Numbers 31:1-54


I.    Verses 1-12 - The battle against the Midianites.

A.  There are two peoples called Midianites.

1.      Gen. 25:2 - Abraham's wife, Keturah, had six boys, one of whom was Midian.

a.   Ex. 2:16-22 - Jethro (Reuel) had seven daughters and was the priest of Midian.

b.   Moses married Zipporah, one of the daughters of Jethro.

c.   Ex. 18:1-12 - When Moses told of the good things God had done for Israel, Jethro rejoiced and blessed Moses and Israel.  Jethro offered sacrifices and offerings to God.

d.   Numbers 10:29 - Moses desired his father in law to travel with them that he might be a help.

e.   All of these things lead me to believe that these Midianites are worshippers of God Almighty.

2.   The other Midianites settled on the east side of the Dead Sea and were worshippers of Baal-Peor and other false gods.

a.   They lead Israel away from God, at the counsel of Balaam.  (See Numbers 31:16).

b.   This is the reason this group of Midianites must be destroyed.

c.   God has punished Israel for their sinfulness, now Israel must punish Midian for their sinfulness.

3.      Moses will see the punishment of Midian before his death.

a.   Moses saw the destruction caused by the Midianites.

b.   It is only just that God would allow him to see their punishment.

B.   The Israelites that go to war.

1.      There are 600,000 warriors of Israel.

a.   God doesn't ask that they all go.

b.   He wants only 1,000 out of each tribe, 12,000 in all.

c.   God wants Israel to know that the victory is because of Him, not because of the strength of their numbers.

2.      Phinehas, combined with Eleazar, is the spiritual leader of the war.

a.   Phinehas was the one who killed the man and woman (Numbers 6-9) and stopped the plague against Israel.

b.   It is likely this noble action revealed his worthiness for such a task as this.

3.      Eleazar the priest carried the holy instruments and the trumpets to the war.

a.   These instruments did not guarantee the victory, for Israel did not depend on them.

b.   Israel trusted in God.

c.   These instruments were the manifestation of their trust.

4.      There is no record of Joshua going to the war.  No explanation is given.

C.   The war.

1.   All the males (warriors) were killed.

2.   All the kings were killed.

3.      Balaam, the son of Beor, was also killed.

a.   Numbers 23:10 - Balaam wanted to die like the righteous of Israel.

b.   In order to die like the righteous, a person must live like the righteous.

c.   Balaam lived like the wicked and died like the wicked.

4.   The spoil included:

a.   All the women and children.

b.   All the cattle, flocks and goods.

5.   The cities, and all permanent dwellings were burnt with fire.


II.   Verse 13-20 - Moses response to the war and the spoil.

A.  Moses was wroth.

1.      This means that Moses was angry, mad.

2.      This does not mean that Moses sinned.

3.   It is perfectly all right for a person to be angry at the right things.

4.      Christ was angry and cleaned out the temple.

5.   We must be angry and sin not.

B.   Moses anger was toward the leaders.

1.   He was not angry at the people that carried out the orders.

2.   God will not be angry at people who follow their pastor.

3.   He will be angry with the leaders.

C.   It was wrong to save the women alive.

1.   It was through these women that Israel fell into the sin with Baal-Peor.

2.      Moses instructed them to kill all the women that had known man by laying with him.

a.   This type of woman would not be changed for marriage changes a person.

b.   Young women would be saved alive for their minds were not bound by marriage to the Midian way of thinking.

3.   The young boys would be killed, for they would already be thinking the way the Midianites thought.

a.   Men are to be the leaders of homes, families, and government.

b.   The Midianites taught their young men to be leaders, thus they must be killed.


III. Verse 21-24 - The purifying of the men of war and their spoil.

A.  It would be done according to the laws already laid down in Numbers 19.

B.   Things that could be purified by fire were burnt.

C.   Things that would not stand the fire were purified with the water of separation.


IV. Verse 25-27 - The distribution and tribute of the spoil.

A.  The spoil.

1.      675,000 sheep.

2.      72,000 beeves.

3.      61,000 asses.

4.      32,000 people.

B.   The distribution of the spoil.

1.   The twelve thousand warriors get « of the spoil.

a.   337,500 sheep.

b.   36,000 beeves.

c.   30,500 asses.

d.   16,000 people.

2.   The rest of Israel get the other « of the spoil.

a.   337,500 sheep.

b.   36,000 beeves.

c.   30,500 asses.

d.   16,000 people.

C.   The tribute to the Lord.  This is not a tithe or offering.  This is like a tax.

1.   The twelve thousand warriors pay 1 out of 500.

a.   337,500 sheep = 675 sheep to the Lord.

b.   36,000 beeves = 72 beeves to the Lord.

c.   30,500 asses = 61 asses to the Lord.

d.   16,000 people = 32 people to the Lord.

2.   The rest of Israel pays 1 out of 50.

a.   337,500 sheep = 6,750 sheep to the Lord.

b.   36,000 beeves = 720 beeves to the Lord.

c.   30,500 asses = 610 asses to the Lord.

d.   16,000 people = 320 people to the Lord.

D.  Notes about the spoil and tribute.

1.      Those that bear the heat of the battle receive equal to those that stay at home.

2.      This may seem unfair, but those in the battle take more chance with their lives than those that stay at home.

3.      Those that bear the heat of the battle give less to the Lord (materially) because they have given more of themselves.


V.  Verses 48-54 - The Thanksgiving offering.

A.  Verse 48 - It was the same men that sinned in not killing all the women that came before Moses with this good report.

1.      This shows us that God blesses us in spite of our sins and sinfulness.

2.      These same men had received a severe rebuke from Moses, yet didn't hold anything against him, but recognized the rebuke was deserved.

B.   They had discovered, upon returning home, that not a man was lost.

1.   I would call this a major miracle of God.

2.   It is highly unusual that nobody is hurt or killed in a war.

3.      This really made the warriors realize that God was with them.

C.   The offering was 16,750 shekels - a little over one shekel per person.

1.   It is very good when we give free will offerings because of the goodness of God.

2.      May God open our eyes so we can see His goodness toward us.