God told Moses to go to battle with the Midianites to avenge the Israelites.
So Moses told his people to get ready to bring about God’s vengeance. “Twelve thousand men should do it,” he said. So twelve thousand men from all the tribes of Israel armed themselves and went into battle, along with a priest named Eleazar, who also brought some things.
In what could be counted as one of the most one-sided battles in all of history – even moreso than the battle of the Alamo – the Israelites killed every single Midianite man, including all five of their kings. Then they captured all the women and children and took all the Midianites’ livestock and goods. They then burned down every one of the Midianite towns before heading home where they presented Moses and Eleazar with all the stuff they took.
Moses was pissed, though.
He couldn’t believe the Israelite commanders had been graceful enough to allow all the women and children to survive the battle. “Kill them,” Moses said. “Kill them for God.” Because it was the women’s fault in the first place that all this had to go down. “But keep the virgins,” Moses said with a wink. So all of the women who had had sex were slaughtered, and so were all of the young boys.
“Also, if you killed anybody during that battle,” Moses continued, “you have to sleep outside for a week.” This included pretty much everybody, so one can conclude Moses really just wanted some alone time with Eleazar. “Take all your swag with you, including your captives. Bathe on the third and seventh days and clean all your junk. Especially the stuff made of leather, goat hair, and wood. Especially that stuff.”
“While you’re out there,” Eleazar told them, “take every single thing which can withstand fire and pass it through a fire, in order to sterilize it. Then rinse it off with water. If anything can’t withstand fire, it still has to be rinsed with water.” The soldiers would then wash their clothes on the seventh day and THEN they would finally be clean enough to come near Moses.
But God wasn’t done yet. Moses and Eleazar and the soldiers, they got to go into battle and have tons of fun. God wanted in on that, so he demanded Moses divide all the soldiers’ plunder so he could have some for himself. “Cut everything in half,” God said. “Half goes to the soldiers and the other half goes to the rest of the Israelites.” Moses nodded. “But wait,” God said, “There’s more. Out of the soldiers’ half, I want one out of every five hundred things. Out of the Israelites’ half, take one out of every fifty things and give it to the Levites since they’re still hanging on to my stuff for me.”
Moses counted everything up, did some math, and got to work.
The soldiers’ half amounted to 337,500 sheep, 36,000 cattle, 30,500 donkeys, and 16,000 virgin girls.
This meant that Eleazar had 675 sheep, 72 cattle, 61 donkeys, and 32 virgin girls taken aside and sacrificed to keep God happy.
The Israelites’ half was, well, equal to the soldiers’ half. But one out of every fifty sheep, cattle, donkeys and virgin girls were sent to the Levites who, again, were hanging onto God’s stuff.
After everything was meted out, the army commanders went to Moses and said “Hey, we just crunched some numbers, had a roll call, and it turns out not a single one of us died during that battle.”
“Holy shit!” Moses exclaimed, “This is cause for a party!”
So the commanders took every last bit of gold they’d looted from the Midianites and gave it to Moses and Eleazar. They showed the swag to God, who pulled out a set of scales and weighed all the gold. “16,750 shekels!” God announced. And much partying was done.