This Week's Focus Passage

Psalm 106:30 ‘Then stood up Phinehas.’

Psalm 106:30 ‘Then stood up Phinehas.’

There seem to be, on record in the Scriptures, only two men having the name of Phinehas. The first, chronologically, is Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, the first high priest of the nation of Israel—this Aaron was also the brother of the renowned and honored Moses. Almost ironically, the only other individual bearing the name of Phinehas was a son of Eli the priest, in the first book of Samuel at chapter two; Eli the priest had two sons, Hophni and Phinehas. We use the term ironic because of the chasm of difference between the recorded behaviors of these two very different men with this name, Phinehas. What’s in a name, anyway? We have often thought of several men of the Scriptures that, as far as we are able to discern, are the singular bearers of their names. Those that come immediately to mind are, the first Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and David the king of Israel and, of course, Jesus of Nazareth, David’s greater Son, the last Adam. Is it coincidence only that these men are also significant in that they are, each of them, associated with God-given covenants? From the covenant of works in the garden; the promise given to Noah; to the Abrahamic covenant which was then repeated to both Isaac and Jacob; that which, through Moses, God made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them forth out of the land of Egypt—Hebrews 8:9—to the covenant promises given David in 2 Samuel 7. Then the culmination of covenant blessing; the New Covenant promised in both Jeremiah and Ezekiel; that covenant of which our Savior spoke to His disciples as He was bidding them farewell during the last Passover as He instituted the ordinance of the Lord’s Table, saying to them and to each of ourselves, as He lifted the cup, This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many unto remission of sins.—Matthew 26:28.

Are there any other of the name David in the Scriptures? Are there any others by the name of Moses? Do we find the names of Noah, Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob given to other men besides those familiar patriarchs to which we have referred above? One of the great distinctions between the Word of God and the writings of uninspired men, that has been often noted, is that while the novels of uninspired men almost never have two persons in their story bearing the same name; it seems clear that this is a most deliberate determination of the writer in order to avoid confusion of persons in their story. But the Word of God, contrariwise, in the case of numerous persons, demonstrates no concern for such potential confusion. Perhaps the best of the examples afforded in the Scriptures is the repetition of the name ‘Ananias,’ which is found ten times in our Bibles. All ten of these instances are found in the book of Acts. In this book of Acts there are three different men by the name of Ananias. In chronological order, they are Ananias, the husband of Sapphira of Acts 5, a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias, whom the Lord, in Acts 9, sent to Saul to lay his hands on the blind persecutor that he might receive his sight. The third Ananias was the Jewish high priest of Acts 23 and 24; three remarkably differing personalities each bearing the same name. The Holy Spirit of inspiration had no concern over any potential confusion. Yet our patriarchs under discussion were singular in the names given them. But let us return to Phinehas and the two men of that name.

These two could scarcely be more conspicuous for difference. The earliest of the two is the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, the brother of Moses; the latter is the son of Eli the priest. So they were, each of them, sons of priests. Yet incredible were the distinctive courses that they determined to take in their lives. The son of Eleazar is the one to which the psalmist has referred in our focus passage; Then stood up Phinehas. The reference to his standing up speaks of that account that we have been given as recorded in the book of Numbers 25:6-9. The context belongs to that time of the Israelites wanderings in the wilderness after that they had refused to obey Jehovah in the matter of Kadesh-Barnea, and were thus consigned to wander in the wilderness for forty years. There were many ‘trials and tribulations’ in that journey. One of the most horrific failures of the people was the occasion of which many writers have written. It has been called, ‘The sin of Peor and the Zeal of Phinehas.’ Moses has written that Israel joined himself unto Baal-peor; and the anger of Jehovah was kindled against Israel. Of Phinehas’ stand, we are apprised in 25:6-9:

And, behold, one of the children of Israel came and brought unto his brethren a Midianitish woman in the sight of Moses, and in the sight of all the congregation of the children of Israel, while they were weeping at the door of the tent of meeting. And when Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose up from the midst of the congregation and took a spear in his hand; and he went after the man of Israel into the pavilion, and thrust both of them through, the man of Israel, and the woman through her body. So the plague was stayed from the children of Israel. And those that died by the plague were twenty and four thousand.

Behold, I give unto him my covenant of peace since he was jealous with my jealousy.

There was no covenant of peace for the latter Phinehas, brother of Hophi, son of Eli. Their behavior was deplorable. As priests of Jehovah, they did wickedly.

Now Eli was very old; and he heard all that his sons did unto all Israel, and how that they lay with the women that did service at the door of the tent of meeting. And he said unto them, Why do ye such things; for it is no good report that I hear.

God blessed Phinehas, son of Aaron, with promise of peace; Eli’s son with a curse.

David Farmer, elder

Fellowship Bible Church


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