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And Israel abode in Shittim, and the people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab.
And they called the people unto the sacrifices of their gods: and the people did eat, and bowed down to their gods.
And Israel joined himself unto Baalpeor: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel.
And the LORD said unto Moses, Take all the heads of the people, and hang them up before the LORD against the sun, that the fierce anger of the LORD may be turned away from Israel.
And Moses said unto the judges of Israel, Slay ye every one his men that were joined unto Baalpeor.
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.
And when Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose up from among the congregation, and took a javelin in his hand;
And he went after the man of Israel into the tent, and thrust both of them through, the man of Israel, and the woman through her belly. So the plague was stayed from the children of Israel.
And those that died in the plague were twenty and four thousand.

New Defender's Study Bible Notes

25:3 Baal-peor. This was the introduction of Baal worship into Israel, a practice which plagued them off and on until the Babylonians carried them into exile over a thousand years later. Baal-peor was evidently the shrine to Baal on the mountain of Peor (Numbers 23:28). When Balaam was not allowed by God to curse Israel directly, he counseled Balak to infiltrate the armies of Israel through using the Moabite women to seduce them. This action resulted in immediate capital punishment for all who became involved in this way. Balaam himself was later slain because of this counsel (Numbers 31:8,16).

25:4 heads of the people. The “heads of the people” were their leaders (compare Numbers 7:2) whom God held responsible for the sudden apostasy. The priests of Baal had inveigled many of the people to participate in a pagan feast to their fake god, one of the temptations being the prostitution which was part of the “worship.” Both the idolatry and the fornication were contrary to God’s law, and were the very sins which God had commissioned His people to exterminate from the promised land. It was essential, especially at this crucial juncture of their mission of conquest, that these gross and presumptuous sins be severely punished, before the corruption could spread further.

25:9 twenty and four thousand. According to I Corinthians 10:8, 23,000 fell “in one day.” Evidently another thousand died a day or so later.

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