Numbers 31:1-24

The Slaughter of Midian

31 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Take full vengeance for the sons of Israel on the Midianites; afterward you will be gathered to your people.” Moses spoke to the people, saying, “Arm men from among you for the war, that they may [a]go against Midian to execute the Lord’s vengeance on Midian. A thousand from each tribe of all the tribes of Israel you shall send to the war.” So there were [b]furnished from the thousands of Israel, a thousand from each tribe, twelve thousand armed for war. Moses sent them, a thousand from each tribe, to the war, and Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest, to the war with them, and the holy vessels and the trumpets for the alarm in his hand. So they made war against Midian, just as the Lord had commanded Moses, and they killed every male. They killed the kings of Midian along with the rest of their slain: Evi and Rekem and Zur and Hur and Reba, the five kings of Midian; they also killed Balaam the son of Beor with the sword. The sons of Israel captured the women of Midian and their little ones; and all their cattle and all their flocks and all their goods they plundered.10 Then they burned all their cities where they lived and all their camps with fire.11 They took all the spoil and all the prey, both of man and of beast. 12 They brought the captives and the prey and the spoil to Moses, and to Eleazar the priest and to the congregation of the sons of Israel, to the camp at the plains of Moab, which are by the Jordan opposite Jericho.

13 Moses and Eleazar the priest and all the leaders of the congregation went out to meet them outside the camp. 14 Moses was angry with the officers of the army, the captains of thousands and the captains of hundreds, who had come from service in the war. 15 And Moses said to them, “Have you [c]spared all the women? 16 Behold, these [d]caused the sons of Israel, through the [e]counsel of Balaam, to [f]trespass against the Lord in the matter of Peor, so the plague was among the congregation of the Lord. 17 Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known man [g]intimately. 18 But all the [h]girls who have not known man [i]intimately, [j]spare for yourselves. 19 And you, camp outside the camp seven days; whoever has killed any person and whoever has touched any slain, purify yourselves, you and your captives, on the third day and on the seventh day. 20 You shall purify for yourselves every garment and every article of [k]leather and all the work of goats’ hair, and all articles of wood.”

21 Then Eleazar the priest said to the men of war who had gone to battle, “This is the statute of the law which the Lord has commanded Moses: 22 only the gold and the silver, the bronze, the iron, the tin and the lead, 23 everything that can stand the fire, you shall pass through the fire, and it shall be clean, but it shall be purified with water for impurity. But whatever cannot stand the fire you shall pass through the water. 24 And you shall wash your clothes on the seventh day and be clean, and afterward you may enter the camp.”

It’s almost incredible that the soldiers somehow thought it would be a good idea to let the women live. These were the very women who had seduced the men of Israel previously, and caused a plague to kill many of the Israelites.

Almost, because we can be guilty of the same, with things that lure us into sin. Instead of putting away from us anything that draws us into temptation, we leave it conveniently close. It’s not really THAT bad, we might say. But God says we should have nothing to do with anything that will lead us into temptation.

This will be different for various people, but the message is the same. If something sucks you into sinful behavior, have nothing to do with it. Banish it from your life, and destroy it if possible. Let nothing draw you away from God, see Him first in everything.

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