Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Numbers 25:17

"Be hostile to the Midianites and strike them;
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Torrey's Topical Textbook - Desert, Journey of Israel through the;   Midianites;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Idol, Idolatry;   Midianites;   Moabites;   Phinehas;   Simeon;   Zur;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Midian;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Cozbi;   Gideon;   Midian;   Moab;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Midian, Midianites;   Numbers, Book of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Phinehas;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Midian, Midianites ;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Balaam;   Midian;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Baal;   Shittim;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Ba'al,;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - On to Canaan;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Cozbi;   Midian;   Midianitish Woman;   Phinehas;   Zimri (1);   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Cozbi;   Midian and Midianites;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Vex the Midianites, etc. - See this order fulfilled, Numbers 31:1-20. Twelve thousand Israelites attacked the Midianites, destroyed all their cities, slew their five kings, every male, and every grown up woman, and took all their spoils.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Numbers 25:17". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/numbers-25.html. 1832.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Vex the Midianites, and smite them. Go to war with them, and smite them with the sword; not the Moabites, but the Midianites, though they were both confederates against Israel; but God had given a charge not to contend in battle with Moab, Deuteronomy 2:9, they were spared for the sake of Lot, from whom they sprang; and, as Jarchi says, for the sake of Ruth, who was to come from them; and so in the TalmudF12T. Bab. Bava Kama, fol. 38. 2. ; though they did not entirely escape the divine resentment, as appears from Deuteronomy 23:3 but the Midianites were the first that advised to send for Balaam, and with them he stayed and was entertained, after he had been dismissed by Balak; and it seems as if it was to them he gave the wicked counsel, to draw Israel into fornication, and so into idolatry, and thereby bring the curse of God upon them; which advice they communicated to the Moabites, and both were concerned in putting it into execution; see Numbers 22:4.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Numbers 25:17". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/numbers-25.html. 1999.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

Vex the Midianites, and smite them — They seem to have been the most guilty parties. (Compare Numbers 22:4; Numbers 31:8).

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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Numbers 25:17". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/numbers-25.html. 1871-8.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Vex the Midianites, and smite them:

The Midianites — And why not the Moabites. It is probable the Midianites were most guilty, as in persuading Balak to send for Balaam, Numbers 22:4,7. So in the reception of Balaam after Balak had dismissed him, Numbers 31:8, and in farther consultation with him, and in contriving the means for the executing of this wicked plot.

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
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Wesley, John. "Commentary on Numbers 25:17". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/numbers-25.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Numbers 25:17 Vex the Midianites, and smite them:

Ver. 17. Vex the Midianites.] As more malicious and mischievous than the Moabites; as appears, (1.) By their detaining of Balaam, when the Moabites dismissed him in great displeasure; (2.) By the wickedness of their women, who by Cozbi may seem to have been meretrices meretricissimae, such as afterwards was Julia, Messalina, and that Romish Lucretia, concubine to Pope Alexander VI., of whom Pontanus, (a)

Hoc tumulo dormit Lucretia nomine, sed re

Thais, Alexandri filia, sponsa, nurus. ”

{a} Lib. ii. tum.

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Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Numbers 25:17". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/numbers-25.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Numbers 25:17. Vex the Midianites The Moabites are not named. See Deuteronomy 2:9. It is not unlikely, that the Midianites had the principal hand in this seduction of the Israelites; ready as we find they were to prostitute a daughter of one of their most honourable families, in order to procure the disgrace and destruction of Israel; in just retribution therefore for their wickedness, God commands Moses to be ready, at a time which he should appoint, to attack their country with his whole force: the consequence of which was a fatal overthrow. See ch. 31: Nothing could be more just, than to assign a proportionable punishment for an offence so cruel, carried on by such odious means.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Numbers 25:17". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/numbers-25.html. 1801-1803.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

And why not the Moabites, who were as guilty, Numbers 25:1?

Answ. 1. Because God will reserve to himself a liberty of punishing or sparing, according to his own good pleasure.

2. God had a kindness for the Moabites for Lot’s sake, Deuteronomy 2:9.

3. God punished the Moabites in another manner, partly, by his own immediate hand, whereby it is probable he cut off those Moabitish women that were guilty of this fact; partly, by a particular and dreadful kind of excommunication, Deuteronomy 23:3; and partly, by impunity, which in its consequences is commonly worse and more pernicious than any or all temporal punishments, which none that believes the Bible can deny.

4. It is probable the Midianites were most guilty, as in persuading Balak to send for Balaam, as may be gathered from Numbers 22:4,7; so in the reception of Balaam after Balak had dismissed him, Numbers 31:8, and in further consultation with him, and in contriving the means for the executing of this wicked plot.

Smite them, i.e. kill them; in which words, as there is a command to war against them, so there is a promise of success.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Numbers 25:17". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/numbers-25.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

WAR AGAINST MIDIAN COMMANDED, Numbers 25:16-18.

17.Vex the Midianites — Although Midian and Moab were united in bringing Balaam from the east, (Numbers 22:4; Numbers 22:7,) and the daughters of Moab were associated with those of Midian in seducing Israel, yet only Midian provoked Jehovah to a declaration of war at this time, possibly because Moab was not so forward in this iniquity. Says Ainsworth, “For though Baalam gave counsel to the king of Moab, (Revelation 2:14,) and the Moabitish women were prostitute also unto whoredom, yet Balak at first did not much regard that counsel, but turned Balaam away with shame, but the Midianites retained him, and among them he was slain.”

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Numbers 25:17". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/numbers-25.html. 1874-1909.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Numbers 25:17. Vex the Midianites — It is probable, from Numbers 25:6, compared with Numbers 21:16, that the Midianites had had the principal hand in seducing the Israelites into this shameful revolt from the worship of God to the vile sacrifices of Baal-peor, and in causing this open and impudent affront to be put upon the professors of the true religion in the matter of Zimri, to whom they prostituted a daughter of one of their most honourable families, to procure the disgrace and destruction of the Israelites; therefore, in just retribution for their wickedness, God commands Moses to be ready at a time he should appoint to attack their country with his whole force, and give them a fatal overthrow.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Numbers 25:17". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/numbers-25.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Madianites. God spared the Moabites for the sake of Lot (Deuteronomy ii. 19,) and of Ruth, of whom David and Christ should be born. They were perhaps less guilty, but they did not escape due chastisement under David, 2 Kings viii. 2. (Menochius) --- The war against Madian was the last which the Hebrews waged in the lifetime of Moses, chap. xxxi. (Haydock)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Numbers 25:17". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/numbers-25.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

Vex. Compare Num 31.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Numbers 25:17". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/numbers-25.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Vex the Midianites, and smite them:

Vex the Midianites. They seem to have been the most guilty parties (cf. Numbers 22:4; Numbers 31:8), and on them the storm of vengeance exclusively fell; while the Moabites were not only spared, but this matter of Peor is not enumerated among their offences against Israel, even when the interdict against their admission into the congregation of the Lord was issued (Deuteronomy 23:5).

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Numbers 25:17". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/numbers-25.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(17) Vex the Midianites, and smite them.—The Midianites appear to have been joint actors with the Moabites throughout the whole of the opposition which was offered to Israel, and the chief actors in the wiles by which the Israelites were seduced. As the descendants of Abraham, the father of the faithful, the Midianites ought to have feared and obeyed Abraham’s God, and to have shown brotherly kindness to His people, who were their own kindred. The special judgments of God are directed against the sins of apostacy and of seduction. (Comp. Revelation 2:14; Revelation 18:6.) Although the Moabites were not to be smitten with the Midianites (see Deuteronomy 2:9), nevertheless they did not escape punishment, but were shut out, even to the tenth generation, from the congregation of the Lord. (See Deuteronomy 23:3-4.) Their exemption at this time from the judgment executed upon the Midianites was probably due, not to their descent from Lot (for the Midianites were descended from Abraham), but to the fact that the measure of their sin was not yet full. (Comp. Genesis 15:16.)

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Numbers 25:17". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/numbers-25.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Vex the Midianites, and smite them:
31:2; Revelation 18:6
Reciprocal: Genesis 25:2 - Midian;  Genesis 37:28 - Midianites;  Deuteronomy 25:17 - GeneralJudges 6:1 - Midian

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Numbers 25:17". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/numbers-25.html.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

17.Vex the Midianites, and smite them. Inasnmch as God constantly forbids His people to take vengeance, it is surprising that the people of Israel should now be instigated to do so; as if they were not already more than enough disposed to it. We must bear in mind, however, that since God, who is the just avenger of all wickedness, often makes use of men’s instrumentality, and constitutes them the lawful ministers for the exercise of his vengeance, it must not be altogether condemned without exception, but only such vengeance as men themselves are impelled to by carnal passions. If any one is injured, straightway he is carried away to the desire of vengeance by the stimulus of his own private injury; and this is manifestly wrong: but if a person is led to inflict punishment by a just and well-regulated zeal towards God, it is not his own cause, but that of God which he undertakes. God did not, therefore, desire to give reins to His people’s anger, so as to repay the Midianites as they had deserved in the violence of its impulse; but He armed them with His own sword for their punishment; as if He had declared that there was a just cause for their war, and that they need not fear the charge of cruelty, if they exterminated such obnoxious enemies. For, although Balaam alone had imagined this snare, still the guilt is laid upon the whole people. In the meantime, the punishment of the Moabites is delayed, although they had apparently inflicted the grosser injury. Because no good reason here appears why God should mercifully bear with the one nation, whilst He hastens speedily to the punishment of the others, let us learn to regard His judgments with reverence, and not to presume to discuss them further than is lawful. Let it be sufficient for us to know that war was justly declared against the Midianites, because it was not their fault that Israel was not ruined by their iniquitous impiety. (190)

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Calvin, John. "Commentary on Numbers 25:17". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/numbers-25.html. 1840-57.