The Midianites are spoiled and Balaam slain, 1-12. Moses is angry with the officers for saving the women alive, 13-18. How the soldiers, with their captives and spoil, are to be purified, 19-24. The proportion in which the prey is to be divided, 25-47. The voluntary oblation to the treasury of the Lord, 48-54.
1 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 2 "Avenge the children of Israel of the Midianites. Afterward you shall be gathered to your people." 3 And Moses spoke to the people, saying, "Arm some of yourselves for the war, and let them go against the Midianites and avenge the LORD on Midian. 4 Of every tribe one thousand throughout all the tribes of Israel you shall send to the war." 5 So there were delivered out of the thousands of Israel one thousand of every tribe, twelve thousand armed for war. 6 And Moses sent them to the war, one thousand of every tribe, along with Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest, to the war, with the holy instruments and the trumpets to blow in his hand. 7 And they warred against the Midianites, as the LORD commanded Moses, and they slew all the males. 8 And they slew the kings of Midian, besides the rest of those who were slain, namely, Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur, and Reba, five kings of Midian. Balaam the son of Beor they also slew with the sword. 9 And the children of Israel took all the women of Midian captives with their little ones, and took the spoil of all their cattle, all their flocks, and all their goods. 10 And they burnt all their cities in which they dwelt and all their encampments with fire. 11 And they took all the spoil and all the plunder, both of men and of beasts. 12 And they brought the captives, the plunder, and the spoil to Moses and Eleazar the priest and to the congregation of the children of Israel, to the camp at the plains of Moab, which are by the Jordan near Jericho.
13 And Moses and Eleazar the priest and all the princes of the congregation went forth to meet them outside the camp. 14 And Moses was angry with the officers of the host, with the captains over thousands, and captains over hundreds, who came from the battle. 15 And Moses said to them, "Have you saved all the women alive? 16 Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the LORD in the matter of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the LORD. 17 Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones and kill every woman who has known man by lying with him. 18 But all the female children who have not known a man by lying with him keep alive for yourselves. 19 And you, abide outside the camp seven days. Whoever has killed any person and whoever has touched any slain, purify both yourselves and your captives on the third day and on the seventh day. 20 And purify all your clothing, all that is made of skins, all work of goats' hair, and all things made of wood."
21 And Eleazar the priest said to the men of war who went to the battle, "This is the ordinance of the law which the LORD commanded Moses: 22 Only the gold, the silver, the brass, the iron, the tin, and the lead, 23 Everything that may abide in the fire, you shall make it go through the fire and it shall be clean. Nevertheless, it shall be purified with the water of separation. And all that does not abide in the fire you shall make go through the water. 24 And you shall wash your clothes on the seventh day and you shall be clean, and afterward you shall come into the camp."
25 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 26 "Take the sum of the plunder that was taken, both of man and of beast—you, Eleazar the priest, and the chief fathers of the congregation— 27 And divide the plunder into two parts between those who took the war upon them, who went out to battle, and between all the congregation. 28 And levy a tribute to the LORD of the men of war who went out to battle, one soul of five hundred, both of the persons, of the bulls, of the donkeys, and of the sheep. 29 Take it from their half and give it to Eleazar the priest for a heave-offering of the LORD. 30 And of the children of Israel's half, you shall take one portion of fifty of the persons, of the bulls, of the donkeys, and of the flocks, of all manner of beasts, and give them to the Levites who keep the charge of the tabernacle of the LORD." 31 And Moses and Eleazar the priest did as the LORD commanded Moses.
32 And the plunder, being the rest of the spoil which the men of war had taken, was six hundred and seventy-five thousand sheep, 33 Seventy-two thousand bulls, 34 Sixty-one thousand donkeys, 35 And thirty-two thousand persons in all, of women who had not known man by lying with him.
36 And the half which was the portion of those who went out to war was in number three hundred and thirty-seven thousand and five hundred sheep. 37 And the LORD'S tribute of the sheep was six hundred and seventy-five. 38 And the bulls were thirty-six thousand, of which the LORD'S tribute was seventy-two. 39 And the donkeys were thirty thousand and five hundred, of which the LORD'S tribute was sixty-one. 40 And the persons were sixteen thousand, of which the LORD'S tribute was thirty-two persons. 41 And Moses gave the tribute, which was the LORD'S heave-offering, to Eleazar the priest, as the LORD commanded Moses.
42 And of the children of Israel's half, which Moses divided from the men who warred 43 (Now the half that pertained to the congregation was three hundred and thirty-seven thousand and five hundred sheep, 44 Thirty-six thousand bulls, 45 Thirty thousand and five hundred donkeys, 46 And sixteen thousand persons), 47 Even from the children of Israel's half Moses took one portion of fifty, both of man and of beast, and gave them to the Levites who kept the charge of the tabernacle of the LORD, as the LORD commanded Moses.
48 And the officers who were over thousands of the hosts, the captains of thousands, and captains of hundreds came near to Moses, 49 And they said to Moses, "Your servants have taken the sum of the men of war who are under our charge, and there does not lack one man of us. 50 We have therefore brought an oblation for the LORD, what every man has obtained of jewels of gold, chains, bracelets, rings, earrings, and tablets, to make an atonement for our souls before the LORD." 51 And Moses and Eleazar the priest took their gold, even all wrought jewels. 52 And all the gold of the offering that they offered to the LORD, from the captains of thousands and from the captains of hundreds, was sixteen thousand seven hundred and fifty shekels. 53 (For the men of war had taken spoil, every man for himself.) 54 And Moses and Eleazar the priest took the gold from the captains of thousands and of hundreds, and brought it into the Tabernacle of the Congregation for a memorial for the children of Israel before the LORD.
Matthew Henry Commentary - Numbers, Chapter 31[➚]
[v.23] - "Everything that may abide in the fire" - In other words, "Everything that can withstand being put in a fire without being destroyed..."