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1 And the Lord spake vnto Moses, saying,

2 Auenge the children of Israel of the Midianites: afterward shalt thou be gathered vnto thy people.

3 And Moses spake vnto the people, saying, Arme some of your selues vnto the warre, and let them goe against the Midianites, and auenge the Lord of Midian.

4 Of euery tribe a thousand, throughout all the tribes of Israel, shall ye send to the warre.

5 So there were deliuered out of the thousands of Israel, a thousand of euery tribe, twelue thousand armed for warre.

6 And Moses sent them to the warre, a thousand of euery tribe, them and Phinehas the sonne of Eleazar the Priest, to the warre, with the holy instruments, and the trumpets to blow, in his hand.

7 And they warred against the Midianites, as the Lord commanded Moses, and they slew all the males.

8 And they slew the Kings of Midian, beside the rest of them that were slaine; namely Eui, and Rekem, and Zur, and Hur, and Reba, fiue Kings of Midian; Balaam also the sonne of Beor they slew with the sword.

9 And the children of Israel tooke all the women of Midian captiues, and their little ones, and tooke the spoile of all their cattell, and all their flocks, and all their goods.

10 And they burnt all their cities wherein they dwelt, and all their goodly castles with fire:

11 And they tooke all the spoile, and all the pray, both of men and of beasts.

12 And they brought the captiues, and the pray, and the spoile vnto Moses and Eleazar the Priest, and vnto the Congregation of the children of Israel, vnto the campe at the plaines of Moab, which are by Iordan neere Iericho.

13 And Moses and Eleazar the Priest, and all the Princes of the Congregation went foorth to meete them without the campe.

14 And Moses was wroth with the officers of the hoste, with the captaines ouer thousands, and captaines ouer hundreds, which came from the battel.

15 And Moses said vnto them, Haue ye saued all the women aliue?

16 Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsell of Balaam, to commit trespasse against the Lord in the matter of Peor, and there was a plague among the Congregation of the Lord.

17 Now therefore kill euery male among the little ones, and kill euery woman that hath knowen man, by lying with him.

18 But all the women children that haue not knowen a man by lying with him, keepe aliue for your selues.

19 And doe yee abide without the campe seuen dayes: whosoeuer hath killed any person, and whosoeuer hath touched any slaine, purifie both your selues, and your captiues, on the third day, and on the seuenth day.

20 And purifie all your raiment, and all that is made of skinnes, and all worke of goates haire, and all things made of wood.

21 And Eleazar the Priest said vnto the men of warre which went to the battell, This is the ordinance of the law which the Lord commaunded Moses.

22 Onely the gold, and the siluer, the brasse, the yron, the tinne, and the lead,

23 Euery thing that may abide the fire, yee shall make it goe through the fire, and it shall be cleane: neuerthelesse, it shall be purified with the water of separation: and all that abideth not the fire, yee shall make goe through the water.

24 And ye shall wash your clothes on the seuenth day, and ye shalbe cleane, and afterward yee shall come into the campe.

25 And the Lord spake vnto Moses, saying,

26 Take the summe of the pray, that was taken, both of man and of beast, thou and Eleazar the Priest, and the chiefe fathers of the Congregation:

27 And diuide the pray into two parts, betweene them that tooke the warre vpon them, who went out to battell, and betweene all the Congregation.

28 And leuie a tribute vnto the Lord of the men of warre which went out to battell: one soule of fiue hundred, both of the persons, and of the beeues, and of the asses, and of the sheepe.

29 Take it of their halfe, and giue it vnto Eleazar the Priest, for an heaue offering of the Lord.

30 And of the children of Israels halfe, thou shalt take one portion of fiftie, of the persons, of the beeues, of the asses, and of the flockes, of all maner of beasts, and giue them vnto the Leuites, which keepe the charge of the Tabernacle of the Lord.

31 And Moses and Eleazar the Priest did as the Lord commanded Moses.

32 And the bootie being the rest of the pray which the men of war had caught, was six hundred thousand, and seuenty thousand, and fiue thousand sheepe,

33 And threescore and twelue thousand beeues,

34 And threescore and one thousand asses:

35 And thirtie and two thousand persons in all, of women that had not knowen man by lying with him.

36 And the halfe which was the portion of them that went out to warre, was in number three hundred thousand, and seuen and thirtie thousand, and fiue hundred sheepe.

37 And the Lords tribute of the sheepe was sixe hundred and threescore and fifteene.

38 And the beeues were thirtie and sixe thousand, of which the Lords tribute was threescore and twelue.

39 And the asses were thirtie thousand and fiue hundred, of which the Lords tribute was threescore and one.

40 And the persons were sixteene thousand, of which the Lords tribute was thirtie and two persons.

41 And Moses gaue the tribute which was the Lords heaue offering, vnto Eleazar the Priest, as the Lord commanded Moses.

42 And of the children of Israels halfe, which Moses diuided from the men that warred:

43 (Now the halfe that perteined vnto the Congregation, was three hundred thousand, and thirtie thousand, and seuen thousand, and fiue hundred sheepe:

44 And thirtie and sixe thousand beeues:

45 And thirtie thousand asses, and fiue hundred:

46 And sixteene thousand persons)

47 Euen of the children of Israels halfe, Moses tooke one portion of fiftie, both of man and of beast, and gaue them vnto the Leuites, which kept the charge of the Tabernacle of the Lord, as the Lord commanded Moses.

48 And the officers which were ouer thousands of the hoste, the captaines of thousands, and captaines of hundreds came neere vnto Moses.

49 And they said vnto Moses, Thy seruants haue taken the summe of the men of warre which are vnder our charge, and there lacketh not one man of vs.

50 Wee haue therefore brought an oblation for the Lord, what euerie man hath gotten, of iewels of golde chaines, and bracelets, rings, earerings, and tablets, to make an atonement for our soules before the Lord.

51 And Moses and Eleazar the Priest tooke the gold of them: euen all wrought iewels.

52 And all the gold of the offring that they offered vp to the Lord, of the captaines of thousands, and of the captaines of hundreds, was sixteene thousand, seuen hundred and fiftie shekels.

53 (For the men of warre had taken spoile, euery man for himselfe.)

54 And Moses and Eleazar the Priest tooke the gold of the captaines, of thousands, and of hundreds, and brought it into the Tabernacle of the Congregation, for a memoriall for the children of Israel before the Lord.

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Commentary for Numbers 31

War with Midian. (1-6) Balaam slain. (7-12) Those slain who caused sin. (13-38) Purification of the Israelites. (39-24) Division of the spoil. (25-47) Offerings. (48-54)1-6 All who, without commission from God, dare to execute private revenge, and who, from ambition, covetousness, or resentment, wage war and desolate kingdoms, must one day answer for it. But if God, instead of sending an earthquake, a pestilence, or a famine, be pleased to authorize and command any people to avenge his cause, such a commission surely is just and right. The Israelites could show such a commission, though no persons now can do so. Their wars were begun and carried on expressly by Divine direction, and they were enabled to conquer by miracles. Unless it can be proved that the wicked Canaanites did not deserve their doom, objectors only prove their dislike to God, and their love to his enemies. Man makes light of the evil of sin, but God abhors it. This explains the terrible executions of the nations which had filled the measure of their sins.

7-12 The Israelites slew the Kings of Midian. They slew Balaam. God's overruling providence brought him thither, and their just vengeance found him. Had he himself rightly believed what he had said of the happy state of Israel, he would not have thus herded with the enemies of Israel. The Midianites' wicked wiles were Balaam's projects: it was just that he should perish with them, #Ho 4:5|. They took the women and children captives. They burnt their cities and castles, and returned to the camp.

13-18 The sword of war should spare women and children; but the sword of justice should know no distinction, but that of guilty or not guilty. This war was the execution of a righteous sentence upon a guilty nation, in which the women were the worst criminals. The female children were spared, who, being brought up among the Israelites, would not tempt them to idolatry. The whole history shows the hatefulness of sin, and the guilt of tempting others; it teaches us to avoid all occasions of evil, and to give no quarter to inward lusts. The women and children were not kept for sinful purposes, but for slaves, a custom every where practised in former times, as to captives. In the course of providence, when famine and plagues visit a nation for sin, children suffer in the common calamity. In this case parents are punished in their children; and for children dying before actual sin, full provision is made as to their eternal happiness, by the mercy of God in Christ.

19-24 The Israelites had to purify themselves according to the law, and to abide without the camp seven days, though they had not contracted any moral guilt, the war being just and lawful, and commanded by God. Thus God would preserve in their minds a dread and detestation of shedding blood. The spoil had been used by Midianites, and being now come into the possession of Israelites, it was fit that it should be purified.

25-47 Whatever we have, God justly claims a part. Out of the people's share God required one in fifty, but out of the soldiers' share only one in five hundred. The less opportunity we have of honouring God with personal services, the more should we give in money or value.

48-54 The success of the Israelites had been very remarkable, so small a company overcoming such multitudes, but it was still more wonderful that not one was slain or missing. They presented the gold they found among the spoils, as an offering to the Lord. Thus they confessed, that instead of claiming a reward for their service, they needed forgiveness of much that had been amiss, and desired to be thankful for the preservation of their lives, which might justly have been taken away.

Commentary by Matthew Henry, 1710.

Discussion for Numbers 31

  • Gene
    This chaper was informative. This was to cleanse the area of the sin the Midianit's had caused upon the israelites and the area. The women and girls that had been with men were killed because they were unclean. They saved only the innocent.
  • Marcus Lawson for verse 50
    The people were killed to stop evil from spreading through the Jewish chosen nation.
  • Geraldine wilson for verse 38
    Did not understand why some women and children were killed, though not questioning God,s actions
  • Samantha
    I am having a hard time with this chapter. I 'd it possible that we are all looking for a meaning behind this chapter when there may not really be one? It is simply telling us what was going on at that time. However I dint understand why God would tell Moses to have all these people killed especially the children.
  • Hiram Hills
    Diana re verse 28. It is inconceivable to me that God would condone that which He detested in the heathen cultures. ie human sacrifice. Therefore, the only conclusion is that they were used in His service by the priests. Also note the 32 virgins in verse 40. Another thought, to my knowledge asses were never used for sacrifices, and so the list in verse 28 does not mean these things were used for that only that they were used in the Lords service.. my2cts.
  • Hans Terlouw for verse 18
    And IS do also in 2014 !!!!!!

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