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Torah QueeriesWeekly Commentaries on the Hebrew Bible$
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Gregg Drinkwater, Joshua Lesser, and David Shneer

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780814720127

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814720127.001.0001

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Pinchas, Zimri and the Channels of Divine Will

Pinchas, Zimri and the Channels of Divine Will

Parashat Pinchas (Numbers 25:10–30:1)

(p.216) Forty-One Pinchas, Zimri and the Channels of Divine Will
Torah Queeries

Steven Greenberg

NYU Press

This chapter presents the account of Pinchas in the reading of Parashat Pinchas of Numbers. Pinchas killed an Israelite man, Zimri, and a Midianite woman, Cozbi, for having an affair with each other, and “yoking” themselves with pagan god, Baal. Despite the Bible's praises of Pinchas's vigilante initiative that practically assuaged God's anger, however, the encounter between a public sexual menace and the vigilante assailant represents Hasidic tradition of repressing sexual desire. In contrast, the most radical rabbinic reading of the story, however, explores Zimri's profound love for Cozbi. The depth of their love with each other, as well as the man's failure to thwart his desire for the woman, reveal a love that is destined by God.

Keywords:   Zimri, Cozbi, Israelite, Midianite, Baal, Parashat Pinchas

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