Numbers 31:2
Avenge the children of Israel of the Midianites: afterward shall you be gathered to your people.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
31:1-6 All who, without commission from God, dare to execute private revenge, and who, from ambition, covetousness, or resentment, wage war and desolate kingdoms, must one day answer for it. But if God, instead of sending an earthquake, a pestilence, or a famine, be pleased to authorize and command any people to avenge his cause, such a commission surely is just and right. The Israelites could show such a commission, though no persons now can do so. Their wars were begun and carried on expressly by Divine direction, and they were enabled to conquer by miracles. Unless it can be proved that the wicked Canaanites did not deserve their doom, objectors only prove their dislike to God, and their love to his enemies. Man makes light of the evil of sin, but God abhors it. This explains the terrible executions of the nations which had filled the measure of their sins.The Midianites - The Moabites are not included. It would thus seem that it was the Midianites, and they only, who deliberately set themselves to work the corruption of Israel. CHAPTER 31

Nu 31:1-54. The Midianites Spoiled and Balaam Slain.

1, 2. the Lord spake unto Moses, Avenge the children of Israel of the Midianites—a semi-nomad people, descended from Abraham and Keturah, occupying a tract of country east and southeast of Moab, which lay on the eastern coast of the Dead Sea. They seem to have been the principal instigators of the infamous scheme of seduction, planned to entrap the Israelites into the double crime of idolatry and licentiousness [Nu 25:1-3, 17, 18] by which, it was hoped, the Lord would withdraw from that people the benefit of His protection and favor. Moreover, the Midianites had rendered themselves particularly obnoxious by entering into a hostile league with the Amorites (Jos 13:21). The Moabites were at this time spared in consideration of Lot (De 2:9) and because the measure of their iniquities was not yet full. God spoke of avenging "the children of Israel" [Nu 31:2]; Moses spoke of avenging the Lord [Nu 31:3], as dishonor had been done to God and an injury inflicted on His people. The interests were identical. God and His people have the same cause, the same friends, and the same assailants. This, in fact, was a religious war, undertaken by the express command of God against idolaters, who had seduced the Israelites to practise their abominations.

Of the Midianites, for their malicious designs and practices against Israel, both by hiring Balaam to curse them, and by sending their women to enslave them. The Moabites also were guilty, but God out of his own good pleasure, and in kindness to Lot, was pleased to spare them, the rather, because the measure of their iniquity was not yet full. Avenge the children of Israel of the Midianites,.... For the injury they had done them, by sending their daughters among them, who enticed them to commit uncleanness with them, and then drew them into the worship of their idols, which brought the wrath of God upon them, and for which 24,000 persons were slain. Now, though the Moabites had a concern in this affair as well as the Midianites, yet they were spared; which some think was for the sake of Lot, from whom they descended; but why not the Midianites for the sake of Abraham, whose offspring they were by Keturah? Jarchi says, they were spared because of Ruth, who was to spring from them; and so she might, and yet vengeance be taken on great numbers of them: but the truer reason seems to be, either because the sin of the Moabites was not yet full, and they were reserved for a later punishment; or rather because they were not the principal actors in the above affair; but the Midianites, who seem to have advised Balak at first to send for Balaam to curse Israel, and who harboured that soothsayer after he had been dismissed by Balak, and to whom he gave his wicked counsel, and which they readily followed, and industriously pursued:

afterward shalt thou be gathered unto thy people; or die, see Numbers 27:13, it being some satisfaction to him to see the good land, as he did from Abarim, and the Israelites avenged on their enemies before his death.

Avenge the children of Israel of the Midianites: afterward shalt thou be gathered unto thy people.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
2. This command is anticipated by an editor in Numbers 25:16 ff. See note there.Verse 2. - Avenge the children of Israel of the Midianites. The war was to be distinctly one of vengeance on the part of Israel. On the grave moral question which arises out of this war, and of the manner in which it was carried on, see the note at the end of the chapter. Afterward shalt thou be gathered unto thy people. It is quite possible that Moses himself had been reluctant to order the expedition against Midian, either because it involved so much bloodshed, or, more probably, because he foresaw the difficulty which actually arose about the women of Midian. If so, he was here reminded that his place was to obey, and that his work on earth was not done so long as the Midianites remained unpunished. Numbers 30:3-15 contain the rules relating to positive and negative vows made by a woman, and four different examples are given. The first case (Numbers 30:3-5) is that of a woman in her youth, while still unmarried, and living in her father's house. If she made a vow of performance or abstinence, and her father heard of it and remained silent, it was to stand, i.e., to remain in force. But if her father held her back when he heard of it, i.e., forbade her fulfilling it, it was not to stand or remain in force, and Jehovah would forgive her because of her father's refusal. Obedience to a father stood higher than a self-imposed religious service. - The second case (Numbers 30:6-8) was that of a vow of performance or abstinence, made by a woman before her marriage, and brought along with her (עליה, "upon herself") into her marriage. In such a case the husband had to decide as to its validity, in the same way as the father before her marriage. In the day when he heard of it he could hold back his wife, i.e., dissolve her vow; but if he did not do this at once, he could not hinder its fulfilment afterwards. שׂפתיה מבטא, gossip of her lips, that which is uttered thoughtlessly or without reflection (cf. Leviticus 5:4). This expression implies that vows of abstinence were often made by unmarried women without thought or reflection. - The third case (Numbers 30:9) was that of a vow made by a widow or divorced woman. Such a vow had full force, because the woman was not dependent upon a husband. - The fourth case (Numbers 30:10-12) was that of a vow made by a wife in her married state. Such a vow was to remain in force if her husband remained silent when he heard of it, and did not restrain her. On the other hand, it was to have no force if her husband dissolved it at once. After this there follows the general statement (Numbers 30:13-16), that a husband could establish or dissolve every vow of performance or abstinence made by his wife. If, however, he remained silent "from day to day," he confirmed it by his silence; and if afterwards he should declare it void, he was to bear his wife's iniquity. עונה, the sin which the wife would have had to bear if she had broken the vow of her own accord. This consisted either in a sin-offering to expiate her sin (Leviticus 5:4.); or if this was omitted, in the punishment which God suspended over the sin (Leviticus 5:1).
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