Wednesday, April 3, 2013

C is for Cozbi - Evil is not always ugly

Evil is not always ugly by Margot
Welcome to day 3 of the A-Z challenge. Today I am looking at Cozbi, a Midianite princess. She is killed by Phinehas the grandson of Aaron. It is said that the plage among the people of Israel was as a result of her evil influence. You can find her story in Numbers 25 and also 31:15-16
I have been trying to do a digital painting for each of these characters. No one really knows what Cozbi really looked like but my thought is that evil is not always ugly.

Numbers 25:15
And the name of the Midianite woman who was killed was Cozbi the daughter of Zur; he was head of the people of a father’s house in Midian.

Numbers 25:18
for they harassed you with their schemes by which they seduced you in the matter of Peor and in the matter of Cozbi, the daughter of a leader of Midian, their sister, who was killed in the day of the plague because of Peor.”

Cozbi is mentioned only twice in the bible but I have to think there is more to the story. It is not just that Zimri a leader among the people, has taken a foreign wife from Midian. Moses has a wife from Midian and that does not seem to be a problem. The people of Midion are thought to be the people of Abraham and his late in life wife Keturah. Some Midionites, like Jethro priest of Midion (Moses father in law) seem to be very wise and understand and follow the one God. Others like Balaam knew about the One God and prophesied in His name. He was not able to curse Israel even though in his greed he tried to. According to Revelation 2:14 we find what practices Balaam tells the king Balak to do when cursing Israel does not work. "But I have a few things against you: you have some there who hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, so that they might eat food sacrificed to idols and practice sexual immorality."

Cozbi, sometimes spelled Kozbi is not some sweet little foreign house wife. I think she was a priestess of Baal and her job was to entice Israelite men to turn away from God and worship Baal though sexual worship with her and other women.
It seems that Moses and some of the other leaders had realized why God was angry and were weeping at the tent of meeting. When Zimri and this woman head off to her tent, I don't think it is just a man and his wife sharing an intimate moment in their private tent. The word for tent is most often 'ohel, which according to Strongs Concordance means "tent"a) nomad's tent, and thus symbolic of wilderness life, transience
b) dwelling, home, habitation
c) the sacred tent of Jehovah (the tabernacle)

This is not the type of tent where Cozbi is killed. She is killed in a qubbah a domed tent. The only time the word qubbah is used is in this instance in Numbers 25:8. My point to make here is that this is a different kind of tent. I think it is more of a shrine, a place where the worship of Baal is practiced through sex with the temple priestess. The fact that this qubbah is set up within the borders of Israel is a great sign of rebellion towards God. While the leaders were weeping at the tent of meeting Zimri in full day light heads to this qubbah. He is going to the tent of a known temple prostitute and has joined himself to Baal in worship through her. Phinehas the priest and grandson of Aaron in his zeal to stand right before the Lord, goes after them and kills them both with his spear.

Cozbi was used as a stumbling block and Israel tripped and fell prey to her enticements. The plague caused by Gods wrath took out 24,000 people and was stopped when she and Zimiri are killed with a javelin by Phinehas.

It is interesting to note that there are two very similar words found in Numbers 25:8 The words for tent and belly are very close. tent 6898 belly 6897 a qubbah is a domed cavity of a tent. A qobah is the belly. She is killed in her qubbah through the qobah. I think it is a womb type tent. She has invited this man into her womb to worship Baal.

It is one thing to practice your sin privately but when it becomes a public spectacle it becomes a stumbling block for others. If in your liberty you are causing others to follow you into activities that will cause them to fall away or stumble in their walk with God you are on dangerous ground.

Later Israel goes to war against Midian and are instructed to kill all the men, boys, and women who are not virgins.

'You have spared every female! Yet they are the very ones who, at the bidding of Balaam, induced the Israelites to trespass against the Lord in the matter of Peor, so that the Lord's community was struck by the plague' (Numbers 31:15-16).

This Peor incident was a big deal, almost right up there with the Golden Calf. You can find the whole story in Numbers 25. Those who died in the plague were twenty-four thousand. The plague stopped with Cozbi's death.

Cozbi's name means voluptuous; lying; deceiver. I think it is interesting that she is called by name. Women are not mentioned by name all that often in the Old Testament so when they are mentioned I find myself asking why.

What did she do that caused her name to be remembered? I think she is literally an example of a stumbling block. In her case she was part of a massive attempt provoked by Balaam to entice Israel to turn away from God and to worship another god in blatant rebellion to God. That rebellion costs the lives of 24,000 people in Israel.

So how does this apply to us?

When we entice others to turn from their convictions we become a stumbling block.

1 Corinthians 8:9
But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to those who are weak.

Romans 14:13 Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way.

The people of Israel were literally not to put up stumbling blocks that would trip the blind. (Leviticus 19:14) That idea of tripping others on purpose gave way to the idea of stumbling blocks. Those things that are set in the way of others who are perhaps weak or spiritually blind to trip them up and keep them from following God or cause them to sin.

Proverbs 4:19 (NKJV)
19 The way of the wicked is like darkness;
They do not know what makes them stumble.

When we turn away from God to follow sinful things the way becomes dark before us.

Jeremiah 13:16 (NKJV)
16 Give glory to the Lord your God
Before He causes darkness,
And before your feet stumble
On the dark mountains,
And while you are looking for light,
He turns it into the shadow of death
And makes it dense darkness.

One of the blessings of a believer is that God protects his people from stumbling. His word is a light to our feet.

Psalm 56:13 (NKJV)
13 For You have delivered my soul from death.
Have You not kept my feet from falling,
That I may walk before God
In the light of the living?


  1. This is the longest A-Z post I've seen so far!

    The OT has the best stories. Judges is my favourite book.

    1. Hi Elingregory,
      Thanks for stopping by. I write this length of post everyday and have been since July of 2011. It is on the long side I realize for A-Zers. I did think about trying to shorten them, but I have regular readers who look forward to them each day. In the end I decided to keep to my regular format.
      Judges is a wonderful book - a lot of interesting characters found in its pages.

      Have a great A-Z

  2. Margot,

    Wow this one is filled with some great lessons for us. Thanks for taking the time to research, prepare and write this piece. Great job!


  3. Margot, thank you for shedding light on Cozbi and the likely role she played. And also the scriptures you share at end about being a stumbling block to others. So much wisdom in God's word!

  4. Very interesting, Margot! It's so interesting, to me, to learn the culture behind the narratives in the Bible. I didn't remember reading about Cozbi, so this was all new to me!

    Checking you out from the A to Z Challenge.

    1. Hi Shelly,
      I enjoyed visiting your blogs today. Thanks for stopping by. I've tried to pick a few of the characters that folks might have missed. Glad you liked the post on Cozbi.



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