And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Avenge the children of Israel of the Midianites: afterward shalt thou be gathered unto thy people. And Moses spake unto the people, saying, Arm some of yourselves unto the war, and let them go against the Midianites, and avenge the Lord of Midian…
…And they warred against the Midianites, as the Lord commanded Moses; and they slew all the males…And they slew the kings of Midian… And the children of Israel took all the women of Midian captives, and their little ones, and took the spoil of all their cattle, and all their flocks, and all their goods…
…And they brought the captives, and the prey, and the spoil, unto Moses, and Eleazar the priest, and unto the congregation of the children of Israel, unto the camp at the plains of Moab, which are by Jordan near Jericho…
…And Moses was wroth with the officers of the host, with the captains over thousands, and captains over hundreds, which came from the battle. And Moses said unto them, Have ye saved all the women alive? Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the Lord in the matter of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the Lord.
Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves. (Numbers 31:1-18)
Under the command of God and Moses, the Israelites waged war against the Midianites. They slaughtered the Midianites, eventually killing everyone except the virgin female children.
What should we make of this passage of Scripture? On one hand, this is just another example of God’s murderous genocidal rage. But the fact that the virgin female children are spared shows that God and Moses approve of Israelite men having sex with young girls.
Christian commentators, sensing that this passage of Scriptures seems to suggest that the Israelite men were permitted to have sex with these young virgin female children or were permitted to make them their concubines, go to great lengths to explain away the text says.
Speaking of Numbers 31:18, John Gill writes:
But all the women children,…. The females among the little ones: that have not known a man by lying with him; which might be pretty clear, and easily concluded, from their age: keep for yourselves; either to be handmaids to them, or to be married among them when grown up, and become proselytes, and initiated into their religion.
RA Torrey, in the Treasury of Scripture Knowledge states:
keep alive for yourselves: It has been groundlessly asserted, that Moses here authorized the Israelites to make concubines of the whole number of female children; and an insidious objection against his writings has been grounded upon this monstrous supposition. But the whole tenor of the law, and especially a statute recorded in Deu_21:10-14, proves most decisively to the contrary. They were merely permitted to possess them as female slaves, educating them in their families, and employing them as domestics; for the laws concerning fornication, concubinage, and marriage, were in full force, and prohibited an Israelite even from marrying a captive, without delays and previous formalities; and if he afterwards divorced her, he was to set here at liberty, “because he had humbled her.”
The above commentators would have us believe that the reason for keeping the young virgin female Midianites alive was for some other reason than to have sex with them.
However, it is clear from this story that God, Moses, and the Israelites were barbarians who slaughtered everyone who stood in their way. History shows us that other barbarous people saw young girls, young women, and women in general, as the spoils of war. Were the Israelites any different than other warring people? I doubt it.
While it certain that these young girls were used as slaves, it is ludicrous to think that the Israelite men did not have sex with them. Do Christians really expect us to believe that the violent Israelite men, who slaughtered men, women, and children, suddenly became kind, decent, moral Sunday School teachers when it came to the young virgin female Midianites?
One online commentator suggests that the Midianites were so evil that they had to be destroyed and that God was actually doing the young Midianite girls a favor by sparing them and integrating them into God’s chosen people. However, any cursory reading of the Old Testament clearly reveals that evil people=anyone who did not worship the Israelite God.
The God commanded genocide found in the Old Testament is an insurmountable problem for Christians when unbelievers bring it up. No matter the explanation, one truth remains…God is a vicious, murderous deity who commanded his followers to kill everyone who does not worship Him.
Christians will often point to the Koran and its commands to kill the infidel, yet they seem to conveniently ignore that their own God commands the same thing.
I suppose a Christian might argue that we are under the New Covenant now and that God acts differently than he did in the Old Testament. While this might help the Christian sleep better at night, it doesn’t square with the fact that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. The only answer for the Christian is to admit that God had anger management problems and that through counseling he is now a kinder, gentler God.
But…there is the last book of the Bible…the book of Revelation, and this book is a reminder that the Christian God has not changed at all. He remains, as he always has, a vicious, murderous deity who demands that everyone, under the penalty of death, worship Him.