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Biblical People

Phinehas (fine-¬s). [Heb. Pinechas, from the Egyptian pª Nhsy, “the Nubian.”]

1.    Son of Eleazar, grandson of Aaron (Ex 6:25), and high priest (Jgs 20:27, 28). In a time of apostasy he showed his zeal for God, slaying an Israelite offender and a Midianite woman, thus ending a plague that had broken out as a divine punishment. As a reward an everlasting priesthood was promised him and his descendants. His act was not forgotten, being celebrated in the later poetic and historical works of Israel (Num 25:1-18; Ps 106:30; 1 Macc 2:26, 54; Ecclus 45:23-25). In fulfillment of the promise Phinehas' descendants were high priests throughout the OT period with the exception of a short time in which the house of Eli, descendants of Ithamar, held office. Phinehas accompanied the Israelite army against the Midianites (Num 31:6), and was one of the members of the commission sent by Joshua to Gilead to protest the erection of a separate altar (Jos 22:13-15). In the distribution of the country Phinehas received a town in the hill country of Ephraim (Jos 24:33).

2.    A priest, probably a high priest, who inquired of the Lord as to the course Israel should pursue when Gibeah's population had committed a crime that incurred the wrath of the whole nation (Jgs 20:27, 28). He is, just as Phinehas, 1, called a “son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron,” but probably lived during a much later period than Phinehas, 1, so that the expression “son” must be understood to mean descendant.

3.    The younger son of Eli. He and his brother Hophni were priests at the tabernacle at Shiloh when their father was old (1 Sa 1:3). They behaved scandalously, and though twice rebuked by prophetic utterances (chs 2:22-36; 3:11-14), refused to change their conduct, thus bringing a curse upon the family. Nor were they punished or removed from office by their father. Both men lost their lives in the battle at Aphek, and the ark of the covenant, which they had accompanied to the battle, fell into the hands of the Philistines (ch 4:4-11). When the news of this catastrophe reached Phinehas' wife, who was pregnant, the pains of childbirth came upon her and she died giving birth to the child (vs 19-22).

4.    Father of a certain Eleazar (Ezr 8:33); probably of the priestly line.

Horn, Siegfried H., Seventh-day Adventist Bible Dictionary, (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association) 1979.

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