Better Late Than NeverBy Rabbi Jack Abramowitz
Only Aharon and his sons had been inaugurated as kohanim. Any of Aharon’s grandsons who had already been born were not. Pinchas fell into that latter category but, because of his heroic act, G-d rewarded him by making him a kohein. In fact, his became the preeminent priestly line. (Pinchas was also granted a long life; we see he was still serving as Kohein Gadol during the time of the civil war against the Tribe of Benjamin in the Book of Judges. This was at least 50 years later, possibly more.)
The man Pinchas killed was named Zimri, from the Tribe of Simeon. The woman was named Kazbi, from a prominent Midianite family.
G-d told Moshe that the Jews should wage war against Midian because of the plot against them with Baal Peor. (We will see this command carried out in parshas Matos, chapter 31.)
Next, G-d told Moshe and Elazar to take a new census of males over 20, which was the age of the draft. They commanded the Jews to do this, just as they had done when they left Egypt years earlier.