1 While the Israelites were camped at Acacia,* some of the men defiled themselves by sleeping with the local Moabite women.1
2 These women invited them to attend sacrifices to their gods, and soon the Israelites were feasting with them and worshiping the gods of Moab.
3 Before long Israel was joining in the worship of Baal of Peor, causing the LORD's anger to blaze against his people.
4 The LORD issued the following command to Moses: "Seize all the ringleaders and execute them before the LORD in broad daylight, so his fierce anger will turn away from the people of Israel."
5 So Moses ordered Israel's judges to execute everyone who had joined in worshiping Baal of Peor.
6 Just then one of the Israelite men brought a Midianite woman into the camp, right before the eyes of Moses and all the people, as they were weeping at the entrance of the Tabernacle.*2
7 When Phinehas son of Eleazar and grandson of Aaron the priest saw this, he jumped up and left the assembly. Then he took a spear
8 and rushed after the man into his tent. Phinehas thrust the spear all the way through the man's body and into the woman's stomach. So the plague against the Israelites was stopped,
9 but not before 24,000 people had died.
10 Then the LORD said to Moses,
11 "Phinehas son of Eleazar and grandson of Aaron the priest has turned my anger away from the Israelites by displaying passionate zeal among them on my behalf. So I have stopped destroying all Israel as I had intended to do in my anger.
12 So tell him that I am making my special covenant of peace with him.
13 In this covenant, he and his descendants will be priests for all time, because he was zealous for his God and made atonement for the people of Israel."
14 The Israelite man killed with the Midianite woman was named Zimri son of Salu, the leader of a family from the tribe of Simeon.
15 The woman's name was Cozbi; she was the daughter of Zur, the leader of a Midianite clan.
16 Then the LORD said to Moses,
17 "Attack the Midianites and destroy them,
18 because they assaulted you with deceit by tricking you into worshiping Baal of Peor, and because of Cozbi, the daughter of a Midianite leader, who was killed on the day of the plague at Peor."
Read Numbers 26