Commemorated on March 12
Phinehas, grandson of the High-Priest Aaron and son of the High-Priest
Eleazar, was also a priest and zealous in his service.
When the Israelites,
having been led out from Egypt by the holy Prophet Moses (Comm. 4 September),
were already near to the Promised Land, their neighbours the Moabites and
Midianites were overcome by fear and envy. Not trusting in their own strength,
they decided to resort to sorcery and they summoned the magician Balaam to put
a curse on the Israelites. But the Lord in a revelation to Balaam announced His
will, and Balaam filled with the Spirit thrice blessed the People of God (Num.
23-24). Then the Moabites with prodigality drew the Israelites into the
idol-worship of Baal-Peor. God punished the Jews for their apostasy, and they
died by the thousands from a pestilential plague. Many, beholding the wrath of
God, came to their senses and turned to repentance. At this time a certain
fellow named Zimri, a chief man of the tribe of the Simeonites, "brought
to his brethren a Midianite woman in the sight of Moses and in the sight of all
the community of the sons of the Israelites, whilst they did weep at the
entrance of the tabernacle of the gathering" (Num. 25: 6). Phinehas,
filled with wrath at the insult to the people, went into Zimri's tent and with
a spear ran through both him and the Midianite woman. "And said the Lord
to Moses: Phinehas... hath averted Mine anger away from the sons of the
Israelites, wherein amongst them having been zealous for Me; wherefore, I do
give unto him Mine covenant of peace, and it shalt be for him and his
descendants a covenant of eternal priesthood, for that he hath shewn fervour
for his God and made propitiation for the sons of the Israelites" (Num.
25: 10-13). After this, at the command of God, Righteous Phinehas went at the
head of the Israelite army against the Moabites and brought chastisement upon
them for their impiety and treachery. After the death of the High-Priest
Eleazar, Saint Phinehas was unanimously chosen as high-priest. The high‑priesthood,
in accord with the Divine promise, continued also with his posterity. Saint
Phinehas died well up in age (+ c. 1500 B.C.).
© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.