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Numbers 25:1,4-5 NASB

[1]While Israel remained at Shittim, the people began to play the harlot with the daughters of Moab. [4]The Lord said to Moses, "Take all the leaders of the people and execute them in broad daylight before the Lord, so that the fierce anger of the Lord may turn away from Israel." [5]So Moses said to the judges of Israel, "Each of you slay his men who have joined themselves to Baal of Peor."

Zimri an Israeli leader who probably had carried out the execution of the offenders brings in a Midiate woman in the sight of Moses in the aftermath of this incident.We are told he brought this woman "in the sight of Moses" which seemed somewhat confrontational not withstanding the execution that had just taken place.

Numbers 25:6 NASB

[6]Then behold, one of the sons of Israel came and brought to his relatives a Midianite woman, in the sight of Moses and in the sight of all the congregation of the sons of Israel, while they were weeping at the doorway of the tent of meeting.

It seems strange for Zimri to have done this immediately after the execution of the offenders other than that to challenge Moses who happened to have married a Midianite (Exodus 2:16-21)

Could this incident be more deeper than a casual sexual encounter with a princess of the Midianites?

Could Zimri have been challenging Moses's leadership?

  • Yes. It would appear to be an act of wantonness and also of rebellion. The two do go together, usually. – Nigel J Jul 3 '18 at 6:55
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The below commentary is one I hadn't see before. In light of OP's question, it seems plausible because it seems so unlikely that Zimri would have been engaging in the fornication of those just killed for it. Perhaps all the mourning was over the recently deceased, then Phinehas reacted to the 'adding of insult to injury'?

https://www.studylight.org/commentary/numbers/25-6.html

Adam Clark Commentary (Num. 25:6)

One of the children of Israel - Zimri, the son of Salu, a prince of a chief family in the tribe of Simeon, Numbers 25:14, brought a Midianitish woman, Cozbi, daughter of Zur, head over a people of one of the chief families in Midian, Numbers 25:15. The condition of these two persons plainly proves it to have been a matrimonial alliance, the one was a prince, the other a princess; therefore I must conclude that fornication or whoredom, in the common sense of the word, was not practiced on this occasion. The matter was bad enough, as the marriage was in flat opposition to the law of God; and we need not make it worse by representing the woman as a common prostitute, as the Vulgate and several others have done. In such a case this is absolutely inadmissible. Josephus positively says that Zimri had married Cozbi, Antiq., 1. iv., cap. 6; and if he had not said so, still the thing is nearly self-evident. See Numbers 24:25; (note).

The children of Israel, who were weeping - This aggravated the crime, because the people were then in a state of great humiliation, because of the late impure and illegal transactions.

Num. 25:14 - Now the name(8034) of the Israelite(376), (3478) that was slain(5221) that(834) was slain(5221) with(854) the Midianitish woman,(4084) Zimri,(2174) the son(1121) of Salu,(5543) a prince(5387) of a chief(1) house(1004) among the Simeonites.(8099)

Num. 25:15 - And the name(8034) of the Midianitish(4084) woman(802) that was slain(5221) Cozbi,(3579) the daughter(1323) of Zur;(6698) he(1931) head(7218) over a people,(523) of a chief(1) house(1004) in Midian.(4080)

(Verses KJV.)

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