Taken from blog ‘Does the bible condone the killing of women and children?‘.
Question: In Numbers chapter 31 verses 17 and 18… was God actually giving orders to murder women and children, the question was posed to me and I’m a Christian, I read over the whole chapter but still couldn’t get a general idea of what was going on, can you help?
“The event described in Numbers 31 is God’s vengeance against the Midianites for their role in the defiling of Israel. In Numbers 25, we learn that at the suggestion of Balaam, the Israelites were seduced to adultery by the women of Midian. As a result, God commanded Moses to strike down the Midianites for their treachery (Numbers 25:16-18). As a side note, the Israelites were judged for their sin by a plague that killed 24,000 men (Numbers 25:9).”
“This begs the question, “why such a cruel and bizarre command from Moses?” This introduces the concept of a holy war. God commanded that the Midianites be completely destroyed. When God does that, it’s a divine judicial ruling of judgment. The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it (Psalm 24:1) including people. God reserves the right to execute divine judgment whenever and on whomever he chooses…For the sin of Midian at Baal Peor, God judged them and executed that judgment through the hand of Israel. When the Israelite warriors brought home so many prisoners, Moses was afraid that they would be judged for not fully carrying out the commands of God.”
“Furthermore, it was the Midianite women who were culpable at Baal Peor. The women who have had sexual relations are killed for their sin, and the young boys are killed presumably to prevent any further procreation. One can only surmise that the virgins were spared because they didn’t participate in the sin at Baal Peor and because without the young men, they couldn’t perpetuate the race.”
This explanation is weird to me – very weird. How do we interpret this piece of writing in Numbers? To me, it sounds like a war more or less (simple answer) – with some God language slapped on it. If only we had an expert in the field of Torah?