Eliyahu according to Pirkey d’Rabi Eliezer

Pirkey d'Rabi Eliezer

The 1st installment in a series examining whether Pinechas (aka Pinchas or Phineas) of the Torah is same personage as Eliyahu ha-Navi (Elijah the Prophet) of the book of Kings and later Jewish traditions.

Pirkey d’Rabi Eliezer, ch. 47:

Rabbi Yehudah says: …Through the counsel of Bilam (Balaam) that he advised Midyan (Midian), 24,000 Israelites fell. Bilam said to them: ‘You cannot overcome this people unless they have sinned before their Creator.’ They immediately made shops outside the camp of Israel, and [the Israelites] could see the daughters of Midyan adorning their eyes (with makeup), and [the Israelites] strayed after them… Shimon (Simon) and Levi had been zealous regarding sexual impropriety, as it says (regarding the incident with Dinah in Genesis 34): ‘Shall he make our sister like a harlot?’ (v. 31). But the nasi (prince) of the tribe of Shimon did not remember what his ancestor had done, and he did not rebuke the men of Israel. Rather, he himself publicly had relations with the Midianite woman. All the nesiim (princes) and Mosheh (Moses) and Elazar and Pinechas saw the angel of death, and they were sitting and crying, and they did not know what to do. Pinechas saw that Zimri was having relations publicly with the Midianite woman, and he was filled with a great zeal. He grabbed the spear from the hand of Mosheh, and ran after [Zimri], and stabbed him. Therefore the Holy One Blessed is He gave him priestly gifts… [Pinechas] stood up as a great judge for Israel… and he struck the men of Israel, and dragged them to every corner of the camp of Israel so the people would see and fear. The Holy One Blessed is He saw what Pinechas had done, and He stopped the plague from upon Israel… Rabbi Eliezer says: The Holy One Blessed is He considered the name of Pinechas like the name of Eliyahu of the inhabitants of Gilad, who cause Israel to repent in the land of Gilad… and He gave him life in this world and life in the World to Come, and He gave him and his children good reward for the sake of eternal priesthood.

While Eliyahu and Pinechas are here equated with one another, it appears clear that they are distinct individuals, compared for similar deeds.

Click here for the next installment.


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