Follow by Email

Friday, July 2, 2010

Pinchas, Eliyahu and Kinah For the KBH

The end of last week's parsha saw the rather dramatic story of Pinchas who seems to take the law into his own hands by publicly executing Cazbi and Zimri. You can check out that part of the story by looking in Bamidbar (Numbers) Chapter 25.

Now you might have heard somewhere along the way that Pinchas is identified with Eliyahu. Whether or not we should take that literally is not of interest to me right now. What is of interest is why one would think that they are one and the same person.

What is great for me is that I have been devoting the last few months to understanding Eliyahu better and I hope to bring some of what I learned to bear on the discussion. And it will be a bit lengthy so bear with me.

For the moment, though, I will point out what I believe to be the most salient point of commonality between them: Kinah קנאה. This word is usually translated as jealousy but we will discuss other possible meanings.

God declares in the second verse of this weeks parsha that Pinchas has assuaged His anger by "actively being jealous for me"  (בקנאו את קנאתי בתוכם).

With Eliyahu we see the word kinah used, as well. We will fill out more of the picture in a later post, but for the moment I will just say that Eliyahu has a kind of confrontation with God on Har Chorev (aka Sinai) after a dramatic showdown with the prophets of Baal in which he, Eliyahu, emerged victorious.

He declares to God:

מלכים א פרק יט(י) וַיֹּאמֶר קַנֹּא קִנֵּאתִי לַיקֹוָק אֱלֹהֵי צְבָאוֹת כִּי עָזְבוּ בְרִיתְךָ בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶת מִזְבְּחֹתֶיךָ הָרָסוּ וְאֶת נְבִיאֶיךָ הָרְגוּ בֶחָרֶב וָאִוָּתֵר אֲנִי לְבַדִּי וַיְבַקְשׁוּ אֶת נַפְשִׁי לְקַחְתָּהּ:

Kings I Chapter 19 (10) And he (Eliyahu) said, "I have surely been jealous for God, the Lord of Hosts, for the Children of Israel left your covenant, they destroyed your altars and they killed your prophets and I alone remained and they wanted to take my soul."

So we have the jealous thing in both places. 

What does Kinah really mean? 

I will just leave you with this thought: Both Pinchas and Eliyahu take matters into their own hands. Pinchas' story is very plain and this is easy to see. Pinchas approaches Moshe and Moshe seems to hesitate about what to do but Pinchas goes ahead and acts. 

Where do we see Eliyahu taking such an initiative? From the moment that Eliyahu appears in the  narrative of Tanach he takes charge. Check out Chapter 17 in Kings I and we'll talk more about it on Sunday.

I promise.

B'li neder ;)

Shabbat shalom!


  1. Not judging here, but the word "fanaticism" comes to mind to suit better than "jealousy".

  2. Although 'fanaticism' may be appropriate to the situation, that is very much a judgment call which I am not sure is borne out by the subsequent text or by other instances of the word.

    Man, I was so sure I would continue this thread over a week ago--just shows you how far behind I can get on this stuff.

    Anyway, the next post will examine the word 'kinah' in greater detail and hopefully come to a better understanding.