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Numbers 31

1 - The LORD spoke to Moses, saying,

2 - "Avenge the children of Israel for the Midianites. Afterward you shall be gathered to your people."

3 - Moses spoke to the people, saying, "Arm men from among you for the war, that they may go against Midian, to execute The LORD's vengeance 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, a thousand of every tribe, twelve thousand armed for war.

6 - Moses sent them, one thousand of every tribe, to the war, them and Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest, to the war, with the vessels of the sanctuary and the trumpets for the alarm in his hand.

7 - They fought against Midian, as the LORD commanded Moses. They killed every male.

8 - They killed the kings of Midian with the rest of their slain: Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur, and Reba, the five kings of Midian. They also killed Balaam the son of Beor with the sword.

9 - The children of Israel took the women of Midian captive with their little ones; and all their livestock, all their flocks, and all their goods, they took as plunder.

10 - All their cities in the places in which they lived, and all their encampments, they burned with fire.

11 - They took all the captives, and all the plunder, both of man and of animal.

12 - They brought the captives, and the prey, and the plunder, to Moses, and to 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 at Jericho.

13 - Moses, and Eleazar the priest, and all the princes of the congregation, went out to meet them outside of the camp.

14 - Moses was angry with the officers of the army, the captains of thousands and the captains of hundreds, who came from the service of the war.

15 - 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 so the plague was 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 girls, who have not known man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.

19 - "Encamp outside of the camp seven days. Whoever has killed any person, and whoever has touched any slain, purify yourselves on the third day and on the seventh day, you and your captives.

20 - As to every garment, and all that is made of skin, and all work of goats' hair, and all things made of wood, you shall purify yourselves."

21 - Eleazar the priest said to the men of war who went to the battle, "This is the statute of the law which the LORD has commanded Moses:

22 - however the gold, and the silver, the brass, the iron, the tin, and the lead,

23 - everything that may withstand the fire, you shall make to go through the fire, and it shall be clean; nevertheless it shall be purified with the water for impurity. All that doesn't withstand the fire you shall make to go through the water.

24 - You shall wash your clothes on the seventh day, and you shall be clean. Afterward you shall come into the camp."

25 - The LORD spoke to Moses, saying,

26 - "Count the plunder that was taken, both of man and of animal, you, and Eleazar the priest, and the heads of the fathers' households of the congregation;

27 - and divide the plunder into two parts: between the men skilled in war, who went out to battle, and all the congregation.

28 - Levy a tribute to the LORD of the men of war who went out to battle: one soul of five hundred; of the persons, of the cattle, of the donkeys, and of the flocks.

29 - Take it from their half, and give it to Eleazar the priest, for The LORD's wave offering.

30 - Of the children of Israel's half, you shall take one drawn out of every fifty, of the persons, of the cattle, of the donkeys, and of the flocks, of all the livestock, and give them to the Levites, who perform the duty of The LORD's tabernacle."

31 - Moses and Eleazar the priest did as the LORD commanded Moses.

32 - Now the plunder, over and above the booty which the men of war took, was six hundred seventy-five thousand sheep,

33 - and seventy-two thousand head of cattle,

34 - and sixty-one thousand donkeys,

35 - and thirty-two thousand persons in all, of the women who had not known man by lying with him.

36 - The half, which was the portion of those who went out to war, was in number three hundred thirty-seven thousand five hundred sheep:

37 - and The LORD's tribute of the sheep was six hundred seventy-five.

38 - The cattle were thirty-six thousand; of which The LORD's tribute was seventy-two.

39 - The donkeys were thirty thousand five hundred; of which The LORD's tribute was sixty-one.

40 - The persons were sixteen thousand; of whom The LORD's tribute was thirty-two persons.

41 - Moses gave the tribute, which was The LORD's wave offering, to Eleazar the priest, as the LORD commanded Moses.

42 - Of the children of Israel's half, which Moses divided off from the men who fought

43 - (now the congregation's half was three hundred thirty-seven thousand five hundred sheep,

44 - and thirty-six thousand head of cattle,

45 - and thirty thousand five hundred donkeys,

46 - and sixteen thousand persons),

47 - even of the children of Israel's half, Moses took one drawn out of every fifty, both of man and of animal, and gave them to the Levites, who performed the duty of The LORD's tabernacle; as the LORD commanded Moses.

48 - The officers who were over the thousands of the army, the captains of thousands, and the captains of hundreds, came near to Moses.

49 - They said to Moses, "Your servants have taken the sum of the men of war who are under our command, and there lacks not one man of us.

50 - We have brought The LORD's offering, what every man has gotten, of jewels of gold, armlets, and bracelets, signet rings, earrings, and necklaces, to make atonement for our souls before The LORD."

51 - Moses and Eleazar the priest took their gold, even all worked jewels.

52 - All the gold of the wave offering that they offered up to The LORD, of the captains of thousands, and of the captains of hundreds, was sixteen thousand seven hundred fifty shekels.

53 - The men of war had taken booty, every man for himself.

54 - Moses and Eleazar the priest took the gold of the captains of thousands and of hundreds, and brought it into the Tent of Meeting, for a memorial for the children of Israel before The LORD.

Numbers Images and Notes

The Book of Numbers

Numbers 14:14 - And they will tell [it] to the inhabitants of this land: [for] they have heard that thou LORD [art] among this people, that thou LORD art seen face to face, and [that] thy cloud standeth over them, and [that] thou goest before them, by day time in a pillar of a cloud, and in a pillar of fire by night.

The Old Testament - A Brief Overview

Bible Survery - Numbers
Hebrew Name - Bemidhbar "in the wilderness"
Greek Name - Numbers "numberings"
Author - Moses
Date - From 1490-1451 BC Approximately
Theme - The Journey to the Promised Land
Types and Shadows - In Numbers Jesus is the Pillar of Cloud by Day and the Pillar of Fire by Night

Photo of the Sinai Wilderness
Photo of the Sinai Wilderness

Summary of The Book of Numbers

The book of Numbers takes its name from the account of the census that happened two times among the congregation of Israel in Numbers 1-4 and Numbers 26. The Greek title was used even though there is really no connection with the "numberings." The original Hebrew title which means "in the wilderness," is much more accurate, because the book of Numbers is it's really an accurate history of the events that happened during the period of wandering in the wilderness and not necessarily a book about statistics. The book of Numbers seems to follow naturally after the book of Leviticus in the order of the books of Moses in the Old Testament. After the children of Israel received the laws at Mount Sinai, they began the journey as described in the book of Exodus, and they were ready to march directly into the land of Canaan. The book of Numbers reveals how the children of Israel became prepared, and went to various trials, and how they were sinful in not trusting the Lord. Their sinful ways resulted in 37 years of wandering through the harsh wilderness. The book of Numbers concludes with the children of Israel once again at the edge of the land of Canaan, where they received instructions for the conquest of Canaan and the division of the land.

Quick Reference Map
Map of the Route of the Exodus
Map of the Possible Route of the Exodus (Click to Enlarge)

The principle divisions of the book are as follows:

Outline of the Book of Numbers

1) The preparation for the departure from Sinai (1:1-10:10). The events described here took place in nineteen days. In this time a census was taken of all men who were over twenty and who could serve in military efforts (1-4). The total obtained was 603,550 (1:46). This would indicate that the total population of the group was probably near three million. The census was followed by the cleansing and blessing of the congregation (5-6), the offering of gifts from the various tribes (7), the consecration of the Levites (8) and the observance of the Passover at Sinai (9:1-14).

2 ) The journey from Sinai to Kadesh-barnea (10:11-14:45). This section includes the account of the coming of the quail (11), the rebellion against Moses by Miriam and Aaron (12), and the fateful mission of the spies (13, 14).

3) The wanderings of the desert wilderness (15-19). As noted above, this covered a period of thirty-seven years, from the end of the second to the beginning of the fortieth year in the wilderness. Ch. 15 includes various laws and a record of capital punishment for Sabbath breaking. The rebellion of Korah (ch. 16) and the budding of Aaron's rod (ch. 17) are also mentioned here.

4 ) The history of the last year, from the second arrival of the Israelites at Kadesh till they reach "the plains of Moab by Jordan near Jericho" (20-36: 13). Notable sections of this are the story of Balaam (22:2-24:25), the zeal of Phinehas (ch. 25), the second census (26:1-51) , instructions for dividing the land (26:52-27: 11), the appointment of Joshua as Moses' successor (27: 12-23), various laws concerning offerings and vows ( 28-30 ), the war with Midian (ch. 31), the settlement of the tribes east of the Jordan (ch. 32), a review of the locations at which Israel had camped during their wanderings (33: 1-49), more instructions concerning the conquest and division of Canaan (33:50-34:29 ), the appointment of the cities of refuge (ch. 35) and instructions concerning the marriage of land-owning Israelite women (ch. 36).


Ancient Bronze Snake

Bronze Snake from Lachish

Bronze Snake from Lachish, Late Bronze Age

Quick Reference Maps - Numbers

The Exodus of the Hebrews

Mount Horeb

The Red Sea

Canaan Before Joshua

Kadesh barnea

Moab and Ammon


Numbers Resources

The Wilderness Wanderings

More About the Book of Numbers
Numbers in the Picture Study Bible
Timeline of the Ancient World
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