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The Sins of the Midianites – A Bible Story

I’m sure we’ve all heard the Hallmark Bible stories, the Sunday School Bookmarkers, such Adam and Eve, Noah and the Ark, Soddom and Gommorrah, the Exodus from Israel, David and Goliath… The list goes on and we can all agree that those stories have somewhat of an equal measure of Gods wrath, or Gods judgement calls. As a young yet inquisitive Christian I was always told that mankind cannot understand Gods justice or Gods wrath we cannot compute it morally it doesnt connect with us. We will want to detest it etc. I took that as what it was and continued studying my Bible. However over time I discovered a SERIES of stories that God was directly involved in that – to me – were simply inexplicable even by Godly standards. This is about the most appalling thing I have ever found in the Holy Bible. It is what made me unsubscribe from man-led religion and become a Deist.

The story starts like most others in the book of Numbers: With the Israelites. The book of Numbers – just to set the scene – is known mostly for the journey through the desert. It begins at Mt. Sinai where they received the Ten Commandments (don’t worship other gods, don’t murder, don’t commit adultery, those things). The Israelites have just begun their long journey to “The Promised Land”.

So throughout this journey the Israelites encounter groups of people. One group in particular we will focus on. The Midianites. In Numbers 25 we see the story begin. The Midianites offer them shelter in the City of Shit`-tim and stay there for what must have been more than a week. Just judging from what all goes down.

Now the people are good hosts. They give the Israelites food, water, invited them to partake in their customs and rituals, etc. By Numbers 31 however the Lord tells Moses this:


So naturally Moses obeys the Lord as we see him do throughout the Bible. He goes to the people of Israel and gathers a thousand men from each tribe total 12,000 men and prepares them for battle against the Midianites. The soldiers go to Midian and Kill all the Kings and every other man. They capture the Women, the children, the livestock and burned the towns. Upon returning Moses says:

“Have ye saved all the women alive”

Naturally the soldiers had done this. But Moses had expected them not to and had become angry discovering that they had he goes on:

“BEHOLD, THEY caused the children of Israel through the consel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the Lord in the matter of Peor, and there was a plaugue among the congregation of the Lord.”

So he says “Well look, those women made us sin and they got us sick.” You know – typical mantality. He continues – and what he said next is why I follow GOD and not man:

“Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, kill every woman that hath been intimate with a man.

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

So as a young inquisitive Christian I would ask people “Why did they kill the women – why did they kill the women etc.” And as an Adult I would inquire “why did they kill the women why did they kill the women?” I would always receive the same delayed answer “They
were idolators they were immoral etc”

Recently I went back to Numbers 25 where the story began and found the reasons behind all of this.

1While Israel was staying in Shittim, the men began to indulge in sexual immorality with Moabite women, 2 who invited them to the sacrifices to their gods. The people ate the sacrificial meal and bowed down before these gods. 3 So Israel yoked themselves to the Baal of Peor. And the Lord’s anger burned against them.

4 The Lord said to Moses, “Take all the leaders of these people, kill them and expose them in broad daylight before the Lord, so that the Lord’s fierce anger may turn away from Israel.”

5 So Moses said to Israel’s judges, “Each of you must put to death those of your people who have yoked themselves to the Baal of Peor.”

6 Then an Israelite man brought into the camp a Midianite woman right before the eyes of Moses and the whole assembly of Israel while they were weeping at the entrance to the tent of meeting. 7 When Phinehas son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, the priest, saw this, he left the assembly, took a spear in his hand 8 and followed the Israelite into the tent. He drove the spear into both of them, right through the Israelite man and into the woman’s stomach. Then the plague against the Israelites was stopped; 9 but those who died in the plague numbered 24,000.”

So what my younger eyes didnt see my older eyes see. The Israelites lived among the Midianite people, ate with them, worshipped their Gods and had sexual relations with their women. As a result of those sexual relations they contracted sexually transmitted diseases or infections which killed 24,000 of them. So we arent talking about a few people having sex here. 24,000 of them contracted infections of diseases. We are talking about a lot of sex.

Now there’s two majoy problems with this. The first is when Moses says:

“BEHOLD, THEY caused the children of Israel through the consel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the Lord in the matter of Peor, and there was a plaugue among the congregation of the Lord.”

So God, Moses and the Israelites refuse to bear any lf the responsibility for this sex. The Israelites had sex with these women, contracted a disease and now blame the women. No. They ate with them, worshipped false gods with them, then had sex with them. The women are not at fault for that. But none the less God and Moses command their death for it.

That leads into our second major issue where Moses Commands:

“Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, kill every woman that hath been intimate with a man.

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

So Moses tell’s the soldiers to kill everyone but the women children. He tells the soldiers – who just killed thousands of women and their young sons – to keep those little girls for themselves. Now, theists will defend this verse over and over saying that it does not condone rape of young girls. I’ve had the discussions here’s an example:

“And as for the captive Midianite virgins, God apparently permitted the Israelites to take them as wives or servants, but both wives and servants had particular rights under Mosaic law, including prohibitions against mistreatment (Ex 21:26-27, Dt 23:15-16, Dt 21:10-14). Numbers 31 does not describe God establishing any moral precepts regarding marriage, sex, or servitude. Strictly speaking though, as one can read, Numbers does not say that the Midianite virgins were forced into marriage.”

Now first of all Deuteronomy an Numbers were written at the same time… So, there’s that. Second of all the verse in Exodus talks about how to treat a slave and actually says nothing about rape.

But my main point is this. Say there was a clear law an 11th Commandment that said “Thou Shalt not Rape”. These men worshipped idols, had sex with and murdered the mothers of these young girls. How is it a valid premise that if there’s Biblical law against it these same men wont also rape these young girls?

And then so on with the innocent view they argue “they weren’t forced into marriage” let me tell you something: if you go and kill someones whole family and keep them as a slave and then they marry you – ITS PROBABLY COERCED she’s probably not THE ONE. JUST SAYING – common sense prevails with this. Of course it doesn’t say any of that EXPLICITLY because MOSES is writing Numbers. So MOSES is writing it from his perspective.

So you wont read about this in Sunday School and it isn’t a story featured in your typical Toddlers Bible, you probably wont hear about it at Church or Mass this Sunday but at the end of the day it’s there. And people who are strong in faith – but not bold enough to say “you know what that’s a twisted story – and God seemed to just pass all the blame onto the Midianites” – will defend this over and over again.

They will go so far as to say that the Old Testament is over – that it is the “Old Law” and the Christ created a “New covenant” when he died on the cross. The fact is that is all Dogma, its farce and has very little Biblical ground to stand on. In fact Jesus Christ himself said:

Matthew 5:17
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”

This is why we see the 10 Commandments everywhere, this is why you tithe, this is why we hold onto many laws and traditions derived from the Old Testament. The idea thar it is Old Law no longer followed just doesn’t float. Especially since it was once followed completely. This “Old Law” is just as radical as Sharia – or any other legal system from 5,000 years ago.

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