Study Guide

Book of Numbers Warfare

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War! What is it good for? Um, well, showing off the might and power of God for one. Oh, and taking over people's lands. And stuff. And bodies. Yup—war gets all kinds of things done. The Book of Numbers has no issue at all with bloody battles and warfare. The Israelites are on the hunt for the Promised Land and they're not afraid to attack some foreigners to get it. Some of these passages leave us feeling a little yucky today, but thousands of years ago, fighting and dying for God and community was just a way of life.

Questions About Warfare

  1. Notice the progression in the Israelites' war capabilities. They start out politely asking to pass through lands and end up killing women and children. Why do you think that is?
  2. What wartime actions does God command, and which are the decisions of people on the ground? Does this make a difference?
  3. Abraham Lincoln famously worried not that God was on his side, but that "[he was] on the God's side." Do people still believe that God is siding with them today in violent conflicts? Why would God help people wage war anyway?

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