Now this is a chapter from the Bible that will surely not get preached in church very often. It describes another terrible time in Israel. They have now strayed far from his commands:
Exo 20:1 And God spake all these words, saying,
Exo 20:2 I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
Exo 20:3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
Exo 20:4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:
Exo 20:5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;
Exo 20:6 And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
Num 25:1 And Israel abode in Shittim, and the people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab.
Num 25:2 And they called the people unto the sacrifices of their gods: and the people did eat, and bowed down to their gods.
Num 25:3 And Israel joined himself unto Baalpeor: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel.
Num 25:9 And those that died in the plague were twenty and four thousand.
Num 25:5 And Moses said unto the judges of Israel, Slay ye every one his men that were joined unto Baalpeor.
Note Israel was not only influenced by the women and culture of Moab, but also that of the Midian’s.
Num 25:6 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, who were weeping before the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.
Num 25:14 Now the name of the Israelite that was slain, even that was slain with the Midianitish woman, was Zimri, the son of Salu, a prince of a chief house among the Simeonites.
Num 25:15 And the name of the Midianitish woman that was slain was Cozbi, the daughter of Zur; he was head over a people, and of a chief house in Midian.
Num 25:16 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
Num 25:17 Vex the Midianites, and smite them:
Num 25:18 For they vex you with their wiles, wherewith they have beguiled you in the matter of Peor, and in the matter of Cozbi, the daughter of a prince of Midian, their sister, which was slain in the day of the plague for Peor’s sake.
Old John Gill writes:
And Israel joined himself unto Baalpeor,…. The name of an idol; one of the Baals, Baal being a general name for an idol; and, to distinguish this from other Baals or idols, it was called Peor, either from its opening its mouth in prophecy, as Ainsworth; or from some obscene posture and action used in the worship of it, being, as it is by many thought to be, the same with Priapus; or rather from the mountain Peor, where it was worshipped, as Jupiter is called Jupiter Olympius, Capitolinus, &c. from the mountains where he had a temple, or was worshipped; or from the name of some great personage, called Lord Peor, who was deified after his death; hence these Israelites are said to “eat the sacrifices of the dead”, Psa 106:28. Mr. Bedford (t) takes him to be Mizraim the son of Ham, the Osiris of the Egyptians, and the Priapus of other Heathens: and Father Calmet (u) is of opinion that he is the same with Orus, Osiris, and Adonis; and that Pe is only a prepositive article, and that Or is the name, and no other than Orus; but such a criticism the word will not bear: this idol, the chief god of the Moabites, was, in all probability, the same with Chemosh, who is expressly called the abomination of Moab, 1Ki 11:7 of whom See Gill on Jer 48:7 so Chemosh and Peor are thought to be the same by our English poet (w): to him the Israelites joined themselves, forsook the true God in a great measure, and were initiated into the rites of this deity, and constantly attended the worship of it, and cleaved unto it with their hearts and directions, and joined with their harlots in all parts of service performed unto it; See Gill on Hos 9:10,
For they vex you with their wiles,…. Not with wars, but with wiles, with cunning stratagems, and artful methods to draw them into sin, that thereby they might be exposed to the wrath of God:
wherewith they have beguiled you in the matter of Peor; the idol Peor, that is, Baalpeor; which seems to countenance the notion that Peor was the name of a man, some great personage, who was deified after his death; now the Midianites beguiled the Israelites, by sending their daughters among them, with whom they committed fornication, and by whom they were inveigled to worship the idol Peor:
and in the matter of Cozbi, the daughter of a prince of Midian, their sister; their countrywoman, as it was common with eastern people to call those of the same country with them their brethren and sisters: now the Midianites beguiled the Israelites, by prostituting a person of such quality to a prince of theirs, which was setting an example to other daughters of Midian to follow her, and so hereby many of the children of Israel were ensnared into whoredom, and into idolatry:
which was slain in the day of the plague, for Peor’s sake: or for the business of Peor, as the Targum of Jonathan, because of the worship of that idol; not that Cozbi was slain upon that account, but the plague came upon Israel by reason of their worshipping of it, and it was on the day that the plague was that she was slain; by which it seems that the plague lasted but one day.