This is Episode #55 and today we’ll read Numbers, chapters 31-32 together. The Israelites wage war with the Midianites and win, God teaches them how plunder is to be divided, and the Reubenites and the Gadites have a proposal.
Joy: You’re listening to Season 2 of the Lifting Her Voice podcast. This is Episode #55 and today we’ll read Numbers, chapters 31-32 together. The Israelites wage war with the Midianites and win, God teaches them how plunder is to be divided, and the Reubenites and the Gadites have a proposal.
Welcome to the Lifting Her Voice podcast, Season 2! I’m your host, Joy Miller, and I invite you to grab your Bible and join me – from the beginning – simply reading God’s word together. We built some spiritual muscles in 2020 with just the New Testament. But this year we’re going all out, cover-to-cover, Old Testament and New. So, whether with your first cup in the morning, your commute to work, or as the last thing on your mind before sleep, God’s Word will equip you for every good work. I’m really glad you’re here!
Numbers Chapter 31
War with Midian
The Lord spoke to Moses, “Execute vengeance for the Israelites against the Midianites. After that, you will be gathered to your people.”
So Moses spoke to the people, “Equip some of your men for war. They will go against Midian to inflict the Lord’s vengeance on them. Send one thousand men to war from each Israelite tribe.” So one thousand were recruited from each Israelite tribe out of the thousands in Israel — twelve thousand equipped for war. Moses sent one thousand from each tribe to war. They went with Phinehas son of Eleazar the priest, in whose care were the holy objects and signal trumpets.
They waged war against Midian, as the Lord had commanded Moses, and killed every male. Along with the others slain by them, they killed the Midianite kings — Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur, and Reba, the five kings of Midian. They also killed Balaam son of Beor with the sword. The Israelites took the Midianite women and their dependents captive, and they plundered all their cattle, flocks, and property. Then they burned all the cities where the Midianites lived, as well as all their encampments, and took away all the spoils of war and the captives, both people and animals. They brought the prisoners, animals, and spoils of war to Moses, the priest Eleazar, and the Israelite community at the camp on the plains of Moab by the Jordan across from Jericho.
Moses is Furious
Moses, the priest Eleazar, and all the leaders of the community went to meet them outside the camp. But Moses became furious with the officers, the commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds, who were returning from the military campaign. “Have you let every female live?” he asked them. “Yet they are the ones who, at Balaam’s advice, incited the Israelites to unfaithfulness against the Lord in the Peor incident, so that the plague came against the Lord’s community. So now, kill every male among the dependents and kill every woman who has gone to bed with a man, but keep alive for yourselves all the young females who have not gone to bed with a man.
“You are to remain outside the camp for seven days. All of you and your prisoners who have killed a person or touched the dead are to purify yourselves on the third day and the seventh day. Also purify everything: garments, leather goods, things made of goat hair, and every article of wood.”
Then the priest Eleazar said to the soldiers who had gone to battle, “This is the legal statute the Lord commanded Moses: The gold, silver, bronze, iron, tin, and lead — everything that can withstand fire — you are to pass through fire, and it will be clean. It must still be purified with the purification water. Anything that cannot withstand fire, pass through the water. On the seventh day wash your clothes, and you will be clean. After that you may enter the camp.”
Distribution of The Plunder
The Lord told Moses, “You, the priest Eleazar, and the family heads of the community are to take a count of what was captured, people and animals. Then divide the captives between the troops who went out to war and the entire community. Set aside a tribute for the Lord from what belongs to the fighting men who went out to war: one out of every five hundred people, cattle, donkeys, sheep, and goats. Take the tribute from their half and give it to the priest Eleazar as a contribution to the Lord. From the Israelites’ half, take one out of every fifty from the people, cattle, donkeys, sheep, and goats, all the livestock, and give them to the Levites who perform the duties of the Lord’s tabernacle.”
So Moses and the priest Eleazar did as the Lord commanded Moses. The captives remaining from the plunder the army had taken totaled:
675,000 sheep and goats,
and 32,000 people, all the females who had not gone to bed with a man.
The half portion for those who went out to war numbered:
337,500 sheep and goats,
and the tribute to the Lord was 675
from the sheep and goats;
from the 36,000 cattle,
the tribute to the Lord was 72;
from the 30,500 donkeys,
the tribute to the Lord was 61;
and from the 16,000 people,
the tribute to the Lord was 32 people.
Moses gave the tribute to the priest Eleazar as a contribution for the Lord, as the Lord had commanded Moses.
The Israelites’ Half
From the Israelites’ half, which Moses separated from the men who fought, the community’s half was:
337,500 sheep and goats,
and 16,000 people.
Moses took one out of every fifty, selected from the people and the livestock of the Israelites’ half. He gave them to the Levites who perform the duties of the Lord’s tabernacle, as the Lord had commanded him.
The officers who were over the thousands of the army, the commanders of thousands and of hundreds, approached Moses and told him, “Your servants have taken a census of the fighting men under our command, and not one of us is missing. So we have presented to the Lord an offering of the gold articles each man found — armlets, bracelets, rings, earrings, and necklaces — to make atonement for ourselves before the Lord.”
Moses and the priest Eleazar received from them all the articles made out of gold. All the gold of the contribution they offered to the Lord, from the commanders of thousands and of hundreds, was 420 pounds. Each of the soldiers had taken plunder for himself. Moses and the priest Eleazar received the gold from the commanders of thousands and of hundreds and brought it into the tent of meeting as a memorial for the Israelites before the Lord.
Numbers Chapter 32
The Reubenites and Gadites had a very large number of livestock. When they surveyed the lands of Jazer and Gilead, they saw that the region was a good one for livestock. So the Gadites and Reubenites came to Moses, the priest Eleazar, and the leaders of the community and said, “The territory of Ataroth, Dibon, Jazer, Nimrah, Heshbon, Elealeh, Sebam, Nebo, and Beon, which the Lord struck down before the community of Israel, is good land for livestock, and your servants own livestock.” They said, “If we have found favor with you, let this land be given to your servants as a possession. Don’t make us cross the Jordan.”
But Moses asked the Gadites and Reubenites, “Should your brothers go to war while you stay here? Why are you discouraging the Israelites from crossing into the land the Lord has given them? That’s what your ancestors did when I sent them from Kadesh-barnea to see the land. After they went up as far as Eshcol Valley and saw the land, they discouraged the Israelites from entering the land the Lord had given them. So the Lord’s anger burned that day, and he swore an oath: ‘Because they did not remain loyal to me, none of the men twenty years old or more who came up from Egypt will see the land I swore to give Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob — none except Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite and Joshua son of Nun, because they did remain loyal to the Lord.’
The Lord’s anger burned against Israel, and he made them wander in the wilderness forty years until the whole generation that had done what was evil in the Lord’s sight was gone. And here you, a brood of sinners, stand in your ancestors’ place adding even more to the Lord’s burning anger against Israel. If you turn back from following him, he will once again leave this people in the wilderness, and you will destroy all of them.”
Then they approached him and said, “We want to build sheep pens here for our livestock and cities for our dependents. But we will arm ourselves and be ready to go ahead of the Israelites until we have brought them into their place. Meanwhile, our dependents will remain in the fortified cities because of the inhabitants of the land. We will not return to our homes until each of the Israelites has taken possession of his inheritance. Yet we will not have an inheritance with them across the Jordan and beyond, because our inheritance will be across the Jordan to the east.”
Moses replied to them, “If you do this — if you arm yourselves for battle before the Lord, and every one of your armed men crosses the Jordan before the Lord until he has driven his enemies from his presence, and the land is subdued before the Lord — afterward you may return and be free from obligation to the Lord and to Israel. And this land will belong to you as a possession before the Lord. But if you don’t do this, you will certainly sin against the Lord; be sure your sin will catch up with you. Build cities for your dependents and pens for your flocks, but do what you have promised.”
The Gadites and Reubenites answered Moses, “Your servants will do just as my lord commands. Our dependents, wives, livestock, and all our animals will remain here in the cities of Gilead, but your servants are equipped for war before the Lord and will go across to the battle as my lord orders.”
So Moses gave orders about them to the priest Eleazar, Joshua son of Nun, and the family heads of the Israelite tribes. Moses told them, “If the Gadites and Reubenites cross the Jordan with you, every man in battle formation before the Lord, and the land is subdued before you, you are to give them the land of Gilead as a possession. But if they don’t go across with you in battle formation, they must accept land in Canaan with you.”
The Gadites and Reubenites replied, “What the Lord has spoken to your servants is what we will do. We will cross over in battle formation before the Lord into the land of Canaan, but we will keep our hereditary possession across the Jordan.”
So Moses gave them — the Gadites, Reubenites, and half the tribe of Manasseh son of Joseph — the kingdom of King Sihon of the Amorites and the kingdom of King Og of Bashan, the land including its cities with the territories surrounding them. The Gadites rebuilt Dibon, Ataroth, Aroer, Atroth-shophan, Jazer, Jogbehah, Beth-nimrah, and Beth-haran as fortified cities, and built sheep pens. The Reubenites rebuilt Heshbon, Elealeh, Kiriathaim, as well as Nebo and Baal-meon (whose names were changed), and Sibmah. They gave names to the cities they rebuilt.
The descendants of Machir son of Manasseh went to Gilead, captured it, and drove out the Amorites who were there. So Moses gave Gilead to the clan of Machir son of Manasseh, and they settled in it. Jair, a descendant of Manasseh, went and captured their villages, which he renamed Jair’s Villages. Nobah went and captured Kenath with its surrounding villages and called it Nobah after his own name.
God was true to His word about keeping the land where He abided with the Israelites pure. The Midianites had led the Israelites astray and He was having none of it. He commanded Moses to take vengeance on them and that’s what the Israelites did. I was touched and hopeful when the commanders gave such a large portion of their plunder of gold to God. It almost seems like they were starting to get it.
And, oooh, Moses was a little hot under the collar when he thought the Reubenites and Gadites were gonna bail on their Israelite brothers. But these two tribes made an oath that they would not return to the east side of the Jordan until Canaan had been conquered and the rest of the Israelites had received their inheritances. We’d probably be a little grumpy too if we were 120 years old and had been babysitting a million knuckleheads for over 40 years. What do you think? Let me know at Lifting Her Voice.com, Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.
Thank you for joining me here today. I pray that by spending time in His Word every day, you will by changed. Visit me at Lifting Her Voice.com with your comments and questions. And don’t forget to visit the Blog page while you’re there. If you like the podcast, it would be great if you’d give it a five-star review and share it with everyone you know. Don’t forget to subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. See you tomorrow!
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Christian Standard Bible(r), Copyright (c) 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible(r) and CSB(r) are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
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