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Numbers - Chapter 31

Numbers Chapters

1 Yahweh spoke to Moses and said,

2 'Exact the full vengeance for the Israelites on the Midianites. Afterwards you will be gathered to your people.'

3 Moses said to the people, 'Some of you are to take up arms for Yahweh's campaign against Midian, to carry out the vengeance of Yahweh on Midian.

4 You will put a thousand men in the field from each of the tribes of Israel.'

5 In this way Israel's thousands provided twelve thousand men equipped for war, one thousand from each tribe:

6 Moses put them in the field, one thousand from each tribe, with Phinehas, son of the priest Eleazar, to go with them carrying the sacred objects and the trumpets for the battle cry.

7 They made war on Midian, as Yahweh had ordered Moses, and put every male to death.

8 What is more, they killed the kings of Midian, Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur and Reba, the five Midianite kings; they also put Balaam son of Beor to the sword.

9 The Israelites took the Midianite women and their little ones captive and carried off all their cattle, all their flocks and all their goods as booty.

10 They set fire to the towns where they lived and to all their encampments.

11 Then, taking all their booty, everything they had captured, human and animal,

12 they brought the captives, spoil and booty to Moses, the priest Eleazar and the whole community of Israelites at the camp on the Plains of Moab, near the Jordan by Jericho.

13 Moses, the priest Eleazar and all the leaders of the community went out of the camp to meet them.

14 Moses was enraged with the officers of the army, the commanders of the thousands and commanders of the hundreds, who had come back from this military expedition.

15 He said, 'Why have you spared the life of all the women?

16 They were the very ones who, on Balaam's advice, caused the Israelites to be unfaithful to Yahweh in the affair at Peor: hence the plague which struck Yahweh's community.

17 So kill all the male children and kill all the women who have ever slept with a man;

18 but spare the lives of the young girls who have never slept with a man, and keep them for yourselves.

19 As for you, bivouac outside the camp for seven days, everyone who has killed anyone or touched a corpse. Purify yourselves and your prisoners on the third and seventh days,

20 and purify all clothing, everything made of skin, everything woven of goat's hair and everything made of wood.'

21 The priest Eleazar said to the soldiers who had come back from the campaign, 'This is an article of the Law which Yahweh prescribed to Moses:

22 although gold, silver, bronze, iron, tin and lead,

23 everything that can withstand fire can be cleaned by being passed through fire, it must still be purified with water for purification. Whatever cannot resist fire you must pass through water.

24 'Wash your clothes on the seventh day and you will then be clean. You may then re-enter the camp.'

25 Yahweh spoke to Moses and said:

26 'With the priest Eleazar and the heads of families in the community, take a count of the spoils and captives, human and animal.

27 You will then share out the spoil, half and half, between those who fought the campaign and the rest of the community.

28 From the share of the combatants who took part in the campaign, you will set aside one out of every five hundred persons, oxen, donkeys and sheep as Yahweh's portion.

29 You will take this from the half share coming to them and give it to the priest Eleazar as the portion set aside for Yahweh.

30 From the half coming to the Israelites, you will take one out of every fifty persons, oxen, donkeys, sheep, and all other animals, and give them to the Levites who are responsible for Yahweh's Dwelling.'

31 Moses and the priest Eleazar did as Yahweh had ordered Moses.

32 The spoils, the remainder of the booty captured by the soldiers, came to six hundred and seventy-five thousand sheep and goats,

33 seventy-two thousand head of cattle,

34 sixty-one thousand donkeys,

35 and in persons, women who had never slept with a man, thirty-two thousand in all.

36 Half was assigned to those who had taken part in the war, namely three hundred and thirty-seven thousand five hundred sheep and goats,

37 of which Yahweh's portion was six hundred and seventy-five,

38 thirty-six thousand head of cattle, of which Yahweh's portion was seventy-two,

39 thirty thousand five hundred donkeys, of which Yahweh's portion was sixty-one,

40 and sixteen thousand persons, of which Yahweh's portion was thirty-two.

41 Moses gave the priest Eleazar the portion set aside for Yahweh, as Yahweh had ordered Moses.

42 As for the half coming to the Israelites which Moses had separated from that of the combatants,

43 this half, the community's share, came to three hundred and thirty-seven thousand five hundred sheep and goats,

44 thirty-six thousand head of cattle,

45 thirty thousand five hundred donkeys

46 and sixteen thousand persons.

47 From this half, the Israelites' share, Moses took one out of every fifty, human and animal, and gave them to the Levites who were responsible for Yahweh's Dwelling, as Yahweh had ordered Moses.

48 The officers of the thousands who had fought the campaign, the commanders of the thousands and commanders of the hundreds, came to Moses

49 and said, 'Your servants have numbered the soldiers under their command: none of our men is missing.

50 So, as an offering for Yahweh, we have brought what each of us has found in the way of gold ornaments, armlets and bracelets, rings, earrings and breastplates, to make expiation for ourselves before Yahweh.'

51 Moses and the priest Eleazar accepted this gold from them, all this jewellery.

52 This portion of gold given to Yahweh by the commanders of the thousands and commanders of the hundreds amounted to sixteen thousand seven hundred and fifty shekels.

53 Each of the soldiers took his own booty.

54 But Moses and the priest Eleazar, having accepted the gold from the commanders of the thousands and commanders of the hundreds, brought it into the Tent of Meeting, to be a reminder of the Israelites before Yahweh.

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New Jerusalem Bible

New Jerusalem Bible

The New Jerusalem Bible (NJB) is a Catholic translation of the Bible published in 1985. The New Jerusalem Bible (NJB) has become the most widely used Roman Catholic Bible outside of the United States. It has the imprimatur of Cardinal George Basil Hume.

Like its predecessor, the Jerusalem Bible, the New Jerusalem Bible (NJB) version is translated "directly from the Hebrew, Greek or Aramaic." The 1973 French translation, the Bible de Jerusalem, is followed only "where the text admits to more than one interpretation." Introductions and notes, with some modifications, are taken from the Bible de Jerusalem.

Source: The Very Reverend Dom (Joseph) Henry Wansbrough, OSB, MA (Oxon), STL (Fribourg), LSS (Rome), a monk of Ampleforth Abbey and a biblical scholar. He was General Editor of the New Jerusalem Bible. "New Jerusalem Bible, Regular Edition", pg. v.

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