Numbers 31

 

וַיְדַבֵּר יְהוָה אֶל־מֹשֶׁה לֵּאמֹר   31:1

Numb. 31:1  And the Lord spoke to Moses saying,

נְקֹם נִקְמַת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל מֵאֵת הַמִּדְיָנִים אַחַר תֵּאָסֵף אֶל־עַמֶּיךָ   31:2

Numb. 31:2  “Swiftly extract the vengeance of the children of Israel from the Midianites.  Afterwards you will be gathered to your people.”

Remember that Moses’ father-in-law was a priest of Midian, and Zipporah, his wife, is a Midianite woman.  Remember also the episode of Zimri, the Israelite man, and Cozbi, the Midianite woman, who were slain by Pinehas, the grandson of Aaron, in Chapter 25.  There the Lord tells Moses to besiege and smite the Midianites (see Numb. 25:16 to  25:19).  In fact, this chapter seems to be a continuation from Chapter 26 and the latter part of Chapter 27 where the fighting men of Israel were counted, and then Joshua received his commission.

וַיְדַבֵּר מֹשֶׁה אֶל־הָעָם לֵאמֹר הֵחָלְצוּ מֵאִתְּכֶם אֲנָשִׁים לַצָּבָא וְיִהְיוּ עַל־מִדְיָן לָתֵת נִקְמַת־יְהוָה בְּמִדְיָן   31:3

Numb. 31:3  So Moses spoke to the people saying, “Arm the men with you that are against Midian for war, to deliver the vengeance of the Lord on Midian.”

אֶלֶף לַמַּטֶּה אֶלֶף לַמַּטֶּה לְכֹל מַטֹּות יִשְׂרָאֵל תִּשְׁלְחוּ לַצָּבָא   31:4

Numb. 31:4  “You shall send to war a thousand for a tribe, a thousand for a tribe, for all the tribes of Israel.”

וַיִּמָּסְרוּ מֵאַלְפֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶלֶף לַמַּטֶּה שְׁנֵים־עָשָׂר אֶלֶף חֲלוּצֵי צָבָא   31:5

Numb. 31:5  So they delivered from the thousands of Israel, a thousand to a tribe, twelve thousand armed men of war.

וַיִּשְׁלַח אֹתָם מֹשֶׁה אֶלֶף לַמַּטֶּה לַצָּבָא אֹתָם וְאֶת־פִּינְחָס בֶּן־אֶלְעָזָר הַכֹּהֵן לַצָּבָא וּכְלֵי הַקֹּדֶשׁ    31:6

וַחֲצֹצְרֹות הַתְּרוּעָה בְּיָדֹו

Numb. 31:6  And Moses sent them, a thousand to a tribe, to war, them and Phinehas son of Eleazar, the priest, to war with the vessels of holiness and the trumpets of alarm in his charge.

                                                                                             [Return to Judg. 20:28]

וַיִּצְבְּאוּ עַל־מִדְיָן כַּאֲשֶׁר צִוָּה יְהוָה אֶת־מֹשֶׁה וַיַּהַרְגוּ כָּל־זָכָר   31:7

Numb. 31:7  And they warred against Midian as the Lord had commanded Moses and they slew every male.

וְאֶת־מַלְכֵי מִדְיָן הָרְגוּ עַל־חַלְלֵיהֶם אֶת־אֱוִי וְאֶת־רֶקֶם וְאֶת־צוּר וְאֶת־חוּר וְאֶת־רֶבַע חֲמֵשֶׁת מַלְכֵי   31:8

מִדְיָן וְאֵת בִּלְעָם בֶּן־בְּעֹור הָרְגוּ בֶּחָרֶב

Numb. 31:8  And they slew the kings of Midian beside their slain, Evi and Rekem and Zur and Hur and Reba, the five kings of Midian; and they slew Balaam son of Beor by the sword.

So Balaam, the Midianite, born stupid, but later of opened eyes, now meets his end.

וַיִּשְׁבּוּ בְנֵי־יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶת־נְשֵׁי מִדְיָן וְאֶת־טַפָּם וְאֵת כָּל־בְּהֶמְתָּם וְאֶת־כָּל־מִקְנֵהֶם וְאֶת־כָּל־חֵילָם בָּזָזוּ   31:9

Numb. 31:9  And the children of Israel took the women of Midian and their children captive.  And they took all their cattle and all their livestock and all their wealth as spoil.

וְאֵת כָּל־עָרֵיהֶם בְּמֹושְׁבֹתָם וְאֵת כָּל־טִירֹתָם שָׂרְפוּ בָּאֵשׁ   31:10

Numb. 31:10   And they burned all their cities in their inhabited places and all their towns to ashes.

                                                                                                                             [Return to Numb.32:35]

וַיִּקְחוּ אֶת־כָּל־הַשָּׁלָל וְאֵת כָּל־הַמַּלְקֹוחַ בָּאָדָם וּבַבְּהֵמָה   31:11

Numb. 31:11   And they took away all the spoil and all the prey, both human and beast.

 וַיָּבִאוּ אֶל־מֹשֶׁה וְאֶל־אֶלְעָזָר הַכֹּהֵן וְאֶל־עֲדַת בְּנֵי־יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶת־הַשְּׁבִי וְאֶת־הַמַּלְקֹוחַ וְאֶת־הַשָּׁלָל  31:12

אֶל־הַמַּחֲנֶה אֶל־עַרְבֹת מֹואָב אֲשֶׁר עַל־יַרְדֵּן יְרֵחֹו

Numb. 31:12   And they brought the captives and the prey and the spoil to Moses and to Eleazar, the priest, and to the congregation of the children of Israel, to the camp at the plains of Moab that was by the Jordan at Jericho.

וַיֵּצְאוּ מֹשֶׁה וְאֶלְעָזָר הַכֹּהֵן וְכָל־נְשִׂיאֵי הָעֵדָה לִקְרָאתָם אֶל־מִחוּץ לַמַּחֲנֶה   31:13

Numb. 31:13   And Moses and Eleazar, the priest, and all the chiefs of the congregation went forth to meet them at the outskirts of the camp.

וַיִּקְצֹף מֹשֶׁה עַל פְּקוּדֵי הֶחָיִל שָׂרֵי הָאֲלָפִים וְשָׂרֵי הַמֵּאֹות הַבָּאִים מִצְּבָא הַמִּלְחָמָה   31:14

Numb. 31:14   And Moses was angry with the officers of the army, the captains of thousands and the captains of hundreds, coming in from the service of the war.

וַיֹּאמֶר אֲלֵיהֶם מֹשֶׁה הַחִיִּיתֶם כָּל־נְקֵבָה   31:15

Numb. 31:15   And Moses said to them, “Did you let every female live?”

הֵן הֵנָּה הָיוּ לִבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל בִּדְבַר בִּלְעָם לִמְסָר־מַעַל בַּיהוָה עַל־דְּבַר־פְּעֹור וַתְּהִי הַמַּגֵּפָה בַּעֲדַת   31:16

יְהוָה

Numb. 31:16   “Lo, by the counsel of Balaam those were a betrayal to the children of Israel, breaking faith with the Lord in the matter of Peor, so the plague was in the congregation of the Lord.”

This verse refers back to the events in Chapter 25.

וְעַתָּה הִרְגוּ כָל־זָכָר בַּטָּף וְכָל־אִשָּׁה יֹדַעַת אִישׁ לְמִשְׁכַּב זָכָר הֲרֹגוּ   31:17

Numb. 31:17   “So now kill every male among the children.  And kill every woman knowing of a man in the bed of a male.”

וְכֹל הַטַּף בַּנָּשִׁים אֲשֶׁר לֹא־יָדְעוּ מִשְׁכַּב זָכָר הַחֲיוּ לָכֶם   31:18

Numb. 31:18   “But keep alive for yourselves all the young among the females who have not known the bed of a male.”

Now, these two verses, vss. 31:17 and 31:18, contain peculiar instructions from Moses to the soldiers that prompt a number of unanswerable questions.  First of all, was Zipporah, Moses’ wife, among those to be slain?  Had Moses’ two sons (more than forty years old by this time) been slain?  And what of the Lord’s admonition to not spare the women of the pagan nations lest they poison the minds and hearts of the Israelite men?  Did this admonition apply only in the promised land (Exod. 34:15 and Exod. 34:16)?  Yet as we saw in Numb. 25 (25:1, 25:2) it was the daughters of Moab who beguiled the men of Israel.  And finally, why would Moses permit the virgins to be kept?  Wouldn’t they also corrupt the people?

וְאַתֶּם חֲנוּ מִחוּץ לַמַּחֲנֶה שִׁבְעַת יָמִים כֹּל הֹרֵג נֶפֶשׁ וְכֹל נֹגֵעַ בֶּחָלָל תִּתְחַטְּאוּ בַּיֹּום הַשְּׁלִישִׁי   31:19

וּבַיֹּום הַשְּׁבִיעִי אַתֶּם וּשְׁבִיכֶם

Numb. 31:19   “And you camp on the outskirts of the camp seven days.  Anyone having killed a person and anyone having come in contact with one who was slain, you shall purify yourselves on the third day and on the seventh day, you and your captives.”

וְכָל־בֶּגֶד וְכָל־כְּלִי־עֹור וְכָל־מַעֲשֵׂה עִזִּים וְכָל־כְּלִי־עֵץ תִּתְחַטָּאוּ   31:20

Numb. 31:20   “And you shall purify every garment and everything of skin and every work done of goatskin and everything of wood.”

Strangely missing from vss. 31:15 to 31:20 are the direct-object-indicating ets.  They should have appeared in each verse, sometimes in two places within a verse.  It’s as if these verses were intended to be poetry.  What does that signify?  I might suspect this was done to hint that Moses is aware of the gravity of what he is commanding, a horrific destruction of women and children (his own family?), in order to prevent a potential new betrayal by the Israelites and a recurrence of the deadly plague that had killed thousands.  I would be more inclined to believe this if I didn’t have such misgivings over v. 31:18.

וַיֹּאמֶר אֶלְעָזָר הַכֹּהֵן אֶל־אַנְשֵׁי הַצָּבָא הַבָּאִים לַמִּלְחָמָה זֹאת חֻקַּת הַתֹּורָה אֲשֶׁר־צִוָּה יְהוָה אֶת־   31:21

מֹשֶׁה

Numb. 31:21   And Eleazar, the priest, said to the men of war having gone to the battle, “This is the statute of the law that the Lord has commanded Moses.”

אַךְ אֶת־הַזָּהָב וְאֶת־הַכָּסֶף אֶת־הַנְּחֹשֶׁת אֶת־הַבַּרְזֶל אֶת־הַבְּדִיל וְאֶת־הָעֹפָרֶת   31:22

Numb. 31:22   “Only the gold and the silver, the brass, the iron, the tin, and the lead,

כָּל־דָּבָר אֲשֶׁר־יָבֹא בָאֵשׁ תַּעֲבִירוּ בָאֵשׁ וְטָהֵר אַךְ בְּמֵי נִדָּה יִתְחַטָּא וְכֹל אֲשֶׁר לֹא־יָבֹא בָּאֵשׁ   31:23

תַּעֲבִירוּ בַמָּיִם

Numb. 31:23   every item that can go in fire, you shall pass through fire, and it shall be clean; also it shall be purified with the water of cleqansing.  And anything that can not go in fire you shall pass through water.”

There’s an element of uncertainty in this instruction by Eleazar.  Does it mean that the things that can’t go through fire need only be washed by running water, and do not have to be purified by the water of cleansing?  I doubt that the water mentioned at the end of the verse is supposed to be the water of cleansing.  Eleazar would have said so if it was.  Could this mean that non-kosher plastic need only be washed to be purified for use by a Jew?  Hard to believe, but I find it difficult to reach any other reasonable conclusion.

וְכִבַּסְתֶּם בִּגְדֵיכֶם בַּיֹּום הַשְּׁבִיעִי וּטְהַרְתֶּם וְאַחַר תָּבֹאוּ אֶל־הַמַּחֲנֶה   31:24

Numb. 31:24   “And you shall wash your clothes on the seventh day and you shall be clean, and afterwards you may come in to the camp.”

וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֶל־מֹשֶׁה לֵּאמֹר   31:25

Numb. 31:25   And the Lord spoke to Moses saying,

שָׂא אֵת רֹאשׁ מַלְקֹוחַ הַשְּׁבִי בָּאָדָם וּבַבְּהֵמָה אַתָּה וְאֶלְעָזָר הַכֹּהֵן וְרָאשֵׁי אֲבֹות הָעֵדָה   31:26

Numb. 31:26   “Take the sum of the booty taken, of both human and beast, you and Eleazar, the priest, and the heads of the families of the congregation,

וְחָצִיתָ אֶת־הַמַּלְקֹוחַ בֵּין תֹּפְשֵׂי הַמִּלְחָמָה הַיֹּצְאִים לַצָּבָא וּבֵין כָּל־הָעֵדָה   31:27

Numb. 31:27   and you shall divide the booty in half between the warriors having gone forth to war and the whole congregation.”                                                    [Return to 1Sam. 30:25]

וַהֲרֵמֹתָ מֶכֶס לַיהוָה מֵאֵת אַנְשֵׁי הַמִּלְחָמָה הַיֹּצְאִים לַצָּבָא אֶחָד נֶפֶשׁ מֵחֲמֵשׁ הַמֵּאֹות מִן־הָאָדָם   31:28

וּמִן־הַבָּקָר וּמִן־הַחֲמֹרִים וּמִן־הַצֹּאן

Numb. 31:28   “Then you shall levy a tribute to the Lord from the men of battle having gone forth to war, one soul out of each five hundred from the people and from the beef cattle and from the asses and from the sheep.”

מִמַּחֲצִיתָם תִּקָּחוּ וְנָתַתָּה לְאֶלְעָזָר הַכֹּהֵן תְּרוּמַת יְהוָה   31:29

Numb. 31:29   “From their half, the contribution of the Lord shall be taken, and you shall give it to Eleazar, the priest.”

וּמִמַּחֲצִת בְּנֵי־יִשְׂרָאֵל תִּקַּח אֶחָד אָחֻז מִן־הַחֲמִשִּׁים מִן־הָאָדָם מִן־הַבָּקָר מִן־הַחֲמֹרִים וּמִן־הַצֹּאן   31:30

מִכָּל־הַבְּהֵמָה וְנָתַתָּה אֹתָם לַלְוִיִּם שֹׁמְרֵי מִשְׁמֶרֶת מִשְׁכַּן יְהוָה

Numb. 31:30   “And from the half of the children of Israel, you shall take hold of one out of each fifty from the people, from the beef cattle, from the asses, and from the sheep – from each of the beasts – and give them to the Levites, the keepers of the charge of the Tabernacle of the Lord.”

Ten times as much is taken from the people as from the soldiers, including the women (the people mentioned in this verse).  And it all went to the Levites.

וַיַּעַשׂ מֹשֶׁה וְאֶלְעָזָר הַכֹּהֵן כַּאֲשֶׁר צִוָּה יְהוָה אֶת־מֹשֶׁה   31:31

Numb. 31:31   And Moses did, with Eleazar, the priest, as the Lord had commanded Moses.

וַיְהִי הַמַּלְקֹוחַ יֶתֶר הַבָּז אֲשֶׁר בָּזְזוּ עַם הַצָּבָא צֹאן שֵׁשׁ־מֵאֹות אֶלֶף וְשִׁבְעִים אֶלֶף וַחֲמֵשֶׁת־אֲלָפִים   31:32

Numb. 31:32   Now the booty left over that the soldiers took of the spoil was six hundred and seventy and five thousand sheep,

וּבָקָר שְׁנַיִם וְשִׁבְעִים אָלֶף   31:33

Numb. 31:33   and seventy-two thousand beef cattle,

וַחֲמֹרִים אֶחָד וְשִׁשִּׁים אָלֶף   31:34

Numb. 31:34   and sixty-one thousand asses,

וְנֶפֶשׁ אָדָם מִן־הַנָּשִׁים אֲשֶׁר לֹא־יָדְעוּ מִשְׁכַּב זָכָר כָּל־נֶפֶשׁ שְׁנַיִם וּשְׁלֹשִׁים אָלֶף  31:35

Numb. 31:35   and of human souls from the women who did not know of the bed of a male, all the souls were thirty-two thousand.

וַתְּהִי הַמֶּחֱצָה חֵלֶק הַיֹּצְאִים בַּצָּבָא מִסְפַּר הַצֹּאן שְׁלֹשׁ־מֵאֹות אֶלֶף וּשְׁלֹשִׁים אֶלֶף וְשִׁבְעַת אֲלָפִים   31:36

וַחֲמֵשׁ מֵאֹות

Numb. 31:36   Now the half portion of the number of sheep of those having gone into war was three hundred and thirty-seven thousand and five hundred,

וַיְהִי הַמֶּכֶס לַיהוָה מִן־הַצֹּאן שֵׁשׁ מֵאֹות חָמֵשׁ וְשִׁבְעִים   31:37

Numb. 31:37   so the tribute to the Lord from the sheep was six hundred seventy-five.

וְהַבָּקָר שִׁשָּׁה וּשְׁלֹשִׁים אָלֶף וּמִכְסָם לַיהוָה שְׁנַיִם וְשִׁבְעִים   31:38

Numb. 31:38   And the beef cattle were thirty-six thousand, and their tribute to the Lord was seventy-two.

וַחֲמֹרִים שְׁלֹשִׁים אֶלֶף וַחֲמֵשׁ מֵאֹות וּמִכְסָם לַיהוָה אֶחָד וְשִׁשִּׁים   31:39

Numb. 31:39   And the asses were thirty thousand and five hundred, and their tribute to the Lord was sixty-one.

וְנֶפֶשׁ אָדָם שִׁשָּׁה עָשָׂר אָלֶף וּמִכְסָם לַיהוָה שְׁנַיִם וּשְׁלֹשִׁים נָפֶשׁ   31:40

Numb. 31:40   And the human souls were sixteen thousand, and their tribute to the Lord was thirty-two persons.

וַיִּתֵּן מֹשֶׁה אֶת־מֶכֶס תְּרוּמַת יְהוָה לְאֶלְעָזָר הַכֹּהֵן כַּאֲשֶׁר צִוָּה יְהוָה אֶת־מֹשֶׁה   31:41

Numb. 31:41   And Moses gave the tribute, an offering of the Lord, to Eleazar, the priest, as the Lord had commanded Moses.

וּמִמַּחֲצִית בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אֲשֶׁר חָצָה מֹשֶׁה מִן־הָאֲנָשִׁים הַצֹּבְאִים   31:42

Numb. 31:42   And from the half of the children of Israel that Moses separated from the warriors,

וַתְּהִי מֶחֱצַת הָעֵדָה מִן־הַצֹּאן שְׁלֹשׁ־מֵאֹות אֶלֶף וּשְׁלֹשִׁים אֶלֶף שִׁבְעַת אֲלָפִים וַחֲמֵשׁ מֵאֹות   31:43

Numb. 31:43   then the congregation’s half from the sheep was three hundred and thirty thousand, seven thousand and five hundred,

וּבָקָר שִׁשָּׁה וּשְׁלֹשִׁים אָלֶף   31:44

Numb. 31:44   and the beef cattle were thirty-six thousand,

וַחֲמֹרִים שְׁלֹשִׁים אֶלֶף וַחֲמֵשׁ מֵאֹות   31:45

Numb. 31:45   And the asses were thirty thousand and five hundred,

וְנֶפֶשׁ אָדָם שִׁשָּׁה עָשָׂר אָלֶף   31:46

Numb. 31:46   And the human souls were sixteen thousand.

וַיִּקַּח מֹשֶׁה מִמַּחֲצִת בְּנֵי־יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶת־הָאָחֻז אֶחָד מִן־הַחֲמִשִּׁים מִן־הָאָדָם וּמִן־הַבְּהֵמָה וַיִּתֵּן אֹתָם   31:47

לַלְוִיִּם שֹׁמְרֵי מִשְׁמֶרֶת מִשְׁכַּן יְהוָה כַּאֲשֶׁר צִוָּה יְהוָה אֶת־מֹשֶׁה

Numb. 31:47   And Moses took from the half of the children of Israel the portion of one out of every fifty from the humans and from the beasts and gave them to the Levites, the keepers of the charge of the Tabernacle of the Lord, as the Lord had commanded Moses.

וַיִּקְרְבוּ אֶל־מֹשֶׁה הַפְּקֻדִים אֲשֶׁר לְאַלְפֵי הַצָּבָא שָׂרֵי הָאֲלָפִים וְשָׂרֵי הַמֵּאֹות   31:48

Numb. 31:48   Then the officers who were for the thousands of the army, the captains of the thousands and the captains of the hundreds, came near to Moses,

וַיֹּאמְרוּ אֶל־מֹשֶׁה עֲבָדֶיךָ נָשְׂאוּ אֶת־רֹאשׁ אַנְשֵׁי הַמִּלְחָמָה אֲשֶׁר בְּיָדֵנוּ וְלֹא־נִפְקַד מִמֶּנּוּ אִישׁ   31:49

Numb. 31:49   and they said to Moses, “Your servants have taken the sum of the men of battle who were in our service and we are not lacking one man from us.”

וַנַּקְרֵב אֶת־קָרְבַּן יְהוָה אִישׁ אֲשֶׁר מָצָא כְלִי־זָהָב אֶצְעָדָה וְצָמִיד טַבַּעַת עָגִיל וְכוּמָז לְכַפֵּר עַל־   31:50

נַפְשֹׁתֵינוּ לִפְנֵי יְהוָה

Numb. 31:50   “And we can bring an offering of the Lord, each of what he has acquired, articles of gold, armlet and bracelet, ring, earring, and tablet, to make atonement for our souls before the Lord.”

We have in this verse another first-person imperfect verb with a non-inverting vav.  It is the first word, translated as And we can bring ....

וַיִּקַּח מֹשֶׁה וְאֶלְעָזָר הַכֹּהֵן אֶת־הַזָּהָב מֵאִתָּם כֹּל כְּלִי מַעֲשֶׂה   31:51

Numb. 31:51   And Moses took, and Eleazar, the priest, the gold from them, all the articles of workmanship.

וַיְהִי כָּל־זְהַב הַתְּרוּמָה אֲשֶׁר הֵרִימוּ לַיהוָה שִׁשָּׁה עָשָׂר אֶלֶף שְׁבַע־מֵאֹות וַחֲמִשִּׁים שָׁקֶל מֵאֵת    31:52

שָׂרֵי הָאֲלָפִים וּמֵאֵת שָׂרֵי הַמֵּאֹות

Numb. 31:52   And all the gold of the gift that they offered up to the Lord from the captains of thousands and from the captains of hundreds was sixteen thousand seven hundred and fifty shekels.

אַנְשֵׁי הַצָּבָא בָּזְזוּ אִישׁ לֹו   31:53

Numb. 31:53   The men of war each took spoil for himself.

וַיִּקַּח מֹשֶׁה וְאֶלְעָזָר הַכֹּהֵן אֶת־הַזָּהָב מֵאֵת שָׂרֵי הָאֲלָפִים וְהַמֵּאֹות וַיָּבִאוּ אֹתֹו אֶל־אֹהֶל מֹועֵד   31:54

זִכָּרֹון לִבְנֵי־יִשְׂרָאֵל לִפְנֵי יְהוָה

Numb. 31:54   And Moses took, with Eleazar, the priest, the gold from the captains of thousands and of hundreds and they brought it to the tent of meeting, a memorial for the children of Israel before the Lord.

 

[Return to Numbers Chapters]  [Prev:  Numb. 30]  [Next:  Numb. 32]