Dave Burnette's Commentary

Numbers Chapter 31

Written By: God through Inspiration
Penned By: Moses
Date Penned: (1450-1410 BC)
Overview: A Record of A New Generation (c 27-36)
Theme: A Second Approach to the Promised Land (c 22-36)
Message: The War Against Midian (v 1-54)

Numbers 31 Commentary

(31:1-14) The Midianites - The Midianites were a nomadic people who descended from Abraham and his second wife, Keturah. The land of Midian lay far to the south of Canaan, but large bands of Midianites roamed many miles from their homeland, searching for grazing areas for their flocks. Such a group was near the Promised Land when the Israelites arrived. When Moses fled from Egypt, he had taken refuge in the land of Midian (Exodus 2:11-22). His wife and father-in-law were Midianites. Despite this alliance, the Israelites and Midianites became bitter enemies as Israel moved to settle in Canaan.

(31:14-16) God Commanded Israel to Conquer the Midianites - Because the Midianites were responsible for enticing Israel into Baal worship, God commanded Israel to destroy them (25:16-18). When we discover sin in our lives, we must deal with it promptly and completely, just as Moses did by removing the influence of the Midianites. When the Israelites later entered the Promised Land, it was their indifferent attitude toward sin that eventually ruined them. When God points out sin, act quickly to remove it from your life.

(31:16) Balaam's Character is Exposed - Balaam's story (Numbers 22-24) taken alone would lead us to believe that Balaam was an honest and God-fearing man. But here is the first of much biblical evidence that Balaam was not the good man he might have appeared to be. (For more on Balaam, read Numbers 22:9 and 25:1-3)

(31:25:30) All We Have Belongs to the Lord - God told Moses that the Israelites were to give a portion of the war spoils as an offering. Another portion was to go to the people who remained behind. Similarly, the money we earn is not ours alone. Everything we possess comes directly or indirectly from God and ultimately belongs to him. We should return a portion to him and also share a portion with those in need.

(31:48-50) God Protected Israel - After carefully accounting for all their men, the officers discovered that not one soldier had been lost in battle. At once they thanked God. After going through tough times, we should be quick to thank God for what was not lost as well as for what was gained.

Dave Burnette's Life Application


Each day we walk through the Bible chapter by chapter making an application of our text to help us grow in the Lord. Many applications can be made from each day's text. Today we continue the book of Numbers with Chapter 31 and in today's text we see As we move into Numbers chapter 31 and focus on Israel's war against the Midianites who were descendants of Abraham's second wife Keturah. Large bands of Midanites had wandered north to Canaan where the Lord told them to destroy this enemy of Israel. They were instructed to destroy them all but Israel disobeyed taking captive women that they were instructed not to do. The reason being is that they served Baal and keeping them around would entice them to worship other gods. In making application we see how when the Lord saves us He calls us to repent or turn and separate ourselves from our sinful lifestyle. Some though want to hold on to some things that could, in time, cause them to sin. We are called to separate our selves from anything that is ungodly just as Israel was instructed to in today's text. How about you? Do you hang on to things that the Lord has told you to separate from? Let us learn from today's text and separate ourselves from the things that are not of the Lord. 


Numbers 31

Numbers 31

 1And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

 2Avenge the children of Israel of the Midianites: afterward shalt thou be gathered unto thy people.

 3And Moses spake unto the people, saying, Arm some of yourselves unto the war, and let them go against the Midianites, and avenge the LORD of Midian.

 4Of every tribe a thousand, throughout all the tribes of Israel, shall ye send to the war.

 5So there were delivered out of the thousands of Israel, a thousand of every tribe, twelve thousand armed for war.

 6And Moses sent them to the war, a thousand of every tribe, them and Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest, to the war, with the holy instruments, and the trumpets to blow in his hand.

 7And they warred against the Midianites, as the LORD commanded Moses; and they slew all the males.

 8And they slew the kings of Midian, beside the rest of them that were slain; namely, Evi, and Rekem, and Zur, and Hur, and Reba, five kings of Midian: Balaam also the son of Beor they slew with the sword.

 9And the children of Israel took all the women of Midian captives, and their little ones, and took the spoil of all their cattle, and all their flocks, and all their goods.

 10And they burnt all their cities wherein they dwelt, and all their goodly castles, with fire.

 11And they took all the spoil, and all the prey, both of men and of beasts.

 12And they brought the captives, and the prey, and the spoil, unto Moses, and Eleazar the priest, and unto the congregation of the children of Israel, unto the camp at the plains of Moab, which are by Jordan near Jericho.

 13And Moses, and Eleazar the priest, and all the princes of the congregation, went forth to meet them without the camp.

 14And Moses was wroth with the officers of the host, with the captains over thousands, and captains over hundreds, which came from the battle.

 15And Moses said unto them, Have ye saved all the women alive?

 16Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the LORD in the matter of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the LORD.

 17Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him.

 18But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.

 19And do ye abide without the camp seven days: whosoever hath killed any person, and whosoever hath touched any slain, purify both yourselves and your captives on the third day, and on the seventh day.

 20And purify all your raiment, and all that is made of skins, and all work of goats' hair, and all things made of wood.

 21And 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;

 22Only the gold, and the silver, the brass, the iron, the tin, and the lead,

 23Every thing that may abide the fire, ye 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 abideth not the fire ye shall make go through the water.

 24And ye shall wash your clothes on the seventh day, and ye shall be clean, and afterward ye shall come into the camp.

 25And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

 26Take the sum of the prey that was taken, both of man and of beast, thou, and Eleazar the priest, and the chief fathers of the congregation:

 27And divide the prey into two parts; between them that took the war upon them, who went out to battle, and between all the congregation:

 28And levy a tribute unto the LORD of the men of war which went out to battle: one soul of five hundred, both of the persons, and of the beeves, and of the asses, and of the sheep:

 29Take it of their half, and give it unto Eleazar the priest, for an heave offering of the LORD.

 30And of the children of Israel's half, thou shalt take one portion of fifty, of the persons, of the beeves, of the asses, and of the flocks, of all manner of beasts, and give them unto the Levites, which keep the charge of the tabernacle of the LORD.

 31And Moses and Eleazar the priest did as the LORD commanded Moses.

 32And the booty, being the rest of the prey which the men of war had caught, was six hundred thousand and seventy thousand and five thousand sheep,

 33And threescore and twelve thousand beeves,

 34And threescore and one thousand asses,

 35And thirty and two thousand persons in all, of women that had not known man by lying with him.

 36And the half, which was the portion of them that went out to war, was in number three hundred thousand and seven and thirty thousand and five hundred sheep:

 37And the LORD'S tribute of the sheep was six hundred and threescore and fifteen.

 38And the beeves were thirty and six thousand; of which the LORD'S tribute was threescore and twelve.

 39And the asses were thirty thousand and five hundred; of which the LORD'S tribute was threescore and one.

 40And the persons were sixteen thousand; of which the LORD'S tribute was thirty and two persons.

 41And Moses gave the tribute, which was the LORD'S heave offering, unto Eleazar the priest, as the LORD commanded Moses.

 42And of the children of Israel's half, which Moses divided from the men that warred,

 43(Now the half that pertained unto the congregation was three hundred thousand and thirty thousand and seven thousand and five hundred sheep,

 44And thirty and six thousand beeves,

 45And thirty thousand asses and five hundred,

 46And sixteen thousand persons;)

 47Even of the children of Israel's half, Moses took one portion of fifty, both of man and of beast, and gave them unto the Levites, which kept the charge of the tabernacle of the LORD; as the LORD commanded Moses.

 48And the officers which were over thousands of the host, the captains of thousands, and captains of hundreds, came near unto Moses:

 49And they said unto Moses, Thy servants have taken the sum of the men of war which are under our charge, and there lacketh not one man of us.

 50We have therefore brought an oblation for the LORD, what every man hath gotten, of jewels of gold, chains, and bracelets, rings, earrings, and tablets, to make an atonement for our souls before the LORD.

 51And Moses and Eleazar the priest took the gold of them, even all wrought jewels.

 52And all the gold of the offering that they offered up to the LORD, of the captains of thousands, and of the captains of hundreds, was sixteen thousand seven hundred and fifty shekels.

 53(For the men of war had taken spoil, every man for himself.)

 54And Moses and Eleazar the priest took the gold of the captains of thousands and of hundreds, and brought it into the tabernacle of the congregation, for a memorial for the children of Israel before the LORD.