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CHAPTER 31 Apr. 12 
War with Midian
Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, 2Avenge the children of Israel for the Midianites. Afterward you shall be gathered to your people. 3Moses spoke to the people, saying, Arm men from among you for the war, that they may go against Midian, to execute Yahweh’s vengeance on Midian. 4Of every tribe one thousand, throughout all the tribes of Israel, you shall send to the war. 5So there were delivered out of the thousands of Israel a thousand of every tribe, twelve thousand armed for war. 6Moses sent them one thousand of every tribe to the war, them and Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest, to the war, with the vessels of the sanctuary and the trumpets for the alarm in his hand. 7They warred against Midian, as Yahweh commanded Moses; and they killed every male. 8They killed the kings of Midian with the rest of their slain: Evi, and Rekem, and Zur, and Hur, and Reba, the five kings of Midian: Balaam also the son of Beor they killed with the sword. 9The children of Israel took captive the women of Midian and their little ones; and all their livestock, and all their flocks, and all their goods, they took for a prey. 10All their cities in the places in which they lived, and all their encampments, they burnt with fire. 11They took all the spoil and all the prey, both of man and of animal. 12They brought the captives and the prey and the spoil to Moses, and to Eleazar the priest, and to the congregation of the children of Israel, to the camp at the plains of Moab which are by the Jordan at Jericho. 13Moses and Eleazar the priest and all the princes of the congregation went forth to meet them outside of the camp. 14Moses was angry with the officers of the army, the captains of thousands and the captains of hundreds who came from the service of the war. 15Moses said to them, Have you saved all the women alive? 16Behold, these caused the children of Israel through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against Yahweh in the matter of Peor, and so the plague was among the congregation of Yahweh. 17Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known man by lying with him. 18But all the girls, who have not known man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves. 19Encamp outside of the camp seven days: whoever has killed any person and whoever has touched any slain, purify yourselves on the third day and on the seventh day, you and your captives. 20As to every garment, and all that is made of skin, and all work of goats’ hair, and all things made of wood, you shall purify yourselves. 21Eleazar the priest said to the men of war who went to the battle, This is the statute of the law which Yahweh has commanded Moses: 22whatever gold, silver, brass, iron, tin and lead, 23everything that may withstand the fire you shall make to go through the fire, and it shall be clean; nevertheless it shall be purified with the water for impurity; and all that doesn’t withstand the fire you shall make to go through the water. 24You shall wash your clothes on the seventh day, and you shall be clean; and afterward you shall come into the camp.
Dividing the Spoils of War
25Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, 26Take the sum of the prey that was taken, both of man and of animal, you, and Eleazar the priest, and the heads of the fathers’ households of the congregation; 27and divide the prey into two parts between the men skilled in war who went out to battle, and all the congregation. 28Levy a tribute to Yahweh of the men of war who went out to battle: one soul of five hundred, of the persons, of the cattle, of the donkeys, and of the flocks. 29Take it of their half, and give it to Eleazar the priest, for Yahweh’s wave offering. 30Of the children of Israel’s half, you shall take one drawn out of every fifty, of the persons, of the cattle, of the donkeys, and of the flocks, of all the livestock, and give them to the Levites, who perform the duty of the tabernacle of Yahweh. 31Moses and Eleazar the priest did as Yahweh commanded Moses. 32Now the prey over and above the booty which the men of war took, was six hundred and seventy-five thousand sheep, 33 seventy-two thousand head of cattle, 34sixty-one thousand donkeys 35and thirty-two thousand persons in all, of the women who had not known man by lying with him. 36The half, which was the portion of those who went out to war, was in number three hundred and thirty-seven thousand five hundred sheep; 37and Yahweh’s tribute of the sheep was six hundred and seventy-five. 38The cattle were thirty-six thousand, of which Yahweh’s tribute was seventy-two. 39The donkeys were thirty thousand five hundred, of which Yahweh’s tribute was sixty-one. 40The persons were sixteen thousand, of whom Yahweh’s tribute was thirty-two persons. 41Moses gave the tribute which was Yahweh’s wave offering to Eleazar the priest, as Yahweh commanded Moses. 42Of the children of Israel’s half, which Moses divided off from the men who warred 43(now the congregation’s half was three hundred and thirty-seven thousand five hundred sheep, 44and thirty-six thousand head of cattle, 45and thirty thousand five hundred donkeys, 46and sixteen thousand persons), 47even of the children of Israel’s half, Moses took one drawn out of every fifty, both of man and of animal, and gave them to the Levites, who performed the duty of the tabernacle of Yahweh; as Yahweh commanded Moses. 48The officers who were over the thousands of the army, the captains of thousands, and the captains of hundreds, came near to Moses; 49and they said to Moses, Your servants have taken the sum of the men of war who are under our command, and there lacks not one man of us. 50We have brought Yahweh’s offering, what every man has gotten, of jewels of gold, armlets, and bracelets, signet rings, earrings, and necklaces, to make atonement for our souls before Yahweh. 51Moses and Eleazar the priest took their gold, even all the worked jewels. 52All the gold of the wave offering that they offered up to Yahweh, of the captains of thousands and of the captains of hundreds, was sixteen thousand seven hundred and fifty shekels. 53(The men of war had taken booty, every man for himself.) 54Moses and Eleazar the priest took the gold of the captains of thousands and of hundreds and brought it into the Tent of Meeting, for a memorial for the children of Israel before Yahweh.


31:2 Avenge the children of Israel- But in :3 we read of avenging Yahweh. The insults against God’s people are against Him. Many of His children struggle today with a sense of justice not having been done to them, and a desire to see some level of justice or vengeance against their abusers. This day will come, if indeed the injustice has been done to us because of our devotion to God; because whatever is done to God’s people is done to Him.
31:5 12,000 was a small army compared to what could have been raised- for there were over 600,000 fighting men numbered amongst Israel at this time. But throughout His military history, God has taken special pleasure in using small numbers to defeat far larger ones, and that principle continues in how He works today.
31:6 God chose Phinehas the priest to be the army commander, whereas Joshua was the more obvious human choice for that job at this time. But God wished to demonstrate that it is spiritual principle which must lead His people rather than human strength and appropriacy. It was of course Phinehas who had so well perceived the spiritual danger of the Moabites earlier (25:7). 
31:15 Moses was distressed that the Israelite army had failed to perceive the spiritual reason for the battle- it was to stop the Midianites posing a temptation to Israel with their women as they had in chapter 25. Sometimes God’s people can fight His battles and even be given victory, whilst failing to perceive the spiritual intent behind the war.
31:27 And all the congregation- This kind of policy of sharing the spoils of war with the congregation was repeated in Israelite history (1 Sam. 30:24,25; Ps. 68:12). It ensured that the minority called upon to do highly visible and humanly heroic  work didn’t do it for themselves nor to settle their own scores, but always, always, with an eye to benefitting the community of God’s people.
31:49 Your servants- It’s usual for military men to consider themselves as an elite in their own right. But these leading military leaders considered themselves as nothing but servants to their spiritual leader. Humility in leadership is vital amongst God’s people.
31:50 To make atonement for our souls- Even in times of spiritual victory, we are to never lose sight of our basic sinfulness and need for atonement with God.