Numbers 25:6-8 is another one of those WTF moments in the bible. An Israelite man brings a Midianite women into his tent. This act is seen by Moses and Phinehas, son of Eleazar, son of Aaron, who is at the Tabernacle with a bunch of weeping Israelites. Phinehas then grabs a spear, walks into the man’s tent and, in a gruesome scene worthy of Friday the 13th, stabs through the man and into the woman’s belly, killing them both.
This story raises a lot of unanswered questions, such as:
- Weren’t we just talking about Moabite women? Why are we now talking about a Midianite woman?
- Why were the Israelites weeping at the Tabernacle?
- For what purpose would an Israelite man take a Midianite woman into his tent?
- What were the two doing that Phinehas could stab through both of them at once? Was it a short conga line?
- If they were having sex, so what? Don’t the Midianites worship Yahweh? Weren’t they the ones who took Moses to Mt. Horeb where Yahweh lives? Wasn’t Moses saved by the Midianites? Doesn’t he have a Midianite wife?
- Even if the Midianites suddenly started worshiping Baal-Peor, wasn’t the Israelite man aware of Moses’ decree to murder everyone who had sex with the Moabite women?
Many of these questions have been addressed by scholars, and while they can’t agree on all the answers, they mostly agree that we are probably supposed to assume that the man and woman were having sex. We’re also probably supposed to assume that the woman was whoring herself out for a pagan god. As to why a Midianite would do this, there is no biblical explanation. And to answer why the story jumps from Moabites to Midians, the Documentary Hypothesis is again employed.
Here’s a fun fact! There is a Christian movement called the Phineas Priesthood who believe that this story teaches us that God doesn’t want people to have sex with people of a different race! But the priesthood isn’t racist, they’re just following the bible.
Finally, why were the Israelites weeping? Was it because so many of their men were being executed for sex? Possibly, but we’ll get an even better answer tomorrow (sort-of-but-not-really).