Pinchas – the Slayer of Uncertainty

A strange episode at the end of the last Torah portion, Balak, where Pinchas (Phinehas) slain a Jewish prince caught in the act with a heathen woman, is rewarded in this week’s present eponymous Torah portion with the priesthood.  This begs the question, what is the connection between the act of zealotry by Pinchas and the reward of priesthood he receives for it? By way of background, as we read in the previous Torah portion, the evil king, Balak, fails to bring a curse on the Jewish people by Bilam (Balaam).  According to Midrash, Bilam advises Balak to send most beautiful Midian women to seduce Jewish men (see Flavius Josephus's Antiquities of the Jews, Book IV, Chapter VI, Paragraphs 6-12). Balak heads the advice and uses Moabite and Midianite women to seduce Jewish men [...]