Numbers 25:2
And they called the people unto the sacrifices of their gods: and the people did eat, and bowed down to their gods.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(2) And they called the people . . . —The Moabitish women invited the Israelites to their sacrificial feasts, which were celebrated in honour of Baal-peor, who was worshipped in the city of Beth-peor (Deuteronomy 3:29). He is supposed to be identical with Chemosh, the Moabitish god of war.

Numbers 25:2. They called — The Moabites, being now neighbours to the Israelites, and finding themselves unable to effect their design by war and divination, fell another way to work, by contracting familiarity with them, and, perceiving their evil inclinations, they, that is, their daughters, invited them unto the sacrifices — Unto the feasts which were made of their parts of the sacrifices, after the manner of the Jews and Gentiles too, the participation whereof was reckoned a participation in the worship of that God to whom the sacrifices were offered. Of their gods — Of their god Baal-peor, the plural Elohim being here used, as commonly it is for one God.

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.And they called - i. e., "the daughters of Moab called." CHAPTER 25

Nu 25:1-18. The Israelites' Whoredom and Idolatry with Moab.

1. Israel abode in Shittim—a verdant meadow, so called from a grove of acacia trees which lined the eastern side of the Jordan. (See Nu 33:49).

They called the people: this may be noted, either,

1. As the consequent of their whoredom, an invitation to further society in their sacred feasts; or rather,

2. As the cause or occasion of their whoredom, the Hebrew vau here signifying for, as it oft doth. The Moabites being now neighbours to the Israelites, and finding themselves unable to effect their design against Israel by war and witchcraft, they now fell another way to work, by contracting familiarity with them; and perceiving their evil and lustful inclinations, they, i.e. their daughters, last mentioned, invited them to their feasts.

Unto the sacrifices, i.e. unto the feasts which were made of their parts of their sacrifices, after the manner of the Jews and Gentiles too, the participation whereof was reckoned a participation in the worship of that god to whom the sacrifices were offered, 1 Corinthians 10:18, and therefore was forbidden to the Israelites when such feasts and sacrifices belonged to a false god, Exodus 34:15. Yet this was a less and more modest kind of idolatry, and therefore is fitly used to usher in what was more gross and impious.

Of their gods, i.e. of their god, Baal-peor, the plural elohim being here used, as commonly it is, for one god.

Bowed down; which properly notes the outward act of worship, which here consisting in or being accompanied with filthy serious, may either signify or connote them.

To their gods; before their gods, or, to the honour and worship of their gods.

And they called the people unto the sacrifices of their gods,.... That is, the daughters of Moab and Midian, with whom the children of Israel carried on an unlawful correspondence, invited them, their gallants, to come and partake of the feasts which attended the sacrifices of their idols; for part of what was offered to idols a feast was kept with, to which great numbers were invited, and which was observed with all the circumstances of joy and pleasure imaginable, and which was very ensnaring, especially to young people; and the children of Israel being so much enamoured with the beauty of the Moabitish women, and so strong were their lusts and passions, that they could not refuse the invitation:

and the people did eat: of the things sacrificed to idols, and so became guilty of idolatry, even by so doing, and then when they had eaten and drank, and were merry, they were led on to other acts of idolatry:

and bowed down to their gods: which was a plain and open act of idolatry, whereby they testified their faith in their divinity, their reverence of them, and their homage and obedience to them: Jarchi says, when the evil concupiscence or lust was strong in them, and they solicited the daughters of Moab to hearken to them, and comply with them, they used to take the image of Peor out of their bosom, and said, worship this, signifying that on that condition they would gratify them; and thus whoredom led them on to idolatry, and they committed the one for the sake of being indulged in the other.

And they called the people unto the sacrifices of their gods: and the people did eat, and bowed down to their gods.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
2. for they called] and they called. The writer relates that the Israelites first came into immoral relations with the women, and then that the women, very naturally, invited them to join in their local religious festivities.

Verse 2. - And they called, i.e., the women of Moab, encouraged to do so by the licentious intercourse which had sprung up. Without such encouragement it is difficult to suppose that they would have ventured on such a step. And the people did eat. Gluttony added its seductions to lust. No doubt this generation were as weary of the manna and as eager for other and heavier food as their fathers had been (see on Numbers 11:4; 21:5). Numbers 25:2The Lord had defended His people Israel from Balaam's curse; but the Israelites themselves, instead of keeping the covenant of their God, fell into the snares of heathen seduction (Numbers 25:1, Numbers 25:2). Whilst encamped at Shittim, in the steppes of Moab, the people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab: they accepted the invitations of the latter to a sacrificial festival of their gods, took part in their sacrificial meals, and even worshipped the gods of the Moabites, and indulged in the licentious worship of Baal-Peor. As the princes of Midian, who were allied to Moab, had been the advisers and assistants of the Moabitish king in the attempt to destroy the Israelites by a curse of God; so now, after the failure of that plan, they were the soul of the new undertaking to weaken Israel and render it harmless, by seducing it to idolatry, and thus leading it into apostasy from its God. But it was Balaam, as is afterwards casually observed in Numbers 31:16, who first of all gave this advice. This is passed over here, because the point of chief importance in relation to the object of the narrative, was not Balaam's share in the proposal, but the carrying out of the proposal itself. The daughters of Moab, however, also took part in carrying it out, by forming friendly associations with the Israelites, and then inviting them to their sacrificial festival. They only are mentioned in Numbers 25:1, Numbers 25:2, as being the daughters of the land. The participation of the Midianites appears first of all in the shameless licentiousness of Cozbi, the daughter of the Midianitish prince, from which we not only see that the princes of Midian performed their part, but obtain an explanation of the reason why the judgment upon the crafty destroyers of Israel was to be executed upon the Midianites.

(Note: Consequently there is no discrepancy between Numbers 25:1-5 and Numbers 25:6-18, to warrant the violent hypothesis of Knobel, that there are two different accounts mixed together in this chapter-An Elohistic account in Numbers 25:6-18, of which the commencement has been dropped, and a Jehovistic account in Numbers 25:1-5, of which the latter part has been cut off. The particular points adduced in proof of this fall to the ground, when the history is correctly explained; and such assertions as these, that the name Shittim and the allusion to the judges in Numbers 25:5, and to the wrath of Jehovah in Numbers 25:3 and Numbers 25:4, are foreign to the Elohist, are not proofs, but empty assumptions.)

Shittim, an abbreviation of Abel-Shittim (see at Numbers 22:1), to which the camp of the Israelites in the steppes of Moab reached (Numbers 33:49), is mentioned here instead of Arboth-Moab, because it was at this northern point of the camp that the Israelites came into contact with the Moabites, and that the latter invited them to take part in their sacrificial meals; and in Joshua 2:1 and Joshua 3:1, because it was from this spot that the Israelites commenced the journey to Canaan, as being the nearest to the place where they were to pass through the Jordan. זנה, construed with אל, as in Ezekiel 16:28, signifies to incline to a person, to attach one's self to him, so as to commit fornication. The word applies to carnal and spiritual whoredom. The lust of the flesh induced the Israelites to approach the daughters of Moab, and form acquaintances and friendships with them, in consequence of which they were invited by them "to the slain-offerings of their gods," i.e., to the sacrificial festivals and sacrificial meals, in connection with which they also "adored their gods," i.e., took part in the idolatrous worship connected with the sacrificial festival. These sacrificial meals were celebrated in honour of the Moabitish god Baal-Peor, so that the Israelites joined themselves to him. צמד, in the Niphal, to bind one's self to a person. Baal-Peor is the Baal of Peor, who was worshipped in the city of Beth-Peor (Deuteronomy 3:29; Deuteronomy 4:46; see at Numbers 23:28), a Moabitish Priapus, in honour of whom women and virgins prostituted themselves. As the god of war, he was called Chemosh (see at Numbers 21:29).

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