Numbers 31

War against the Midianites

1 The Lord said to Moses, 2 ‘You must punish the Midianites because they caused the Israelites to worship idols. After you have done that, you will die.’

3 Moses said to the people, ‘Choose some men to go and fight against the Midianites. Give them weapons to punish the Midianites as the Lord wants. 4 Choose 1,000 men from each Israelite tribe to go and fight.’

5 They did that. There were 12,000 men ready with weapons to fight the battle. 6 Moses sent those men out to fight. There were 1,000 men from each tribe. Phinehas, the son of Eleazar the priest, went with them. Phinehas took with him the special things from God's Holy Tent. He also took the trumpets to make sounds for the battle.

7 They attacked the Midianites as the Lord had told them. They killed all the men. 8 That included the five kings of Midian: Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur and Reba. They also killed Balaam, the son of Beor, with a sword.

9 Israel's men took hold of the women and children of Midian. They took their animals and everything that was valuable. 10 They burned all their towns and their camps. 11 They took for themselves the people, the animals and everything that was valuable. 12 They took all the prisoners and the things that they had taken to Moses, and to Eleazar the priest. They brought them to the camp of the Israelites. That was on the flat ground in Moab beside the River Jordan. Jericho was on the other side of the river.

13 Moses, Eleazar and the leaders of the Israelites went to meet them outside the camp. 14 Moses was angry with the leaders and the officers of the army who had come back from the battle against the Midianites.

15 Moses said to them, ‘Why have you let all the women live? 16 You should not have done that. These women caused the Israelites to turn against the Lord. They did what Balaam said to them at Peor. As a result, a bad illness killed many of the Lord's people. 17 Because of that, kill all the boys, and kill every woman who has had sex with a man. 18 But as for the girls who have not had sex with a man, you may keep them for yourselves.’

19 Moses said, ‘Any soldier who has killed someone, or who has touched a dead body is unclean. He must stay outside the camp for seven days. On the third day and on the seventh day, you must wash yourselves to become clean. You must do the same thing to your Midianite prisoners. 20 You must also make the following things clean: any clothes or anything made from leather, wool or wood.’

21 Eleazar the priest said to the soldiers, ‘This is the rule that the Lord told Moses: 22 You must put all the gold, the silver, the bronze, the iron, and other metals in a fire. 23 Put in the fire anything that the fire will not destroy. The fire will make those things clean. But you must also wash them with water. As for anything that the fire would destroy, wash them with water to make them clean. 24 On the seventh day, you must wash your clothes. After that you will be clean again. Then you can come into the camp.’

25 The Lord said to Moses, 26 ‘You and Eleazar the priest, and the leaders of the family clans must count all the people and animals that you took in the battle. 27 Give one half of all those things to the soldiers who went to fight the war against the Midianites. Give the other half to the rest of the people. 28 From the half which belongs to the soldiers, keep one part out of every 500. Do that with the Midianite prisoners, the cows, the donkeys and the sheep. Those parts will be for the Lord. 29 Give those to Eleazar the priest. He will offer them to the Lord. 30 From the half that belongs to the people, keep one part out of every 50. Do that with the Midianite prisoners, the cows, the donkeys and the sheep. Those parts will be for the Levites who take care of the Lord's special tent.’

31 Moses and Eleazar did as the Lord said.

32 The soldiers had brought from the battle: 675,000 sheep, 33 72,000 cows, 34 61,000 donkeys 35 and 32,000 young women who had not had sex with a man.

36 The soldiers' half included 337,500 sheep. 37 So there were 675 sheep for the Lord. 38 The soldiers' half also included 36,000 cows. So there were 72 cows for the Lord. 39 The soldiers' half also included 30,500 donkeys. So there were 61 donkeys for the Lord. 40 The soldiers' half also included 16,000 people. So there were 32 people for the Lord.

41 Moses gave the part that was for the Lord to Eleazar, the priest. He would offer these to the Lord, as the Lord had commanded Moses.

42 Moses made the half for the Israelite people separate from the half that was for the soldiers. 43 The people's half included 337,500 sheep, 44 36,000 cows, 45 30,500 donkeys 46 and 16,000 people. 47 From the Israelites' half, Moses took one part out of every 50. He gave those to the Levites who took care of the Lord's special tent. That was what the Lord had commanded Moses to do.

48 Then the leaders and the officers of the army went to Moses. 49 They said to him: ‘We have counted the soldiers who went to fight against the Midianites. They have all come back safely. 50 So we have brought a gift to offer to the Lord. We have brought gold rings, ear-rings, necklaces and other gold things that people wear. They are gifts to remove our sins so that the Lord will forgive us.’

51 Moses and Eleazar took all the gold things that the soldiers' officers and leaders brought to them. 52 They weighed all the gold that was offered to the Lord. The weight was 16,750 shekels. 53 The soldiers had also taken gold things from the enemy for themselves. 54 Moses and Eleazar took the gold gifts from the soldiers' officers and leaders into the Tent of Meeting. It would help the Israelites to remember how the Lord had helped them.