Kill them all! Part 4, the Midianites

In Part 4 we discuss the Midianites (part 1, part 2, and part 3Vengeance on Midianites). God commanded Moses to take vengeance on them for the Israelites.This particular group of Midianites led the Israelites into immorality. They don’t represent all the Midianites because Moses’ father-in-law was a Midianite, and it would be inconceivable for Moses to act against his father-in-law. 3

When the Israelites went up to capture Canaan (Israel), Balak, king of the Moabites, plotted with the Midianites to get rid of the Israelites. 4  They failed, but the prophet, Balaam, advised the Midianites to entice the Israelites to immorality. God was so angry that a plague killed 24,000 Israelites. 5  That is when God said, ‘Treat the Midianites as enemies and kill them, because they treated you as enemies when they deceived you in the affair of Peor….’  6

In Numbers 31:1 God tells Moses, ‘Take vengeance on the Midianites for the Israelites….’

The following verses give the record:

  • ‘They [Israelites] fought against Midian, as the Lord commanded Moses, and killed every man.’ 7
  • Moses was angry because they did not kill the women, and gave the command, ‘Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man.’  8

The enemies of God immediately assume that all the Midianites were killed, but were they?  In Judges 6 (40-50 years later) we meet them again: ‘Because the power of the Midianites were so oppressive, the Israelites prepared shelters for themselves in mountain clefts, caves and strongholds. Whenever the Israelites planted their crops, the Midianites, Amalekites and other easten peoples invaded the country…. Midian so impoverished the Israelites that they cried out to the Lord for help.’ 9 

So after the command to take vengeance on the Midianites, they were oppressing the Israelites: ‘The Midianites, the Amalekites and all the other eastern people had settled in the valley, thick as locusts. Their camels could no more be counted than the sand of the seashore.’  10  It is only after the victory of Gideon that they disappeared from history. They may have intermarried with the Ishmaelites, since there is no record of the annihilation of women and children.

If the Midianites were totally destroyed by the Israelites in Moses’ time, why were there so many of them in the time of Gideon? Later we will discuss why Moses commanded that the boys and married women had to be killed.

We have discussed the three main events which supposedly prove that God is a Cosmic Tyrant who has no love for people.  In the following blogs we will discuss some aspects of God’s vengeance on those enemies of Israel. The main issue is whether there is more than meets the eye? Did the Holy Spirit communicate more than we understand from a superficial reading of Scripture?


  1. Numbers 31:1.
  2. Numbers 25:9.
  3. Numbers 10:29.
  4. Numbers 22:4,7
  5. Numbers 25:6-18
  6. Numbers 25:16-18
  7. Numbers 31:7
  8. Numbers 31:17
  9. Judges 6:2-3,6
  10. Judges 7:12
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