Numbers 31:23
Every thing that may abide the fire, you shall make it go through the fire, and it shall be clean: nevertheless it shall be purified with the water of separation: and all that stays not the fire you shall make go through the water.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
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.Brass - Render copper. See Genesis 4:22 note. The verse is curious as illustrating the variety of metals in use at this early date for domestic purposes. All these metals were common in Egypt centuries before the date of the Exodus. 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. Every thing that may abide the fire, ye shall make it go through the fire,.... Either through the smoke of the fire, and so be purified by suffumigation; or be put into the fire itself, where though they might be melted as the above things, yet not consumed as raiment, and vessels of skins, goats' hair, and wood, would be:

and it shall be clean; accounted so:

nevertheless, it shall be purified with the water of separation; with the water mixed with the ashes of the red heifer burnt, and sprinkled on it; see Numbers 19:9.

and all that abideth not the fire; without being consumed, as whatsoever is of wood, &c.

ye shall make go through the water; dip them in it, and rinse them there with a quantity sufficient; which the Targum of Jonathan says is forty seahs of water.

Every thing that may abide the fire, ye shall make it go through the fire, and it shall be clean: nevertheless it shall be {h} purified with the water of separation: and all that abideth not the fire ye shall make go through the {i} water.

(h) The third day and before it is molten.

(i) It shall be washed.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
23. the water of impurity] Its preparation and use are described in ch. 19.

to go through water] i.e. ordinary pure water, not the ‘water of impurity’ as R.V. suggests. Objects which will stand the fire must pass through it, and then their purification must be completed by the application of the specially prepared mixture. Objects, on the other hand, which cannot stand the fire, must pass through ordinary water instead of fire. It is perhaps implied that their purification must afterwards be completed, as in the former case, by the special mixture.Verse 23. - Ye shall make it go through the fire. This was an addition to the general law of lustration in chapter 19 founded on the obvious fact that water does not cleanse metals, while fire does. The spoils of the Midianites required purification, not only as being tainted with death, but as having been heathen property. 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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