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Bible Commentaries
Numbers 31

Dummelow's Commentary on the BibleDummelow on the Bible

Verses 1-54

War against Midian

This chapter contains an account of the fulfilment of the decree of extermination passed upon the Midianites as being the occasion of Israel’s apostasy in the plains of Moab: see on Numbers 25:16-18.

6. The holy instruments and the trumpets] On the use of the silver trumpets in time of war see on Numbers 10:9. It is not clear whether the ark was taken into battle on this occasion. It is possible to translate ’the holy instruments, even the trumpets.’ On other occasions, however, the ark accompanied the army as a token of God’s presence and blessing. See 1 Samuel 4:4-7 and cp. Numbers 14:44. In Deuteronomy 20:2-4 the priests are commanded to encourage the host on the edge of battle. The choice of Phinehas on this occasion may be due to his previous zeal for Jehovah against the Midianites: see Numbers 25:7, Numbers 25:12.

8. Kings of Midian] from Joshua 13:21 we learn that these were princes or chiefs, and that they were tributary to Sihon, king of the Amorites. Balaam by remaining among the Midianites shared their fate. But see on Numbers 25:1-5.

13-18. The male children are put to death in order that the race of idolaters may be extirpated. The older women are also slain as having been the prime cause of the apostasy, and likely to lead the people astray at a future time. The women-children, or young females, are spared, and are taken as slaves or wives, being probably adopted into the Hebrew nation as proselytes: cp. Deuteronomy 21:10-14. For the reason of such wholesale slaughter see Numbers 33:55; Deuteronomy 20:17-18; Joshua 23:13 and on Numbers 25:16-18.

19-24. On this purification by means of the ’water of separation’ see Numbers 19:11-16.

25-47. The spoil is divided equally between the warriors and those who remained in the camp. Part of each portion is dedicated to the sanctuary. The warriors dedicate the fivehundredth part of their spoil which is given to the priests (Numbers 31:29). The non-combatants dedicate the fiftieth part of their share, which, being a larger proportion, is given to the Levites who were more numerous than the priests (Numbers 31:30).

29. Heave offering] see on Leviticus 7:28-34; Numbers 8 n.

32. The rest of the prey] RV ’over and above the booty’: see Numbers 31:50.

48-54. The officers make a voluntary offering as a thanksgiving for victory.

50. Tablets] RV ’armlets or necklaces’: cp. Exodus 35:22. Make an atonement] cp. Exodus 30:11-16.

Bibliographical Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Numbers 31". "Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcb/numbers-31.html. 1909.
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