Day 76 – War against Midian

Thoughts and Reflection

In today’s reading, we see there is corruption nearby. The people of Israel have been infected by the idolatry of the Midianites. Before they enter the Promised Land, they must go to battle and put an end to the corruption. It is important to understand that God does not want war and death. Instead, it is because of the weakness of the Israelites and Moses commands the total destruction of the Midianites.

In Deuteronomy 30, Moses tells his people that the Lord wants them to choose life so God can bless them and their descendants.

We continue to share the same weakness with the people of Israel.

About This Project

For the year 2022, I decided that my New Year’s Resolution was to read the whole Bible following the Bible in the Year plan presented by Fr. Mike Schmitz. It is a big and bold undertaking. You can follow along by subscribing. Feel free to look at previous day’s post and comment. It’s something we can all learn from together!

Daily Readings

Numbers 31

1 Yahweh spoke to Moses and said,

2 ‘Exact the full vengeance for the Israelites on the Midianites. Afterwards you will be gathered to your people.’

3 Moses said to the people, ‘Some of you are to take up arms for Yahweh’s campaign against Midian, to carry out the vengeance of Yahweh on Midian.

4 You will put a thousand men in the field from each of the tribes of Israel.’

5 In this way Israel’s thousands provided twelve thousand men equipped for war, one thousand from each tribe:

6 Moses put them in the field, one thousand from each tribe, with Phinehas, son of the priest Eleazar, to go with them carrying the sacred objects and the trumpets for the battle cry.

7 They made war on Midian, as Yahweh had ordered Moses, and put every male to death.

8 What is more, they killed the kings of Midian, Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur and Reba, the five Midianite kings; they also put Balaam son of Beor to the sword.

9 The Israelites took the Midianite women and their little ones captive and carried off all their cattle, all their flocks and all their goods as booty.

10 They set fire to the towns where they lived and to all their encampments.

11 Then, taking all their booty, everything they had captured, human and animal,

12 they brought the captives, spoil and booty to Moses, the priest Eleazar and the whole community of Israelites at the camp on the Plains of Moab, near the Jordan by Jericho.

13 Moses, the priest Eleazar and all the leaders of the community went out of the camp to meet them.

14 Moses was enraged with the officers of the army, the commanders of the thousands and commanders of the hundreds, who had come back from this military expedition.

15 He said, ‘Why have you spared the life of all the women?

16 They were the very ones who, on Balaam’s advice, caused the Israelites to be unfaithful to Yahweh in the affair at Peor: hence the plague which struck Yahweh’s community.

17 So kill all the male children and kill all the women who have ever slept with a man;

18 but spare the lives of the young girls who have never slept with a man, and keep them for yourselves.

19 As for you, bivouac outside the camp for seven days, everyone who has killed anyone or touched a corpse. Purify yourselves and your prisoners on the third and seventh days,

20 and purify all clothing, everything made of skin, everything woven of goat’s hair and everything made of wood.’

21 The priest Eleazar said to the soldiers who had come back from the campaign, ‘This is an article of the Law which Yahweh prescribed to Moses:

22 although gold, silver, bronze, iron, tin and lead,

23 everything that can withstand fire can be cleaned by being passed through fire, it must still be purified with water for purification. Whatever cannot resist fire you must pass through water.

24 ‘Wash your clothes on the seventh day and you will then be clean. You may then re-enter the camp.’

25 Yahweh spoke to Moses and said:

26 ‘With the priest Eleazar and the heads of families in the community, take a count of the spoils and captives, human and animal.

27 You will then share out the spoil, half and half, between those who fought the campaign and the rest of the community.

28 From the share of the combatants who took part in the campaign, you will set aside one out of every five hundred persons, oxen, donkeys and sheep as Yahweh’s portion.

29 You will take this from the half share coming to them and give it to the priest Eleazar as the portion set aside for Yahweh.

30 From the half coming to the Israelites, you will take one out of every fifty persons, oxen, donkeys, sheep, and all other animals, and give them to the Levites who are responsible for Yahweh’s Dwelling.’

31 Moses and the priest Eleazar did as Yahweh had ordered Moses.

32 The spoils, the remainder of the booty captured by the soldiers, came to six hundred and seventy-five thousand sheep and goats,

33 seventy-two thousand head of cattle,

34 sixty-one thousand donkeys,

35 and in persons, women who had never slept with a man, thirty-two thousand in all.

36 Half was assigned to those who had taken part in the war, namely three hundred and thirty-seven thousand five hundred sheep and goats,

37 of which Yahweh’s portion was six hundred and seventy-five,

38 thirty-six thousand head of cattle, of which Yahweh’s portion was seventy-two,

39 thirty thousand five hundred donkeys, of which Yahweh’s portion was sixty-one,

40 and sixteen thousand persons, of which Yahweh’s portion was thirty-two.

41 Moses gave the priest Eleazar the portion set aside for Yahweh, as Yahweh had ordered Moses.

42 As for the half coming to the Israelites which Moses had separated from that of the combatants,

43 this half, the community’s share, came to three hundred and thirty-seven thousand five hundred sheep and goats,

44 thirty-six thousand head of cattle,

45 thirty thousand five hundred donkeys

46 and sixteen thousand persons.

47 From this half, the Israelites’ share, Moses took one out of every fifty, human and animal, and gave them to the Levites who were responsible for Yahweh’s Dwelling, as Yahweh had ordered Moses.

48 The officers of the thousands who had fought the campaign, the commanders of the thousands and commanders of the hundreds, came to Moses

49 and said, ‘Your servants have numbered the soldiers under their command: none of our men is missing.

50 So, as an offering for Yahweh, we have brought what each of us has found in the way of gold ornaments, armlets and bracelets, rings, earrings and breastplates, to make expiation for ourselves before Yahweh.’

51 Moses and the priest Eleazar accepted this gold from them, all this jewellery.

52 This portion of gold given to Yahweh by the commanders of the thousands and commanders of the hundreds amounted to sixteen thousand seven hundred and fifty shekels.

53 Each of the soldiers took his own booty.

54 But Moses and the priest Eleazar, having accepted the gold from the commanders of the thousands and commanders of the hundreds, brought it into the Tent of Meeting, to be a reminder of the Israelites before Yahweh.

Deuteronomy 30

1 ‘And when all these words have come true for you — the blessing and the curse, which I have offered you — if you meditate on them in your heart wherever among the nations Yahweh your God has driven you,

2 if you return to Yahweh your God, if with all your heart and with all your soul you obey his voice, you and your children, in everything that I am laying down for you today,

3 then Yahweh your God will bring back your captives, he will have pity on you and gather you back from all the peoples among whom Yahweh your God has scattered you.

4 Should you have been banished to the very sky’s end, Yahweh your God will gather you again even from there, will come there to reclaim you

5 and bring you back to the country which belonged to your ancestors, so that you may possess it in your turn, and be made prosperous there and more numerous than your ancestors.

6 ‘Yahweh your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, so that you will love Yahweh your God with all your heart and soul, and so will live.

7 Yahweh your God will make all these curses recoil on your foes and on your enemies who have persecuted you.

8 And once again you will obey the voice of Yahweh your God and you will put all his commandments into practice, which I am laying down for you today.

9 Yahweh your God will make you prosper in all your labours, in the offspring of your body, in the yield of your cattle and in the yield of your soil. For once again Yahweh will delight in your prosperity as he used to take delight in the prosperity of your ancestors,

10 if you obey the voice of Yahweh your God, by keeping his commandments and decrees written in the book of this Law, and if you return to Yahweh your God with all your heart and soul.

11 ‘For this Law which I am laying down for you today is neither obscure for you nor beyond your reach.

12 It is not in heaven, so that you need to wonder, “Who will go up to heaven for us and bring it down to us, so that we can hear and practise it?”

13 Nor is it beyond the seas, so that you need to wonder, “Who will cross the seas for us and bring it back to us, so that we can hear and practise it?”

14 No, the word is very near to you, it is in your mouth and in your heart for you to put into practice.

15 ‘Look, today I am offering you life and prosperity, death and disaster.

16 If you obey the commandments of Yahweh your God, which I am laying down for you today, if you love Yahweh your God and follow his ways, if you keep his commandments, his laws and his customs, you will live and grow numerous, and Yahweh your God will bless you in the country which you are about to enter and make your own.

17 But if your heart turns away, if you refuse to listen, if you let yourself be drawn into worshipping other gods and serving them,

18 I tell you today, you will most certainly perish; you will not live for long in the country which you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess.

19 Today, I call heaven and earth to witness against you: I am offering you life or death, blessing or curse. Choose life, then, so that you and your descendants may live,

20 in the love of Yahweh your God, obeying his voice, holding fast to him; for in this your life consists, and on this depends the length of time that you stay in the country which Yahweh swore to your ancestors Abraham, Isaac and Jacob that he would give them.’

Psalm 116

1 Alleluia! I am filled with love when Yahweh listens to the sound of my prayer,

2 when he bends down to hear me, as I call.

3 The bonds of death were all round me, the snares of Sheol held me fast; distress and anguish held me in their grip,

4 I called on the name of Yahweh. Deliver me, Yahweh, I beg you.

5 Yahweh is merciful and upright, our God is tenderness.

6 Yahweh looks after the simple, when I was brought low he gave me strength.

7 My heart, be at peace once again, for Yahweh has treated you generously.

8 He has rescued me from death, my eyes from tears, and my feet from stumbling.

9 I shall pass my life in the presence of Yahweh, in the land of the living.

10 My trust does not fail even when I say, ‘I am completely wretched.’

11 In my terror I said, ‘No human being can be relied on.’

12 What return can I make to Yahweh for his generosity to me?

13 I shall take up the cup of salvation and call on the name of Yahweh.

14 I shall fulfil my vows to Yahweh, witnessed by all his people.

15 Costly in Yahweh’s sight is the death of his faithful.

16 I beg you, Yahweh! I am your servant, I am your servant and my mother was your servant; you have undone my fetters.

17 I shall offer you a sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of Yahweh.

18 I shall fulfil my vows to Yahweh, witnessed by all his people,

19 in the courts of the house of Yahweh, in your very heart, Jerusalem.

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