Righteous Saint Phinehas

Commemorated on March 12

      Righteous Saint 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.