Moses sent them, a thousand from each tribe, to the war, and Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest, to war with them, and the sacred vessels [of the sanctuary] and the trumpets to blow the alarm in his hand. They made war against Midian, just as the Lord had commanded Moses, and they killed every male. – Numbers 31:6-7
Phinehas became God’s agent as an antidote to Balaam and his plans to separate Israel from God’s blessings. Just as Phinehas answered God’s call to put an end to Balaam’s plan to seduce the Israelites, he now served as the spiritual leader of Israel’s hand-picked commandos as they become the instruments of God’s divine judgment against the Midianites, in whose midst Balaam continued as their advisor.
Although Phinehas led the army into the battle, he was not the high priest. His father Eleazar had the office of the high priesthood, but the Talmud refers to Phinehas as one “Anointed for War (Meshuach Milchamah, משוח מלחמה).” We might also translate the term as “War Messiah.” The “Anointed for War” was a priest that marched out with the armies of Israel and served as their intercessor and representative of the Almighty on the battlefield.
Typically, the Anointed for War was not the high priest but a deputy of the high priest. As the army prepared for war, the priest designated as Anointed for War rallied the soldiers, encouraged them, emboldened them, prayed over them, and accompanied them to the battlefield (see Deuteronomy 20).
The “Anointed for War” alludes to King Messiah who will take the battlefield like David His father and fight the wars of the LORD. He fights with supernatural weapons: “Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit” (Zechariah 4:6). The Almighty anoints Him with the Spirit of power to overcome the enemies of Israel. Torah Club
God organizes our spiritual warfare in a similar way today—with priests as the strategists in this war, under their pastor general.