Israel falls into idolatry when the temporarily settled around the Moabites. This happens whenever they are around pagan peoples, and is part of the reason why there’s so many rules to separate them from the nations around them. They are called to be holy, and part of that means to be set aside for God.
Part of near eastern pagan worship was cultic prostitution, this is usually what is meant when the Bible says they “played the harlot” with a foreign god. There’s another layer of meaning too, in that Israel was supposed to be wed to God, but they went after other gods, just like a harlot would go after many men. This meaning is personified by the prophet Hosea later on in Israel’s history.
This particular instance is about cultic prostitution, and the men engaged in this abomination brought a plague upon the people. How little respect for God’s law did these fornicators have, that one brought a Midianite woman into the the tabernacle, or possibly outside the tent, but inside the enclosed courtyard, and was seen in the act by the people. Phinehas, the son of the high priest, speared through both of them with a javelin. His act of righteous anger staved off the plague.
Next we read about another census of the people taken by Moses. This is to determine the population of each tribe, and subgroup in each tribe, to determine the size of allotments they’ll receive when the land is parceled out. Levites aren’t counted for purposes of apportionment, because the Levites are dedicated to serving in the tabernacle and won’t receive an allotment of land.
Finally we come to the commissioning of Joshua to be the successor of Moses. At this point, Moses is well over 100 years old and has been told he will die before he enters the promised land, and he asks God to give the people a new shepherd before he dies, so he’s told to appoint Joshua. The fact that Moses, even at the end stage of his life, is still concerned more about the well being and success of his people, rather than even mourning his own imminent death, shows his character and commitment to his vocation. There’s a reason why he’s regarded as one of the greatest heroes and figures in the Old Testament.
Elizabeth comes to the end of her pregnancy and gives birth to her son. After naming him John, his father is finally able to speak, and he gives a prophecy where he blesses God and proclaims his son will be a prophet that will pave the way for the coming of the messiah. He mentions that God is fulfilling his covenants and has remembered his people Israel. The very names of John’s parents mean remembers (Zachariah) and oath (Elizabeth), and that’s exactly what is happening with the birth of John the Baptist.
2 comments on “The Bible In A Year: Day 70”
Kia Ora, Charles (Charlie)
New Zealand calling. I really enjoyed your programme today regarding your journey to Catholicism. I am looking forward to reading your new book once I work out how to purchase it for delivery to our country. Keep up the great work, thanks for the great programme and may God bless you and yours today and always.
Thank you very much for your comment. Here’s the link to the book on the Australian site for Amazon, and it’s also available as an ebook and audiobook from that same page https://www.amazon.com.au/Beauty-Mass-Exploring-Central-Catholic/dp/0578406055/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1678803293&sr=8-1