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Numbers 31:2-3

Context
31:2 “Exact vengeance 1  for the Israelites on the Midianites 2  – after that you will be gathered to your people.” 3 

31:3 So Moses spoke to the people: “Arm 4  men from among you for the war, to attack the Midianites and to execute 5  the Lord’s vengeance on Midian.

Numbers 31:8-9

Context
31:8 They killed the kings of Midian in addition to those slain – Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur, and Reba – five Midianite kings. 6  They also killed Balaam son of Beor with the sword. 7 

31:9 The Israelites took the women of Midian captives along with their little ones, and took all their herds, all their flocks, and all their goods as plunder.

1 tn The imperative is followed by its cognate accusative to stress this vengeance. The Midianites had attempted to destroy Israel with their corrupt pagan practices, and now will be judged. The accounts indicate that the effort by Midian was calculated and evil.

2 sn The war was commanded by the Lord and was to be divine vengeance on the Midianites. So it was holy war. No Israelites then could take spoils in this – it was not a time for plunder and aggrandizement. It was part of the judgment of God upon those who would destroy or pervert his plan and his people.

3 sn This would be the last major enterprise that Moses would have to undertake. He would soon die and “be gathered to his people” as Aaron was.

4 tn The Niphal imperative, literally “arm yourselves,” is the call to mobilize the nation for war. It is followed by the jussive, “and they will be,” which would then be subordinated to say “that they may be.” The versions changed the verb to a Hiphil, but that is unnecessary: “arm some of yourselves.”

5 tn Heb “give.”

6 sn Here again we see that there was no unified empire, but Midianite tribal groups.

7 sn And what was Balaam doing among the Midianites? The implication is strong. This pagan diviner had to submit to the revealed will of God in the oracles, but he nonetheless could be hired. He had been a part of the attempt to destroy Israel that failed; he then apparently became part of the plan, if not the adviser, to destroy them with sexual immorality and pagan ritual.



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