all began with listening to God. Without a clear, definite order from God, we become like those people God told to go into the promised land, and they refused. They said it was too difficult and dangerous for them. Then after God told them, they were going to die in the wilderness, they decided to go in themselves. And they got their butts kicked. That’s what happens when you don’t listen to God.
We can’t underestimate the power of love. Some Israelite loved his Moabite woman so much, he paraded her in front of everyone, and into his tent. We see Moses wanted us to know how that emotional combination of love and lust blind people. The man was brazen enough to parade his catch in front of everyone gathered at the entrance of the Tabernacle.
The man most likely was wishing the happiness he thought he found on everyone else. He was glad. His heart was filled with joy. He left on top of the world. He felt like nothing could touch him. But that story didn’t end like a fairy tale with everyone living happily ever after. The man and woman lost their lives.
Phinehas son of Eleazar and grandson of Aaron the priest jumped into action by taking a spear and pinning both the man and woman to the ground. I had to ask why Phinehas was the one who seemed to take matters into his own hands and killed that Israelite and his Moabite woman. If we search ahead in scripture, we see how Phinehas led Israel in an attack on the Moabites. Later in Joshua’s book, we see Phinehas was one of the priests who made it into the promised land. You may ask if that placed Phinehas at an age less then twenty years old. Don’t forget, when Moses numbered Israel, the Levites were not counted, because they were not part of the armed forces.
When we look ahead, we also find Eleazar was the high priest when they entered the promised land. He most likely was well over twenty years old when God told Israel those over twenty would not make it into the promised land. Now we have a new fact to consider. Since the Levites and priests were not counted among the people who died in the wilderness, how does that apply to the last days before Jesus’ return?
That Israelite man had a lot of guts to march past a group of people weeping at the entrance of the Tabernacle. Those people were pleading with God to help their loved ones see what they were doing. It wasn’t a pleasant scene. We have to look at what this scene represented. Satan didn’t have to attack the older generation any longer. He was able to block them from the promised land. So Satan turned his attention to younger men destined to make it into the promised land. Satan didn’t want anyone see how God intended to fulfill His promise.
We also see how Satan centered his attack on the family. Imagine how actions from those young men effected their families. Some families flat out opposed any type of relationship with a Moabite woman. Others looked at the situation with reserve, until they say how the relationship turned into a religious issue, and they saw their son drifting away from God. And of course there were some who watched their sons drift away, accepted the relationship, and wanted everyone to accept what their sons did.
Needless to say, there were a lot of emotions and different situations to deal with. Phinehas may have acted out of emotion, but Moses said, ” the plague against the Israelites was stopped, but not before 24,000 people had died.”
God Made a Covenant with Phinehas
Numbers 25:10-15 NLTse Then the LORD said to Moses, (11) “Phinehas son of Eleazar and grandson of Aaron the priest has turned my anger away from the Israelites by being as zealous among them as I was. So I stopped destroying all Israel as I had intended to do in my zealous anger. (12) Now tell him that I am making my special covenant of peace with him. (13) In this covenant, I give him and his descendants a permanent right to the priesthood, for in his zeal for me, his God, he purified the people of Israel, making them right with me.” (14) The Israelite man killed with the Midianite woman was named Zimri son of Salu, the leader of a family from the tribe of Simeon. (15) The woman’s name was Cozbi; she was the daughter of Zur, the leader of a Midianite clan.
Moses didn’t record any details about that plague. We can’t be sure why. All we know is 24,000 people had died. As those people were dying, one Israelite man walked past the dead, dying, and those weeping at the temple to take his Moabite woman into his tent. When we look at the pattern of the camp, we see the man most likely was a Levite. All those factors may have prompted Phinehas to take immediate action.
Moses didn’t tell us Phinehas received any message or instructions from God. But killing the Israelite man and the Moabite woman stopped the plague. God was so pleased with the action, He made Phinehas a promise. ” In this covenant, I give him and his descendants a permanent right to the priesthood, for in his zeal for me, his God, he purified the people of Israel, making them right with me.”
It’s not often God rewarded someone for killing another person. We have to look back to see why. Based on the location of his tent, he must have been a Levite. One of the people Moses and God took extra time to train. One of the people given extra responsibility as well shared in the priest’s allowance from the sacrifices. Could God allow one of His servants to sin without being punished?
There may be some confusion between Moabite women mentioned in the introduction and the Midianite woman mentioned here. It may be interesting to know, Moab was one of Lot’s descendants. Midian is a location. Often times this confuses people, like in the story about Samuel, who was a Levite. But many people teach he was an Ephrathite based on a narrow minded reading of 1 Samuel 1:1. When you check out the facts, you’ll find Samuel was a Levite based on records in 1 Chronicles 6.
The Midianites Had a Price to Pay
Numbers 25:16-18 NLTse Then the LORD said to Moses, (17) “Attack the Midianites and destroy them, (18) because they assaulted you with deceit and tricked you into worshiping Baal of Peor, and because of Cozbi, the daughter of a Midianite leader, who was killed at the time of the plague because of what happened at Peor.”
God didn’t forget about what happened. But for some reason, had Israel attack only the Midianites. It wasn’t time for all the Moabites to suffer. For some reason God spared them for a time.