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Bilangan 31:1-24

Konteks
The Midianite War

31:1 1 The Lord spoke to Moses: 31:2 “Exact vengeance 2  for the Israelites on the Midianites 3  – after that you will be gathered to your people.” 4 

31:3 So Moses spoke to the people: “Arm 5  men from among you for the war, to attack the Midianites and to execute 6  the Lord’s vengeance on Midian. 31:4 You must send to the battle a thousand men from every tribe throughout all the tribes of Israel.” 7  31:5 So a thousand from every tribe, twelve thousand armed for battle in all, were provided out of the thousands of Israel.

Campaign Against the Midianites

31:6 So Moses sent them to the war, one thousand from every tribe, with Phinehas son of Eleazar the priest, who was in charge 8  of the holy articles 9  and the signal trumpets. 31:7 They fought against the Midianites, as the Lord commanded Moses, and they killed every male. 10  31:8 They killed the kings of Midian in addition to those slain – Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur, and Reba – five Midianite kings. 11  They also killed Balaam son of Beor with the sword. 12 

31:9 The Israelites took the women of Midian captives along with their little ones, and took all their herds, all their flocks, and all their goods as plunder. 31:10 They burned 13  all their towns 14  where they lived and all their encampments. 31:11 They took all the plunder and all the spoils, both people and animals. 31:12 They brought the captives and the spoils and the plunder to Moses, to Eleazar the priest, and to the Israelite community, to the camp on the plains 15  of Moab, along the Jordan River 16  across from Jericho. 17  31:13 Moses, Eleazar the priest, and all the leaders of the community went out to meet them outside the camp.

The Death of the Midianite Women

31:14 But Moses was furious with the officers of the army, the commanders over thousands and commanders over hundreds, who had come from service in the war. 31:15 Moses said to them, “Have you allowed all the women to live? 18  31:16 Look, these people through the counsel of Balaam caused the Israelites to act treacherously against the Lord in the matter of Peor – which resulted in the plague among the community of the Lord! 31:17 Now therefore kill every boy, 19  and kill every woman who has had sexual intercourse with a man. 20  31:18 But all the young women 21  who have not had sexual intercourse with a man 22  will be yours. 23 

Purification After Battle

31:19 “Any of you who has killed anyone or touched any of the dead, remain outside the camp for seven days; purify yourselves and your captives on the third day, and on the seventh day. 31:20 You must purify each garment and everything that is made of skin, everything made of goat’s hair, and everything made of wood.” 24 

31:21 Then Eleazar the priest said to the men of war who had gone into the battle, “This is the ordinance of the law that the Lord commanded Moses: 31:22 ‘Only the gold, the silver, the bronze, the iron, the tin, and the lead, 31:23 everything that may stand the fire, you are to pass through the fire, 25  and it will be ceremonially clean, but it must still be purified with the water of purification. Anything that cannot withstand the fire you must pass through the water. 31:24 You must wash your clothes on the seventh day, and you will be ceremonially clean, and afterward you may enter the camp.’”

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[31:1]  1 sn This lengthy chapter records the mobilization of the troops (vv. 1-5), the war itself (vv. 6-13), the death of the captive women (vv. 14-18), the purification of the nations (vv. 19-24), and the distribution of the spoils (vv. 25-54). For more detail, see G. W. Coats, “Moses in Midian,” JBL 92 (1973): 3-10; and W. J. Dumbrell, “Midian – a Land or a League?” VT 25 (1975): 323-37.

[31:2]  2 tn The imperative is followed by its cognate accusative to stress this vengeance. The Midianites had attempted to destroy Israel with their corrupt pagan practices, and now will be judged. The accounts indicate that the effort by Midian was calculated and evil.

[31:2]  3 sn The war was commanded by the Lord and was to be divine vengeance on the Midianites. So it was holy war. No Israelites then could take spoils in this – it was not a time for plunder and aggrandizement. It was part of the judgment of God upon those who would destroy or pervert his plan and his people.

[31:2]  4 sn This would be the last major enterprise that Moses would have to undertake. He would soon die and “be gathered to his people” as Aaron was.

[31:3]  5 tn The Niphal imperative, literally “arm yourselves,” is the call to mobilize the nation for war. It is followed by the jussive, “and they will be,” which would then be subordinated to say “that they may be.” The versions changed the verb to a Hiphil, but that is unnecessary: “arm some of yourselves.”

[31:3]  6 tn Heb “give.”

[31:4]  7 sn Some commentators argue that given the size of the nation (which they reject) the small number for the army is a sign of the unrealistic character of the story. The number is a round number, but it is also a holy war, and God would give them the victory. They are beginning to learn here, and at Jericho, and later against these Midianites under Gideon, that God does not want or need a large army in order to obtain victory.

[31:6]  8 tn The Hebrew text uses the idiom that these “were in his hand,” meaning that he had the responsibility over them.

[31:6]  9 sn It is not clear what articles from the sanctuary were included. Tg. Ps.-J. adds (interpretively) “the Urim and Thummim.”

[31:7]  10 sn Many modern biblical scholars assume that this passage is fictitious. The text says that they killed every male, but Judges accounts for the Midianites. The texts can be harmonized rather simply – they killed every Midianite who was in the battle. Midianite tribes and cities dotted the whole region, but that does not mean Israel went and killed every single one of them. There apparently was a core of Midianites whom Balaam had influenced to pervert Israel.

[31:8]  11 sn Here again we see that there was no unified empire, but Midianite tribal groups.

[31:8]  12 sn And what was Balaam doing among the Midianites? The implication is strong. This pagan diviner had to submit to the revealed will of God in the oracles, but he nonetheless could be hired. He had been a part of the attempt to destroy Israel that failed; he then apparently became part of the plan, if not the adviser, to destroy them with sexual immorality and pagan ritual.

[31:10]  13 tn Heb “burned with fire.”

[31:10]  14 tn The ban applied to the encampments and forts of this group of Midianite tribes living in the region of Moab.

[31:12]  15 tn Or “steppes.”

[31:12]  16 tn The word “River” is not in the Hebrew text, but has been supplied in the translation for clarity.

[31:12]  17 tn Again this expression, “the Jordan of Jericho,” is used. It describes the intended location along the Jordan River, the Jordan next to or across from Jericho.

[31:12]  map For the location of Jericho see Map5 B2; Map6 E1; Map7 E1; Map8 E3; Map10 A2; Map11 A1.

[31:15]  18 tn The verb is the Piel perfect of the word חָיָה (khayah, “to live”). In the Piel stem it must here mean “preserve alive,” or “allow to live,” rather than make alive.

[31:17]  19 tn Heb “every male among the little ones.”

[31:17]  sn The command in holy war to kill women and children seems in modern times a terrible thing to do (and it was), and something they ought not to have done. But this criticism fails to understand the situation in the ancient world. The entire life of the ancient world was tribal warfare. God’s judgment is poured out on whole groups of people who act with moral abandonment and in sinful pursuits. See E. J. Young, My Servants, the Prophets, 24; and J. W. Wenham, The Enigma of Evil.

[31:17]  20 tn Heb “every woman who has known [a] man by lying with a man.”

[31:18]  21 tn Or “girls.” The Hebrew indicates they would be female children, making the selection easy.

[31:18]  22 tn Heb “who have not known [a] man by lying with a man.”

[31:18]  23 sn Many contemporary scholars see this story as fictitious, composed by the Jews during the captivity. According to this interpretation, the spoils of war here indicate the wealth of the Jews in captivity, which was to be given to the Levites and priests for the restoration of the sanctuary in Jerusalem. The conclusion drawn from this interpretation is that returning Jews had the same problem as the earlier ones: to gain a foothold in the land. Against this interpretation of the account is a lack of hard evidence, a lack which makes this interpretation appear contrived and subjective. If this was the intent of a later writer, he surely could have stated this more clearly than by making up such a story.

[31:20]  24 sn These verses are a reminder that taking a life, even if justified through holy war, still separates one from the holiness of God. It is part of the violation of the fallen world, and only through the ritual of purification can one be once again made fit for the presence of the Lord.

[31:23]  25 sn Purification by fire is unique to this event. Making these metallic objects “pass through the fire” was not only a way of purifying (burning off impurities), but it seems to be a dedicatory rite as well to the Lord and his people. The aspect of passing through the fire is one used by these pagans for child sacrifice.



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