Our Parshah opens with G‑d saying to Moses:
Pinchas, the son of Elazar, the son of Aaron the priest, has turned My wrath away from the children of Israel, in that he was zealous for My sake among them; and I did not consume the children of Israel in my jealousy.
(As related in the closing verses of last week’s Parshah, a plague had broken out among the people of Israel when they sinned with the daughters of Midian and worshiped the idol Peor; when Zimri, a Simeonite prince, took a Midianite princess into his tent before the eyes of Moses and the people, Pinchas killed them both, stopping the plague.)
Therefore say: Behold, I give to him My covenant of peace.
And it shall be to him, and his seed after him, the covenant of an everlasting priesthood . . .
G‑d then tells Moses to wage war against the Midianites, “for they are enemies to you, in their plottings against you on the matter of Peor, and the matter of their sister Kozbi, daughter of the prince of Midian, who was slain on the day of the plague . . .”
In the opening chapters of the book of Numbers, back in the Parshah of Bamidbar, we read of the census of Israel conducted one year after the Exodus. It is now 39 years later; that entire generation (i.e., those over the age of 20 at the time) has died out, and a new generation has grown up to enter the Promised Land in their stead. In the wake of the plague which Pinchas stopped, G‑d instructs Moses and Elazar to conduct another count.
The total number of those counted—men between the ages of 20 and 60, not counting the tribe of Levi—was 601,730 (1,820 less than the previous census, which tallied 603,550).
The breakdown by tribes was as follows:
The tribe of Reuben, comprising the families Chanochi, Palu’i, Chetzroni and Carmi (descendent of Reuben’s four sons Chanoch, Palu, Chetzron and Carmi), numbered 43,730. (In the previous census, the tribe of Reuben numbered 46,500.)
Simeon’s sons generated the Nemueli, Yamini, Yachini, Zarchi and Shauli families, and the tribe totaled 22,200 (a loss of 37,100 from the previous count of 59,300).
The tribe of Gad (families: Tzefoni, Chaggi, Shuni, Ozni, Eri, Arodi and Ar’eli) = 40,500 (previous census: 45,650).
Judah (Sheilani, Partzi, Zarchi, Chetzroni, Chamuli) = 76,500 (previous census: 74,600).
Issachar (Tola’i, Puni, Yashuvi, Shimroni) = 64,300 (up from 54,400).
Zebulun (Sardi, Eloni, Yachle’eli) = 60,500 (previous census: 57,400).
The tribe of Manasseh included the Machiri, Gil’adi, Iezri, Chelki, Asrieli, Shichmi, Shmida’i and Chefri families; the verse also mentions here that “Tzelafchad, the son of Chefer, had no sons, but only daughters; and the names of the daughters of Tzelafchad were Machlah, Noah, Chaglah, Milkah and Tirtzah.” Manasseh’s population count was 52,700 (previous census: 32,200).
Ephraim (Shuthalchi, Bachri, Tachani, Eirani) = 32,500 (previous census: 40,500).
Benjamin (Bal’i, Ashbeli, Achirami, Shufami, Chufami, Ardi, Naami) = 45,600 (previous census: 35,400).
Dan (the father of the tribe, Dan, had only one son, Chushim, so that the entire tribe consisted of one family, the Shuchami) = 64,400 (previous census: 62,700).
Asher (Yimnah, Yishvi, Beri’i, Chevri, Malkieli, “and the name of Asher’s daughter was Serach”)—53,400 (up from 41,500).
Naphtali’s descendants divided themselves into the Yachtze’eli, Guni, Yitzri and Shileimi clans, and their number in this census was 45,400 (previous census: 53,400).
“Among these shall the Land be apportioned as an inheritance,” said G‑d to Moses, “according to the number of names.”
To the more numerous you shall increase their inheritance, and to the fewer you shall lessen their inheritance . . .
Nevertheless, the land shall be divided by lot. . . . According to the lot shall their inheritance be divided, whether many or few.
The tribe of Levi, which did not receive a share in the Land, was counted separately; they numbered 23,000 (in the previous census they numbered 22,300).
The Torah concludes the census by stating:
Among these there was not a man of those whom Moses and Aaron the priest had numbered when they counted the children of Israel in the Sinai Desert. For G‑d had said of them: They shall surely die in the wilderness.
“There was not left a man of them, except for Calev the son of Yefuneh and Joshua the son of Nun.”
Machlah, Noah, Chaglah, Milkah and Tirtzah were the five daughters of Tzelafchad, the son of Chefer, the son of Gilead, the son of Manasseh, and they had a petition to present to Moses:
They stood before Moses, and before Elazar the priest, and before the princes and all the congregation, by the door of the Tent of Meeting, saying:
“Our father died in the desert. He was not in the company of them that gathered themselves together against G‑d in the company of Korach; but he died in his own sin, and had no sons.
“Why should the name of our father be eliminated from his family, because he has no son? Give us an estate [in the Land] among the brothers of our father.”
“The daughters of Tzelafchad speak rightly. You shall surely give them a possession of inheritance among their father’s brethren, and you shall cause the inheritance of their father to pass to them.”
G‑d then proceeds to include this provision in the Torah’s laws of inheritance.
You shall speak to the children of Israel, saying: If a man dies and has no son, then you shall pass his inheritance on to his daughter.
If he has no daughter, then you shall give his inheritance to his brothers. If he has no brothers, then you shall give his inheritance to his father’s brothers. If his father have no brothers, then you shall give his inheritance to his kinsman that is next to him of his family, and he shall possess it; and it shall be to the children of Israel a statute of judgment, as G‑d commanded Moses.
G‑d commands Moses to climb the Avarim Mountain “and see the land which I have given to the children of Israel . . . You shall see it, and then you shall be gathered to your people, as Aaron your brother was gathered . . .”
Moses spoke to G‑d, saying:
“O L‑rd, G‑d of the spirits of all flesh!
“Set a man over the congregation who shall go out before them and who shall go in before them, who shall lead them out and who shall bring them in, so that the congregation of G‑d not be as sheep that have no shepherd.”
G‑d said to Moses: “Take Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom there is spirit, and lay your hand upon him. Set him before Elazar the priest, and before all the congregation, and charge him before their eyes.
“You shall place of your glory upon him, in order that all the congregation of the children of Israel shall obey [him] . . .”
Moses did as G‑d commanded him . . .
The Seasonal Offerings
The Parshah of Pinchas concludes with a detailed list of the “communal offerings” to be brought by the people as a whole in the Sanctuary.
There are the daily offerings: “Two yearling lambs without blemish, day by day. . . . The one lamb shall you offer in the morning, and the other lamb shall you offer at evening.” These are accompanied by “a tenth part of an ephah of fine flour for a meal offering, mingled with the fourth part of a hin of beaten oil . . . and its drink offering shall be the fourth part of a hin [of wine].”
Then there are the “additional offerings” brought on special occasions, each in its appointed season:
On Shabbat, two yearling lambs are to be offered (in addition to the two brought every day).
On Rosh Chodesh (“Head of the Month”) there are added two bullocks, one ram and seven sheep, plus a he-goat as a sin offering. The same “additional offerings” are to be brought on each of the seven days of Passover and on the festival of Shavuot.
On Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Shemini Atzeret, the additional offerings consisted of the same, except that only one bullock was brought instead of two. (On Yom Kippur there were other offerings connected with the day’s service, as related in the Parshah of Acharei Mot.)
On the seven days of Sukkot, the number of communal offerings increase greatly. Each day there are fourteen sheep instead of seven. Thirteen bullocks are brought on the first day, twelve on the second, eleven on the third, and so on in descending order until the seventh day, when seven bullocks are offered, bringing the total of bullocks over the seven days of the festival to seventy. (The next day, however, being the festival of Shemini Atzeret, only one bullock is offered.)
With each of the animals is brought the prescribed meal, wine and oil supplements: three-tenths of an ephah of fine flour and half a hin each of wine and oil per bullock; two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour and a third of a hin of each of the liquids for each ram; and one-tenth and one-quarter respectively for each lamb.