Numbers 31:21
And Eleazar the priest said to the men of war which went to the battle, This is the ordinance of the law which the LORD commanded Moses;
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31:19-24 The Israelites had to purify themselves according to the law, and to abide without the camp seven days, though they had not contracted any moral guilt, the war being just and lawful, and commanded by God. Thus God would preserve in their minds a dread and detestation of shedding blood. The spoil had been used by Midianites, and being now come into the possession of Israelites, it was fit that it should be purified.Caused ... to commit trespass - More literally, "became to the children of Israel for a cause (or, incitement) of treachery to the Lord." 19-24. abide without the camp seven days: whosoever hath killed any person … purify both yourselves and your captives—Though the Israelites had taken the field in obedience to the command of God, they had become defiled by contact with the dead. A process of purification was to be undergone, as the law required (Le 15:13; Nu 19:9-12), and this purifying ceremony was extended to dress, houses, tents, to everything on which a dead body had lain, which had been touched by the blood-stained hands of the Israelitish warriors, or which had been the property of idolaters. This became a standing ordinance in all time coming (Le 6:28; 11:33; 15:12). No text from Poole on this verse. And Eleazar the priest said unto the men of war, which went to the battle,.... To all the soldiers, officers, and common men:

this is the ordinance of the law, which the Lord commanded Moses; concerning the purification of unclean persons and things, hereby confirming what Moses had said.

And Eleazar the priest said unto the men of war which went to the battle, This is the ordinance of the law which the LORD commanded Moses;
21–24. Further injunctions given by Eleazar, drawing a distinction between objects which could not stand purification by fire, and metals which could.Verse 21. - And Eleazar the priest said, This is the ordinance of the law (חֻקַּת הַתּורָה, "law-statute, as in Numbers 19:2) which the Lord commanded Moses. There is something peculiar in this expression which points to the probability, either that this paragraph (verses 21-24) was added after the death of Moses, or that "the law was already beginning, even in the lifetime of Moses, to assume the position which it after. wards held - that, viz., of a fixed code to be interpreted and applied by the living authority of the priesthood. This is the earliest instance of the high priest declaring to the people what the law of God as delivered to Moses was, and then applying and enlarging that law to meet the present circumstances. It is no doubt possible that Eleazar referred the matter to Moses, but it would seem on the face of the narrative that he spoke on his own authority as high priest. When we compare the ceremonial of the later Jews, so precisely and minutely ordered for every conceivable contingency, with the Mosaic legislation itself, it is evident that the process of authoritative amplification must have been going on from the first; but it is certainly strange to find that process begun while Moses himself was alive and active. Treatment of the Prisoners. - When Moses went out to the front of the camp with Eleazar and the princes of the congregation to meet the returning warriors, he was angry with the commanders, because they had left all the women alive, since it was they who had been the cause, at Balaam's instigation, of the falling away of the Israelites from Jehovah to worship Peor; and he commanded all the male children to be slain, and every woman who had lain with a man, and only the young girls who had hitherto had no connection with a man to be left alive. החיל פּקוּדי, lit., the appointed persons, i.e., the officers of the army, who were then divided into princes (captains) over thousands and hundreds. - "Which came from the battle," i.e., who had returned. The question in Numbers 31:15, "Have ye left all the women alive?" is an expression of dissatisfaction, and reproof for their having done this. למסר־מעל...היוּ, "they have become to the Israelites to work unfaithfulness towards Jehovah," i.e., they have induced them to commit an act of unfaithfulness towards Jehovah. The word מסר, which only occurs in this chapter, viz., in Numbers 31:5 and Numbers 31:16, appears to be used in the sense of giving, delivering, and then, like נתן, doing, making, effecting. On the fact itself, see Numbers 25:6. The object of the command to put all the male children to death, was to exterminate the whole nation, as it could not be perpetuated in the women. Of the female sex, all were to be put to death who had known the lying with a man, and therefore might possibly have been engaged in the licentious worship of Peor (Numbers 25:2), to preserve the congregation from all contamination from that abominable idolatry.
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