Psalm 106:28
They joined themselves also unto Baalpeor, and ate the sacrifices of the dead.
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(28-31) The licentious character of the cult of Baal-peor in Numbers 25 is expressed in the word “joined,” better, yoked. LXX. and Vulg., “were initiated,” i.e., by prostitution.

(28) Ate the sacrifices of the deadi.e., the sacrifices of a dead divinity. Numbers 25:2, “and they called the people unto the sacrifices of their gods,” shows that here we must not see any allusion to necromantic rites, such as are referred to in Deuteronomy 18:11; Isaiah 8:19, and the parallelism shows that the “god” in question is Baal-peor.

Carcases of idols.—This phrase is actually used in Leviticus 26:30; here no doubt the plural is used poetically for the singular.

Psalm 106:28-30. They joined themselves also unto Baal-peor — To wit, in worship, whereby they had a union and communion with him, as God’s people have with God in acts of his worship. And ate the sacrifices of the dead — Which were offered to idols, which he calls dead, in opposition to the true and living God, and by way of contempt, and to denote the stupidity of idolaters, who worshipped lifeless things, as dead images, or men deified after death. Or, by the sacrifices of the dead, he may mean sacrifices offered to the infernal deities, so called, on behalf of their dead friends. They provoked him with their inventions — Various species of idolatry, and false worship, and other branches of wickedness, devised in contempt of God and his institutions, his commands and threatenings. And the plague brake in upon them — And swept away twenty-four thousand of those impudent sinners. Then stood up Phinehas — In his zeal for the Lord of hosts; and executed judgement — Namely, upon Zimri and Cozbi, sinners of the first rank; genteel sinners; he put the law in execution upon them; and this was a service so pleasing to God, that upon it the plague was stayed, Psalm 106:30. By this, and some other like acts of public justice on that occasion, Numbers 25:4-5, the guilt ceased to be national, and the general controversy was let fall: when the proper officers did their duty, God left it to them, and did not any longer keep the work in his own hands by the plague. The best commentary on this Psalm is a reference to the history.

106:13-33 Those that will not wait for God's counsel, shall justly be given up to their own hearts' lusts, to walk in their own counsels. An undue desire, even for lawful things, becomes sinful. God showed his displeasure for this. He filled them with uneasiness of mind, terror of conscience, and self-reproach. Many that fare deliciously every day, and whose bodies are healthful, have leanness in their souls: no love to God, no thankfulness, no appetite for the Bread of life, and then the soul must be lean. Those wretchedly forget themselves, that feast their bodies and starve their souls. Even the true believer will see abundant cause to say, It is of the Lord's mercies that I am not consumed. Often have we set up idols in our hearts, cleaved to some forbidden object; so that if a greater than Moses had not stood to turn away the anger of the Lord, we should have been destroyed. If God dealt severely with Moses for unadvised words, what do those deserve who speak many proud and wicked words? It is just in God to remove those relations that are blessings to us, when we are peevish and provoking to them, and grieve their spirits.They joined themselves also unto Baal-peor - They joined in their devotions, or, they shared in the rites of idolatrous worship. This occurred when they were in the regions of Moab, and on the very borders of the promised land. Numbers 25. Many other instances of a similar kind are passed over by the psalmist, and this seems to have been selected because of its special aggravation, and to show the general character of the nation. Even after their long-continued enjoyment of the favor and protection of God - after he had conducted them safely through the wilderness - after he had brought them to the very border of the land of Canaan, and all his promises were about to be fulfilled, they still showed a disposition to depart from God. Baal-peor was an idol of the Moabites, in whose worship females prostituted themselves. Gesenius, Lexicon. Compare Numbers 25:1-3. Baal was the name of the idol; Peor was the name of a mountain in Moab, where the idol was worshipped.

And ate the sacrifices of the dead - Of false gods, represented as "dead" or having no life, in contradistinction from the true and "living God." They ate the sacrifices offered to those idols; that is, they participated in their worship. Numbers 25:2.

28-30. sacrifices of the dead—that is, of lifeless idols, contrasted with "the living God" (Jer 10:3-10; compare Ps 115:4-7; 1Co 12:2). On the words,

joined themselves to Baal-peor—see Nu 25:2, 3, 5.

Baal-peor—that is, the possessor of Peor, the mountain on which Chemosh, the idol of Moab, was worshipped, and at the foot of which Israel at the time lay encamped (Nu 23:28). The name never occurs except in connection with that locality and that circumstance.

28 They joined themselves also unto Baal-peor, and ate the sacrifices of the dead.

29 Thus they provoked him to anger with their inventions; and the plague brake in upon them.

30 Then stood up Phinehas, and executed judgment; and so the plague was stayed.

31 And that was counted unto him for righteousness unto all generations for evermore.

Psalm 106:28

"They joined themselves also unto Baal-peor." Ritualism led on to the adoration of false gods. If we choose a false way of worship we shall, ere long, choose to worship a false god. This abomination of the Moabites was an idol in whose worship women gave up their bodies to the most shameless lust. Think of the people of a holy God coming down to this. "And ate the sacrifices of the dead." In the orgies with which the Baalites celebrated their detestable worship Israel joined partaking even in their sacrifices as earnest inner-court worshippers, though the gods were but dead idols. Perhaps they assisted in necromantic rites which were intended to open a correspondence with departed spirits, thus endeavouring to break the seal of God's providence, and burst into the secret chambers which God has shut up. Those who are weary of seeking the living God have often shown a hankering after dark sciences, and have sought after fellowship with demons and spirits. To what strong delusions those are often given up who cast off the fear of God! This remark is as much needed now as in days gone by.

Psalm 106:29

"Thus they provoked him to anger with their inventions: and the plague brake in upon them." Open licentiousness and avowed idolatry were too gross to be winked at. This time the offences clamoured for judgment, and the judgment came at once. Twenty-four thousand persons fell before a sudden and deadly disease which threatened to run through the whole camp. Their new sins brought on them a disease new to their tribes. When men invent sins God will not be slow to invent punishments. Their vices were a moral pest, and they were visited with a bodily pest: so the Lord meets like with its like.

Psalm 106:30

"Then stood up Phinehas, and executed judgment: and so the plague was stayed." God has his champions left in the worst times, and they will stand up when the time comes for them to come forth to battle. His righteous indignation moved him to a quick execution of two open offenders. His honest spirit could not endure that lewdness should be publicly practised at a time when a fast had been proclaimed. Such daring defiance of God and of all law he could not brook, and so with his sharp javelin he transfixed the two guilty ones in the very act. It was a holy passion which inflamed him, and no enmity to either of the persons whom he slew. The circumstances were so remarkable and the sin so flagrant that it would have involved great sin in a public man to have stood still and seen God thus defied, and Israel thus polluted. Phinehas was not of this mind, he was no trimmer, or palliator of sin, his heart was sound in God's statutes, and his whole nature was ablaze with zeal for God's glory, and therefore, though a priest, and therefore not obliged to be an executioner, he undertook the unwelcome task, and though both transgressors were of princely stock he had no respect of persons, but dealt justice upon them as if they had been the lowest of the people. This brave and decided deed was so acceptable to God as a proof that there were some sincere souls in Israel that the deadly visitation went no further. Two deaths had sufficed to save the lives of the multitude.

Psalm 106:31

"And that was counted unto him for righteousness unto all generations for evermore." Down to the moment when this Psalm was penned the house of Phinehas was honoured in Israel. His faith had performed a valorous deed, and his righteousness was testified of the Lord, and honoured by the continuance of his family in the priesthood. He was impelled by motives so pure that what would otherwise have been a deed of blood was justified in the sight of God; nay, more, was made the evidence that Phinehas was righteous. No personal ambition, or private revenge, or selfish passion, or even fanatical bigotry, inspired the man of God; but zeal for God, indignation at open filthiness, and true patriotism urged him on.

Once again we have cause to note the mercy of God that even when his warrant was out, and actual execution was proceeding, he stayed his hand at the suit of one man, finding, as it were, an apology for his grace when justice seemed to demand immediate vengeance.

They joined themselves, to wit, in worship, whereby they had a union and communion with him, as God’s people have with God in acts of his worship. And this phrase seems also to note their carnal copulation with

the daughters of Moab in the temple, or to the honour of Baal-peor.

The sacrifices of the dead; which were offered to idols, which he calls dead, in opposition to the true and living God, and by way of contempt, and to note the sottishness of idolaters, who worshipped lifeless things, as stocks and stones, or dead men. And some learned men conceive that this is spoken with particular regard to Baal-peor, or the lord of Peor, a place so called, who had been a person of great eminency in those parts, and therefore was worshipped, according to the custom of the heathens, after his death, by sacrifices and feasts appointed for his honour and memory.

They joined themselves also unto Baalpeor,.... Or to the idol Peor, as the Targum. Baal, which signifies Lord or master, was a common name for an idol in many countries; wherefore, to distinguish one from another, an additional name was used. Baalzephon was the god of the Egyptians; Baalzebub the god of the Ekronites; and here Baalpeor the god of the Moabites: for the fact referred to was committed when the children of Israel were on the borders of Moab, and when Balak sent for Balaam to curse them; who at last advised him to draw them to commit fornication with the daughters of Moab; who might then prevail upon them to commit idolatry, which would bring the wrath of God upon them. And in this he succeeded. The above idol had its name of Peor either from the obscene actions done in the worship of it, too filthy to be related, and which, it is thought, are referred to in Hosea 9:10. It seems to be the Priapus of the Heathens. Or, as others, from a mountain of this name, where was the house or temple in which it was worshipped: hence we read of Mount Peor, and of Bethpeor, Numbers 23:28. So Suidas (t) says, Baal is Saturn, and Peor the place where he was worshipped. Or else from some great man of this name, Lord Peor; who being of great fame and note among the Moabites, for some extraordinary things done by him, was deified and worshipped after his death; as was common among the Heathens. To this idol the Israelites joined or "yoked" themselves, as the word (u) signifies: they withdrew themselves from the yoke of the true God, whose yoke is easy, and put their necks under the yoke of an idol; which was to be unequally yoked: or they were tempted unto it; they committed spiritual whoredom with it, which is idolatry; they left their first and lawful husband, to whom they were married, and joined themselves to an idol, and cleaved to it. The phrase is expressive of their fellowship with it, and with the idolatrous worshippers of it; they devoted and gave up themselves to the worship of it; just as the true worshippers of God are said to join themselves to him, Jeremiah 50:6, they were, as the Septuagint renders it, initiated into the rites and mysteries of this idol.

And ate the sacrifices of the dead; which were offered up to this lifeless statue. So idols are called the dead, in opposition to and distinction from the living God, Isaiah 8:19. Or they partook of the feasts which were kept in honour of their dead deified hero, Lord Peor; see the history in Numbers 25:1. These were sacrifices offered to the Stygian Jupiter, or Pluto, called by the Phoenicians Mot (w), the same with Chemosh, the god of the Moabites; and who also was Baalpeor, according to Jerom (x).

(t) In voce (u) "conjugati sunt", Vatablus; "subdiderunt sese jugo", Gejerus. (w) Sanchoniatho apud Euseb. Praepar. Evangel. l. 1. p. 38. Vid. Castell. Annot. Samar. p. 13. in vol. 6. Lond. Polyglott. (x) Comment. in Esaiam, fol. 26. H.

They joined themselves also unto {o} Baalpeor, and ate the sacrifices of the {p} dead.

(o) Which was the idol of the Moabites.

(p) Sacrifices offered to the dead idols.

28. They joined themselves also unto Baal-peor] Attached themselves as devotees. The phrase is taken from Numbers 25:3. The LXX renders ἐτελέσθησαν, they were initiated; but the word does not necessarily denote this. Peor seems to have been a locality (Numbers 23:28), and Baal-peor was the particular Baal worshipped there by the Moabites.

and ate the sacrifices of the dead] See Numbers 25:2. By the dead are meant heathen gods in contrast to Jehovah, the one living and true God. Cp. Psalm 115:4 ff.; Jeremiah 10:11; Wis 13:10, “Miserable were they, and in dead things were their hopes, who called them gods which are works of men’s hands”; Wis 15:17; 1 Corinthians 12:2. Participation in the sacrificial feasts of the Moabites was an act of communion with their lifeless gods. There is no reference to ancestor worship or funeral offerings.

28–31. A sixth instance; the sin of participating in the abominations of Moabite worship.

Verse 28. - They joined themselves also unto Baal-peor (see Numbers 25:3). The exact expression used in the Pentateuch is repeated. It signifies a mystic union, such as was supposed to exist between a heathen god and his worshippers, and to be kept up by sacrificial meals and the like. "Baal-peor" - i.e. "the Lord of Pehor" - is probably identified with Chemosh. And ate the sacrifices of the dead. The corresponding phrase in Numbers (Numbers 25:2) is, "the sacrifices of their gods," who were "dead," as opposed to the true living God. Psalm 106:28The fact to which the poet refers in Psalm 106:24, viz., the rebellion in consequence of the report of the spies, which he brings forward as the fourth principal sin, is narrated in Numbers 13, Numbers 14. The appellation ארץ חמדּה is also found in Jeremiah 3:19; Zechariah 7:14. As to the rest, the expression is altogether Pentateuchal. "They despised the land," after Numbers 14:31; "they murmured in their tents," after Deuteronomy 1:27; "to lift up the land" equals to swear, after Exodus 6:8; Deuteronomy 32:40; the threat להפּיל, to make them fall down, fall away, after Numbers 14:29, Numbers 14:32. The threat of exile is founded upon the two great threatening chapters, Leviticus 26; Deuteronomy 28:1; cf. more particularly Leviticus 26:33 (together with the echoes in Ezekiel 5:12; Ezekiel 12:14, etc.), Deuteronomy 28:64 (together with the echoes in Jeremiah 9:15; Ezekiel 22:15, etc.). Ezekiel 20:23 stands in a not accidental relationship to Psalm 106:26.; and according to that passage, וּלהפיל is an error of the copyist for וּלהפיץ (Hitzig).

Now follows in Psalm 106:28-31 the fifth of the principal sins, viz., the taking part in the Moabitish worship of Baal. The verb נצמד (to be bound or chained), taken from Numbers 25:3, Numbers 25:5, points to the prostitution with which Baal Per, this Moabitish Priapus, was worshipped. The sacrificial feastings in which, according to Numbers 25:2, they took part, are called eating the sacrifices of the dead, because the idols are dead beings (nekroi', Wisd. 13:10-18) as opposed to God, the living One. The catena on Revelation 2:14 correctly interprets: τὰ τοῖς εἰδώλοις τελεσθέντα κρέα.

(Note: In the second section of Aboda zara, on the words of the Mishna: "The flesh which is intended to be offered first of all to idols is allowed, but that which comes out of the temple is forbidden, because it is like sacrifices of the dead," it is observed, fol. 32b: "Whence, said R. Jehuda ben Bethra, do I know that that which is offered to idols (תקרובת לעבדה זרה) pollutes like a dead body? From Psalm 106:28. As the dead body pollutes everything that is under the same roof with it, so also does everything that is offered to idols." The Apostle Paul declares the objectivity of this pollution to be vain, cf. more particularly 1 Corinthians 10:28.)

The object of "they made angry" is omitted; the author is fond of this, cf. Psalm 106:7 and Psalm 106:32. The expression in Psalm 106:29 is like Exodus 19:24. The verb עמד is chosen with reference to Numbers 17:13. The result is expressed in Psalm 106:30 after Numbers 25:8, Numbers 25:18., Numbers 17:13. With פּלּל, to adjust, to judge adjustingly (lxx, Vulgate, correctly according to the sense, ἐξιλάσατο), the poet associates the thought of the satisfaction due to divine right, which Phinehas executed with the javelin. This act of zeal for Jahve, which compensated for Israel's unfaithfulness, was accounted unto him for righteousness, by his being rewarded for it with the priesthood unto everlasting ages, Numbers 25:10-13. This accounting of a work for righteousness is only apparently contradictory to Genesis 15:5.: it was indeed an act which sprang from a constancy in faith, and one which obtained for him the acceptation of a righteous man for the sake of this upon which it was based, by proving him to be such.

In Psalm 106:32, Psalm 106:33 follows the sixth of the principal sins, viz., the insurrection against Moses and Aaron at the waters of strife in the fortieth year, in connection with which Moses forfeited the entrance with them into the Land of Promise (Numbers 20:11., Deuteronomy 1:37; Deuteronomy 32:51), since he suffered himself to be carried away by the persevering obstinacy of the people against the Spirit of God (המרה mostly providing the future for מרה, as in Psalm 106:7, Psalm 106:43, Psalm 78:17, Psalm 78:40, Psalm 78:56, of obstinacy against God; on את־רוּחו cf. Isaiah 63:10) into uttering the words addressed to the people, Numbers 20:10, in which, as the smiting of the rock which was twice repeated shows, is expressed impatience together with a tinge of unbelief. The poet distinguishes, as does the narrative in Numbers 20, between the obstinacy of the people and the transgression of Moses, which is there designated, according to that which lay at the root of it, as unbelief. The retrospective reference to Numbers 27:14 needs adjustment accordingly.

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