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Here we have the story of the end of Balaam. It took place in connection with a war directly resulting from the sin of the people committed through the influence of Balaam. They had corrupted the national life by cohabitation with the women of Midian. This, as specifically stated, resulted from "the counsel of Balaam."
In this war Phinehas led as priest. This is arresting as revealing the peculiar and religious note of the conflict. It was the relationship of the people to God that was imperiled. Phinehas, who on a previous occasion had stayed the plague by his action now led the twelve thousand chosen men on the mission of judgment. It has been suggested that in all probability some of the actual numbers in this chapter are inaccurate, that in the process of translation and copying, mistakes have been made. That is quite possible. It is, however, a matter of no real moment. The method of this enterprise was most drastic and hard, but, as so constantly in the perusal of the history of those times, it must be interpreted by the age in which it happened. In the fuller light which has come in the process of the ages such methods are unnecessary and therefore are never commanded.
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Morgan, G. Campbell. "Commentary on Numbers 31". "Morgan's Exposition on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Fourth Week after Epiphany