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Adventures with Moses in the Wilderness –

Getting Close to Canaan

Numbers 30:2-16, Vows
Numbers 31:1-24, The Defeat of Midian
Numbers 31:25-54, Spoils of War
Numbers 32:1-19, Gad and Reuben want to stay east of the Jordan.
Numbers 32:20-42, Moses agrees, with conditions.

More Adventures with Moses in the Wilderness

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The Seven Nations of Palestine. Click to enlarge. See below for provenance.
Numbers 30:2-16, Vows (1/2/12)

A vow to God is in the nature of a contract.  Vows are optional, but don’t make them unless you intend to keep them. 

Children may not sign contracts, and in most places until fairly recent times, married women could not sign contracts that their husbands did not agree to.  In ancient Israel, young people and married women could make vows; however, if their fathers or husbands prevented them from carrying out the terms of the vow, God did not hold them responsible for failure to uphold their end of the contract.  Anyone else – men, widowed women, or divorced women – was required to keep any vows that they made.

Numbers 31:1-24, The Defeat of Midian (1/3/12)

We’re getting toward that portion of the scripture that causes great trouble of mind to thoughtful readers.  The orders God gave to the Israelites were to put all the inhabitants of Canaan to the sword.  No question about it, that’s harsh.  Why?

answering this question dozens of times in several ways over the course of a couple of decades, I’ve come to the following observations:
It isn’t a pretty picture.  The result of sin never is.

Numbers 31:25-54, Spoils of War (1/4/12)

After the defeat of Midian, the warfighters brought back a lot of stuff.  The stuff was divided into four unequal portions:  the 12,000 warfighters got half; the 600,000 people as a whole got half; the priests got 1/500 of the warfighters’ half; and the Levites got 1/50 of the people’s half.  The warfighters also brought back a considerable amount of gold for themselves, but they made a voluntary offering from it.

Numbers 32:1-19, Gad and Reuben want to stay east of the Jordan. (1/5/12)

Moses is getting old and cranky.  When the Reubenites and Gadites come to him and say that they want their tribal lands to be east of the Jordan River, his first thought is that they just want to stay out of the fight for the Promised Land.  They assure him that, on the contrary, if they can have this land, they will fight on the front lines until Canaan is won, and then they’ll come back home.

Numbers 32:20-42, Moses agrees, with conditions. (1/6/12)

The tribes of Reuben and Gad and half the tribe of Manasseh built (or reconditioned) some towns on the east side of the Jordan.  They left all non-combatants there, and the fighting men prepared to go with the other 9½ tribes across the Jordan and act as the shock troops. 

A few of the places mentioned are on our maps:
There may be other pertinent spots on the map, but I don’t see them off hand.

More Adventures with Moses in the Wilderness
Census and Organization
The Order of March
Failure to Enter Canaan
Laws and Consequences
Complaints in the Desert
Balaam and Barak
Almost Ready to Leave
Scheduled Sacrifices
Getting Close to Canaan
Home at Last!

Copyright 2012 by Regina L. Hunter. All rights reserved.

The map showing the seven nations of Palestine is from the Thomas family Bible, now in a private collection of a family member.

Opinions expressed on this page are solely those of the author, Regina Hunter, and may or may not be shared by the sponsors or the Bible-study participants.  Thanks to the Holy Spirit for any useful ideas presented here, and thanks to all the readers for their support and enthusiasm.  All errors are, of course, the sole responsibility of the author.

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