Sin at Shittim

Numbers 25:1-9

While the Israelites are encamped at Shittim, they begin to sin with the daughters of Moab, joining in their idolatrous practices. God instructs Moses to take the tribal leaders and mete out justice against the sinners.

 

As Moses instructs the judges to slay those who have sinned, one man brings forth a Midianite woman and sins with her in public, causing great distress. The congregation responds by weeping and only Phineas, son of Eleazar the priest, fights back, killing both man and woman with a spear and stopping the plague. We are told a total of 24,000 people fell in the plague God sent in his wrath.

 

Virtual Classroom Discussion

Until Phineas acts, the Torah does not mention a plague going on. Why do you think that is?

 

Comments ( 8 )

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  • Hector Zuniga

    How in the Days of Noak will be the final days, in those days, the people where give one to another in ''married'', and that refer to the abomination of man with man, women with women, exactly how happen in our present days, G-D give to Noak that He never will again destroy humanity with deluges, but that abomination that happen in Noak Days, is happen today, and worst those involving in such abominations, had taken the symbol of the promise to Noak, to use them as a banner of their abpominations, they are using the Raimbow colours. Tented the Wrath of Hashem over then and oveer humanity, because in all nations politicians give them "their aprobe, of their rights of choice".

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  • Herman Arentsen

    Bemidbar 25:6 They wre weeping. Weeping not only means doing teshuva but also being at a loss. The order was given to kill those who defiled themselves with Baal Peor. The plague was only mentioned in the last vers. It was idolatry's treachery , performed outside the camp where there were idols of Baal Peor. The rituals were directed right into the sexual atmosphere. Very secretly. Only when there had been a firm action of Phinehas the plaque stopped.

  • Angela B

    It also shows us that teshuva (repentance) brings an end to plagues in our lives. Phineas being a priest, I believe made teshuva for the entire nation of Israel by killing that man and woman who were bent on disobedience, hence the plague stopped. It follows therefore that the plague was not mentioned until then, in order to show the reader of Numbers how we can stop plagues in our lives.

  • Angela B

    Perhaps because by this time Yahweh knows that the reader of Numbers is used to the way the Torah operates: for every sin there's a consequence (which may be in the form of a plague).

  • Christine

    A plague can also refer to an affliction on a large scale, annoyance or nuisance, disgust and harass. My opinion is that the plague was a sexual spirit that can be highly contagious. Not necessarily the plague like the bubonic or the plagues as in the days of Moses and Pharaoh.
    Lord have mercy on us even today.

    • Diana Brown

      I think you may be right!

  • Diana Brown

    Since the sin of worshiping idols (primary offense) also lead to sexual impurity, the plague could have been sexually transmitted. Also, since the men of Israel ate the food offered to pagan gods, they could have been smitten with a bacteria that led to nausea and dehydration. In the desert, that would have quickly led to death.

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