Conquest of the Midianites
1Then 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.”
3So Moses said to the people, “Choose some men, and arm them to fight the lord’s war of revenge against Midian. 4From each tribe of Israel, send 1,000 men into battle.” 5So they chose 1,000 men from each tribe of Israel, a total of 12,000 men armed for battle. 6Then 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. 7They attacked Midian as the lord had commanded Moses, and they killed all the men. 8All 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.
9Then the Israelite army captured the Midianite women and children and seized their cattle and flocks and all their wealth as plunder. 10They burned all the towns and villages where the Midianites had lived. 11After they had gathered the plunder and captives, both people and animals, 12they 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. 13Moses, Eleazar the priest, and all the leaders of the community went to meet them outside the camp. 14But Moses was furious with all the generals and captains# Hebrew the commanders of thousands, and the commanders of hundreds; also in 31:48, 52, 54. 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. 17So kill all the boys and all the women who have had intercourse with a man. 18Only the young girls who are virgins may live; you may keep them for yourselves. 19And 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. 20Purify all your clothing, too, and everything made of leather, goat hair, or wood.”
21Then Eleazar the priest said to the men who were in the battle, “The lord has given Moses this legal requirement: 22Anything made of gold, silver, bronze, iron, tin, or lead—23that 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. 24On the seventh day you must wash your clothes and be purified. Then you may return to the camp.”
Division of the Plunder
25And 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. 27Then divide the plunder into two parts, and give half to the men who fought the battle and half to the rest of the people. 28From 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. 29Give this share of the army’s half to Eleazar the priest as an offering to the lord. 30From 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.” 31So Moses and Eleazar the priest did as the lord commanded Moses.
32The plunder remaining from everything the fighting men had taken totaled 675,000 sheep and goats, 3372,000 cattle, 3461,000 donkeys, 35and 32,000 virgin girls.
36Half of the plunder was given to the fighting men. It totaled 337,500 sheep and goats, 37of which 675 were the lord’s share; 3836,000 cattle, of which 72 were the lord’s share; 3930,500 donkeys, of which 61 were the lord’s share; 40and 16,000 virgin girls, of whom 32 were the lord’s share. 41Moses gave all the lord’s share to Eleazar the priest, just as the lord had directed him.
42Half of the plunder belonged to the people of Israel, and Moses separated it from the half belonging to the fighting men. 43It totaled 337,500 sheep and goats, 4436,000 cattle, 4530,500 donkeys, 46and 16,000 virgin girls. 47From 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.
48Then all the generals and captains came to Moses 49and said, “We, your servants, have accounted for all the men who went out to battle under our command; not one of us is missing! 50So 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.# Or will make atonement for our lives before the Lord.”
51So Moses and Eleazar the priest received the gold from all the military commanders—all kinds of jewelry and crafted objects. 52In all, the gold that the generals and captains presented as a gift to the lord weighed about 420 pounds.# Hebrew 16,750 shekels [191 kilograms]. 53All the fighting men had taken some of the plunder for themselves. 54So Moses and Eleazar the priest accepted the gifts from the generals and captains and brought the gold to the Tabernacle# Hebrew the Tent of Meeting. as a reminder to the lord that the people of Israel belong to him.