Talk:Midianite

From New World Encyclopedia
Unification Aspects:

For the Reverend Sun Myung Moon, the land of Midian represents a place of exile, a desert of self-denial and longing for God's presence.

The people of Israel didn't receive Moses, who tried to save them. They persecuted him, and expelled him to the wilderness of Midian. There Moses longed for God, loved God, and made a resolution to save his people. Because of that intention, God chose him to free the Israelites from Egypt.(Link)

It was in this wilderness of Midian that Moses first met God on the sacred mountain of Sinai/Horeb. The Midianites, according to the biblical account, were relatives of the Israelites, descended from Abraham, the grandfather of Israel. It was the Midianites who sold Joseph, son of Jacob into slavery in Egypt when his brothers tried to do away with him. And it was to the Midianites that Moses fled when his fellow Hebrews rejected his leadership after he killed an Egyptian slavemaster who had abused them. The Midianite priest, Jethro, welcomed Moses into his home and gave him his own daughter, Zipporah to be Moses' wife. The Midianite Zipporah would play a key role in protecting Moses by circumcising their son when God sought to kill Moses on his way back from Midian to Egypt. Jethro would later offer Moses crucial advice in governing the Israelites during their wilderness course.

However, the Midianites soon found themselves on the wrong side of providential history when some of their women tempted Israelite men to worship the god, Baal of Peor, just prior to entering Canaan. For this, the Bible tells us, the Midianites became Israel's absolute enemy, thus justifying Moses' war of extermination against them, in which he left alive only the virgin girls, to be taken as the wives and property of Israelite men.

Such scenarios are impossible for the modern reader to consider without serious moral misgivings. Two possible interpretations present themselves: Either the providential necessities or those times created a situation where "the ends justified the means," or the biblical account of God's approval of such acts is inaccurate, reflecting the exclusivist "Yahweh-only" religious viewpoint of its writers.

Indeed, other passages of the Bible hint at a different reality than the genocidal war portrayed in the Numbers 31. The Book of Judges shows the Midianites to be still strong in the time of Gideon. The Kenites, a Midianite clan, are described as becoming part of the Tribe of Judah. And Jael, the brave heroine of the Book of Judges, was the wife of Heber the Kenite. It is likely that the Kenite lineage survives today among the Jews, as do the descendants of the Midianite girls who were forced to become wives of Israelite soldiers. Perhaps other Midianites, too, found a way to peacefully coexist with, and eventually become part of, the culture of their Israelite cousins.

Whatever the facts are about God's attitude toward the Midianites in those days, we can safely say that today, God does not stand for wars of vengeance and extermination. The principle of "loving one's enemy" comes first. Only in extreme circumstances can wars of any kind be justified, let alone the type of war described as being waged by the people of God against the Midianites.

In the eternal world of the spirit, the Midianites still live. Having been destroyed as a living people on earth, they must truly feel that they exist in a wilderness. It is up to the people of God to embrace them and ease the resentment they must feel at having been wiped out as a nation. In God's kingdom, the Midianites, too, have a place.
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