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    The week after Pinchas – Mattot

    Reuben, Gad & half of Manasseh ask for land on the east of the Jordan

    Reuben, Gad & half of Manasseh ask for land on the east of the Jordan

    What a dramatic story there is in the Pinchas episode, but what happened to Pinchas afterwards?

    Maybe he settled back into priestly obscurity and led an uneventful life. According to another view, he was crucially involved in the next great episode which the Torah narrates, the story of two and a half tribes – Reuben, Gad and half of Manasseh – who wanted to stay east of the Jordan and be prosperous whilst the rest of the people moved into Eretz Yisra’el.

    True, when needed, these tribes came to help the people conquer the land but then declined to settle anywhere but in today’s Jordan. Not only were the other tribes surprised at this apparent disloyalty, but there was huge indignation when the dissident tribes erected an altar which the others thought was meant for idolatry.

    A delegation was despatched with a strong message from the other tribes. The delegation were ready for two possibilities – diplomatic negotiation, and if this did not work, the threat that the rest of the people would go to war against the dissidents. The dissidents convinced the delegation that they had no idolatrous designs, nor did they wish to sever themselves from the people’s destiny.

    The leader of the delegation was Pinchas, who came back to B’nei Yisra’el with the message that war had been averted.

    The moral of the story is not only national solidarity but that Pinchas lived up to the award that God had given him, to follow a covenant of peace and be a peace-maker amongst his brethren.

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