Exodus and Numbers


I’ve been reading both books (Exodus and Numbers) and in many instances God is displeased (to say the least) with many of the Israelites for not obeying, and He either smites them down Himself or has the outstanding leaders/authorities execute them. For example, in Numbers 25, God commands that the Israelite leaders hold a public execution and then the judges kill all those who have submitted to Baal. In fact, it says 24,000 were killed. And in the tent Phineas even kills two weeping women.

Question 1) Were the women weeping because they were about to be killed or because they were sorry for their sins?

Question 2) More broadly, based on what God is doing (smiting the sinners), is it assumed that those executed are given a chance to confess and repent and thus earn salvation or is it assumed that because this is still the Old Testament, that once a sin so grave has been committed, that Jewish law has been violated and that their cannot be a chance to obtain God’s mercy? Is it assumed that these people have been given enough chances and were simply never going to ask or seek forgiveness and so all are doomed to perish? I see no verses where they are given chances to repent.


One of the important things to understand about the Torah (Pentateuch) is that not everything is explained in detail and there are certain elliptical passages that leave out specific information. That missing information would have been well known to the Hebrew culture of the time although it is not so well understood by modern culture. That is why Judaism has the Talmud (a compilation of the Oral Law, the Mishnah, including rabbinical commentaries, the Gemara) in addition to the Torah (Written Law). The purpose of the Talmud is to fill in the gaps in the Torah as well as explain and apply their meaning within a modern cultural context.

The G-d of the Hebrew Bible (Jews do not call it the Old Testament) is a merciful G-d and His mercy is interwined with His justice. If the people had sincerely repented, they would not have been destroyed. G-d always pays attention to sincere repentance, whether from a Jew or Gentile, and acts accordingly. In this case, the Israelites were not sincere in their weeping. One other point is that the execution by G-d does not necessarily mean that these people cannot be saved. This is because a firm punishment such as the death penalty, by G-d no less, alleviates the atonement of sins in Purgatory. Therefore, in this sense, the punishment that G-d inflicts can be interpreted as a sign of clemency for the salvation of these people’s souls.


Thanks Meltzerboy.


Great explanation. I’m saving it!
thank you,


Question 1) Were the women weeping because they were about to be killed or because they were sorry for their sins?

There were no women weeping. The individuals that were killed were a Jewish man and a Midianite woman who were brazenly “sinning” in public view at the Tent of Assembly. Moses and the elders, however, were weeping because of this sin of rebelliousness.

I see no verses where they are given chances to repent.

Normally, a sinner cannot be judged unless he had been warned by two witnesses not to sin, and they testify that the sinner defied them. In this case, the perpetrators of the sin were so brazenly desecrating the name of the Lord that Phinehas, motivated completely for the sake of heaven, was able to kill the sinners without due process.


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