In Hebrew, Pinchas may mean ‘the mouth of the serpent’ derived from the fiery serpent that Moshe made out of bronze. Though he was Aaron’s grandson, he was never anointed high priest over Isra’el. However, Pinchas was zealous for Adonai and received a priesthood forever. The word ‘zealous’ in Hebrew is quinah and also means ‘jealous.’ It is used to describe Simon in Mark 3:18, Luke 6:15 and Acts 1:13. The favor upon the priestly lineage of Pinchas began when he served before the Ark of the Covenant at Beit-el.
The root of tefillah is palal and has its foundation in the prayer of Pinchas (Phineas) and means ‘to judge’ (Numbers 25). Pinchas was a Levitical high priest who stood against idolatry and ‘judged’ a Midianite woman and Israelite man whose marriage had brought a plague upon the Israelites. This suggests that tefillah is the ‘judging of oneself before a holy God’ through self-examination.