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Israel’s War against Midian

31 The Lord said to Moses, “Before you die, make sure that the Midianites are punished for what they did to Israel.”[a]

Then Moses told the people, “The Lord wants to punish the Midianites. So have our men prepare for battle. Each tribe will send a thousand men to fight.”

Twelve thousand men were picked from the tribes of Israel, and after they were prepared for battle, Moses sent them off to war. Phinehas the son of Eleazar went with them and took along some things from the sacred tent[b] and the trumpets for sounding the battle signal.

The Israelites fought against the Midianites, just as the Lord had commanded Moses. They killed all the men, including Balaam son of Beor and the five Midianite kings, Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur, and Reba. The Israelites captured every woman and child, then led away the Midianites' cattle and sheep, and took everything else that belonged to them. 10 They also burned down the Midianite towns and villages.

11 Israel’s soldiers gathered together everything they had taken from the Midianites, including the captives and the animals. 12-13 Then they returned to their own camp in the hills of Moab across the Jordan River from Jericho, where Moses, Eleazar, and the other Israelite leaders met the troops outside camp.

14 Moses became angry with the army commanders 15 and said, “I can’t believe you let the women live! 16 They are the ones who followed Balaam’s advice and invited our people to worship the god Baal Peor. That’s why the Lord punished us by killing so many of our people. 17 You must put to death every boy and all the women who have ever had sex. 18 But do not kill the young women who have never had sex. You may keep them for yourselves.”

19 Then Moses said to the soldiers, “If you killed anyone or touched a dead body, you are unclean and have to stay outside the camp for seven days. On the third and seventh days, you must go through a ceremony to make yourselves and your captives clean. 20 Then wash your clothes and anything made from animal skin, goat’s hair, or wood.”

21-23 Eleazar then explained, “If you need to purify something that won’t burn, such as gold, silver, bronze, iron, tin, or lead, you must first place it in a hot fire. After you take it out, sprinkle it with the water that purifies. Everything else should only be sprinkled with the water. Do all of this, just as the Lord commanded Moses. 24 Wash your clothes on the seventh day, and after that, you will be clean and may return to the camp.”

Everything Taken from the Midianites Is Divided

25 The Lord told Moses:

26-27 Make a list of everything taken from the Midianites, including the captives and the animals. Then divide them between the soldiers and the rest of the people. Eleazar the priest and the family leaders will help you.

28-29 From the half that belongs to the soldiers, set aside for the Lord one out of every five hundred people or animals and give these to Eleazar.

30 From the half that belongs to the people, set aside one out of every fifty and give these to the Levites in charge of the sacred tent.

31 Moses and Eleazar followed the Lord’s instructions 32-35 and listed everything that had been taken from the Midianites. The list included 675,000 sheep and goats, 72,000 cattle, 61,000 donkeys, and 32,000 young women who had never had sex.

36-47 Each half included 337,500 sheep and goats, 36,000 cattle, 30,500 donkeys, and 16,000 young women. From the half that belonged to the soldiers, Moses counted out 675 sheep and goats, 72 cattle, 61 donkeys, and 32 women and gave them to Eleazar to be dedicated to the Lord. Then from the half that belonged to the people, Moses set aside one out of every fifty animals and women, as the Lord had said, and gave them to the Levites.

48 The army commanders went to Moses 49 and said, “Sir, we have counted our troops, and not one soldier is missing. 50 So we want to give the Lord all the gold jewelry we took from the Midianites. It’s our gift to him for watching over us and our troops.”

51 Moses and Eleazar accepted the jewelry from the commanders, 52 and its total weight was over four hundred pounds. 53 This did not include the things that the soldiers had kept for themselves. 54 So Moses and Eleazar placed the gold in the Lord’s sacred tent to remind Israel of what had happened.[c]

Footnotes

  1. 31.2 Midianites. . . to Israel: See 25.1-18.
  2. 31.6 Phinehas. . . sacred tent: Phinehas would serve as the priest during the battle, so he took along the things needed to ask God what he wanted done.
  3. 31.54 to remind. . . happened: Or “so the Lord would continue to help Israel.”

Vengeance on the Midianites

31 The Lord said to Moses, “Take vengeance on the Midianites(A) for the Israelites. After that, you will be gathered to your people.(B)

So Moses said to the people, “Arm some of your men to go to war against the Midianites so that they may carry out the Lord’s vengeance(C) on them. Send into battle a thousand men from each of the tribes of Israel.” So twelve thousand men armed for battle,(D) a thousand from each tribe, were supplied from the clans of Israel. Moses sent them into battle,(E) a thousand from each tribe, along with Phinehas(F) son of Eleazar, the priest, who took with him articles from the sanctuary(G) and the trumpets(H) for signaling.

They fought against Midian, as the Lord commanded Moses,(I) and killed every man.(J) Among their victims were Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur and Reba(K)—the five kings of Midian.(L) They also killed Balaam son of Beor(M) with the sword.(N) The Israelites captured the Midianite women(O) and children and took all the Midianite herds, flocks and goods as plunder.(P) 10 They burned(Q) all the towns where the Midianites had settled, as well as all their camps.(R) 11 They took all the plunder and spoils, including the people and animals,(S) 12 and brought the captives, spoils(T) and plunder to Moses and Eleazar the priest and the Israelite assembly(U) at their camp on the plains of Moab, by the Jordan across from Jericho.(V)

13 Moses, Eleazar the priest and all the leaders of the community went to meet them outside the camp. 14 Moses was angry with the officers of the army(W)—the commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds—who returned from the battle.

15 “Have you allowed all the women to live?” he asked them. 16 “They were the ones who followed Balaam’s advice(X) and enticed the Israelites to be unfaithful to the Lord in the Peor incident,(Y) so that a plague(Z) struck the Lord’s people. 17 Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man,(AA) 18 but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

19 “Anyone who has killed someone or touched someone who was killed(AB) must stay outside the camp seven days.(AC) On the third and seventh days you must purify yourselves(AD) and your captives. 20 Purify every garment(AE) as well as everything made of leather, goat hair or wood.(AF)

21 Then Eleazar the priest said to the soldiers who had gone into battle,(AG) “This is what is required by the law that the Lord gave Moses: 22 Gold, silver, bronze, iron,(AH) tin, lead 23 and anything else that can withstand fire must be put through the fire,(AI) and then it will be clean. But it must also be purified with the water of cleansing.(AJ) And whatever cannot withstand fire must be put through that water. 24 On the seventh day wash your clothes and you will be clean.(AK) Then you may come into the camp.(AL)

Dividing the Spoils

25 The Lord said to Moses, 26 “You and Eleazar the priest and the family heads(AM) of the community are to count all the people(AN) and animals that were captured.(AO) 27 Divide(AP) the spoils equally between the soldiers who took part in the battle and the rest of the community. 28 From the soldiers who fought in the battle, set apart as tribute for the Lord(AQ) one out of every five hundred, whether people, cattle, donkeys or sheep. 29 Take this tribute from their half share and give it to Eleazar the priest as the Lord’s part. 30 From the Israelites’ half, select one out of every fifty, whether people, cattle, donkeys, sheep or other animals. Give them to the Levites, who are responsible for the care of the Lord’s tabernacle.(AR) 31 So Moses and Eleazar the priest did as the Lord commanded Moses.

32 The plunder remaining from the spoils(AS) that the soldiers took was 675,000 sheep, 33 72,000 cattle, 34 61,000 donkeys 35 and 32,000 women who had never slept with a man.

36 The half share of those who fought in the battle was:

337,500 sheep, 37 of which the tribute for the Lord(AT) was 675;

38 36,000 cattle, of which the tribute for the Lord was 72;

39 30,500 donkeys, of which the tribute for the Lord was 61;

40 16,000 people, of whom the tribute for the Lord was 32.

41 Moses gave the tribute to Eleazar the priest as the Lord’s part,(AU) as the Lord commanded Moses.(AV)

42 The half belonging to the Israelites, which Moses set apart from that of the fighting men— 43 the community’s half—was 337,500 sheep, 44 36,000 cattle, 45 30,500 donkeys 46 and 16,000 people. 47 From the Israelites’ half, Moses selected one out of every fifty people and animals, as the Lord commanded him, and gave them to the Levites, who were responsible for the care of the Lord’s tabernacle.

48 Then the officers(AW) who were over the units of the army—the commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds—went to Moses 49 and said to him, “Your servants have counted(AX) the soldiers under our command, and not one is missing.(AY) 50 So we have brought as an offering to the Lord the gold articles each of us acquired—armlets, bracelets, signet rings, earrings and necklaces—to make atonement for ourselves(AZ) before the Lord.”

51 Moses and Eleazar the priest accepted from them the gold—all the crafted articles. 52 All the gold from the commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds that Moses and Eleazar presented as a gift to the Lord weighed 16,750 shekels.[a] 53 Each soldier had taken plunder(BA) for himself. 54 Moses and Eleazar the priest accepted the gold from the commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds and brought it into the tent of meeting(BB) as a memorial(BC) for the Israelites before the Lord.

Footnotes

  1. Numbers 31:52 That is, about 420 pounds or about 190 kilograms

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