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The War Against Midian: A Study for How the Priestly Torah Was Compiled

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Ariel Kopilovitz

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The War Against Midian: A Study for How the Priestly Torah Was Compiled

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The War Against Midian: A Study for How the Priestly Torah Was Compiled

In revenge for the Midianite seduction (Num 25), Phinehas takes the sacred utensils from the Tabernacle and leads the war against Midian (Num 31). Many details in this story contradict other Priestly texts, giving us a glimpse into how the Priestly Torah was compiled.

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The War Against Midian: A Study for How the Priestly Torah Was Compiled

War against the Midianites (detail), Balthasar Bernards, ca. 1720-1728. Rijksmuseum

The War Story and the Priestly Legislation

Numbers 31 describes Israel’s war against the Midianites in retaliation for the seduction of Israelites by Midianite women, who lead them into idolatry (Num 25). The chapter begins with God commanding Moses to have the Israelites avenge themselves against the Midianites (vv. 1–2). Moses delivers the command (vv. 3–5), and the people do as they are instructed (v. 5).

Moses then sends them out to war, with Phinehas serving as priest:

במדבר לא:ו וַיִּשְׁלַח אֹתָם מֹשֶׁה אֶלֶף לַמַּטֶּה לַצָּבָא אֹתָם וְאֶת פִּינְחָס בֶּן אֶלְעָזָר הַכֹּהֵן לַצָּבָא וּכְלֵי הַקֹּדֶשׁ וַחֲצֹצְרוֹת הַתְּרוּעָה בְּיָדוֹ.
Num 31:6 Moses dispatched them on the campaign, a thousand from each tribe, with Phinehas son of Elazar serving as a priest on the campaign, equipped with the sacred utensils and the trumpets for sounding the blasts.

It is not surprising that Phinehas, who had stopped the plague by killing Zimri and Cozbi with a spear (Num 25:7–8), plays a dominant role.

The Sacred Utensils

The departure of the כְלֵי הַקֹּדֶשׁ, “sacred utensils” with the warriors was meant to guarantee the divine presence within the camp, and as a result of it, the victory. In other words, by bringing the utensils, the Deity is brought into the battlefield as well.[1] But to which specific utensils does the verse refer? Different scholars, classical and modern, have offered various suggestions.

Ark—Some have argued that the term refers to the Ark,[2] which according to other texts such as Numbers 10:35–36 and 1 Sam 4:4–5 were brought out during battle.[3] The plural form, however, כְלֵי הַקֹּדֶשׁ, “sacred utensils,” cannot refer to the Ark alone.

Ephod and Urim veTumim—Others have suggested that these utensils refer to the Ephod and Urim veTumim, divinatory items that were carried by the high priest.[4] These objects, however, are not listed anywhere as part of the sacred utensils, but are listed instead among the בגדי הקדש, “sacred garments” (Exod 28:4, 30). Moreover, the Ephod and Urim veTumim are exclusively part of the High-Priest’s garments, and he alone could carry them. Phinehas is not described as the high priest here; Elazar, his father, is.

Trumpets—Other scholars have suggested that these utensils refer to the trumpets, reading the verse as a hendiadys, two words that describe one thing, in this case “sacred utensils, i.e., the trumpets.”[5] This too is unlikely because trumpets are never referred to as sacred utensils, and are not included in the list of cultic utensils that were anointed, and thereby made sacred, in Exodus 40.

Minor Tabernacle Vessels—When describing the utensils for which the Levites from the Kehat family were responsible, the text writes:

במדבר ג:לא וּמִשְׁמַרְתָּם הָאָרֹן וְהַשֻּׁלְחָן וְהַמְּנֹרָה וְהַמִּזְבְּחֹת וּכְלֵי הַקֹּדֶשׁ אֲשֶׁר יְשָׁרְתוּ בָּהֶם וְהַמָּסָךְ וְכֹל עֲבֹדָתוֹ.
Num 3:31 Their duties comprised: the ark, the table, the lampstand, the altars, and the sacred utensils that were used with them, and the screen—all the service connected with these.

In this text, “sacred utensils” refers to some minor objects used by the priests in the Tabernacle in their handling of the lampstand and altars. It seems unlikely, however, that these objects, which have no use detached from the main utensil they serve, would be taken to battle.

Everything but the Altar

The key to understanding the reference to “sacred utensils” lies in a verse describing the Levites’ responsibilities:

במדבר יח:ג וְשָׁמְרוּ מִשְׁמַרְתְּךָ וּמִשְׁמֶרֶת כָּל הָאֹהֶל אַךְ אֶל כְּלֵי הַקֹּדֶשׁ וְאֶל הַמִּזְבֵּחַ לֹא יִקְרָבוּ וְלֹא יָמֻתוּ גַם הֵם גַּם אַתֶּם.
Num 18:3 They shall discharge their duties to you and to the Tent as a whole, but they must not have any contact with the sacred utensils or with the altar, lest both they and you die.

This verse uses the term more expansively, implying that the “sacred utensils” are any utensil that was in the inside the Tabernacle, in contrast to the copper/bronze altar that stood in the Tabernacle’s courtyard.

Our verse therefore suggests that Phinehas took all of the Tabernacle’s inside utensils with him to battle. These utensils, coming from the Tabernacle’s inner precincts, represented the divine presence and thus divine assistance in the battle.[6]

Removing Sacred Utensils from the Tabernacle

Phinehas removing the sacred utensils and taking them with him to war contradicts the basic rules of Numbers 3–4: the sacred utensils must remain inside the Tabernacle, hidden behind a curtain that prevented anyone from seeing them. In fact, the text describes the utensils being surrounded by priestly guards, וְהַזָּר הַקָּרֵב יוּמָת, “and any outsider who encroached was to be put to death” (Num 3:38).

In times of journey, the Tabernacle curtains were folded, and the sanctity that was in its space withdrew into the Tabernacle utensils, and was sealed by the cloths that were spread over them.[7] It was necessary for the priests to cover each utensil so that the Levite who would carry it would not see it or come into direct physical contact with it, thereby dying.

במדבר ג:טו וְכִלָּה אַהֲרֹן וּבָנָיו לְכַסֹּת אֶת הַקֹּדֶשׁ וְאֶת כָּל כְּלֵי הַקֹּדֶשׁ בִּנְסֹעַ הַמַּחֲנֶה וְאַחֲרֵי כֵן יָבֹאוּ בְנֵי קְהָת לָשֵׂאת וְלֹא יִגְּעוּ אֶל הַקֹּדֶשׁ וָמֵתוּ אֵלֶּה מַשָּׂא בְנֵי קְהָת בְּאֹהֶל מוֹעֵד.
Num 3:15 When Aaron and his sons have finished covering the sacred objects and all the furnishings of the sacred objects at the breaking of camp, only then shall the Kohathites come and lift them, so that they do not come in contact with the sacred objects and die. These things in the Tent of Meeting shall be the porterage of the Kohathites.

According to this, sacred utensils could be removed from the Tabernacle only when it was dismantled in preparation for a journey, and even then, in conformance with strict rules meant to protect their holiness. Only when travelling, was the Priestly Source (P) willing to describe a Tabernacle separated from its utensils. As long as the Tabernacle stood on its pillars and sockets, however, P did not allow taking the “sacred utensils” out of it, as this would be leaving the Tabernacle abandoned and empty from all the characteristics of divine presence that were in it.

In light of this, the departure of the sacred utensils out of the standing Tabernacle described in Numbers 31 does not tally with the Priestly view in Numbers 3–4.[8] If Numbers 31 and Numbers 3–4 are both part of the Priestly strand, how can they have such contradictory conceptions about how and when sacred utensils can be removed from the Tabernacle?

The Commanders’ Contribution: Comparison with Exodus 30

Numbers 31 contradicts other Priestly texts as well. After the Israelites succeed in destroying the Midianites, plundering all their goods, and dividing the booty among themselves, the story ends with a description of the commanders’ contribution.

This passage is similar to Exodus 30:11–16, which also deals with a census followed by a payment.

Terminology—Both use the terms נשא ראש, “made a check,” or “take a count,” and פ.ק.ד, to number:

  • Numbers 31
מח וַיִּקְרְבוּ אֶל מֹשֶׁה הַפְּקֻדִים אֲשֶׁר לְאַלְפֵי הַצָּבָא שָׂרֵי הָאֲלָפִים וְשָׂרֵי הַמֵּאוֹת. מט וַיֹּאמְרוּ אֶל מֹשֶׁה עֲבָדֶיךָ נָשְׂאוּ אֶת רֹאשׁ אַנְשֵׁי הַמִּלְחָמָה אֲשֶׁר בְּיָדֵנוּ וְלֹא נִפְקַד מִמֶּנּוּ אִישׁ.
48 The commanders of the troop divisions, the officers of thousands and the officers of hundreds, approached Moses. 49 They said to Moses, “Your servants have taken a count of the warriors in our charge, and not one of us is missing.”
  • Exodus 30
יא וַיְדַבֵּר יְ־הוָה אֶל מֹשֶׁה לֵּאמֹר. יב כִּי תִשָּׂא אֶת רֹאשׁ בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל לִפְקֻדֵיהֶם.
11 YHWH spoke to Moses, saying: 12 When you take a count of the Israelite people according to their enrollment,

Contributions—Both have people bring a precious metal as a contribution or offering:

  • Numbers 31
נ וַנַּקְרֵב אֶת קָרְבַּן יְ־הוָה אִישׁ אֲשֶׁר מָצָא כְלִי זָהָב אֶצְעָדָה וְצָמִיד טַבַּעַת עָגִיל וְכוּמָז
50 So we have brought as an offering to YHWH such articles of gold as each of us came upon: armlets, bracelets, signet rings, earrings, and pendants,
  • Exodus 30
יג זֶה יִתְּנוּ כָּל הָעֹבֵר עַל הַפְּקֻדִים מַחֲצִית הַשֶּׁקֶל בְּשֶׁקֶל הַקֹּדֶשׁ עֶשְׂרִים גֵּרָה הַשֶּׁקֶל מַחֲצִית הַשֶּׁקֶל תְּרוּמָה לַי־הוָה.
13 This is what everyone who is entered in the records shall pay: a half-shekel by the sanctuary weight—twenty gerahs to the shekel—a half-shekel as a contribution to YHWH.

Expiation—The contribution serves as a כופר, “ransom,” for those who bring it:

  • Numbers 31
נ לְכַפֵּר עַל נַפְשֹׁתֵינוּ לִפְנֵי יְ־הוָה
50 that ransom may be made for our persons before YHWH.
  • Exodus 30
יב וְנָתְנוּ אִישׁ כֹּפֶר נַפְשׁוֹ לַיהוָה בִּפְקֹד אֹתָם וְלֹא יִהְיֶה בָהֶם נֶגֶף בִּפְקֹד אֹתָם... טו ...לָתֵת אֶת תְּרוּמַת יְ־הוָה לְכַפֵּר עַל נַפְשֹׁתֵיכֶם.
12 a ransom for himself on being enrolled, that no plague may come upon them through their being enrolled…. 15 … when giving YHWH’s offering as ransom for your persons.

Tent of Meeting—The contribution is brought to the Tent of Meeting:

  • Numbers 31
נד וַיִּקַּח מֹשֶׁה וְאֶלְעָזָר הַכֹּהֵן אֶת הַזָּהָב מֵאֵת שָׂרֵי הָאֲלָפִים וְהַמֵּאוֹת וַיָּבִאוּ אֹתוֹ אֶל אֹהֶל מוֹעֵד
54 So Moses and Eleazar the priest accepted the gold from the officers of thousands and the officers of hundreds and brought it to the Tent of Meeting,
  • Exodus 30
טז וְלָקַחְתָּ אֶת כֶּסֶף הַכִּפֻּרִים מֵאֵת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְנָתַתָּ אֹתוֹ עַל עֲבֹדַת אֹהֶל מוֹעֵד...
16 You shall take the expiation money from the Israelites and assign it to the service of the Tent of Meeting

Reminder—The contribution serves as a זכרון, “reminder,” for Israel before God:

  • Numbers 31
נד ...זִכָּרוֹן לִבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל לִפְנֵי יְ־הוָה.
54as a reminder in behalf of the Israelites before YHWH.
  • Exodus 30
טז ...וְהָיָה לִבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל לְזִכָּרוֹן לִפְנֵי יְ־הוָה לְכַפֵּר עַל נַפְשֹׁתֵיכֶם.
16 …it shall serve the Israelites as a reminder before YHWH, as expiation for your persons.

Contradictions Between the Passages

Despite these similarities, the two texts differ in significant details:

Who pays—In Exodus, the Israelites who were counted need to pay the “ransom” silver.

שמות ל:יד כֹּל הָעֹבֵר עַל הַפְּקֻדִים מִבֶּן עֶשְׂרִים שָׁנָה וָמָעְלָה יִתֵּן תְּרוּמַת יְ־הוָה.
Exod 30:14 Everyone who is entered in the records, from the age of twenty years up, shall give YHWH's contribution.

In Numbers, it is those who took the count who need to be ransomed; therefore the commanders, and not Israel, pay the ransom, and they also declare in the 1st person that the ransom’s purpose is “that ransom may be made for our persons.”

During or after—In Exodus, the ransom is given during the census, בִּפְקֹד אֹתָם, “on being numbered.” In Numbers, the ransom is paid only after the census and the actual battle are over. Only then, when it is clear that no one was missing, do the commanders approach and bring their contribution.[9]

Silver vs. gold—In Exodus, the ransom is paid by שקל, units of raw silver of fixed weight.[10] In Numbers, it is paid through wrought articles or jewels, made of gold.

No standardized weight—In Exodus, each person counted pays a certain unit of weight – half a Shekel, and no deviation is allowed.

שמות ל:טו הֶעָשִׁיר לֹא יַרְבֶּה וְהַדַּל לֹא יַמְעִיט מִמַּחֲצִית הַשָּׁקֶל לָתֵת אֶת תְּרוּמַת יְ־הוָה לְכַפֵּר עַל נַפְשֹׁתֵיכֶם.
Exod 30:15 The rich shall not pay more and the poor shall not pay less than half a shekel when giving YHWH’s offering as ransom for your persons.

In Numbers ,the amount of gold brought by the commanders exceeds by far the one ordered in Exodus and has no correlation to the number of warriors.[11] It seems that in Numbers the ransom amount was not a derivative of the number of warriors counted but reflected the amount of gold that was randomly seized by the commanders.

Unusual vocabulary—Numbers 31 uses some Priestly terms in an unusual manner:

    • The regular Priestly meaning of the term פְּקֻדִים as a passive participle is “those who were numbered.”[12] However, in v. 48 the פְּקֻדִים are the commanders who executed the census and not those who were numbered during it.
    • The commanders call their gold contribution קרבן, “sacrifice,” a term that always denotes holy gifts brought in the form of animals or plant derivatives, as opposed to inanimate holy gifts that are called in P תרומה, “contribution.”

Again, as we saw with the sacred utensils, the text of Numbers 31 overlaps with other Priestly texts and, at the same time, differs from them in a number of fundamental points.[13] How are we to explain the relationship between this text and other Priestly texts?

The War Story and the Creation of the Priestly Writings

Many interpreters of Numbers 31 have argued that it is part of a secondary and late stratum of P,[14] and some have even called it a late “midrash” and defined it as an addition to the nearly-canonical Pentateuch.[15] This is problematic, however, since, if it were building upon the older P texts, it would have taken its premises into account, and yet, the chapter entirely ignores P’s ostensibly preexisting conceptions about transporting sacred utensils and paying ransom after a census.

A better model is to think of P (or its core, often called Pg) not as the work of a single author, but as a compilation that “came into being as an assemblage of scrolls.”[16] In other words, P began as many small priestly scrolls and oral traditions that were eventually compiled into one sequence.

P’s compilers included in their composition scrolls from different times and vantage-points, scrolls which were deemed important in their immediate context. These scrolls also broadly agreed on many matters and so were broadly “priestly.” The compilers thus put the scrolls together even if they created contradictions and incompatibilities in the general sequence of the large composition.[17] In this case, the story in Numbers 31 was originally part of a different Priestly scroll than Numbers 3–4 (carrying the sacred utensils) and Exodus 30 (the census).[18]

What were the original literary boundaries of the scroll that included Numbers 31?

The Midianite Seduction and War

Numbers 31 is connected to the Priestly story about the apostasy at Baal-Peor in Numbers 25,[19] which offers the only justification for waging war against the Midianites. Chapter 25 ends with:

במדבר כה:טז וַיְדַבֵּר יְ־הוָה אֶל מֹשֶׁה לֵּאמֹר. כה:יז צָרוֹר אֶת הַמִּדְיָנִים וְהִכִּיתֶם אוֹתָם. כה:יח כִּי צֹרְרִים הֵם לָכֶם בְּנִכְלֵיהֶם אֲשֶׁר נִכְּלוּ לָכֶם עַל דְּבַר פְּעוֹר וְעַל דְּבַר כָּזְבִּי בַת נְשִׂיא מִדְיָן אֲחֹתָם הַמֻּכָּה בְיוֹם הַמַּגֵּפָה עַל דְּבַר פְּעוֹר.
Num 25:16 YHWH spoke to Moses, saying, 25:17 “Assail the Midianites and defeat them—25:18 for they assailed you by the trickery they practiced against you—because of the affair of Peor and because of the affair of their kinswoman Cozbi, daughter of the Midianite chieftain, who was killed at the time of the plague on account of Peor.”

The Torah then digresses for five chapters[20] and the command to kill the Midianites is repeated in the opening of chapter 31:

במדבר לא:א וַיְדַבֵּר יְ־הוָה אֶל מֹשֶׁה לֵּאמֹר. לא:ב נְקֹם נִקְמַת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל מֵאֵת הַמִּדְיָנִים אַחַר תֵּאָסֵף אֶל עַמֶּיךָ.
Num 31:1 YHWH spoke to Moses, saying, 31:2 “Avenge the Israelite people on the Midianites; then you shall be gathered to your kin.”

The sequence of events appears to have been broken; originally, the war story followed the apostasy story directly.[21] Two further arguments support this conclusion:

Where Is Joshua?—In Numbers 31, the Israelite army is led by anonymous commanders of thousands and hundreds, and not by one chief commander. This fact is striking, since Numbers 27:15–23 reports the investiture of Joshua, whose task will be to lead Israel in battle. If indeed Numbers 31 was intended to follow Numbers 27, we would expect Joshua to lead the war against Midian. Joshua’s absence indicates that the author of the war story intended it to precede Joshua’s investiture.[22]

Moses’ Death—Moses’ approaching death is mentioned in both Numbers 27:13 and 31:2. In Numbers 31, Moses’ death is close but not immediate – “afterward you shall be gathered to your kin” (31:2). However, in Numbers 27, Moses’ death is anticipated as immediate:

במדבר כז:יב עֲלֵה אֶל הַר הָעֲבָרִים הַזֶּה וּרְאֵה אֶת הָאָרֶץ... כז:יג וְרָאִיתָה אֹתָהּ וְנֶאֱסַפְתָּ אֶל עַמֶּיךָ...
Num 27:12 “Ascend these heights of Abarim and view the land… 27:13 When you have seen it, you too shall be gathered to your kin…”

in terms of a writing program or planning (where the author believed his writings would fit in the general composition), it is more reasonable that the Priestly author who wished to relate to Moses’ approaching death (appearing now in chapter 31) intended it to precede the immediate order to view the land and die (appearing now in Numbers 27).

The Original Phinehas Scroll

The original Priestly scroll that described the apostasy at Baal-Peor also included the war caused by it. This scroll presents a complete story where each of the main characters “gets what he deserves”: the sinners died in the plague (Numbers 25:9), Phinehas received a covenant of peace (25:10–13) and a role in Israel’s revenge (31:6), and the seducing Midianites were killed in war (31:7, 17).

This scroll contained elements that contradict other strata in the Priestly writings. Despite these contradictions, this scroll probably had major importance to the Priestly compilers, since it explained the inner hierarchy within the Priestly circles. It served as an etiology explaining why Phinehas and his descendants received the High-Priesthood;[23] perhaps it even deserves the title “the Phinehas scroll.” (For a reconstruction, see appendix.)

The Compilation of the Priestly Scrolls

Only at a later stage, when the scroll depicting the apostasy at Baal-Peor and the following war was joined to other priestly scrolls and inserted into P, the part relating to the war was separated from its immediate context and positioned in its current place. This separation modified its main theme.

Originally, it was a narrow story relating to a certain case of apostacy and vengeance, but it was later recast as the first stage of conquest according to P. Note that, in its current context, the war story precedes the report of Gad and Reuben’s settlement in the Transjordan.

This new context, within a unit that deals with the necessary preparations before entering Canaan,[24] also allowed it to be presented as a guiding story that establishes norms (e.g., purification rites and orders regarding the distribution of spoils of war).[25] This first war deserves to be a model and prototype for all wars to come, and the basis for the Priestly legislation of war.[26]

Appendix

The Priestly War Scroll Partially Reconstructed

Below is a reconstruction of the middle of the scroll, showing where the parts once connected:

...במדבר כה:ו וְהִנֵּה אִישׁ מִבְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל בָּא וַיַּקְרֵב אֶל אֶחָיו אֶת הַמִּדְיָנִית לְעֵינֵי מֹשֶׁה וּלְעֵינֵי כָּל עֲדַת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְהֵמָּה בֹכִים פֶּתַח אֹהֶל מוֹעֵד. כה:ז וַיַּרְא פִּינְחָס בֶּן אֶלְעָזָר בֶּן אַהֲרֹן הַכֹּהֵן וַיָּקָם מִתּוֹךְ הָעֵדָה וַיִּקַּח רֹמַח בְּיָדוֹ. כה:ח וַיָּבֹא אַחַר אִישׁ יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶל הַקֻּבָּה וַיִּדְקֹר אֶת שְׁנֵיהֶם אֵת אִישׁ יִשְׂרָאֵל וְאֶת הָאִשָּׁה אֶל קֳבָתָהּ וַתֵּעָצַר הַמַּגֵּפָה מֵעַל בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל. כה:ט וַיִּהְיוּ הַמֵּתִים בַּמַּגֵּפָה אַרְבָּעָה וְעֶשְׂרִים אָלֶף.
Num 25:6 Just then one of the Israelites came and brought a Midianite woman over to his companions, in the sight of Moses and of the whole Israelite community who were weeping at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting. 25:7 When Phinehas, son of Eleazar son of Aaron the priest, saw this, he left the assembly and, taking a spear in his hand, 25:8 he followed the Israelite into the chamber and stabbed both of them, the Israelite and the woman, through the belly. Then the plague against the Israelites was checked. 25:9 Those who died of the plague numbered twenty-four thousand.
כה:י וַיְדַבֵּר יְ־הוָה אֶל מֹשֶׁה לֵּאמֹר. כה:יא פִּינְחָס בֶּן אֶלְעָזָר בֶּן אַהֲרֹן הַכֹּהֵן הֵשִׁיב אֶת חֲמָתִי מֵעַל בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּקַנְאוֹ אֶת-קִנְאָתִי בְּתוֹכָם וְלֹא כִלִּיתִי אֶת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּקִנְאָתִי. כה:יב לָכֵן אֱמֹר הִנְנִי נֹתֵן לוֹ אֶת בְּרִיתִי שָׁלוֹם. כה:יג וְהָיְתָה לּוֹ וּלְזַרְעוֹ אַחֲרָיו בְּרִית כְּהֻנַּת עוֹלָם תַּחַת אֲשֶׁר קִנֵּא לֵאלֹהָיו וַיְכַפֵּר עַל בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל.
25:10 YHWH spoke to Moses, saying, 25:11 “Phinehas, son of Eleazar son of Aaron the priest, has turned back My wrath from the Israelites by displaying among them his passion for Me, so that I did not wipe out the Israelite people in My passion. 25:12 Say, therefore, ‘I grant him My pact of friendship. 25:13 It shall be for him and his descendants after him a pact of priesthood for all time, because he took impassioned action for his God, thus making expiation for the Israelites.’”
כה:יד וְשֵׁם אִישׁ יִשְׂרָאֵל הַמֻּכֶּה אֲשֶׁר הֻכָּה אֶת הַמִּדְיָנִית זִמְרִי בֶּן סָלוּא נְשִׂיא בֵית אָב לַשִּׁמְעֹנִי. כה:טו וְשֵׁם הָאִשָּׁה הַמֻּכָּה הַמִּדְיָנִית כָּזְבִּי בַת צוּר רֹאשׁ אֻמּוֹת בֵּית אָב בְּמִדְיָן הוּא. //
25:14 The name of the Israelite who was killed, the one who was killed with the Midianite woman, was Zimri son of Salu, chieftain of a Simeonite ancestral house. 25:15 The name of the Midianite woman who was killed was Cozbi daughter of Zur; he was the tribal head of an ancestral house in Midian. //[27]
כו:א וַיְהִי אַחֲרֵי הַמַּגֵּפָה // לא:א וַיְדַבֵּר יְ־הוָה אֶל מֹשֶׁה לֵּאמֹר. לא:ב נְקֹם נִקְמַת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל מֵאֵת הַמִּדְיָנִים אַחַר תֵּאָסֵף אֶל עַמֶּיךָ....
26:1 When the plague was over, // 31:1 YHWH spoke to Moses, saying, 31:2 “Avenge the Israelite people on the Midianites; then you shall be gathered to your kin.”

Published

July 16, 2020

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Last Updated

September 23, 2020

Footnotes

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Dr. Ariel Kopilovitz is a Fulbright fellow in the University of Chicago Divinity School, and next year, will be a Kreitman fellow in Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. He holds a Ph.D. from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and has published articles in in Tarbiz and Shnaton. His book on Ezekiel’s restoration program is forthcoming (Gorgias Press).