The One Year® Chronological Bible, NKJV (Tyndale, 2013), March 9
Moses delivers to Israel the annual calendar of celebrations that they are to follow when they enter Canaan. These celebrations require the sacrifice of hundreds of animals who have no defects. Where will these wilderness wanderers obtain such a vast number?
Finally, the Lord gives Moses one final instruction, “Take vengeance on the Midianites for the children of Israel. Afterward you shall be gathered to your people” (Num. 31:2).
A twelve-thousand man army marches against the Midianites and destroys them. Balaam, the pagan diviner, dies by Israel’s sword, and Israel commandeers the Midianites’ great wealth: people, animals, and gold jewelry.
The Lord gives two instructions regarding the plunder:
- The Lord commands Moses to kill all of the males and all the women who aren’t virgins, since “these women caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam to trespass against the LORD in the incident of Peor” (31:16).
- The Lord divides the plunder between those who fought and those who remained in the camp. Each group is to set apart a tribute to the Lord and a tribute to the priests.
Israel’s battle with the Midianites provides them with more sacrificial animals than the annual calendar requires. This scene reveals a truth that runs throughout the Bible: God gives instructions that requires God’s activity. Obedience always precedes illumination and provision.
The first such story to reveal this truth occurs in the garden of Eden, when God tells Adam, “It is not good that man should be alone. I will make him a helper comparable to him” (Gen. 2:18). Then God informs Adam to name the animals. After this obedience Adam realizes that he is without a complimentary partner. God puts him to sleep and creates Eve from his rib. God’s instructions always require faith and obedience. God is good. He only does good.
Questions from today’s reading (Numbers 30:1-31:54):
What does the division of the spoils of war reveal about God and community?
How were the Levites included in the division of the spoils of war?