Numbers 31: War with the Midianites


Moses tells everyone to go to war with the Midianites. Every tribe offers up 1,000 troops, so 12,000 troops in all. They go and kill all the men of Midianite and burn down everything. They take the women and children hostage and all the cattle, sheep and gold and jewels and silver. Moses meets them outside the camp and is upset they didn’t kill the women. After all, these were the women who led the men of the camp astray with their whoring ways. So kill all the women who have known men and kill and the boy children. Keep the little girls for yourself. The rest of the chapter involves dividing up the spoils of way – which is quite a bit of stuff.  One portion to the warriors, one portion to the temple and the rest to the tribes of Israel.

In other words:

They go to war against, the Midianites and kill everyone except the little girls and then divide up the spoils of war.

Favorite bit: 

That the warriors have to purify themselves for 7 days before they can re-enter the camp.

What surprised me:

That I wasn’t upset with Numbers 31:17 – where the order is given to kill all the women who have known a man and all the little boys and keep only the little girls. That quote is used out of context a lot to show how horrid God is, but honestly, in context, it’s not that big a deal. I mean after you’ve slaughtered everyone and burnt their houses to the ground, the additional killing isn’t shocking. These people were bloodthirsty cultists.  Literally, they are obsessed with blood (offerings, burnings, etc).

How many people are we talking about here?

After all the Midianites are killed aside from the young girls who are virgins, they are left with 32,000 young women. So essentially we are being told to believe that 12,000 Israeli soldiers killed 100,000’s Midianites including the kings and their armies.

Least favorite bit:

Got to be honest, the listing of the spoils of war. More numbers and yeah, it’s a book about numbers, but I just can’t be bothered to care about how many hundreds of thousands of sheep they got and who got what portion of them.

Moral Lesson:

Zealots are really dangerous people. (Numbers 31)