In order to explain why Pinchas killed Zimri, Chazal tell us that הבועל ארמית קנעין פוגעין בו. However, this law should not apply to the woman. Moreover, she was not even Jewish! So, under what Halacha was Pinchas allowed to do it?

(It seems like it may be because of avoda zara, or maybe this Halacha does apply to women).

Thank you so much in advance.

  • why should it not apply to women? especially here, when the non-jewish woman was actively seducing a married (jewish) man, she would anyway deserve the dealth penalty (adultery is one of 7 Noahide laws.)
    – Binyomin
    Jul 9, 2020 at 5:33
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    @Binyomin What difference does it make that the man is married?
    – Joel K
    Jul 9, 2020 at 6:56
  • @JoelK IIRC premarital relations aren't forbidden to nonjews, but extramarital are.
    – Binyomin
    Jul 9, 2020 at 6:59
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    @Binyomin Right. So it would be relevant if Kozbi was married (I have no idea if she was or not), but Zimri's status is irrelevant
    – Joel K
    Jul 9, 2020 at 7:16
  • This question as worded seems pretty silly. The law is learned from Pinchas. Clearly what he did is by definition what the law says you can do. You can ask why the sources all talk about פוגעים בו and not פוגעים בם or something like that if you want.
    – Double AA
    Jul 9, 2020 at 12:56

2 Answers 2


The Or Hachaim (Numbers 25:8) asks this question. He Answers that She has the din like an animal that lives with a person. Just like the animal is killed because it caused a stumbling to a jew, so too she's killed because she brought a stumbling to a jew. The Rambam (Issurei Biah 12:11) himself learns that's the reason why the midyanite women were killed as well.


This Halachah does apply to a woman and even non-jewish. See the Rambam רמב"ם_הלכות_איסורי_ביאה_יב

כל הבועל כותית בין דרך חתנות בין דרך זנות אם בעלה בפרהסיא והוא שיבעול לעיני עשרה מישראל או יתר אם פגעו בו קנאין והרגוהו הרי אלו משובחין וזריזין ודבר זה הל"מ הוא ראיה לדבר זה מעשה פנחס בזמרי.

The case of zimri is the source of this unique halacha. The the Rambam is saying that it's halacha lemoshe misinai. It something that doesn't have to have a logical reason. See source 2 but here is a quote from it.

הרמב"ם מגדיר את סוגת ההלכות הזאת במילים הבאות: "כל דבר שאין לו רמז במקרא, ואינו נקשר בו, ואי אפשר להוציאו בדרך מדרכי הסברה - עליו לבדו נאמר 'הלכה למשה מסיני'".

  • 10
    Note that the Rambam you quoted talks about kiling him. More relevant for this question is later on in that chapter (12:10)
    – Joel K
    Jul 9, 2020 at 7:18

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