This chapter is an important one to remember for when you read Numbers 31
- The men of Israel began sinning against God again, committing sexual immorality with the Moabite women, and worshipping the god of Moab (Baal of Peor). The sexual immorality led to the idolatry. God became angry with them. Interestingly, the women of Israel are not said to have participated (25: 1 -3).
- The suggestion that the women of Moab lead the men of Israel into sexual immorality and idolatry was actually made by Balaam (31: 16). So, it was a plot rather than a chance happening.
- The leaders of Moab and Midian conspired to get Balaam to curse the Israelites and when that failed, they resorted to this (22: 2 – 5, 7).
- Moses, following God’s commands, instructs the leaders of the people to kill all the men who had joined in worshipping Baal (25: 4, 5).
- Before all the men who participated were killed, God had already sent a plague that killed 24,000 Israelites (25: 6 – 9).
- This incident involved leaders of the people. Zimri, son of Zalu, the leader of a Simeonite family was with Cozbi, daughter of Zur, a tribal chief of a Midianite family. They were both killed by Phinehas the priest and son of Aaron (25: 14, 15).
- Zimri and Cozbi are both introduced as ‘an Israelite man’ and ‘a Midianite woman’ (25:6). Their names are not given until later (25: 14, 15). A similar thing was done in the story of Moses, where his parents are introduce as ‘a Levite man and a Levite woman’ (Ex 2:1) and their names given much later in a genealogy (Ex 6: 20).
- God tells the Israelites to take justice (or vengeance) on the Midianites, treat them as enemies and kill them because they treated the Israelites as enemies and killed 24,000+ of them. Nothing is said about the Moabites (25: 16 – 18) but Balaam had already prophesied that they would be destroyed by the Israelites (24: 15 – 19).