And Moses sent them to the war
Being mustered and armed:
a thousand of [every] tribe, them and Phinehas the son of Eleazar the
priest to the war;
which looks as if Phinehas was the general of this army; for Moses went not to the war, and no mention is made of Joshua, nor might it be proper for him, he being the successor of Moses, who was quickly to die; but it seems rather that there was no one person that had the command of the whole, but every captain commanded his own company; since, when Moses met them, and was angry with them for sparing the women, he does not address anyone as the chief commander, but all the officers, ( Numbers 31:14 ) , however, it was very proper and prudent to send Phinehas with them, both on account of his office as a priest, to encourage the people, and because of his extraordinary zeal against the Midianites for what they had done, as appears by his slaying a prince of Simeon and a Midianitish princess in their uncleanness:
[and he went] with the holy instruments, and the trumpets to blow in
by "the holy instruments", Aben Ezra understands the ark with what appertained to it, which in later times used to be carried out when the Israelites went to war, ( Joshua 6:4 ) ( 1 Samuel 4:3 1 Samuel 4:4 ) , and Jarchi interprets them of the ark and plate of gold F26 which was upon the forehead of the high priest; but what had Phinehas to do with this, who was but a common priest? though the Targum of Jonathan paraphrases it,
``with the Urim and Thummim of holiness, to inquire by them;''and it appears, that sometimes a son of an high priest was intrusted with the ephod, to which the breastplate was fastened, which had the Urim and Thummim on it, and made use thereof to inquire by, as in the times of David, ( 1 Samuel 23:6-12 ) , but it is the opinion of some learned men, and they may be in the right, that these instruments are no other than the trumpets, and who suppose the "vau" is not copulative, but explanative, so Ben Gersom, and read the words thus, "with the holy instruments, even", or, "that is, the trumpets" F1, the silver trumpets ordered to be made, ( Numbers 10:2 ) one of which was far the journey of the camps, and also to blow an alarm for war, and which was done by the priests; and so the Targum of Jonathan adds here,
``to cause the camp of Israel to rest, and to cause it to go;''that is, to direct it when it should stop, and when it should move.
F26 So the Rabbins in Abendana in Miclol Yophi in loc.
F1 (twruuxw) "erantque tubae", Tigurine version; "id est tubae", Vatablus; "nempe tubae", Piscator; so Ainsworth.