The Slaughter of Midian and Division of the Booty
Though Balaam, on three occasions, blessed the sons of Israel, though Balaak called him to curse; (Numbers 22, 23, 24) Balaam advised the Midianite kings to send women into the camp. (Num 31:16) The sons of Israel layed with these women and worshiped Baal at Peor. (Num 25) This lead to a plague in Israel and many deaths.
The Lord commanded Moses to take vengeance for the sons of Israel. After this, Moses would himself die. The sons of Israel went to war against Midian to execute the Lord’s vengeance on Midian. They put to death the kings of Midian and Balaam with the sword. They took the booty, which included the women and children but Moses and Eleazar the priest advised that they put to death all the boys and women who had been intimate with a man but keep the young girls.
The booty was divided between the men of war and the congregation; also a tax was levied on the booty. One five-hundredth of the men of war portion went to the priests as an offering to the Lord and one-fiftieth of the congregations portion went to the Levites who kept charge of the tabernacle. The booty included sheep, cattle, donkeys and the young girls who had not known a man intimately.
The men of war and their personal articles, which included items that they had taken, were considered unclean. Therefore, they were separated from the congregation for seven days. The metal items were cleansed by fire but the men and their soft articles (clothing) were washed on the third and seventh days.
Can washing with water ever make a man clean who has taken the lives of other men by malice of forethought? Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. (Heb 9:22) The sixth commandment says: “You shall not murder.” However, this was understood by the sons of Israel to mean their neighbor and not their enemy. The sons of Israel were taught Moses to think of all the sons of Israel as their neighbors but the other nations as enemies.
Jesus said, (Matthew 5:43-45)
“You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”
Dear Christian brothers and sisters. We who belong to Christ are not bond to the law of Moses, but to the law of Christ. Moses said, (Deuteronomy 18:15)
“The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to him.”
Jesus is that prophet and he changed the law. It is not the law of Moses that the Christian is bond to keep but it is the law of Christ. In Matthew 5:21-48, Jesus gives five commandments, each is signified by his saying, “But I say to you!” The second commandment is in two parts (lust and divorce), so there are five in total.
No where in the Old testament will you find the words, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.” You will find, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR” in Leviticus 19:18, but will not find “and hate your enemy.” So, what did Jesus mean? The sons of Israel had been taught throughout their history to hate their enemies. Jesus changed this by giving a commandment for the Christian to love enemies and pray for those who persecute us. (Mt 5:44)