|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
25:1-5 The friendship of the wicked is more dangerous than their enmity; for none can prevail against God's people if they are not overcome by their inbred lusts; nor can any enchantment hurt them, but the enticements of worldly interests and pleasures. Here is the sin of Israel, to which they are enticed by the daughters of Moab and Midian. Those are our worst enemies who draw us to sin, for that is the greatest mischief any man can do us. Israel's sin did that which all Balaam's enchantments could not do; it set God against them. Diseases are the fruits of God's anger, and the just punishments of prevailing sins; one infection follows the other. Ringleaders in sin ought to be made examples of justice.
Verse 4. - The Lord said unto Moses. It seems strange that so fearful an apostasy had gone so far without interference on the part of Moses. He may have been absent from the camp on account of the wars with the Amorite kings; or he may have trusted to the chiefs to see that due order and discipline was maintained in the camps. Take all the heads of the people, i.e., the chiefs, who ought to have prevented, and might have prevented, this monstrous irregularity, but who seem, if we may judge from the case of Zimri, to have countenanced it. The mere neglect of duty in so gross a case was reason enough for summary execution. Hang them up before the Lord. Either by way of impalement or by way of crucifixion, both of which were familiar modes of punishment. In this case the guilty persons were probably slain first, and exposed afterwards. The hanging up was not ordered on account of its cruelty, nor merely for the sake of publicity ("against the sun ), but in order to show that the victims were devoted to the wrath of God against sin (cf. Deuteronomy 21:23; 2 Samuel 21:2-6). The Septuagint has here παραδειγμάτισον αὐτούς. Cf. Hebrews 6:6, where this word is coupled with "crucify." Them is no authority for referring the "them" (אותָם) to the guilty persons instead of to the heads of the people, as is done by the Targums and by many commentators.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And the Lord said unto Moses,.... Being provoked with the sins of the people, he called to him out of the tabernacle, or out of the cloud:
take all the heads of the people, the princes of the tribes, not to hang them, but to judge those that worshipped Peor, as Jarchi interprets it; though some think that these having sinned, were ordered to be taken and hanged, and made public examples of; but it can hardly be thought, though there were some that might be guilty of the above sins, as Zimri, yet not all of them:
hang them up before the Lord against the sun; that is, those that were guilty of idolatry: the meaning is, and which all the Targums give into, that these heads of the people were to assemble at some proper place, the court of judicature, and order the delinquents to be brought before them, and try, judge, and condemn those they found guilty, and cause them to be hanged somewhere near the tabernacle, and before it, having neglected the worship of God there, and served an idol; and this was to be done openly in the daytime, that all might see and fear; and if it was the sun that was worshipped in this idol, as some think, they were hanged against the sun, to show that the idol they worshipped was not able to deliver them; but, in the face of it, and as it were in defiance of it, they were ordered to be hanged up; and this, according to the Targum of Jonathan, was in the morning against the rising sun, and where they hung all day, and were taken down at sun setting:
that the fierce anger of the Lord may be turned away from Israel; when justice had taken place, and proper punishment was inflicted upon the criminals, whereby a just resentment was made against sin, and God glorified.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
4. The Lord said unto Moses, Take all the heads of the people, and hang them up—Israelite criminals, who were capitally punished, were first stoned or slain, and then gibbeted. The persons ordered here for execution were the principal delinquents in the Baal-peor outrage—the subordinate officers, rulers of tens or hundreds.
before the Lord—for vindicating the honor of the true God.
against the sun—that is, as a mark of public ignominy; but they were to be removed towards sunset (De 21:23).
Numbers 25:4 Parallel Commentaries
Numbers 25:4 NIV
Numbers 25:4 NLT
Numbers 25:4 ESV
Numbers 25:4 NASB
Numbers 25:4 KJV
Bible Hub: Online Parallel Bible