Numbers 31-32 (New Living Translation)
Conquest of the Midianites
31 Then the Lord said to Moses, 2 “On behalf of the people of Israel, take revenge on the Midianites for leading them into idolatry. After that, you will die and join your ancestors.”
3 So Moses said to the people, “Choose some men, and arm them to fight the Lord’s war of revenge against Midian. 4 From each tribe of Israel, send 1,000 men into battle.” 5 So they chose 1,000 men from each tribe of Israel, a total of 12,000 men armed for battle. 6 Then Moses sent them out, 1,000 men from each tribe, and Phinehas son of Eleazar the priest led them into battle. They carried along the holy objects of the sanctuary and the trumpets for sounding the charge. 7 They attacked Midian as the Lord had commanded Moses, and they killed all the men. 8 All five of the Midianite kings—Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur, and Reba—died in the battle. They also killed Balaam son of Beor with the sword.
9 Then the Israelite army captured the Midianite women and children and seized their cattle and flocks and all their wealth as plunder. 10 They burned all the towns and villages where the Midianites had lived. 11 After they had gathered the plunder and captives, both people and animals, 12 they brought them all to Moses and Eleazar the priest, and to the whole community of Israel, which was camped on the plains of Moab beside the Jordan River, across from Jericho. 13 Moses, Eleazar the priest, and all the leaders of the community went to meet them outside the camp. 14 But Moses was furious with all the generals and captains[a] who had returned from the battle.
15 “Why have you let all the women live?” he demanded. 16 “These are the very ones who followed Balaam’s advice and caused the people of Israel to rebel against the Lord at Mount Peor. They are the ones who caused the plague to strike the Lord’s people. 17 So kill all the boys and all the women who have had intercourse with a man. 18 Only the young girls who are virgins may live; you may keep them for yourselves. 19 And all of you who have killed anyone or touched a dead body must stay outside the camp for seven days. You must purify yourselves and your captives on the third and seventh days. 20 Purify all your clothing, too, and everything made of leather, goat hair, or wood.”
21 Then Eleazar the priest said to the men who were in the battle, “The Lord has given Moses this legal requirement: 22 Anything made of gold, silver, bronze, iron, tin, or lead— 23 that is, all metals that do not burn—must be passed through fire in order to be made ceremonially pure. These metal objects must then be further purified with the water of purification. But everything that burns must be purified by the water alone. 24 On the seventh day you must wash your clothes and be purified. Then you may return to the camp.”
Division of the Plunder
25 And the Lord said to Moses, 26 “You and Eleazar the priest and the family leaders of each tribe are to make a list of all the plunder taken in the battle, including the people and animals. 27 Then divide the plunder into two parts, and give half to the men who fought the battle and half to the rest of the people. 28 From the army’s portion, first give the Lord his share of the plunder—one of every 500 of the prisoners and of the cattle, donkeys, sheep, and goats. 29 Give this share of the army’s half to Eleazar the priest as an offering to the Lord. 30 From the half that belongs to the people of Israel, take one of every fifty of the prisoners and of the cattle, donkeys, sheep, goats, and other animals. Give this share to the Levites, who are in charge of maintaining the Lord’s Tabernacle.” 31 So Moses and Eleazar the priest did as the Lord commanded Moses.
32 The plunder remaining from everything the fighting men had taken totaled 675,000 sheep and goats, 33 72,000 cattle, 34 61,000 donkeys, 35 and 32,000 virgin girls.
36 Half of the plunder was given to the fighting men. It totaled 337,500 sheep and goats, 37 of which 675 were the Lord’s share; 38 36,000 cattle, of which 72 were the Lord’s share; 39 30,500 donkeys, of which 61 were the Lord’s share; 40 and 16,000 virgin girls, of whom 32 were the Lord’s share. 41 Moses gave all the Lord’s share to Eleazar the priest, just as the Lord had directed him.
42 Half of the plunder belonged to the people of Israel, and Moses separated it from the half belonging to the fighting men. 43 It totaled 337,500 sheep and goats, 44 36,000 cattle, 45 30,500 donkeys, 46 and 16,000 virgin girls. 47 From the half-share given to the people, Moses took one of every fifty prisoners and animals and gave them to the Levites, who maintained the Lord’s Tabernacle. All this was done as the Lord had commanded Moses.
48 Then all the generals and captains came to Moses 49 and said, “We, your servants, have accounted for all the men who went out to battle under our command; not one of us is missing! 50 So we are presenting the items of gold we captured as an offering to the Lord from our share of the plunder—armbands, bracelets, rings, earrings, and necklaces. This will purify our lives before the Lord and make us right with him.[b]”
51 So Moses and Eleazar the priest received the gold from all the military commanders—all kinds of jewelry and crafted objects. 52 In all, the gold that the generals and captains presented as a gift to the Lord weighed about 420 pounds.[c] 53 All the fighting men had taken some of the plunder for themselves. 54 So Moses and Eleazar the priest accepted the gifts from the generals and captains and brought the gold to the Tabernacle[d] as a reminder to the Lord that the people of Israel belong to him.
The Tribes East of the Jordan
32 The tribes of Reuben and Gad owned vast numbers of livestock. So when they saw that the lands of Jazer and Gilead were ideally suited for their flocks and herds, 2 they came to Moses, Eleazar the priest, and the other leaders of the community. They said, 3 “Notice the towns of Ataroth, Dibon, Jazer, Nimrah, Heshbon, Elealeh, Sibmah,[e] Nebo, and Beon. 4 The Lord has conquered this whole area for the community of Israel, and it is ideally suited for all our livestock. 5 If we have found favor with you, please let us have this land as our property instead of giving us land across the Jordan River.”
6 “Do you intend to stay here while your brothers go across and do all the fighting?” Moses asked the men of Gad and Reuben. 7 “Why do you want to discourage the rest of the people of Israel from going across to the land the Lord has given them? 8 Your ancestors did the same thing when I sent them from Kadesh-barnea to explore the land. 9 After they went up to the valley of Eshcol and explored the land, they discouraged the people of Israel from entering the land the Lord was giving them. 10 Then the Lord was very angry with them, and he vowed, 11 ‘Of all those I rescued from Egypt, no one who is twenty years old or older will ever see the land I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, for they have not obeyed me wholeheartedly. 12 The only exceptions are Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite and Joshua son of Nun, for they have wholeheartedly followed the Lord.’
13 “The Lord was angry with Israel and made them wander in the wilderness for forty years until the entire generation that sinned in the Lord’s sight had died. 14 But here you are, a brood of sinners, doing exactly the same thing! You are making the Lord even angrier with Israel. 15 If you turn away from him like this and he abandons them again in the wilderness, you will be responsible for destroying this entire nation!”
16 But they approached Moses and said, “We simply want to build pens for our livestock and fortified towns for our wives and children. 17 Then we will arm ourselves and lead our fellow Israelites into battle until we have brought them safely to their land. Meanwhile, our families will stay in the fortified towns we build here, so they will be safe from any attacks by the local people. 18 We will not return to our homes until all the people of Israel have received their portions of land. 19 But we do not claim any of the land on the other side of the Jordan. We would rather live here on the east side and accept this as our grant of land.”
20 Then Moses said, “If you keep your word and arm yourselves for the Lord’s battles, 21 and if your troops cross the Jordan and keep fighting until the Lord has driven out his enemies, 22 then you may return when the Lord has conquered the land. You will have fulfilled your duty to the Lord and to the rest of the people of Israel. And the land on the east side of the Jordan will be your property from the Lord. 23 But if you fail to keep your word, then you will have sinned against the Lord, and you may be sure that your sin will find you out. 24 Go ahead and build towns for your families and pens for your flocks, but do everything you have promised.”
25 Then the men of Gad and Reuben replied, “We, your servants, will follow your instructions exactly. 26 Our children, wives, flocks, and cattle will stay here in the towns of Gilead. 27 But all who are able to bear arms will cross over to fight for the Lord, just as you have said.”
28 So Moses gave orders to Eleazar the priest, Joshua son of Nun, and the leaders of the clans of Israel. 29 He said, “The men of Gad and Reuben who are armed for battle must cross the Jordan with you to fight for the Lord. If they do, give them the land of Gilead as their property when the land is conquered. 30 But if they refuse to arm themselves and cross over with you, then they must accept land with the rest of you in the land of Canaan.”
31 The tribes of Gad and Reuben said again, “We are your servants, and we will do as the Lord has commanded! 32 We will cross the Jordan into Canaan fully armed to fight for the Lord, but our property will be here on this side of the Jordan.”
33 So Moses assigned land to the tribes of Gad, Reuben, and half the tribe of Manasseh son of Joseph. He gave them the territory of King Sihon of the Amorites and the land of King Og of Bashan—the whole land with its cities and surrounding lands.
34 The descendants of Gad built the towns of Dibon, Ataroth, Aroer, 35 Atroth-shophan, Jazer, Jogbehah, 36 Beth-nimrah, and Beth-haran. These were all fortified towns with pens for their flocks.
37 The descendants of Reuben built the towns of Heshbon, Elealeh, Kiriathaim, 38 Nebo, Baal-meon, and Sibmah. They changed the names of some of the towns they conquered and rebuilt.
39 Then the descendants of Makir of the tribe of Manasseh went to Gilead and conquered it, and they drove out the Amorites living there. 40 So Moses gave Gilead to the Makirites, descendants of Manasseh, and they settled there. 41 The people of Jair, another clan of the tribe of Manasseh, captured many of the towns in Gilead and changed the name of that region to the Towns of Jair.[f] 42 Meanwhile, a man named Nobah captured the town of Kenath and its surrounding villages, and he renamed that area Nobah after himself.
- 31:14 Hebrew the commanders of thousands, and the commanders of hundreds; also in 31:48, 52, 54.
- 31:50 Or will make atonement for our lives before the Lord.
- 31:52 Hebrew 16,750 shekels [191 kilograms].
- 31:54 Hebrew the Tent of Meeting.
- 32:3 As in Samaritan Pentateuch and Greek version (see also 32:38); Hebrew reads Sebam.
- 32:41 Hebrew Havvoth-jair.