-The LORD commands Moses to authorize full vengeance on the Midianites before he was to pass away from the earth and be gathered to his people on the other side (Numbers 31:1-2). Moses faithfully followed all of the LORD’s directions in this matter sending 12,000 troops out, 1,000 from each tribe, to make war with the Midianites in the areas east of the Jordan River. They were sent out with Phinehas, Eleazar the priest’s son, the holy vessels, and the trumpets for alarm in his hand. The five kings of Midian were killed in the conflict: Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur, and Reba. They also killed Balaam, the son of Beor, with the sword. The sons of Israel captured the women of Midian and their little ones along with all the cattle and their flocks and donkeys. All their goods they plundered. Then, the Bible says, they burned their cities with fire (Numbers 31:3-11).
-They brought back the spoils of war to Moses from their service, but he was angry with them. They had spared the women, who because of the counsel of Balaam, caused the sons of Israel to trespass against the LORD in the matter of Peor and the plague, which ensued (Numbers 25:1-9; 31:12-16). Because of the potential for idolatry, Moses had all the little ones who were male and every woman who had had sexual relations with a man killed. The virgins of the Midianites were spared however and allowed to be taken by the sons of Israel for wives (Numbers 31:17-18). After all, Moses’ wife and father-in-law were Midianites (Exodus 2:15-21). So the issue was over religious belief rather than race.
-Cleaning up after this violent mess was now a priority. The warriors were commanded to remain outside the camp for seven days if they had killed a person or touched any of the slain. Their captives were to remain with them. They were to purify themselves on the third and seventh days according to the statute (Numbers 19:11-22). The things that could pass through fire were cleansed that way and the other things that could not pass through fire were washed with water to remove impurity (Numbers 31:19-24).
-The division of the booty was then spoken by God to Moses in the second half of this lengthy chapter. The warriors would receive half, the congregation would receive half, and the Levites would receive 1/500th to be given as a levy tax offering unto the LORD. There were some mammoth numbers of distribution (Numbers 31:25-47). At the end of this time, the officers approached Moses in a humble gesture of gratitude towards the LORD for all His successes through them. They realized after accounting for their men that they had lost no one at all. Everyone was there, none were missing. Their freewill offering unto the LORD included 16,750 shekels of everything that was found pertaining to golden armlets, bracelets, signet rings, earrings, and necklaces. They made atonement for themselves before the LORD with these gifts, and the priests offered them up to the LORD on their behalf as a memorial for the sons of Israel (Numbers 31:48-54).
-*Application* After times of struggle that finds us victorious, we should be quick and generous to thank God for looking out for us and giving us His blessings and protection from potentially severe loss. When God is our only hope and refuge, He has a way of working things out for His glory and our sustenance. Don’t turn to idols in these times of crisis and don’t support those who do. He is the Living God and capable of delivering you from every evil thing. And, sometimes He puts us on the offensive for that. This is biblical proof for just war and even just invasion to eradicate evil and the enemies of the LORD.
Verse to Memorize: Numbers 31:2