Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The Righteous Priests Eleazar and Phinehas

Righteous Eleazar (Feast Day - September 2)


Eleazar and Phinehas the sacrificers,
We both honor as friends of the Lord.

Eleazar was Aaron's third son by his wife Elisheba. Eleazar became a priest along with his father and three brothers. He married a daughter of Putiel who bore him a son, Phinehas. After his two older brothers, Nadab and Abihu, were killed for making an unholy offering to God, and during his fathers lifetime, "he was supervisor over those who had charge of the sanctuary" (Num. 3:32). "Eleazar son of Aaron, the priest, is to have charge of the oil for the light, the fragrant incense, the regular grain offering and the anointing oil. He is to be in charge of the entire tabernacle and everything in it, including its holy furnishings and articles" (Num. 4:16).

When Aaron died at Mount Hor, Eleazar became the high priest. Before Moses died, the Lord instructed Moses to appoint Joshua as his successor, and to "stand before Eleazar the priest and all the congregation" (Num. 27:19). Eleazar served as the high priest through the rest of Moses' life and throughout Joshua's leadership in taking over Canaan.

He helped in the allotment of Canaan among the twelve tribes of Israel (Joshua 14:1-2). Eleazar was buried at Gibeah, a town belonging to Phinehas in the hill country of Ephraim. Phinehas succeeded him as high priest. In King David's day, 16 of the 24 priestly houses were descended from Eleazar, including the family of the high priest Zadok.

Righteous Phinehas (Feast Day - September 2 and March 12)


You are Phinehas, who are near to God,
Indeed you atoned souls by scattering sedition.

Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, was a grandson of Aaron. He was a zealous priest. During the desert wandering, Phinehas killed Zimri, an Israelite, and Cozri, a Midianite woman, whom Zimri had brought into the camp (Numbers 25).

This act ended a plague by which God had judged Israel for allowing Midianite women to corrupt Israel with idolatry and harlotry. For such zeal Phinehas and his descendants were promised a permanent priesthood. “Phinehas son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, the priest, has turned My anger away from the Israelites. Since he was as zealous for My honor among them as I am, I did not put an end to them in My zeal. Therefore tell him I am making My covenant of peace with him. He and his descendants will have a covenant of a lasting priesthood, because he was zealous for the honor of his God and made atonement for the Israelites” (Num. 25:11-13).

Phinehas became the third high priest of Israel, serving for 19 years. In other events in Phinehas' life, he accompanied an army of 12,000 in a war against Midian, in which the Israelites won decisively. He averted a war between the 10 tribes west of the Jordan, with the tribes east of the Jordan, when he learned that the altar built by the east tribes was only a reminder "that the Lord is God", and that it was not an act of idolatry.

He also conveyed the Lord's order to the Israelites to attack the tribe of Benjamin in retaliation for the rape and murder of a woman traveling through the land. In the battle, 25,100 Benjamite warriers died.

For Phinehas' strong defense of the Lord's law, he became a model to zealots of later generations. His descendants were named among those returning from exile in Babylon.

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