30 1-2 Moses spoke to the heads of the tribes of the People of Israel: “This is what God commands: When a man makes a vow to God or binds himself by an oath to do something, he must not break his word; he must do exactly what he has said.
3-5 “When a woman makes a vow to God and binds herself by a pledge as a young girl still living in her father’s house, and her father hears of her vow or pledge but says nothing to her, then she has to make good on all her vows and pledges. But if her father holds her back when he hears of what she has done, none of her vows and pledges are valid. God will release her since her father held her back.
6-8 “If she marries after she makes a vow or has made some rash promise or pledge, and her husband hears of it but says nothing to her, then she has to make good on whatever she vowed or pledged. But if her husband intervenes when he hears of it, he cancels the vow or rash promise that binds her. And God will release her.
9 “Any vow or pledge taken by a widow or divorced woman is binding on her.
10-15 “When a woman who is living with her husband makes a vow or takes a pledge under oath and her husband hears about it but says nothing and doesn’t say she can’t do it, then all her vows and pledges are valid. But if her husband cancels them when he hears about them, then none of the vows and pledges that she made are binding. Her husband has canceled them and God will release her. Any vow and pledge that she makes that may be to her detriment can be either affirmed or annulled by her husband. But if her husband is silent and doesn’t speak up day after day, he confirms her vows and pledges—she has to make good on them. By saying nothing to her when he hears of them, he binds her to them. If, however, he cancels them sometime after he hears of them, he takes her guilt on himself.”
16 These are the rules that God gave Moses regarding conduct between a man and his wife and between a father and his young daughter who is still living at home.
The Midianite War
31 1-2 God spoke to Moses: “Avenge the People of Israel on the Midianites. Afterward you will go to be with your dead ancestors.”
3-4 Moses addressed the people: “Recruit men for a campaign against Midian, to exact God’s vengeance on Midian, a thousand from each tribe of Israel to go to war.”
5-6 A fighting force of a thousand from each tribe of Israel—twelve thousand in all—was recruited. Moses sent them off to war, a thousand from each tribe, and also Phinehas son of Eleazar, who went as priest to the army, in charge of holy vessels and the signaling bugles.
7-12 They attacked Midian, just as God had commanded Moses, and killed every last man. Among the fallen were Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur, and Reba—the five kings of Midian. They also killed Balaam son of Beor with the sword. The People of Israel took the Midianite women and children captive and took all their animals and herds and goods as plunder. They burned to the ground all the towns in which Midianites lived and also their tent camps. They looted and plundered everything and everyone—belongings and people and animals. They took it all—captives and spoils and plunder—back to Moses and Eleazar the priest and the company of Israel where they were camped on the Plains of Moab, at Jordan-Jericho.
13-18 Moses, Eleazar, and all the leaders of the congregation went to meet the returning army outside the camp. Moses was furious with the army officers—the commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds—as they came back from the battlefield: “What’s this! You’ve let these women live! They’re the ones who, under Balaam’s direction, seduced the People of Israel away from God in that mess at Peor, causing the plague that hit God’s people. Finish your job: kill all the boys. Kill every woman who has slept with a man. The younger women who are virgins you can keep alive for yourselves.
19-20 “Now here’s what you are to do: Pitch tents outside the camp. All who have killed anyone or touched a corpse must stay outside the camp for seven days. Purify yourselves and your captives on the third and seventh days. Purify every piece of clothing and every utensil—everything made of leather, goat hair, or wood.”
21-24 Eleazar the priest then spoke to the soldiers who had fought in the battle: “This is the ruling from the Revelation that God gave Moses: Gold, silver, bronze, iron, tin, and lead—and anything else that can survive fire—must be passed through the fire; then it will be ritually purified. It must also be ritually washed in the Water-of-Cleansing. Further, whatever cannot survive fire must be put through that water. On the seventh day scrub your clothes; you will be ritually clean. Then you can return to camp.”
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25-27 God said to Moses, “I want you and Eleazar the priest and the family leaders in the community to count the captives, people and animals. Split the plunder between the soldiers who fought the battle and the rest of the congregation.
28-30 “Then tax the spoils that go to the soldiers at the rate of one life out of five hundred, whether humans, cattle, donkeys, or sheep. It’s a God-tax taken from their half-share to be turned over to Eleazar the priest on behalf of God. Tax the congregation’s half-share at the rate of one life out of fifty, whether persons, cattle, donkeys, sheep, goats, or other animals. Give this to the Levites who are in charge of the care of God’s Dwelling.”
31 Moses and Eleazar followed through with what God had commanded Moses.
32-35 The rest of the plunder taken by the army:
32,000 women who were virgins
36-40 The half-share for those who had fought in the war:
337,500 sheep, with a tax of 675 for God
36,000 cattle, with a tax of 72 for God
30,500 donkeys, with a tax of 61 for God
16,000 people, with a tax of 32 for God
41 Moses turned the tax over to Eleazar the priest as God’s part, following God’s instructions to Moses.
42-46 The other half-share for the Israelite community that Moses set apart from what was given to the men who fought the war was:
47 From the half-share going to the People of Israel, Moses, just as God had instructed him, picked one out of every fifty persons and animals and gave them to the Levites, who were in charge of maintaining God’s Dwelling.
48-50 The military officers—commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds—came to Moses and said, “We have counted the soldiers under our command and not a man is missing. We’ve brought offerings to God from the gold jewelry we got—armlets, bracelets, rings, earrings, ornaments—to make atonement for our lives before God.”
51-54 Moses and Eleazar the priest received the gold from them, all that fine-crafted jewelry. In total, the gold from the commanders of thousands and hundreds that Moses and Eleazar offered as a gift to God weighed about six hundred pounds, all donated by the soldiers who had taken the spoils. Moses and Eleazar took the gold from the commanders of thousands and hundreds and brought it to the Tent of Meeting, to serve as a reminder for the People of Israel before God.
Tribes East of the Jordan
32 1-4 The families of Reuben and Gad had huge herds of livestock. They saw that the country of Jazer and Gilead was just the place for grazing livestock. And so they came, the families of Gad and of Reuben, and spoke to Moses and Eleazar the priest and the leaders of the congregation, saying, “Ataroth, Dibon, Jazer, Nimrah, Heshbon, Elealeh, Sebam, Nebo, and Beon—the country that God laid low before the community of Israel—is a country just right for livestock, and we have livestock.”
5 They continued, “If you think we’ve done a good job so far, give us this country for our inheritance. Don’t make us go across the Jordan.”
6-12 Moses answered the families of Gad and Reuben: “Do you mean that you are going to leave the fighting that’s ahead to your brothers while you settle down here? Why would you even think of letting the People of Israel down, demoralizing them just as they’re about to move into the land God gave them? That’s exactly what your ancestors did when I sent them from Kadesh Barnea to survey the country. They went as far as the Valley of Eshcol, took one look and quit. They completely demoralized the People of Israel from entering the land God had given them. And God got angry—oh, did he get angry! He swore: ‘They’ll never get to see it; none of those who came up out of Egypt who are twenty years and older will ever get to see the land that I promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They weren’t interested in following me—their hearts weren’t in it. None, except for Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite, and Joshua son of Nun; they followed me—their hearts were in it.’
13 “God’s anger smoked against Israel. He made them wander in the wilderness for forty years, until that entire generation that acted out evil in his sight had died out.
14-15 “And now here you are, just one more mob of sinners stepping up to replace your ancestors, throwing fuel on the already blazing anger of God against Israel. If you won’t follow him, he’ll do it again. He’ll dump them in the desert and the disaster will be all your fault.”
16-19 They came close to him and said, “All we want to do is build corrals for our livestock and towns for our families. Then we’ll take up arms and take the front lines, leading the People of Israel to their place. We’ll be able to leave our families behind, secure in fortified towns, safe from those who live in the land. But we won’t go back home until every Israelite is in full possession of his inheritance. We won’t expect any inheritance west of the Jordan; we are claiming all our inheritance east of the Jordan.”
20-22 Moses said, “If you do what you say, take up arms before God for battle and together go across the Jordan ready, before God, to fight until God has cleaned his enemies out of the land, then when the land is secure you will have fulfilled your duty to God and Israel. Then this land will be yours to keep before God.
23-24 “But if you don’t do what you say, you will be sinning against God; you can be sure that your sin will track you down. So, go ahead. Build towns for your families and corrals for your livestock. Do what you said you’d do.”
25-27 The families of Gad and Reuben told Moses: “We will do as our master commands. Our children and wives, our flocks and herds will stay behind here in the towns of Gilead. But we, every one of us fully armed, will cross the river to fight for God, just as our master has said.”
28-30 So Moses issued orders for them to Eleazar the priest, Joshua the son of Nun, and the heads of the ancestral tribes of the People of Israel. Moses said, “If the families of Gad and Reuben cross the Jordan River with you and before God, all armed and ready to fight, then after the land is secure, you may give them the land of Gilead as their inheritance. But if they don’t cross over with you, they’ll have to settle up with you in Canaan.”
31-32 The families of Gad and Reuben responded: “We will do what God has said. We will cross the Jordan before God, ready and willing to fight. But the land we inherit will be here, to the east of the Jordan.”
33 Moses gave the families of Gad, Reuben, and the half-tribe of Manasseh son of Joseph the kingdom of Sihon, king of the Amorites, and the kingdom of Og, king of Bashan—the land, its towns, and all the territories connected with them—the works.
34-36 The Gadites rebuilt Dibon, Ataroth, Aroer, Atroth Shophan, Jazer, Jogbehah, Beth Nimrah, and Beth Haran as fortified cities; they also built corrals for their animals.
37-38 The Reubenites rebuilt Heshbon, Elealeh, and Kiriathaim, also Nebo and Baal Meon and Sibmah. They renamed the cities that they rebuilt.
39-40 The family of Makir son of Manasseh went to Gilead, captured it, and drove out the Amorites who lived there. Moses then gave Gilead to the Makirites, the descendants of Manasseh. They moved in and settled there.
41 Jair, another son of Manasseh, captured some villages and named them Havvoth Jair (Jair’s Tent-Camps).
42 Nobah captured Kenath and its surrounding camps. He renamed it after himself, Nobah.