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Daily manna from the Torah by Dr Ketriel Blad

Mattot 42-5


Numbers 31:42-54

Then the officers who were over the units of the army‹the commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds‹went to Moses and said to him, "Your servants have counted the soldiers under our command, and not one is missing. So we have brought as an offering to the LORD the gold articles each of us acquired‹armlets, bracelets, signet rings, earrings and necklaces‹to make atonement for ourselves before the LORD.

Num. 31:48-50 NIV

Why did the soldiers atone for their souls with valuable objects?

The prohibition of counting the people of Israel is based on the promise made to our father Avraham that his descendants couldn't be counted. However, the Eternal taught the people a system to be able to be counted without a plague coming to them – that is the system of the half shekel (Ex. 30:12). Each male gave a coin of half a shekel and instead of counting the people the coins were counted. The coins were given afterwards to the tabernacle as a memorial and thus the people weren't harmed for having been counted.

In this case, they didn't use the method of the half shekel for the census of the 12000 and that brought guilt upon them before the Eternal. The delivery of the valuables would then be a reward for their fault.

The second reason for the delivery of the spoils – the jewels they got in the war – could be that upon entering the tents of the Midianite women, when they grabbed the jewels from their corpses, they couldn't help having impure thoughts; and for having those impure thoughts they were guilty before the Eternal. The surrender of the jewels would serve as a sign of repentance.

The third reason we can deduce from this text is that they had an immense feeling of gratitude, not only for having survived the war, but also for having received all those riches from the spoils. They wanted to thank the Eternal because He preserved their lives and gave them such material wealth. Their hearts' gratitude had to be shown in a practical way and the giving of valuable objects is a good way of saying thanks.

Beloved chosen ones from among the nations: be grateful to the Eternal all your days because He has saved you so many times from death during your life. How many times have you been in danger of death? For sure many more times we have been closer to death than we thought! Thanks to His protection we are alive. Besides He provides us with more material goods than we deserve. Let's thank Him for that in a practical way; let's give some money and valuables to a good cause that also helps the advancement of the Kingdom among us.



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