Torah Portion:  Pinchas (Numbers) B’Midbar 25-30

Haftorah Reading: I Kings 18:46-19:21

This week we read a wide-ranging Torah portion. It begins with the end of the story of Pinchas from last week where he killed the Israelite prince Zimri and the Medianite princess Cosbi for their public sin in from of the Mishkan or Tabernacle. We also read about the last census of the people before they enter the Land and of the request made by the five daughters of an Israelite man who died with no son to inherit his property. The anointing of Joshua as Moshe’s successor is found in this portion along with a recap of G-d’s appointed times and the offering offered for each. What is the list of holidays mentioned here?


I would like to look at some of the people mentioned in this Torah portion and what we can learn from their lives as well as how it applies to us in our daily walk with the Father. Let us begin with Pinchas and G-d’s action toward this man who killed Zimri and Cosbi for their sin. G-d rewarded him for his actions. Our verses read that G-d rewarded him with a covenant of peace and an eternal priesthood for his actions. Numbers 25:12-13. Do we see any further evidence of this working out in his life? We find him again in Joshua 22:10-34 where the tribes of Israel almost come to war between themselves over the action of the tribes that had their inheritance on the west side of the Jordan River. The tribes in Israel proper sent a delegation to try and avert the conflict. This delegation was headed up by Pinchas. War was averted and peace was made between the tribes. Pinchas lived out this covenant between G-d and himself. In fact we read of no other time when he took the law into his own hands. In our own lives it is also important for us, as believers, to live our life in the covenant of peace. The word used here in verse 12 is shalom. At its root this is an interesting word. Broken down the root of the word is “Shalim” which is Hebrew means complete or whole. So here and to us as well, G-d is granting a covenant of completeness, a covenant of wholeness.  It means so much more than just the absence of conflict. It speaks to every area of our lives. As the people of G-d we can, with His help, His Covenant, live above the things that try to drag us down and defeat us spiritually. We can live in wholeness and completeness. May G-d grant us the spiritual insight to realize who we belong to each day as we live our lives and give us the ability, as with Pinchas, to bring peace wherever we are. I think this is especially important today when our world is so fractured along so many lines.

Having said this however, it does not mean that we are to compromise our faith and beliefs. Pinchas took action when no one else did. All of us are clearly to stand on the side of right even if we stand alone. We are to be ready to stand if that is what it takes. However even in that, our motives and stand must be in sync with our Father. If we do not stand up for the right we then are on the side of sin. (James 4:17) We all must have a bottom line so to speak, when the world or people defile the name of G-d or the honor of G-d, our faith demands we stand up for the right. Pinchas was not worried about how his actions would be seen. He saw his leaders paralyzed so he took action. The boy David took action when all of Israel stood by while Goliath blasphemed G-d.

Now let’s look at five daughters who, through their actions, changed the law of inheritance. In Numbers 27:1-11 we read the story of the daughters of Zelophehad who died leaving no one to inherit his property. These girls, through their conviction that this was not right, went to Moshe and made their case for change. This took strong conviction on their part. The unwavering belief that they were right brought then to Moshe. They didn’t wait for someone else to do it for them. G-d agreed with their request and changes were made in Torah to allow females to be counted as heirs on an equal footing with males. The same principle, while maybe not on the same level, has been evident in most of our lives. Rosa Parks refused to move to the back of the bus. Gandi stood against the British Empire and the state of India was born. The point being, one person can make a difference. Each of us can make a difference. We stand with G-d no matter the outcome. These are lessons that come clear in our portion tonight. Each of us is accountable before G-d for our own actions. May the Father give each of us the wisdom to choose wisely, to stand for right and not be complacent to the point of allowing anything and everything into our lives and our children’s lives.