Numbers 31:53
(For the men of war had taken spoil, every man for himself.)
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31:48-54 The success of the Israelites had been very remarkable, so small a company overcoming such multitudes, but it was still more wonderful that not one was slain or missing. They presented the gold they found among the spoils, as an offering to the Lord. Thus they confessed, that instead of claiming a reward for their service, they needed forgiveness of much that had been amiss, and desired to be thankful for the preservation of their lives, which might justly have been taken away.This verse seems to imply that the soldiers, as distinct from the officers (compare Numbers 31:49), did not make any offering from their plunder. Of course besides the gold there would be much spoil of less precious materials; see Numbers 31:20, Numbers 31:22. 48-54. officers … said … there lacketh not one man of us—A victory so signal, and the glory of which was untarnished by the loss of a single Israelitish soldier, was an astonishing miracle. So clearly betokening the direct interposition of Heaven, it might well awaken the liveliest feelings of grateful acknowledgment to God (Ps 44:2, 3). The oblation they brought for the Lord "was partly an atonement" or reparation for their error (Nu 31:14-16), for it could not possess any expiatory virtue, and partly a tribute of gratitude for the stupendous service rendered them. It consisted of the "spoil," which, being the acquisition of individual valor, was not divided like the "prey," or livestock, each soldier retaining it in lieu of pay; it was offered by the "captains" alone, whose pious feelings were evinced by the dedication of the spoil which fell to their share. There were jewels to the amount of 16,750 shekels, equal to £87,869 16s. 5d. sterling. No text from Poole on this verse. For the men of war had taken spoil, every man for himself. And which he kept for himself, and did not deliver in with the prey or booty, which was brought to Moses and Eleazar, the sum of which was taken by them; and this seems to confirm what has been hinted, that, as each soldier had taken spoil for himself, so everyone contributed his quota towards this freewill offering to the Lord. (For the men of war had taken spoil, every man for {r} himself.)

(r) And gave no portion to their captains.

The booty, viz., "the rest of the booty, which the men of war had taken," i.e., all the persons taken prisoners that had not been put to death, and all the cattle taken as booty that had not been consumed during the march home, amounted to 675,000 head of small cattle, 72,000 oxen, 61,000 asses, and 32,000 maidens. Each half, therefore, consisted of 337,500 head of small cattle, 36,000 oxen, 30,500 asses, and 16,000 maidens (Numbers 31:36 and Numbers 31:43-46). Of the one half the priests received 675 head of small cattle, 72 oxen, 61 asses, and 32 maidens for Jehovah; and these Moses handed over to Eleazar, in all probability for the maintenance of the priests, in the same manner as the tithes (Numbers 18:26-28, and Leviticus 27:30-33), so that they might put the cattle into their own flocks (Numbers 35:3), and slay oxen or sheep as they required them, whilst they sold the asses, and made slaves of the gifts; and not in the character of a vow, in which case the clean animals would have had to be sacrificed, and the unclean animals, as well as the human beings, to be redeemed (Leviticus 27:2-13). Of the other half, the Levites received the fiftieth part (Numbers 31:43-47), that is to say, 6750 head of small cattle, 720 oxen, 610 asses, and 320 girls. The וגו מחצית ("the half," etc.), in Numbers 31:42, is resumed in Numbers 31:47, and the enumeration of the component parts of this half in Numbers 31:43-46 is to be regarded as parenthetical.
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