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?
After answering this question
dozens of times in several ways over the course of a couple of decades, I’ve come to the following observations:
1. My relationship with God is the same, dead or alive. So was that of the Canaanites.
2. The Canaanite cult practices were the most abominable I’ve ever read about, and even though they knew about the God of Abraham, they kept up with their despicable practices for centuries after the time of Abraham. God often used other nations to punish Israel; in this instance, God used Israel to punish other nations.
3. God predicted that if the Israelites associated with the Canaanites in any way whatsoever, they would be drawn into apostasy. As a matter of fact, the Israelites did not destroy all the inhabitants of Canaan, and the ensuing apostasy of the Israelites is the theme of the next thousand years of history.
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.
Spoils of War and Their Distribution
*Excludes what the fighting-men took for themselves.
One-half for fighting men:|
Of which, the Lord’s part was:
One-half for the people:||
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.
- Dibon, Nebo, and Heshbon are in 4E of this map of the Holy Land The index for the map (created by our industrious website volunteer RPB) is a great tool while we’re reading all those unpronounceable place names in the Old Testament.
- Aroer, Dibon, and Heshbon are east of the Dead Sea in this map of the Lands of the Wandering. This one has the advantage of showing the route as well.
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
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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