In the previous Torah portion we learn that the pagan prophet Balaam came up with an evil plan to get the Children of Israel to anger God by tempting the men to sin with the Moabite women who worshipped Baal of Peor; these idolatrous women would then entice the Israelite men to fall into idol worship. The plan was successful. They succumbed to the temptation and a deadly plague broke out that killed 24,000 Israelites.
…until one man stood up and stopped it all. In his zealousness for God, he took a brave action to save the Jewish people and bring the plague to an end. This week’s Torah portion is named after this courageous man: Pinchas (Phinehas), the son of Elazar, the son of Aaron the High Priest.
Pinchas was the grandson of Aaron, who was known to be a great peacemaker. In order to reestablish peace between God and Israel, Pinchas had to zealously confront the mistake that the Children of Israel were making which was costing them their lives. God rewarded his actions by granting him a “covenant of peace” and a “covenant of eternal priesthood.”