Women of the Word: Midian Women

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The Midianites were enemies of Israel, and in Numbers 11 God tells Moses to carry out His vengeance on them. So twelve thousand Israelite men go to battle against the Midianites. They kill every single Midianite man. They burn all the towns of the Midianites. But the women and children, they keep alive, claiming them and all other plunder for themselves. Numbers 31:9 reads:

The Israelites captured the Midianite women and children and took all the Midianite herds, flocks and goods as plunder.

When the Israelites return to their camp, however, they meet Moses who is angry that the women have been kept alive. This is because in an earlier event, the Midian women had followed the advice of the wicked prophet Balaam and enticed the Israelites to be unfaithful to the Lord. So, Moses commands the Israelites to kill all the Midian boys and kill every Midian woman who was not a virgin. All other women and girls could be spared. Numbers 31:15-18 reads:

“Have you allowed all the women to live?” he [Moses] asked them. “They were the ones who followed Balaam’s advice and enticed the Israelites to be unfaithful to the Lord in the Peor incident, so that a plague struck the Lord’s people. Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.”

This must have been a very sad day – one that was filled with the shedding of blood and tears. One moment, these Midian women were living their lives, some of them with husbands and children. And then the next day, they had everything ripped from them – their homes, their fathers, their husbands, their brothers, their sons; and some of them even had their own lives ended. Continue reading

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