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The Story of the Zeal of Phinehas and Congregational Weeping at Bethel

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This article suggests taking the story of Phinehas’s zeal (Num 25:6-13) as having originated at the sanctuary of Bethel where its setting was to explain the appointment of the local priesthood. It is further suggested adding this story, that depicts the Israelite congregation as weeping, to the group of traditions that relate weeping to the city of Bethel (Gen 36:8; Judg 20:23, 26; 21:2; Hos 12:5; Judg 2:4 [LXX]; Mi 1:10). Added to this group, and read in its context, the Phinehas story strengthens the impression that weeping at Bethel was congregational and practiced as a salient part of the local congregational custom.

Affiliations: 1: The Hebrew University of


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