Chapter 31: Moses sends 12,000 Warriors
At this point in the story, we have learned that Joshua was appointed to succeed Moses as the new leader for the Israelites. Joshua received the priesthood authority. Moses has another task, before he can be gathered completely to his people.
The Lord commands Moses to take vengeance upon the Midianites. Remember Numbers 25? Where the Midianites seduced the Israelites and caused that some of them worshiped their idol gods? Well Moses sends out 12,000 troops to fight the Midianites. This amounts to 1,000 from each tribe. With this group Moses sends Phinehas (the son of Eleazer) who takes some articles from the tabernacle and some trumpets which he uses for signaling.
The Israelites easily defeat the Midianites, killing every single man and taking the women, children and loot for themselves as plunder. They kill the five kings of Midian: Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur, Balaam and Reba.
The warriors return with the plunder and everyone except Moses is happy. Moses asks them; “…Have ye saved all the women alive? Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the Lord in the matter of Peor…” (Numbers 31:15-16). Essentially telling them that the women were the ones who caused the Israelites to sin, so they should have been killed too.
Moses commands them to kill all the boys and all the women who have slept with a man, but save those who had not slept with a man. Anyone who participated in the killing or touched the dead bodies, would have to stay outside of the camp for seven days as part of the cleansing process.
After that, they divide up the spoils between the soldiers and the rest of the Israelites. The Levites are to receive 1 out of every 500 of everything the soldiers receive and 1 out of every 50 items that the rest of the Israelites receive.
The officers of the army report to Moses that they had 0 casualties, they wiped out an entire nation without any loss! They thank the Lord for this victory, by presenting an additional offering of 190 kilograms of gold. OR in today’s standard of Gold to US dollar equals: $6,118,000!!! That’s right… over 6 MILLION dollars in Gold.
Chapter 32: Conquering of Canaan
The Israelites are about to enter into the Promised Land, what will become “Israel”, the land on the west side of Jordan. Before they cross Jordan, the Reubenites and the Gadites take a look at the surrounding lands on the East side, or the former lands of Ataroth, Dibon, Jazer, Nimrah, Hesbon, Elealeh, Sebam and Beon. The Reubenites and the Gadites see that the land would be good and ask Moses if they can keep these lands instead, because they were favorable in their eyes.
Moses of course gets a little angry, especially since they haven’t made it to the Promised Land that they Lord had planned for them, and they already want something else. Moses speaks to the children of Gad and Reuben, saying: “…Shall your brethren go to war, and shall ye sit here? And therefore discourage ye the heart of the children of Israel from going over into the land which the Lord hath given them?” (Numbers 32:6)
The Lord has prepared the Promised Land for them and wanting something else, is really not putting their trust in the Lord and this causes him to be angry. The children of Reuben and Gad come back to Moses and tell him that they will go with Israel into the Promised Land.
The Lord even reminds them of why they had traveled in the desert for forty years: “And the Lord’s anger was kindled against Israel, and he made them wander in the wilderness forty years, until all the generation, that had done evil in the sight of the Lord, was consumed” (Numbers 32:13). Essentially we learn about trials and tribulations…
The Lord gives us Trials that we can be strengthened. By “filtering” out the evil in the children of Israel, the Lord through a 40 year process was able to find the strongest and most faithful of the Israelites to live in the Promised Land. This reminds me of a scripture in (Romans 5: 1-6)
“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.”
We glory in tribulations… knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope.
Reuben, Gad and half of the tribe of Manasseh receive their inheritances east of Jordan. They covenant to join the other tribes in conquering Canaan.