And Moses said unto them, Have ye saved all the women alive? ... Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves. - Numbers 31:15-18

Numbers for Skeptics

The moral of Numbers has to be: "Don't whine."

Miriam complains about Moses' Ethiopian wife, and God gives her leprosy. The people complain about their hardships during the Exodus, and God sends a fire to burn them alive. They complain about the food, so God forces them to eat quails until it comes out of their noses (and then sends a them a plague). They complain again, and God sends fiery serpents to bite and kill them. God can't stand a whiner.

But Numbers has a something for everyone. From talking donkeys to the law of jealousies. It's a fun book to read. But if you only have time for one chapter, read chapter 31.


  • God kills Aaron's sons for offering "strange fire before the Lord." 3:4, 26:61
  • The law of jealousies: What to do if you suspect that your wife has been unfaithful. 5:11-31
  • God burned people to death for complaining. 11:1
  • God made the Israelites eat flesh until it came out their nostrils. 11:19-20
  • "While the flesh was yet between their teeth ... the Lord smote the people with a very great plague." 11:33
  • God gave Miriaml leprosy. 12:9-10
  • God will punish you for the sins of your great-great grandfathers. 14:18
  • God killed the ten spies that gave a discouraging report with a plague. 14:36-37
  • What to do if you "sin through ignorance." 15:27
  • A man is stoned to death for gathering sticks on the Sabbath day. 15:32-36
  • God buries alive Korah and his family. 16:27-35, 26:10
  • God burns to death 250 men. 16:35, 26:10
  • God kills 14,700 with a plague. 16:41-50
  • "The Lord harkened to the voice of Israel, and ... utterly destroyed them and their cities." 21:3
  • God sends "fiery serpents" to bite the people. 21:6
  • Moses's amazing serpent of brass. 21:9
  • God delivers the Amorites into Moses's hands. 21:34-35
  • Balaam's talking ass. 22:28-30
  • God's people will "rise up ... and drink the blood of the slain." 23:24
  • God will "eat up the nations of his enemies, and shall break their bones, and pierce them through with his arrows." 24:8
  • God tells Moses to "take all the heads of the people and hang them up before the Lord." 25:4
  • God's hero (Phinehas) thrusts a javelin through a man and his Midianite wife's belly. 25:7-8
  • God kills 24,000 (23,000 according to 1 Cor.10:8) in a plague. 25:9
  • A woman can't make a vow unless her husband allows it. 30:3-16
  • Moses tells his men to kill all the males and non-virgin women, but to keep all the virgins alive for themselves. 31:14-18