Pinehas’ act of zealotry, when he went against Zimri’s open act of defiance, was described in last week’s Parashah, and yet, the reward for his actions are not written there but are delayed until this weeks portion. Why the wait?
As it is well known, not all acts of zeal are virtuous. What appear to be acts of zealous devotion may actually be immature impulsiveness or simply intolerance of opinions and values other than one’s own. Hence, an act of zeal cannot be correctly evaluated until the behavior is further observed.
If his subsequent behavior proves him to be a mature individual, deliberate in his actions and considerate of the rights and opinions of others, then his act of devotion can be considered to have been sincere and commendable. If his subsequent behavior does not demonstrate maturity and consideration, then his act of zeal is likely to have been an expression of impulsiveness and intolerance, hardly to be commended.
Therefore, Pinehas’ reward was not immediately recorded. Delaying its account until the following portion of the Torah represents a waiting period during which his behavior could be observed, to determine if his zealousness merited a reward. It was only after he proved himself to be mature and considerate that his sincerity was established.