Numbers 31:10
And they burnt all their cities wherein they dwelt, and all their goodly castles, with fire.
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(10) All their cities wherein they dwelt.—Better, all their cities in their dwelling-places. This expression is explained by a reference to Joshua 13:21, from which it appears that the five kings or chiefs of the Midianites who are mentioned in Numbers 5:8 dwelt in the territory which Sihon, king of the Amorites, had wrested from the Moabites. The Midianites were a nomad people, and were not likely to have built cities for themselves.

31:7-12 The Israelites slew the Kings of Midian. They slew Balaam. God's overruling providence brought him thither, and their just vengeance found him. Had he himself rightly believed what he had said of the happy state of Israel, he would not have thus herded with the enemies of Israel. The Midianites' wicked wiles were Balaam's projects: it was just that he should perish with them, Ho 4:5. They took the women and children captives. They burnt their cities and castles, and returned to the camp.Goodly castles - Rather, both here and in Genesis 25:16, hamlets. The word is derived from a word טוּר ṭûr,) signifying "a row" or "range" (compare Ezekiel 46:23); and probably indicates those collections of rude dwellings, made of stones piled one on another and covered with tent-cloths, which are used by the Arabs to this day; and which are frequently mentioned as douars in narratives of the French campaigns in Algeria. These dwellings would be formed usually in a circle. See the word "Hazeroth," in Numbers 11:35. 8. the kings of Midian—so called, because each was possessed of absolute power within his own city or district; called also dukes or princes of Sihon (Jos 13:21), having been probably subject to that Amorite ruler, as it is not uncommon in the East to find a number of governors or pachas tributary to one great king.

Zur—father of Cozbi (Nu 25:15).

Balaam also … they slew with the sword—This unprincipled man, on his dismissal from Balak, set out for his home in Mesopotamia (Nu 24:25). But, either diverging from his way to tamper with the Midianites, he remained among them without proceeding farther, to incite them against Israel and to watch the effects of his wicked counsel; or, learning in his own country that the Israelites had fallen into the snare which he had laid and which he doubted not would lead to their ruin, he had, under the impulse of insatiable greed, returned to demand his reward from the Midianites. He was an object of merited vengeance. In the immense slaughter of the Midianitish people—in the capture of their women, children, and property and in the destruction of all their places of refuge—the severity of a righteous God fell heavily on that base and corrupt race. But, more than all others, Balaam deserved and got the just reward of his deeds. His conduct had been atrociously sinful, considering the knowledge he possessed, and the revelations he had received, of the will of God. For any one in his circumstances to attempt defeating the prophecies he had himself been the organ of uttering, and plotting to deprive the chosen people of the divine favor and protection, was an act of desperate wickedness, which no language can adequately characterize.

Partly, to blot out the name and memory of so lewd and vile a people; partly, lest any of the Israelites should be tempted to settle there, and so be discouraged in their progress to Canaan; and partly, lest they should be possessed by other people who might prove as bad neighbours to them as these would have been.

And they burnt all their cities wherein they dwelt, &c. ) So far as they went into the country, which, perhaps, might not be the whole land of Midian:

and all their goodly castles with fire; which were either the palaces of their princes and nobles, or such like great personages; or they were fortified places, for the security of their cities and country: the Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan interpret them of their houses of worship, their temples, and their altars.

And they burnt all their cities wherein they dwelt, and all their goodly castles, with fire.
10. their encampments] A word specially used to denote the circular encampment of a nomad tribe: cf. Genesis 25:16.

Verse 10. - Their goodly castles. טִירֹתם. Septuagint, ἐπαύλεις. This word, which occurs only here and in Genesis 25:16, no doubt signifies the pastoral villages, constructed partly of rude stone walls, partly of goats-hair cloth, which the nomadic tribes of that country have used from time immemorial. Probably these were the proper habitations of the Midianites; the "cities" would have belonged to the previous inhabitants of the land. Numbers 31:10Of the campaign itself, the results are all that is recorded. No doubt it terminated with a great battle, in which the Midianites were taken unawares and completely routed. As it was a war of vengeance of Jehovah, the victors slew all the males, i.e., all the adult males, as the sequel shows, without quarter; and "upon those that were slain," i.e., in addition to them, the five Midianitsh kings and Balaam, who first advised the Midianites, according to Numbers 31:16, to tempt the Israelites to idolatry. The five kings were chiefs of the larger or more powerful of the Midianitish tribes, as Zur is expressly said to have been in Numbers 25:15. In Joshua 13:21 they are called "vassals of Sihon," because Sihon had subjugated them and made them tributary when he first conquered the land. The women and children of the Midianites were led away prisoners; and their cattle (behemah, beasts of draft and burden, as in Exodus 20:10), and their flocks, and their goods taken away as spoil. The towns in their dwellings, and all their villages (tiroth, tent-villages, as in Genesis 25:16), were burnt down. The expression "towns in their dwellings" leads to the conclusion that the towns were not the property of the Midianites themselves, who were a nomad people, but that they originally belonged in all probability to the Moabites, and had been taken possession of by the Amorites under Sihon. This is confirmed by Joshua 13:21, according to which these five Midianitish vassals of Sihon dwelt in the land, i.e., in the kingdom of Sihon. This also serves to explain why the conquest on their country is not mentioned in the account before us, although it is stated in Joshua (l.c.), that it was allotted to the Reubenites with the kingdom of Sihon.
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