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31 1-2 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Take vengeance on the Midianites for leading you into idolatry, and then you must die.”

Moses said to the people, “Some of you must take arms to wage Jehovah’s war against Midian. 4-5 Conscript 1,000 men from each tribe.” So this was done; and out of the many thousands of Israel, 12,000 armed men were sent to battle by Moses. Phinehas (son of Eleazar the priest) led them into battle, accompanied by the Ark,[a] with trumpets blaring. And every man of Midian was killed. Among those killed were all five of the Midianite kings—Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur, and Reba. Balaam, the son of Beor, was also killed.

9-11 Then the Israeli army took as captives all the women and children, and seized the cattle and flocks and a lot of miscellaneous booty. All of the cities, towns, and villages of Midian were then burned. 12 The captives and other war loot were brought to Moses and Eleazar the priest, and to the rest of the people of Israel who were camped on the plains of Moab beside the Jordan River, across from Jericho. 13 Moses and Eleazar the priest and all the leaders of the people went out to meet the victorious army, 14 but Moses was very angry with the army officers and battalion leaders.

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 worship idols on Mount Peor, and they are the cause of the plague that destroyed us. 17 Now kill all the boys and all the women who have had sexual intercourse. 18 Only the little girls may live; you may keep them for yourselves. 19 Now stay outside of the camp for seven days, all of you who have killed anyone or touched a dead body. Then purify yourselves and your captives on the third and seventh days. 20 Remember also to purify all your garments and everything made of leather, goat’s hair, or wood.”

21 Then Eleazar the priest said to the men who were in the battle, “This is the commandment Jehovah has given Moses: 22 ‘Anything that will stand heat—such as gold, silver, bronze, iron, tin, or lead— 23 shall be passed through fire in order to be made ceremonially pure; it must then be further purified with the purification water. But anything that won’t stand heat shall be purified by the water alone.’ 24 On the seventh day you must wash your clothes and be purified, and then you may come back into the camp.”

25 And the Lord said to Moses, 26 “You and Eleazar the priest and the leaders of the tribes are to make a list of all the loot, including the people and animals; 27 then divide it into two parts. Half of it is for the men who were in the battle, and the other half is to be given to the people of Israel. 28 But first, the Lord gets a share of all the captives, oxen, donkeys, and flocks kept by the army. His share is one out of every five hundred. 29 Give this share to Eleazar the priest to be presented to the Lord by the gesture of waving before the altar. 30 Also levy a 2 percent tribute of all the captives, flocks, and cattle that are given to the people of Israel. Present this to the Levites in charge of the Tabernacle, for it is the Lord’s portion.”

31 So Moses and Eleazar the priest did as the Lord commanded. 32-35 The total booty (besides the jewelry, clothing, etc., which the soldiers kept for themselves) was 675,000 sheep; 72,000 oxen; 61,000 donkeys; and 32,000 young girls.

36-40 So the half given to the army totaled: 337,500 sheep (of which 675 were given to the Lord); 36,000 oxen (of which 72 were given to the Lord); 30,500 donkeys (of which 61 were given to the Lord); 16,000 girls (of whom 32 went to the Levites[b]).

41 All of the Lord’s portion was given to Eleazar the priest, as the Lord had directed Moses.

42-46 The half of the booty assigned to the people of Israel—Moses had separated it from the half belonging to the warriors—amounted to: 337,500 sheep, 36,000 oxen, 30,500 donkeys, and 16,000 girls.

47 In accordance with the Lord’s directions, Moses gave 2 percent of these to the Levites.

48-49 Then the officers and battalion leaders came to Moses and said, “We have accounted for all the men who went out to battle, and not one of us is missing! 50 So we have brought a special thank offering to the Lord from our loot—gold jewelry, bracelets, anklets, rings, earrings, and necklaces. This is to make atonement for our souls before the Lord.”

51-52 Moses and Eleazar the priest received this special offering from the captains and battalion leaders and company commanders, and found its total value to be more than $300,000. 53 (The soldiers had also kept personal loot for themselves.) 54 The offering was taken into the Tabernacle and kept there before the Lord as a memorial of the people of Israel.


  1. Numbers 31:6 accompanied by the Ark, literally, “with the vessels of the sanctuary.”
  2. Numbers 31:36 went to the Levites, literally, “were the Lord’s portion.”

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