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P146 Parash 42 Mattot (Tribes) B’midbar 30:2-36:13

Focus: chapter 31 Sin outside the camp

 

Synopsis Moshe/Moses conveys the laws governing the annulment of vows to the heads of the tribes of Israel. War is waged against Midyan/Midian for their role in plotting the moral destruction of Israel, and the Torah gives a detailed account of the war spoils and how they were allocated amongst the people, the warriors, the Levites and the High Priest.

The tribes of Reuben and Gad (later joined by half of the tribe of Menasseh) ask for the lands east of the Yarden/Jordan as their portion in the Promised Land, these being prime pastureland for their cattle. Moshe is initially angered by the request, but subsequently agrees on the condition that they first join, and lead, in Israel's conquest of the lands west of the Yarden.


The forty-two
journeys and encampments of Israel are listed, from the Exodus to their encampment on the plains of Moab across the river from the Land of Canaan. The boundaries of the Promised Land are given, and cities of refuge are designated as havens and places of exile for inadvertent murderers. The daughters of Tzelafchad marry within their own tribe of Menasseh, so that the estate which they inherit from their father should not pass to the province of another tribe.

 

B’midbar /Numbers 31 -

This chapter belongs to “the book of the wars of the Lord,” in which it is probable it was inserted. It is the history of a holy war, a war with Midian. Here is, 

I.                   A divine command for the war (Num_31:1, Num_31:2). 

II.                The undertaking of the war (Num_31:3-6). 

III.             The glorious success of it (Num_31:7-12). 

IV.              Their triumphant return from the war.  1. The respect Moshe/Moses paid to the soldiers (Num_31:13).  2. The rebuke he gave them for sparing the women (Num_31:14-18).  3. The directions he gave them for the purifying of themselves and their effects (Num_31:19-24).  4. The distribution of the spoil they had taken, one half to the soldiers, the other to the congregation, and a tribute to the Lord out of each (v. 25-47).  5. The free-will offering of the officers (Num_31:48, etc.).

 

We see in this chapter the Lord telling Moshe to gather men to take vengeance on Midyanim. The number is interesting. The LORD instructs Moshe to get 1000 men for this job. A total of 12,000 men are enlisted.

 

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