Notes for my writing

This blog is made up of notes on the gospel as found in the only true and living church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This includes notes that are either excerpts from or ideas for books I either have in draft or may yet write.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Midianites, divine destruction and divine protection

An unexpected story about good and evil.
I was just reading an old testament story about good and evil that runs so counter to so many of our cultural inclinations that it is worth mentioning.

When the Midianite women slept with many of the men of Israel in Numbers 25 the Lord sent a plague that killed 24,000 of the Israelites. The plague was stayed by Aaron's grandson Phinehas when an Israelite took one of the midianitish woman to his tent right in front of Moses and the people, and Phinehas took up a Javelin and went into the tent and put it through the two of them. The Lord made a covenant of peace with Phinehas and his posterity because of this deed.

In Numbers 31 the Lord later sent 12,000 of the Israelites against the Midianites to avenge the children of Israel with that same Phinehas at their head. (yes, the word is "avenge", see Numbers 31:2). They destroy it, leaving no one behind and taking 32,000 women captive along with the children. Moses is furious that they spared the women who had once seduced Israelite men, and commands them to slay everyone but the female children who they keep as servants. Miraculously, not a single one of the 12,000 Israelite's was slain during the war with the Midianites.

One of the interesting things about this story is that the Lord slays 24,000 of the Israelites himself when they were being seduced. But in the later story, the Lord doesn't allow a single one of the 12,000 Israelites to be slain. They are spared in the same miraculous way as the sons of Helaman. Sure, they weren't strippling warriors, but they likely opposed around 32,000 men given the number of captive women, and yet not one of them was killed.

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