Phin'ehas (Heb. Pinechas', פַּינחָס, mouth of brass [Gesen.], or of utterance [Furst]; Sept. Φινεές v.r. Φεινεἐς ; Josephus, Φινεέσης), the name of two or three Hebrews.
1. Son of Eleazar and grandson of Aaron (Ex 6:25). His mother is recorded as one of the daughters of Pntiel, an unknown person, who is identified by the rabbins with Jethro the Midianite (Targ. Pseudoj)on. on Ex 6:25; Wagenseil, Sota, 8:6). Phinehas is memorable for having while quite a youth, by his zeal and energy at the critical moment of the licentious idolatry of Shittim, appeased the divine wrath and put a stop to the plague which was destroying the nation (Nu 25:7). B.C. 1619. For this he was rewarded by the special approbation of Jehovah, and by a promise that the priesthood should remain in his family forever (verses 10- 13). This seems to have raised him at once to a very high position in the nation, and he was appointed to accompany as priest the expedition by which the Midianites were destroyed (Nu 31:6). Seven years later he also headed the party who were despatched from Shiloh to remonstrate against the altar which the transjordanic tribes were reported to have built near Jordan (Jos 22:13-32). In the partition of the country he received an allotment of his own-a hill on Mount Ephraim which bore his name-Gibeath-Pinechas. Here his father was buried (Jos 24:32).
During the life of Phinehas he appears to have been the chief of the great family of the Korahites or Korhites who guarded the entrances to the sacred tent and the whole of the sacred camp (1Ch 9:20). After Eleazar's death he became high-priest — the third of the series. B.C. cir. 1580-1523. In this capacity he is introduced as giving the oracle to the nation during the struggle with the Benjamites in the matter of Gibeah (Jg 20:28). Where the ark and tabernacle were stationed at that time is not clear. From verse 1 we should infer that they were at Mizpeh, while from verses 18, 26 it seems equally probable that they were at Bethel (which is also the statement of Josephus. Ant. 5:2, 11). Or the Hebrew words in these latter verses may mean, not Bethel the town, but. as they are rendered in the A.V., "house of God," and refer to the tabernacle at Shiloh. But wherever the ark may have been, there was the aged priest "standing before it," and the oracle which he delivered was one which must have been fiully in accordance with his own vehement temper, "Shall we go out to battle . . . or shall we cease?" The answer was, "Go up for tomorrow I will deliver them into your hand." The memory of this champion of Jehovah was very dear to the Jews. The narrative of the Pentateuch presents him as the type of an ardent and devoted priest. The numerous references to him in the later literature all adopt the same tone. He is commemorated in one of the Psalms (Ps 106:30-31) in the identical phrase which is consecrated forever by its use in reference to the great act of faith of Abraham; a phrase which perhaps more than any other in the Bible binds together the old and new dispensations —"that was counted to him for righteousness unto all generations for evermore" (comp. Ge 15:6; Ro 4:3). The "covenant" made with him is put into the same rank for dignity and certainty with that by which the throne was assured to king David (Ecclus. 45:25). The zeal of Mattathias the Maccabee is sufficiently praised by a comparison with that of "Phinees against Zambri, the son of Salom" (1 Macc. 2:26). The priests who returned from the captivity are enrolled in the official lists as the sons of Phinehas (Ezr 8:2; Ezr 1 Esdr. 5:5). In the Seder Olam?, (chapter 20) he is identified with "the prophet" of Jg 6:8.
Josephus (Ant. 4:6, 12), out of the traditions which he frequently introduces, adds to the narrative of the Pentateuch a statement that "so great was his courage and so remarkable his bodily strength that he would never relinquish any undertaking, however difficult and dangerous, without gaining a complete victory." The later Jews are fond of comparing him to Elijah, if indeed they do not regard them as one and the same individual (see the quotations in Meyer, Chron. Hebr. page 845; Fabricius, Codex Pseudepiq. page 894, note). In the Targum Pseudojonathan of Numbers 25 the slaughter of Zimri and Cozbi is accompanied by twelve miracles, and the covenant made with Phinehas is expanded into a promise that he shall be "the angel of the covenant, shall live forever, and shall proclaim redemption at the end of the world." His Midianitish origin (already noticed) is brought forward as adding greater luster to his zeal against Midian, and enhancing his glorious destiny. The verse which closes the book of Joshua is ascribed to Phinehas, as the description of the death of Moses at the end of Deuteronomy is to Joshua (Baba Bathra, in Fabricius, page 893). He is also reported to be the author of a work on sacred names (ibid.), which, however, is so rare that Fabricius had never seen it.
The succession of the posterity of Phinehas in the high-priesthood was interrupted when Eli, of the race of Ithamar, was priest; but it was resumed in the person of Zadok, and continued in the same line to the destruction of Jerusalem. SEE HIGH-PRIEST. One of the members of the family — Manasseh, soil of Johanan, and brother of Jaddua — went over to the Samaritans, and they still boast that they preserve the succession (see their letter to Scaliger, in Eichhorn's Repertorium, 13:262).
The tomb of Phinehas, a place of great resort to both Jews and Samaritans, is shown at Awertah, four miles south-east of Nablus. It stands in the centre of the village, enclosed within a little area or compound, which is overshadowed by the thickly trellised foliage of an ancient vine. A small mosque joins the wall of the compound. Outside the village, on the next hill, is a larger enclosure, containing the tomb of Eleazar, and a cave ascribed to Elijah, overshadowed by two venerable terebinth-trees, surrounded by arcades, and forming a retired and truly charming spot. The local tradition asserts that Awertah and its neighborhood are the ' Hill of Phinehas."
2. Second son of Eli (1Sa 1:3; 1Sa 2:34; 1Sa 4:4,11,17,19; 1Sa 14:3). He was not of the same line as his illustrious and devoted namesake, but of the family of Ithamar. SEE ELI. Phinehas was killed with his brother by 'the Philistines when the ark was captured. B.C. 1125. He had two sons, Ahitub, the eldest — whose sons Ahijah and Ahimelech were high-priests at Shiloh and Nob in the time of Saul (14:3) — and Ichabod. He is introduced, apparently by mistake, in the genealogy of Ezra in 2 Esdr. 1:2 a.
3. A Levite, mentioned in Ezr 8:33 as the father of the Eleazar who aided Meremoth to weigh the vessels of the sanctuary. B.C. ante 458. The meaning, however, may be that Eleazar was of the family of the great Phinehas.