וַיַּרְא פִּנְחָס בֶּן אֶלְעָזָר. וְכֻלָּן לֹא רָאוּ. וַהֲלֹא כְּתִיב: לְעֵינֵי מֹשֶׁה וּלְעֵינֵי כָּל עֲדַת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל. אֶלָּא רָאָה מַעֲשֶׂה וְנִזְכַּר הֲלָכָה, שֶׁהַבּוֹעֵל אֲרַמִּית קַנָּאִין פּוֹגְעִין בּוֹ. וַיָּקָם מִתּוֹךְ הָעֵדָה. מֵהֵיכָן עָמַד. אֶלָּא שֶׁהָיוּ נוֹשְׂאִין וְנוֹתְנִין בַּדָּבָר אִם הוּא חַיָּב מִיתָה אוֹ לָאו. עָמַד פִּנְחָס בְּתוֹךְ הַקָּהָל וְנִתְנַדֵּב. וַיִּקַּח רֹמַח בְּיָדוֹ. נָטַל שִׁנּוֹ שֶׁל בַּרְזֶל וְהֵנִיחוֹ בְּחֵיקוֹ וְהִתְחִיל מִסְתַּמֵּךְ עַל הָעֵץ, שֶׁנִּתְיָרֵא מִפְּנֵי שִׁבְטוֹ שֶׁהִקִּיפוּ אוֹתוֹ. כֵּיוָן שֶׁהִגִּיעַ אֶצְלָם, אָמְרוּ לֵיהּ, לָמָּה בָּאתָ. אָמַר לָהֶם: אַף אֲנִי בָּאתִי לַעֲשׂוֹת צְרָכַי. הֱנִיחוּהוּ וְנִכְנַס. שֶׁאִלְמָלֵא זוֹ, לֹא הֱנִיחוּהוּ. וַיָּבֹא אַחַר אִישׁ יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶל הַקֻּבָּה וַיִּדְקֹר אֶת שְׁנֵיהֶם, זֶה עַל גַּב זֶה לְתוֹךְ טֻמְאַת שְׁנֵיהֶם, שֶׁלֹּא יְהוּ יִשְׂרָאֵל אוֹמְרִים: לֹא הָיְתָה שָׁם טֻמְאָה, וְקִנֵּא לִשְׁמוֹ שֶׁל הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא. וְנַעֲשׂוּ לוֹ שְׁנֵים עָשָׂר נִסִּים. וְאֵלּוּ הֵן, הַנֵּס הָרִאשׁוֹן, דַּרְכָּן לִפְרֹשׁ זֶה מִזֶּה, וְהִדְבִּיקָן הַמַּלְאָךְ. הַנֵּס הַשֵּׁנִי, סָתַם הַמַּלְאָךְ פִּיהֶם שֶׁלֹּא יִזְעֲקוּ. הַנֵּס הַשְּׁלִישִׁי, שֶׁכִּוֵּן כְּנֶגֶד הַקֻּבָּה, כְּדֵי שֶׁתְּהֵא זַכְרוּתוֹ נִרְאֶה בְּתוֹךְ הַקֻּבָּה שֶׁלָּהּ. מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהָיוּ אוֹמְרִים: אַף הוּא נִכְנַס וְעָשָׂה צְרָכָיו. הָרְבִיעִי, הֶאֱרִיךְ הַבַּרְזֶל, כְּדֵי שֶׁיִּדְקֹר אֶת שְׁנֵיהֶם. הַחֲמִישִׁי, נָתַן כֹּחַ בִּזְרוֹעוֹ לְהַגְבִּיהַּ אֶת שְׁנֵיהֶם. הַשִּׁשִּׁי, הָיָה כֹּחַ בָּעֵץ לִסְבֹּל אֶת שְׁנֵיהֶם. הַשְּׁבִיעִי, לֹא נִשְׁמְטוּ מִן הָרֹמַח, אֶלָּא עָמְדוּ בִּמְקוֹמָן. הַשְּׁמִינִי, הִגְבִּיהָן הַמַּלְאָךְ בְּרֹאשׁ הָרֹמַח כְּדַרְכָּן, לְהַרְאוֹת קְלוֹנָן. הַתְּשִׁיעִי, לֹא הִטִּיפוּ דָּם, כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יִטָּמֵא פִּנְחָס. הָעֲשִׂירִי, שָׁמַר הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא רוּחָם שֶׁלֹּא יָמוּתוּ. הָאֶחָד עָשָׂר, הִגְבִּיהַּ הַמַּלְאָךְ אֶת מַשְׁקוֹף הַבַּיִת, כְּדֵי שֶׁיֵּצְאוּ שְׁנֵיהֶם תְּלוּיִים לְעֵינֵי הַכֹּל. הַשְּׁנֵים עָשָׂר, עָמְדוּ כָּל בְּנֵי שִׁבְטוֹ לִפְגֹּעַ בּוֹ, יָרַד מַלְאָךְ וְנָגַף אוֹתָם לְפָנָיו. כְּשֶׁרָאָה פִּנְחָס שֶׁמְּבַקֵּשׁ הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא לְכַלּוֹתָן, חֲבָטָן בַּקַּרְקַע וְעָמַד וְהִתְפַּלֵּל סַלְקוּ, הָדָא הוּא דִּכְתִיב: וַיַּעֲמֹד פִּנְחָס וַיְפַלֵּל וְגוֹ' (תהלים קו, ל), שֶׁהוּא עוֹשֶׂה אֶת הַדִּין. אֵין וַיְפַלֵּל אֶלָּא דִּין, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: וְנָתַן בִּפְלִילִים (שמות כא, כב). וַיִּהְיוּ הַמֵּתִים בַּמַּגֵּפָה, וְאַחֲרֵי כֵן, שְׂאוּ אֶת רֹאשׁ. לְהוֹדִיעֲךָ בְּכָל זְמַן שֶׁנּוֹפְלִין, נִמְנִין. מָשָׁל לִזְאֵב שֶׁנָּפַל עַל הַצֹּאן, אָמַר בַּעַל הַצֹּאן לָרוֹעֶה, חָשֹׁב כַּמָּה חָסְרוּ. לְהוֹדִיעֲךָ כַּמָּה הַזְּנוּת מַרְחֶקֶת, שֶׁזֶּה יְחִידִי הָיָה וְעַל יָדוֹ נָפְלוּ אַרְבָּעָה וְעֶשְׂרִים אֶלֶף. זֶה שֶׁאָמַר הַכָּתוּב: חֲמַת מֶלֶךְ מַלְאֲכֵי מָוֶת וְאִישׁ חָכָם יְכַפְּרֶנָּה (משלי טז, יד). מָשָׁל לַמֶּלֶךְ שֶׁהָיָה עוֹבֵר וְסִיעַת נְעָרִים עוֹמְדִים לְפָנָיו. בָּא אֶחָד וְקִלֵּל אֶת הַמֶּלֶךְ, נִתְמַלֵּא הַמֶּלֶךְ עֲלֵיהֶם חֵמָה. בָּא אֶחָד מֵהֶם וּסְטָרוֹ לְאוֹתוֹ שֶׁקִּלֵּל אֶת הַמֶּלֶךְ, מִיָּד שָׁכְכָה חֲמַת הַמֶּלֶךְ. כָּךְ מִי גָּרַם לְהַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא לְהָשִׁיב חֲמָתוֹ וְלֹא יִתְכַּלּוּ כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל. הֱוֵי אוֹמֵר, זֶה פִּנְחָס. הֱוֵי, וְאִישׁ חָכָם יְכַפְּרֶנָּה. אָמַר הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא, בָּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה עַל יְדֵי סוֹרְחָן, הֱיִיתֶם נִמְנִין. אֲבָל לֶעָתִיד לָבֹא, וְהָיָה מִסְפָּר בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל כְּחוֹל הַיָּם אֲשֶׁר לֹא יִמַּד וְלֹא יִסָּפֵר (הושע ב, א). בִּמְהֵרָה בְּיָמֵינוּ אָמֵן כֵּן יְהִי רָצוֹן. (Numb. 25:7:) “When Phinehas [ben Eleazar ben Aaron the priest] saw.” But did they all not see it?100Numb. R. 20:25. And is it not written (in vs. 6), “before the eyes of Moses and the eyes of the whole congregation of the Children of Israel?” It is simply that when he saw the deed, he remembered the ruling (halakhah); that one who cohabits with an Aramean woman will have zealots strike him down. (Numb. 25:7, cont.:) “He arose from the midst of the congregation.” From where did he stand up? It is simply that, while they were involved in give and take on the matter of whether or not [the culprit] was liable for death, that man (Phinehas) stood up from the midst of the congregation and volunteered [to carry out the sentence]. (Numb. 25:7, cont.:) “And took a spear in his hand.” He put the iron prong in his hand, which he put in his bosom. Then he began [to approach] leaning on the wood like a staff,101I.e., with the iron prong hidden, the spear shaft seemed like a mere staff. because he was afraid of [the culprit's] tribe, as they surrounded him. When he reached them, they said to him, “Why have you come?” He said to them, “I also have come to fulfill my needs.” So they gave him permission, and he entered. For otherwise they would not have given him permission. (Numb. 25:8:) “Then he went after the man of Israel into the tent, and pierced both of them.” He pierced both of them, the one on top of the other, through the unclean place (i.e., the private parts) of the both of them; lest Israel say there was no defilement there. He was zealous for the name of the Holy One, blessed be He. And twelve miracles occurred for him: The first miracle is that it is common that they would separate one from the other, but the angel adhered them together. The second miracle is that the angel closed their mouths that they not yell out. The third miracle is that [Phinehas was able to] direct [the spear precisely so that] the male genitals of [Zimri] were visible in the genitals of [Cozbi]; because they would have [otherwise] said, “[Phinehas] also went in and fulfilled his needs.” The fourth is that the iron expanded so that he could stab both of them. The fifth is that [the angel] gave him strength in his arm to raise both of them up. The sixth is that there was strength in the pole [of the spear] to lift both of them up. The seventh is that [Zimri and Cozbi] did not fall from the spear, but stayed in their place. The eighth is that the angel raised them up in the manner [of intercourse] on top of the spear for all to see their disgrace. The ninth is that they did not trickle blood, so that Phinehas would not become impure. The tenth is that the Holy One, blessed be He, kept their spirit [alive so that he would not become impure]. The eleventh is that the angel raised the lintel of the house chamber so that both of them would come out suspended in front of the eyes of everyone. The twelfth is when all the members of his tribe were ready to strike him down, an angel went down and smote them before him. When Phinehas saw that the Holy One, blessed be He, sought to destroy them, he struck [Zimri and Cozbi] on the ground. When he arose and prayed, they were removed. That is what is written (in Ps. 106:30), “Then Phinehas arose and interceded,”102The verse continues: AND THE PLAGUE WAS STOPPED. in that he gave the judicial verdict (din). Interceded (rt.: pll) can only denote a judicial verdict (din), since it is stated (in reference to making a reparation Exod. 21:22), “and he shall pay as the judges (rt.: pll) determine.” (Numb. 25:9:) “And those who died from the plague.” And afterwards [it is written] (in Numb. 26:2), “Count the head (take a census).” [This is] to inform you that, on every occasion when they fell, they were numbered. There is a parable about a wolf who fell upon a flock of sheep. The owner of the sheep said to the shepherd, “Count how many were lost.” [This] is to inform you how much unchastity distances [from God]; as this was [just one] individual, and [yet] twenty-four thousand fell on his account. This is related to (in Prov. 16:14), “The king’s wrath is a messenger of death, but a wise man can appease it.” There is a parable about a king who was passing by when a group of youths were standing in front of him. [When] one of them cursed him, the king was filled with anger against [all of] them. [Then] one of them came and socked the one who cursed the king, [and] the king’s anger was immediately subdued. So too, who caused the Holy One, blessed be He, to go back from His anger and not to destroy all of Israel? One would say it was Phinehas. Ergo, “but a wise man can appease it.” The Holy One, blessed be He, has said, “In this world it is on account of gross misconduct that they were counted; but in the world to come (according to Hos. 2:1), “The number of the Children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered.” Amen, may it be [His] will.