I suggested in a post this past week that Jesus is the new Phinehaswhen he comes to judge the Balaamites of Pergamum (Revelation 2:14-16).

I had in mind Numbers 25, where Phinehas arrests a plague that breaks out because Israelites are fornicating and committing idolatry with Moabite women who have been coached by Balaam. One problem with this analogy is that Phinehas stops the plague with a spear, not a sword.

But Balaam was killed by a sword (Numbers 31:8), when Moses sent 12,000 men out to take vengeance against the Midianites (31:2). After killing the Midianite men and Balaam, they burned the cities in a quasi-sacrificial conflagration. 

Those troops are led by Phinehas (v. 6), who goes out with the “holy vessels and the trumpets for the alarm in his hand” (v. 6). We aren’t told that Phinehas has a sword, but a sacrificial sword would be part of the holy equipment of a priest. 

Perhaps, though, we can draw the analogy between Phinehas in Numbers 31 and Jesus in Revelation 2 more tightly by noting that Jesus’ sword is in His mouth. Is a mouth-sword symbolically equivalent to a trumpet? Is a trumpet a weapon of war?

Articles by Peter J. Leithart

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