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Numbers 25:1-9 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Chapter 25

Worship of Baal of Peor. While Israel was living at Shittim,[a] the people profaned themselves by prostituting themselves with the Moabite women. These then invited the people to the sacrifices of their god, and the people ate of the sacrifices and bowed down to their god. Israel thereby attached itself to the Baal of Peor, and the Lord’s anger flared up against Israel. The Lord said to Moses: Gather all the leaders of the people, and publicly execute them[b] before the Lord, that the blazing wrath of the Lord may turn away from Israel. So Moses told the Israelite judges, “Each of you kill those of his men who have attached themselves to the Baal of Peor.”[c]

Zeal of Phinehas. At this a certain Israelite came and brought in a Midianite woman[d] to his kindred in the view of Moses and of the whole Israelite community, while they were weeping at the entrance of the tent of meeting. When Phinehas, son of Eleazar, son of Aaron the priest, saw this, he rose up from the assembly, and taking a spear in his hand, followed the Israelite into the tent where he pierced the two of them, the Israelite and the woman. Thus the plague upon the Israelites was checked; but the dead from the plague were twenty-four thousand.


  1. 25:1 Shittim: the full name was Abel-shittim, a locality at the foot of the mountains in the northeastern corner of the plains of Moab (33:49). Prostituting themselves: the application to men of such traditional language for apostasy clearly suggests apostasy was taken to be an inevitable consequence of intermarriage with the Midianite women.
  2. 25:4 Publicly execute them: the same phrase occurs in 2 Sm 21:6–14, where the context shows that at least a part of the penalty consisted in being denied honorable burial. In both passages, dismemberment or impalement (perhaps subsequent to the actual execution) as a punishment for the breaking of covenant pledges, is a possible interpretation of the Hebrew phrase.
  3. 25:5 Thereby Moses apparently alters the Lord’s command to execute all the leaders.
  4. 25:6 Midianite woman: according to 22:4, 7, the Midianites were allied with the Moabites in opposing Israel, while 31:16 claims that Balaam had induced the Midianite women to lure the Israelites away from the Lord. They were weeping: on account of the plague that had struck them; cf. v. 8.
New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Scripture texts, prefaces, introductions, footnotes and cross references used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.


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