Through literary apologetics, this four-part series examines one of the more difficult passages in which to reconcile the God of the Old Testament with the God of love, namely Numbers 31:13-18, which records the mass killing of Midianites including baby boys. As mentioned before, I find this particular passage abhorrent; however, after researching the cultural context, I do recognize that the blame is on the parents of the orphaned boys, not on God or Moses. It is not my intent to treat this subject matter lightly, or even make you like this passage. My only hope is for others who struggle with this passage to see God’s mercy in the situation.
Each part of this series includes excerpts from the literary apologetics novel, Prophecy of the Heir, which covers these events. Please note that Prophecy of the Heir is written as a fantasy novel from the viewpoints of angels and demons, predominately Michael the archangel’s. For your convenience, I have created a brief glossary of terms which will open in a new window, allowing you to switch back and forth at your leisure.
Historical Background: The Israelites had been wandering around the wilderness for the past 400 years. They are now ready to receive the land that God has promised them, but to several countries lie in the way. They have written to the kings of these lands requesting save passage, and vowing to neither eat from their crops, nor drink from the wells. Two of the kings refused, and launched an army against them. Both armies were defeated. When the third king, Balak, heard of this, he summoned a sorcerer from Babylon to put a curse on the Israelites, ensuring they would be slaughtered in the battle he prepared to launch against them. In part one of this series, we saw how Balaam was warned by the Angel of the Lord to not curse the Israelites, to which he reluctantly agreed. In part two, we saw Balaam leave with the king’s men, and again encounter the Angel of the Lord who suspected Balaam would not honor his word. Though he was prepared to kill Balaam, he spared him on the condition that Balaam speak only what God allowed him to. In part three, we saw how Balaam blessed the Israelites instead of cursing them, which led to Balak dismissing him without pay. Infuriated, Balaam set out to meet with the Midianites who had encouraged Balak to hire him with a plan that will result in the Israelites being as good as cursed.
Part Four: The Advice of Balaam
“Is the House of Jacov fully accounted for?” Michael asked, looking up from the scroll he just received.
Gavriel nodded. “Save for a group who went into the Moabite town of Peor for supplies.”
“Any word from their guards?”
“No. Why do you ask?”
Michael tossed Gavriel the scroll signed by Chemosh.
Gavriel’s brows furrowed as he read. “He’s invited you to join his celebration?”
“That’s not what I find strange,” Michael said. “But that he celebrates his defeat.”
“It’s a ruse,” Gavriel said. “Don’t fall for it.”
Dusk soon approached, and when the group of Jacovites and their guards did not return, Michael set off for Moab. Though Gavriel insisted on accompanying him, the Shaityrim guards at the border checkpoint allowed only Michael to pass.
Reaching the marketplace, he found the merchants had long packed up their wares and returned home. With rising concern, Michael scanned the streets for any sign of the Jacovites or their Malakim guards.
Nearing the temple, he heard the steady beating of drums, and the revelry of a routine Sheolite festival of feasting and drinking in homage to Chemosh. Dancing mortals filled the courtyard.
The citadel terrace above was dark, and Michael scanned the temple for Chemosh. From within the sanctuary, the warlord emerged surrounded by several of his troops. He strode out into the courtyard, through the carousing mortals, some of whom had abandoned dancing for intoxicated passion.
With a smile, the warlord raised his goblet towards Michael. “Behold, the commander of the Malakim army joins our celebration!”
The Shaityrim raised their goblets and cheered.
“Where are my troops and the Jacovites they guard?” Michael demanded.
Chemosh laughed. “Your troops are unharmed,” he said. “Do you really think I would go against the Rules of Engagement?”
Michael forced his voice to remain even. “Where are the Jacovites?”
Chemosh grinned. “Calm yourself; they, too, are unharmed. Indeed, they are quite content.”
“Where are they?” Michael hissed.
“Look around you, fool,” Chemosh said. “Look closely.”
A cold fear gripped Michael. Panic and dread swept over him in a violent rush as he realized the identity of the mortal men engaged in erotic homage of Chemosh.
The warlord laughed at Michael’s ashen expression. “Did I not warn you that you’d wish the sorcerer had cursed them?”
Michael lunged for Chemosh, but two Shaityrim grabbed him from behind.
“Escort the Malakim commander from my temple,” Chemosh said.
“Where are my troops?” Michael shouted, as he struggled against the warriors dragging him from the courtyard.
No sooner did they release him than Michael drew his sword, but they motioned above. Luminore torches were uncovered, bathing the citadel terrace in light. The Malakim guards, surrounded by spears, stared down in shame. When released, they joined Michael outside the temple complex.
“How did this happen?” he demanded.
“Forgive me, Commander,” the lead guard answered. “The Shaityrim ambushed us.”
“Just tell me what happened.”
“Chemosh seeks to force King Elyon to withdraw his protection in battle. He first instigated Balaam to convince Balak of the plan, but the mortal-king refused to even meet with him. Balaam then resorted to approaching the five elders of Midian who originally suggested Balak summon a sorcerer. Both the elders and their people agreed to the plan, and their women, adorned in nothing but jewelry, danced in the streets, boasting that feasts in veneration of Chemosh consisted of expensive meats, wine, and…” the guard’s voice trailed off. “Well, you witnessed the rest yourself.”
Michael wrenched his hand through his hair, then down his face. He couldn’t bear another delay, not when they were on the brink of claiming land.
To inspire five towns to participate in wholesale, premeditated, government-funded, adulterous seduction of a group of people who were not even a threat, but had simply requested permission to travel through their land, was ingenious beyond comprehension.
The beating of drums and the laughter of the Jacovites pounded against Michael’s head. When he trusted himself to speak, he took a deep breath. “Chemosh didn’t do this. This was Shaitan.”
A familiar voice spoke from the shadows. “A high compliment, for which I thank thee.”
Michael stiffened as Marduk stepped into the light.
“It was not his Majesty’s plan, but mine.” Marduk stepped closer, lowering his voice. “They betrayed Elyon, defiled their bodies, and vowed themselves to Chemosh. You do realize Elyon will not take this act of treason lightly. His judgment upon them will be more severe than anything that sorcerer could have conjured.”
Michael fought to keep his expression impassive.
Marduk laughed. “His Majesty told me of your love of mortals. I didn’t believe him, but am quite pleased to see his words were true.” Stepping even closer, he whispered, “I promise you, friend, it is not over between us.”
Not before dawn were Michael and the Malakim guards able to escort the inebriated, stumbling mortals back to the encampment. One of them had even brought a Sheolite woman with him. The raucous commotion awoke the others, and Moshes paled in grave astonishment.
The Prince stood in the entrance of the royal tent, but Michael didn’t have the heart to look at him. Within moments, Moshes bowed before him, and before Michael could disappear into the citadel, he heard the Prince utter two words: “Execute them.”
* * *
Untouched by the flames, the Prince strode through the burning town once inhabited by the Midianites. After the execution of the seditionist Jacovites, he’d ordered vengeance to be taken against the five towns culpable for inducing the treason. He’d spared not only the rest of the Midianites, but all of the Moabites.
As for these five towns, he had ordered the execution of all men, women, and boys.
Though he knew the blame for the death of the young males lay with their parents and leaders for their calculating malice, their blood weighed heavily on his heart. But he could not allow their absorption into the House of Jacov. As time proved in other cultures, their innocence would not last long. As they grew, they would rise against their adoptive guardians, viewing them as captors.
He refused to abandon them in the desert, as others would―subject to a torturous death by the elements, raiders, or wild beasts. Thus, a quick execution and relocation to Khayden had been his only alternative.
Though other cultures would have also executed or abandoned the young girls―or worse―they posed no threat to his people. Their innocence in the scheme, clearly marked by either age, veil, or jewelry, allowed him to grant Moshes orders to spare them. Thus, they could be taught to spin and weave until old enough to marry and bear children amongst the House of Jacov.
A sharp, desperate braying cut through the solemnity of his thoughts. Through smoke and flame, the Prince saw Balaam’s donkey tethered in a stable adjoining a burning inn.
Untangling the coarse rope, he set the animal free.
For a moment, the donkey stared at him, then cantered away, disappearing into the night.
Prophecy of the Heir. Volume I, Book 1 of The Chronicles of Time. Chapter 6, Dunes of the Damned. Crimson Moon Press. 2nd Edition. 2014