The image above demonstrates the circle or kirkar of Jordan, and the northern reaches of the plains of Moab; once the rich plains on which Israel encamped before their crossing into the land of inheritance. To the left is the final reaches of the Jordan river before entering the Dead sea just below the picture. The mountains interrupting the picture at the top are the northern limits of the plain, and Beth-Nimrah (The house of the Leopards) is located on the southwestern tip of these. The north-eastern limits of the plain are marked by the modern town of Kafrein. (note the buildings) Behind Kafrain is a large reservoir that is just off this image. Kafrein is considered to be Abel Shittim.
The place of their final encampment is described as being from Beth-Jeshimoth to Abel Shittim, Num 33:49. Beth-Jeshimoth is on the northern margin of the Dead sea and its name means the house of destruction. [Note this is a separate to Jeshimon, which is the land located on the western side of the Dead sea, and the prospect of the view of Pisgah Num 21:20] This was a reminder of the recent events of Baal-peor where the nation suffered the insidious insult of moral corruption under the direction of the greedy Balaam. During this event it is first noted that Israel abode at Shittim Num 25:1 the word meaning a type of Acacia noted for its spines, and contains as such the idea of piercing. The tabernacle furniture was made predominantly from shittim wood, indicating that the process of spiritual development requires piercing. But the limits of the encampment were described as Abel-Shittim. Abel contains the idea of mourning. It is so used of the mourning associated at the death of Jacob in Gen 50:11 and Abel-Mizraim, [The mourning of the two Egypts or two oppressors] saw the recognition by Egypt of the end of life for all those who oppress the truth. [This was marked geographically not far from Abel Shittim, and likely the same place as Hammon-gog of Ezek 39:11-16]
Israel was to be pierced here in one of two ways: either in the crucifixion of evil choice or the death under the spear of Phineas, or the hand of Elohim. The mourning of the piercing saw spiritual Israel mourning for the spirit that opposed the working of God in their lives for the last 40 years, and the need for one to be pierced to remove the stimulating cause of this rebellion. This was seen in the champion of Phineas in Num 25:7 whose piercing of the woman through her belly indicated the destruction of such propensities and their power.
There are two clear progressions outlined in Num 25. The first is the progression of apostacy in the camp of Israel:
- The people “begun” heb move from original Ps 50:19 that is they gave in to evil. This was the “wiles” and “guiles” of Num 25:18cf Eph 4:14; 6:11; Test not to turn to the right hand or the left; Deut 4:9.
- Hear call of another 25:2 cf 2 Cor 11:3; Col 2:4,18; Rev 2:10; Gen 3:13.
- Eat and fellowship with another ; eating the sacrifices of the dead! Ps 106:25 = cup of devils 1 Cor 10:21.
- Bow down to Elohim Ex 20:5; Lev 26:1; Deut 5:9.
- Joined 1 Cor 6:15,156 a contrast to cleaving to Yahweh Deut 4;4 “separated (from God) to their shame” Hosea 9:10.
- Alienated Num 25:4 “hung” Ezek 23:17,18 “became as vile as the thing they loved” Hosea 9:10 NIV.
- Died in the plague under the fierce anger of Yahweh 25:4; 1 Cor 10:8.
The second the method of action in the face of absolute affronting apostacy in the actions of Phineas.
- Phineas first recognised error, “he saw” 25:7
- He “rose up”, that is made a determination to act, to make a stand for truth 25:7
- He followed through, (he did not sit down again); he “went after” 25:8
- He smote the origins of the problem “the belly” 25:8
- It was counted to him for righteousness Ps 106:31
- It was an inspiration for determined standing for principle for generations to follow, so others would “vex and smite” 25:17
The principle problem of the events of Baal-peor was the issues of the head (heb. rosh) Note the repetition of the word in 25:5,14,15 and then again in 26:2 (AV sum) 28:11;30:1; 31:26,49 32:28; 36:1 The victory of the piercing starts in the head. It is a conscious determination to accept the presence of God’s opinion. It was marked in the consecration of the Elohim on the rosh/head Num 6:5,7,9,11,18 in the vow of the Nazarite.
These things were written for our example, with the intent we should not lust after evil (things) as they (also) lusted 1 Cor 10:6.