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Numbers 31-32 Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)

Israel Fights Back Against the Midianites

31 The Lord spoke to Moses and said, “Moses, tell the Israelites this: ‘Go and attack the Midianites, and do to them what they did to you.’ After that Moses, you will die.”[a]

So Moses spoke to the people. He said, “Choose some of your men to be soldiers. The Lord will use these men to do to the Midianites what they did to you. Choose 1000 men from each of the tribes of Israel. There will be a total of 12,000 soldiers from the tribes of Israel.”

Moses sent these 12,000 men to war. He sent Phinehas son of Eleazar with them as the priest. Phinehas took the holy things and the horns and trumpets with him. The Israelites fought the Midianites as the Lord had commanded. They killed all the Midianite men. Among the people who they killed were Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur, and Reba—the five kings of Midian. They also killed Balaam son of Beor with a sword.

The Israelites took the Midianite women and children as prisoners. They also took all their sheep, cattle, and other things. 10 Then they burned all their towns and villages. 11 They took all the people and animals 12 and brought them to Moses, Eleazar the priest, and all the other Israelites. They brought all the things they took in war to the camp of Israel. The Israelites were camped in the Jordan Valley in Moab, on the east side of the Jordan River across from Jericho. 13 Then Moses, Eleazar the priest, and the leaders of the people went out of the camp to meet with the soldiers.

14 Moses was very angry with the leaders of the army, the commanders of 1000 men, and the commanders of 100 men, who came back from the war. 15 Moses said to them, “Why did you let the women live? 16 These are the women who listened to Balaam and caused the men of Israel to turn away from the Lord that time at Peor. The disease will come to the Lord’s people again. 17 Now, kill all the Midianite boys, and kill all the Midianite women who have had sexual relations with a man. 18 You can let all the young girls live—but only if they never had sexual relations with any man. 19 And then, all you men who killed other people must stay outside the camp for seven days. You must stay outside the camp even if you just touched a dead body. On the third day you and your prisoners must make yourselves pure. You must do the same thing again on the seventh day. 20 You must wash all of your clothes. You must wash anything made with leather, wool, or wood. You must purify yourselves.”

21 Then Eleazar the priest spoke to the soldiers. He said, “These are the rules that the Lord gave to Moses for soldiers coming back from war. 22-23 You must put gold, silver, bronze, iron, tin, or lead into the fire and then wash these things with the special water to make them pure. If something can be put in the fire, you must put it in fire to purify it. If things cannot be put in fire, you must still wash them with the special water. 24 On the seventh day you must wash all of your clothes. Then you will be pure. After that you can come into camp.”

25 Then the Lord said to Moses, 26 “You, Eleazar the priest, and all the leaders should count all the prisoners, animals, and everything the soldiers took in war. 27 Then divide these things between the soldiers who went to war and the rest of the Israelites. 28 Take part of these things from the soldiers who went to war. That part will belong to the Lord. His share is one from every 500 items. This includes people, cattle, donkeys, and sheep. 29 Take that share from the soldiers’ half of the things they took in war. Then give these things to Eleazar the priest. That part will belong to the Lord. 30 And then, from the people’s half, take one thing for every 50 items. This includes people, cattle, donkeys, sheep, or any other animal. Give that share to the Levites, because they take care of the Lord’s Holy Tent.”

31 So Moses and Eleazar did what the Lord commanded Moses. 32 The soldiers had taken 675,000 sheep, 33 72,000 cattle, 34 61,000 donkeys, 35 and 32,000 women. (These are only the women who had not had sexual relations with any man.) 36 The soldiers who went to war got 337,500 sheep. 37 They gave 675 sheep to the Lord. 38 The soldiers got 36,000 cattle. They gave 72 cattle to the Lord. 39 The soldiers got 30,500 donkeys. They gave 61 donkeys to the Lord. 40 The soldiers got 16,000 women. They gave 32 women to the Lord. 41 Moses gave all these gifts for the Lord to Eleazar the priest, as the Lord had commanded him.

42 Then Moses counted the people’s half. This was their share that Moses had taken from the soldiers who had gone to war. 43 The people got 337,500 sheep, 44 36,000 cattle, 45 30,500 donkeys, 46 and 16,000 women. 47 Moses took one out of every 50 women and animals. He gave them to the Levites because they took care of the Lord’s Holy Tent. Moses did this as the Lord had commanded.

48 Then the leaders of the army (the leaders over 1000 men and the leaders over 100 men) came to Moses. 49 They told Moses, “We, your servants, have counted our soldiers. We have not missed any of them. 50 So we are bringing the Lord’s gift from every soldier. We are bringing things that are made of gold—armbands, bracelets, rings, earrings, and necklaces. This gift to the Lord is to make us pure.”

51 So Moses and Eleazar the priest accepted all these gold items from them. 52 The gold that the commanders[b] and captains[c] gave to the Lord weighed about 424 pounds.[d] 53 The soldiers kept the rest of their share of the things they took in war. 54 Moses and Eleazar the priest took the gold from the commanders and captains and then put that gold in the Meeting Tent. This present was a memorial[e] before the Lord for the Israelites.

Tribes East of the Jordan River

32 The tribes of Reuben and Gad had many cattle. These people looked at the land near Jazer and Gilead. They saw that this land was good for their cattle. So the people from the tribes of Reuben and Gad came to Moses. They spoke to Moses, Eleazar the priest, and the leaders of the people. 3-4 They said, “We, your servants, have many cattle. And the land that the Lord let the people of Israel capture is good land for cattle. This land includes the area around Ataroth, Dibon, Jazer, Nimrah, Heshbon, Elealeh, Sibmah,[f] Nebo, and Beon. If it pleases you, we would like this land to be given to us. Don’t take us to the other side of the Jordan River.”

Moses told the people from the tribes of Reuben and Gad, “Will you let your brothers go and fight while you settle here? Why are you trying to discourage the Israelites? You will make them not want to cross the river and take the land that the Lord has given to them! Your fathers did the same thing to me. In Kadesh Barnea I sent spies to look at the land. These men went as far as Eshcol Valley. They saw the land, and they discouraged the Israelites. These men made the Israelites not want to go into the land that the Lord had given to them. 10 The Lord became very angry with the people. He made this promise: 11 ‘None of the people who came from Egypt and are 20 years old or older will be allowed to see this land. I made a promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I promised to give this land to these people, but they did not really follow me. 12 Only Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite and Joshua son of Nun really followed the Lord!’

13 “The Lord was very angry with the Israelites. So he made the people stay in the desert for 40 years. He made them stay there until all the people who had sinned against the Lord were dead. 14 And now you are doing the same thing that your fathers did. You sinful people, do you want the Lord to be even more angry with his people? 15 If you stop following the Lord, he will make Israel stay even longer in the desert. Then you will destroy all these people!”

16 But the people from the tribes of Reuben and Gad went to Moses. They said, “We will build cities for our children and barns for our animals here. 17 Then our children can be safe from the other people who live in this land. But we will gladly come and help the other Israelites. We will bring them to their land. 18 We will not come back home until everyone in Israel has taken his part of the land. 19 We will not take any of the land west of the Jordan River. No, our part of the land is east of the Jordan River.”

20 So Moses told them, “If you do all these things, this land will belong to you. But your soldiers must go before the Lord into battle. 21 Your soldiers must cross the Jordan River and be ready to fight for the Lord until he forces the enemy to leave. 22 After the Lord helps us all take the land, you can go back home. Then the Lord and Israel will not think that you are guilty. And the Lord will let you have this land. 23 But if you don’t do these things, you will be sinning against the Lord. And know for sure that you will be punished for your sin. 24 Build cities for your children and barns for your animals. But then, you must do what you promised.”

25 Then the people from the tribes of Gad and Reuben said to Moses, “We are your servants. You are our master, so we will do what you say. 26 Our wives, children, and all our animals will stay in the cities of Gilead. 27 But we, your servants, will cross the Jordan River. We will march before the Lord into battle, as our master says.”

28 So Moses, Eleazar the priest, Joshua son of Nun, and all the leaders of the tribes of Israel heard them make that promise. 29 Moses said to them, “The people of Gad and Reuben will cross the Jordan River. They will march before the Lord into battle. They will help you take the land. And you will give the land of Gilead as their part of the country. 30 But if they do not cross the river with you ready to fight, they will not get any land on this side. They will get only a share of the land of Canaan with the rest of you.”

31 The people of Gad and Reuben answered, “We promise to do what the Lord commanded. 32 We will cross the Jordan River and march before the Lord into the land of Canaan. And our part of the country is the land east of the Jordan River.”

33 So Moses gave that land to the people of Gad, to the people of Reuben, and to half the tribe of Manasseh. (Manasseh was Joseph’s son.) That land included the kingdom of Sihon the Amorite and the kingdom of King Og of Bashan and all the cities around that area.

34 The people of Gad built the cities of Dibon, Ataroth, Aroer, 35 Atroth Shophan, Jazer, Jogbehah, 36 Beth Nimrah, and Beth Haran. They built cities with strong walls, and they built barns for their animals.

37 The people of Reuben built Heshbon, Elealeh, Kiriathaim, 38 Nebo, Baal Meon, and Sibmah. They used the names of the cities that they rebuilt. But they changed the names of Nebo and Baal Meon.

39 People from Makir’s family group went to Gilead.[g] (Makir was Manasseh’s son.) They defeated the city. They defeated the Amorites who lived there. 40 So Moses gave Gilead to Makir from the tribe of Manasseh, and his family settled there. 41 Jair, from the family of Manasseh, defeated the small towns there. Then he called them Towns of Jair. 42 Nobah defeated Kenath and the small towns near it. Then he called that place by his own name.


  1. Numbers 31:2 you will die Literally, “you will be gathered to your people.”
  2. Numbers 31:52 commanders Literally, “leaders of 1000 men.”
  3. Numbers 31:52 captains Literally, “leaders of 100 men.”
  4. Numbers 31:52 424 pounds Literally, “16,750 shekels” (190 kg).
  5. Numbers 31:54 memorial Something that helps people remember things that happened in the past.
  6. Numbers 32:3 Sibmah Or “Sebam.”
  7. Numbers 32:39 Gilead Here, this seems to refer to a city, perhaps Ramoth Gilead. But it might refer to the whole area. See Hos. 6:8.
Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)

Copyright © 2006 by Bible League International

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