Phinehas (Pinchas) the War High Priest

Numbers (B’midbar) 25:11 Phinehas (Pinchas), the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, hath turned my wrath away from the children of Israel, while he was zealous for my sake among them, that I consumed not the children of Israel in my jealousy.

Notes from Rabbi Avila’s teaching on July 10-11, 2015 / Tamuz 23-24, 5775. Expanded upon as I was recording it here.

This verse contains the word “jealousy” twice. Why?

Before we can answer this question let’s begin with another question.
Who is Phinehas (Pinchas)?

We are introduced to Phinehas (Pinchas) in Exodus.

Exodus (Shemot) 6:25 KJV
And Eleazar Aaron’s son took him one of the daughters of Putiel to wife; and she bare him Phinehas (Pinchas): these are the heads of the fathers of the Levites according to their families.

In the opening verse we see that Phinehas (Pinchas) was called the son of Eleazar. Exodus reveals his mother as “one of the daughters of Putiel”.

Rashi teaches Jethro (Yithro) יֶתֶר ,יִתְרוֹ, the father-in-law of Moshe, had five different (possibly seven) names in the Scriptures. Some Rabbis teaches that Putiel is Jethro (Yithro) – Rashi disagrees. 1.

Whether Putiel is Jethro (Yithro) or not, doesn’t really matter. Why? The Biblical text indicates to us Phinehas’ (Pinchas’) mother was a non-Jewish woman because we know nothing about Putiel – this is the only mention of him. Plus tradition teaches us he was basically an outcast of sorts. Why is this important to us? In the ancient days genealogy was determined trough the woman. In modern Israel it is still determined through the woman. Recently, I heard that the they (the Jewish religious council?) where reconsidering accepting the bloodline of males too.

Modern Genealogy Information

Why does the Bible record the genealogy through the father? I believe this is a part of the “called out from the nations” part of the covenant with the G-d of Abraham, Issac, & Jacob.? Just like Israel is different from all nations in all other aspects of their lives so it is with the genealogical tree. Note I have no documentation on this just a working opinion of mine based on books and materials that I’ve read.

The follow text I copied from the website, “The Tribe the Cohen-Levi Family Heritage“. It explains the modern “law” for tracing Hebraic family roots.

Lost Tribes and Halacha

Halacha, applied Torah law, defines “Jewishness” as being determined by the mother’s Jewish status. If a person’s mother is halachically Jewish, then the child is Jewish – even from a non-Jewish father. The father determines the child’s Tribe status. These days, that is whether he is a Cohen, Levi or Yisrael – which includes Yehuda and all others.

The various groups of peoples who have developed off the mainstream of World Jewry have intermixed with local populations and being out of contact with normative Judaism, have not followed the marriage and divorce procedures necessary to keep their lineage in order.

Having Jewish customs, Jewish names or even “Jewish genes” may indicate Jewish roots, but not Jewish halachic status. To acquire official Jewish status, such people require a halachic conversion, which involves Torah study, commitment to observance and a ritual bath (mikveh).

Phinehas Zeal Rewared

The idea of Phinehas (Pinchas) of being of only a partial Jew is very important. Before his action on this day he held no office. According to Rashi, “Although the kehunah had already been given to Aaron’s descendants, it had been given only to Aaron and his sons who were anointed with him, and to their children whom they would beget after their anointment. Phinehas, however, who was born before that and had never been anointed, had not been included in the kehunah until now. And so, we learn in [Tractate] Zevachim [101b],“Phinehas was not made a kohen until he killed Zimri.” 2

Due to Phinehas’ (Pinchas’) zeal G-d rewarded him. Early Rabbis commended him for his actions but later Rabbis seem to have some disdain towards Phinehas (Pinchas) and his actions.

Numbers (B’midbar) 25:12 Wherefore say, Behold, I give unto him my covenant of peace 13 And he shall have it, and his seed after him, even the covenant of an everlasting priesthood 4; because he was zealous for his God, and made an atonement for the children of Israel.

Phinehas kills Zimri and Cozbi. Notice what verse twelve says, ” Behold, I give unto him my covenant of peace.” Realize this, due to Phinehas’ (Pinchas’) zeal for the L-rd a covenant is established by G-d with him and his house. See the note on “covenant of peace” in verse 12 in the Scripture section. Ensure you read the note about the “everlasting priesthood” too.

Now this is a hint at something that the Torah does not specifically discuss (only alludes to it) but the Rabbis discuss it extensively – the War High Priest. It seems that there are two High Priest – one for the religious duties and one for the duties of engaging in war.

Phinehas (Pinchas) Goes to War!

Numbers 31:6,7 KJV
6 And Moses sent them to the war, a thousand of every tribe, them and Phinehas (Pinchas) the son of Eleazar the priest, to the war, with the holy instruments, and the trumpets to blow in his hand. 7 And they warred against the Midianites, as the Lord commanded Moses; and they slew all the males.

Do you see that Moshe instructs Phinehas (Pinchas) to go to war? Notice the items that he will take to war with him, (1) the holy instruments and the shofar to blow! Now Phinehas’ (Pinchas’) war time activities presents a problem. Once he engages in the war he will be defiled due to death. This defilement prevents him forever to enter back into the tabernacle of God.

NOTE: Rabbi Quoted Midrish Raba – Songs of Songs 2:33 & Deuteronomy 13:7 I will not post either of these until I can find the Midrish Raba.

Now since there are two High Priests the question then becomes who is greater.

Babylonian Talmud Nizir 47B –
The question was propounded: As between [the High Priest] anointed for a war, and the deputy [High Priest], which is of superior sanctity? Does the [High Priest] anointed for war take precedence, because he is qualified to go to war, or does the deputy take precedence, because he is qualified to perform the Temple service? — Come and hear: For it has been taught: The only difference between a [High Priest] anointed for war and a deputy is that if they were both walking by the way and encountered a meth mizwah, the [High Priest] anointed for war is to defile himself, but not the deputy. But has it not been taught: A [High Priest] anointed for war takes precedence of a deputy? — Mar Zutra replied: As far as saving his life is concerned, the [High Priest] anointed for war has a superior claim for many [people] depend upon him, but as regards defilement, the deputy is of superior sanctity, as has been taught: R. Hanina b. Antigonus said that the reason the office of deputy to the High Priest was created, was that should any disqualification happen to him [the High Priest], he can enter and minister in his stead. 3

The basic conclusion – depends on the circumstance. If it were Temple services than the regular High Priest but if a circumstance of killing or death than the High Priest of War.

Again in Deuteronomy the High Priest of War is instructed to speak to the men of war.

Deuteronomy 20:1-3 KJV
When thou goest out to battle against thine enemies, and seest horses, and chariots, and a people more than thou, be not afraid of them: for the Lord thy God is with thee, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. And it shall be, when ye are come nigh unto the battle, that the priest shall approach and speak unto the people, And shall say unto them, Hear, O Israel, ye approach this day unto battle against your enemies: let not your hearts faint, fear not, and do not tremble, neither be ye terrified because of them;

G-d Puts on His Armour

After the exodus from Egypt Moses sings a song and declares in Exodus 15:3 “Yahweh is a man of war. Yahweh is his name.” Every warrior needs Armour in the next Scripture you can plainly see G-d putting on His Armour.

Isaiah 59:16-7 KJV
16 And he saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor: therefore his arm brought salvation unto him; and his righteousness, it sustained him. 17 For he put on righteousness as a breastplate, and an helmet of salvation upon his head; and he put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloak.

In the previous text we can see certain parts of that Armour mentioned, this is the inspiration for Shaul’s (Paul) writing to the church of Ephesus. The Armour of God deals with the priestly garments not a Roman solider. A Roman soldier’s armour is conventional weapons but the priestly garments are mighty through G-d.

Ephesians 6:10-11(KJV)
10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. 11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

Take note it’s called “armour of God”. Our Armour is G-d and we must be hidden in the L-rd. Our daily exercise should be to hide in Him…see Ps. 17:8; 27:5; 31:20; 32:7; 61:3; 64:2; 68:20; 119:114; 143:9; Isaiah 32:2. Our fight is to maintain our relationship with Him by resisting all that is opposite of Him.

Exodus 28 contains the complete description of the High Priest’s garments and it is very important to us here. Why? The Armour of God is compared to the garments of the High Priest! Interesting note the High Priest normally wore four garments during the year; On Rosh Hashanah he wore eight garments.

Now we return to Phinehas (Pinchas). In the opening verses we saw that G-d promised an everlasting priesthood. However according to the list of High Priest at Jewish Encyclopedia it seems that his Preisthood ended but not so. It paused during the priesthood of Eli but shortly thereafter it returned to the bloodline of Phinehas (Pinchas).

The next part is somewhat mind-numbing information, that personally I am still processing at this moment. See there are some Rabbis who teach that Phinehas’ covenant was one that gave eternal life to Phinehas. The Scriptures never records his death. The last time we see Phinehas is in Judges.

Judges 20:28
And Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, stood before it in those days,) saying, Shall I yet again go out to battle against the children of Benjamin my brother, or shall I cease? And the Lord said, Go up; for to morrow I will deliver them into thine hand.

The Phinehas that we see die in the Scriptures is the son of Eli. The Rabbis on the extreme actually records that Phinehas was Elijah. Others say that he lived to met Elijah. Either way Elijah’s prophetic ministry flows from Phinehas (Pinchas). Another way I heard it presented was that Phinehas (Pinchas) was a type and shadow of Elijah. Interestingly, Yeshua states that Elijah was a type and shadow of John the Baptizer.

Pinchas is Elija.

Said G‑d to Pinchas: You made peace between Israel and Me in this world. So too, in the world to come, it is you who shall make peace between Me and My children. As it is written (Malachi 3:23–24): “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and awesome day of G‑d. He will return the hearts of fathers to children, and the hearts of children to their fathers.”
(Yalkut Shimoni)

Again it does not matter if this is true, the point is that we never see his death And the Scripture does reveal that he live until at least the time of the judges, this would mean that he outlived Joshua.

Phinehas (Pinchas) is One of the Four Horsemen

Zech 2:3 CJB
2 (1:18) Then I looked up and saw four horns. 2 (1:19) I asked the angel who was speaking to me, “What are these?” He answered, “These are the horns that scattered Y’hudah, Isra’el and Yerushalayim.” 3 (1:20) Next, Adonai showed me four artisans. 4 (1:21) I asked, “What are these coming to do?” He said, “Those horns that scattered Y’hudah so completely that no one could even raise his head — well, these men have come to terrify them, to overthrow the nations that raised their horns against the land of Y’hudah to scatter it.”

Some refer to the four artisans as the four horseman of Revelation. They add names to the horsemen as (1) Elijah, (2) Messiah, (3) Melchizedek, and (4) War Priest – Pinchas. These may explain the everlasting covenant. Look at these names and consider this…Elijah was carried off in a chariot, Melchizedek has no linage (beginning or ending), Pinchas we never see die, and Messiah well ’nuff said.

Zechariah 14:9 KJV
And the Lord (YHWH) shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one Lord (YHWH), and his name one.

In this text Messiah is speaking to the children of Israel. He is declaring the unification of “the name” – YHVH. There will not be two kings only “the One” YHVH.

Isaiah 63:1-6 KJV
I’m Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this that is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength? I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save. Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the winefat? I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me: for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment. For the day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come. And I looked, and there was none to help; and I wondered that there was none to uphold: therefore mine own arm brought salvation unto me; and my fury, it upheld me. And I will tread down the people in mine anger, and make them drunk in my fury, and I will bring down their strength to the earth.

Revelation 14:14-20 KJV
And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle. And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe. And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped. And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle. And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire; and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe. And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs.

Revelation 19:11-15 KJV
And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.

These verses speak of a return of a conquering king. Notice the speech concerning all of the blood. The blood will be upon the garments of the returning king. Can you guess what armour he will be wearing – priestly garments. Kings wage war but priest offers redemption. This period will be the “time of Redemption”. This deals with the redemption of His people. Blood was always spilled for redemption. Could this be the fulfillment of Phinehas (Pinchas) the War High Priest?

Notes:

Jethro’s 7 Biblical Names is a brief article By Dr. Russell Hendel. Basically he thinks that name Putiel is highly unlikely Jethro based on Hebrew name construction, and Rashi’s notes. Here is a download by Dr. Hendel explaining in more detail.
Jethro’s Biblical Names 22.54 KB


Chabad.org Rashi Notes on Numbers ↩
Come and Hear