New International Reader's Version

Numbers 31

The Lord Punishes the Midianites

1The Lord spoke to Moses. He said, “Pay the Midianites back for what they did to the Israelites. After that, you will join the members of your family who have already died.”

So Moses said to the people, “Prepare some of your men for battle. They must go to war against Midian. They will carry out the Lord’s plan to punish Midian. Send 1,000 men from each of the tribes of Israel into battle.” So Moses prepared 12,000 men for battle. There were 1,000 from each tribe. They came from the families of Israel. Moses sent them into battle. He sent 1,000 from each tribe. Phinehas the priest went along with them. Phinehas was the son of Eleazar. Phinehas took some things from the sacred tent with him. He also took the trumpets. The trumpet blasts would tell the people what to do and when to do it.

They fought against Midian, just as the Lord had commanded Moses. They killed every man. Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur and Reba were among the men they killed. Those men were the five kings of Midian. The Israelites also killed Balaam with their swords. Balaam was the son of Beor. The Israelites captured the Midianite women and children. They took for themselves all the herds, flocks and goods. 10 They burned down all the towns where the Midianites lived. They also burned all their camps. 11 They carried off everything they had taken. That included the people and the animals. 12 They brought back to Israel’s camp the prisoners and everything else they had taken. They took them to Moses and to Eleazar the priest. They brought them to the whole community. Israel was camped on the plains of Moab. They were by the Jordan River across from Jericho.

13 Moses and Eleazar the priest went to meet them outside the camp. So did all the leaders of the community. 14 Moses was angry with the officers of the army who had returned from the battle. Some of them were the commanders of thousands of men. Others were the commanders of hundreds.

15 “Have you let all the women remain alive?” Moses asked them. 16 “The women followed Balaam’s advice. They caused the Israelites to be unfaithful to the Lord. The people worshiped the god named Baal that was worshiped at Peor. So a plague struck them. 17 Kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man. 18 But save for yourselves every woman who has never slept with a man.

19 “Anyone who has killed a person must stay outside the camp for seven days. And anyone who has touched a person who was killed must do the same thing. On the third and seventh days you must make yourselves pure. You must also make your prisoners pure. 20 Make all your clothes pure and ‘clean.’ Everything made out of leather, goat hair or wood must be made pure and ‘clean.’ ”

21 Then Eleazar the priest spoke to the soldiers who had gone into battle. He said, “Here is what the law the Lord gave Moses requires. 22 All your gold, silver, bronze, iron, tin and lead 23 must be put through fire. So must everything else that doesn’t burn up. Then those things will be ‘clean.’ But they must also be made pure with the special water. In fact, everything that won’t burn up must be put through that water. 24 On the seventh day wash your clothes. And you will be ‘clean.’ Then you can come into the camp.”

The People Divide Up What They Had Taken

25 The Lord spoke to Moses. He said, 26 “Here is what you and Eleazar the priest and the family leaders of the community must do. You must count all the people and animals you captured. 27 Divide up some of what you took with the soldiers who fought in the battle. Divide up the rest with the others in the community. 28 Set apart a gift for me. Take something from the soldiers who fought in the battle. Set apart one out of every 500 people, cattle, donkeys or sheep. 29 Take my gift from the soldiers’ half. Give it to Eleazar the priest. It is my share. 30 Also take something from the half that belongs to the Israelites. Choose one out of every 50 people, cattle, donkeys, sheep or other animals. Give them to the Levites. They are responsible for taking care of my holy tent.” 31 So Moses and Eleazar the priest did just as the Lord had commanded Moses.

32 What the soldiers took included 675,000 sheep. 33 There were also 72,000 cattle 34 and 61,000 donkeys. 35 And there were 32,000 women who had never slept with a man.

36 Here is the half that belonged to those who had fought in the battle.

There were 337,500 sheep. 37 From among them, the Lord’s gift was 675.

38 There were 36,000 cattle. From among them, the Lord’s gift was 72.

39 There were 30,500 donkeys. From among them, the Lord’s gift was 61.

40 There were 16,000 women. From among them, the Lord’s gift was 32.

41 Moses gave the gift to Eleazar the priest. It was the Lord’s share. Moses did just as the Lord had commanded him.

42 The other half belonged to the Israelites. Moses set it apart from what belonged to the fighting men. 43 The community’s half was 337,500 sheep, 44 36,000 cattle, 45 30,500 donkeys 46 and 16,000 women. 47 Moses chose one out of every 50 people and animals. He gave them to the Levites. They were accountable for taking care of the Lord’s holy tent. Moses did just as the Lord had commanded him.

48 Then the army officers went to Moses. Some of them were the commanders of thousands of men. Others were the commanders of hundreds. 49 All of them said to Moses, “We have counted the soldiers under our command. Not a single one is missing. 50 So we’ve brought an offering to the Lord. We’ve brought the gold each of us took in the battle. That includes armbands, bracelets, rings, earrings and necklaces. We’ve brought them in front of the Lord to pay for our sin.”

51 Moses and Eleazar the priest accepted the beautiful gold things from the army officers. 52 The gold received from the commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds weighed 420 pounds. Moses and Eleazar offered all of it as a gift to the Lord. 53 Each soldier had taken things from the battle for himself. 54 Moses and Eleazar the priest accepted the gold from all the commanders. They brought it into the tent of meeting. It reminded the Lord of the Israelites.