And so the killing began. Siblings watched as their brothers were executed. And then the remaining brothers themselves were executed. Mothers watched as their sons were executed. And then they themselves were executed. Children watched as their Mothers were executed. And then the sons themselves were executed. From young teen boys whose voices had barely begun to crack, to toddler boys barely able to walk, to baby boys in the clutches of their Mother’s arms. All the males and all the Mothers were executed.
As ordered by Moses.
It must have all been a bloody mess when the killing was done. The on the scene Priest even reminded the collective killers of their sanitation duties under the circumstances, as dictated by Hebraic Law. They were even reminded to sanitize the sex slaves that each of them had claimed.
For such was the fate of the virgin daughters of the Midianites. Their Fathers killed in battle. Their Mothers and their Brothers murdered before their very eyes. And then, as if to add insult to the most injurious of sinister circumstances, each of these young ladies was taken captive and forced to live the remainder of their lives as the sex slave of one of the Israelis soldiers who had murdered their family.
As ordered by Moses.
The trauma for these young ladies must have been inconceivable. It is hard to imagine that they ever recovered from the experience.
Sad to say, but such is the final legacy of one of the great names of biblical literature. The fact that the writer of this narrative would envision Moses himself as being the person who actually ordered the executions of the Midianite women and who arranged for sex slaves for each of the Israeli soldiers involved is unfortunate, while at the same time quite revealing. For according to this tale, among the final notable deeds of Moses were orders of the mass execution of women who he blamed for the shortcomings of his fellow Israeli males (typical “blame it on the woman” theme), the likewise execution of the male children of those same women, and the capture of young Midianite girls so they would live the remainder of their lives as sex slaves of the very Israeli soldiers who had already killed their family. This incident as described is a dreary and despicable affair, and the writer of such envisioned Moses himself as being the man who ordered and organized the entire affair.
The strong feelings of animosity which the writer of this tale feels for non-Jews is clear and evident, as are his assumptions of patriarchal entitlement. His xenophobic inclinations towards the Midianites is ironic in that the Midianites were allegedly distant cousins to the Hebrews, yet in the context of religious bigotry, the writer’s radical feelings are predictable. For as the Midianite women had supposedly once been a bad influence over the Hebrew men by encouraging them to worship other gods, the writer seems to have felt justified to see the whole lot of them executed. And their sons.
But not their virgin daughters.
As it is, the entire account was quite likely mythical. There seems to be more symbolism to the tale than realism, especially the claim that not a single Israeli soldier was killed in a battle that allegedly entailed the death of every male enemy combatant, including five kings. However; this narrative nonetheless reflects the unfavorable values of a vile and violent culture which both normalized and legalized murder and misogyny.
References: Numbers 31, Numbers 25
Next: “Misogyny In The Law Of Moses”