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norable and responsible station, has only the good of his countrymen at heart in the choice of his suc
That choice he leaves unreservedly to the Lord. As for himself, he has no purpose to answer of a personal kind. He has no favorite to please; no family-friend to provide for; no wish to gratify of having his own wisdom admired in the selection he should make, or the glory of his name identified with the reputation of the individual who should tread in his steps.
He was directed to take Joshua, the son of Nun, a man, said the Lord, in whom is the Spirit. Possessing this divine influence—this communication to his soul by God himself of a portion of his own wisdom and power, justice and truth, holiness and benevolence—he was of all others among the Is. raelites the best qualified to be the successor of Moses. It was the same Joshua who displayed his valor so conspicuously in the defeat of the Amalekites at Rephidim; who accompanied Moses when he ascended Mount Sinai and abode there forty days; who seems to have had some peculiar duties to perform at the tabernacle, which required his constant attendance; who was one of the two faithful spies that made a fair report of the promised land, maintaining, in opposition to their associates, that its conquest was practicable; who, with Caleb, alone survived, of all who had been numbered thirty-eight years before, and of this number were alone to have the distinguished honor of crossing the Jordan, and entering Canaan. His very name, the import of which is Saviour, seemed to mark him for the high station that he was destined to fill.
In obedience to the divine directions, Moses installed Joshua into office, in the presence of Eleazar the high-priest, and of the whole congregation assembled for the purpose: constituting him his associate in the government of the people ; giving him a solemn charge with regard to the duties which he would have to perform; and encouraging him, in the strength of the Lord, to go forward in his course, faithfully and fearlessly.
Moses had received communications directly from God himself. But Joshua was not to enjoy this distinguished honor. When he wished to ascertain the will of the Lord, he must apply to the high-priest, who would ask counsel for him. Jehovah would thus be his guide. He had lived long enough, for he was now one hundred and two years of age, to experience much of the divine goodness and truth; and it seems from his subsequent history, that he indeed had the spirit, and followed the example of his illustrious predecessor.
About this time, Moses received from the Lord, and made known to the Israelites several laws and ordinances respecting the stated sacrifices, whether daily, weekly, monthly, or annual; the feast of
trumpets, of expiation, and of tabernacles; and the observance of vows. He was also directed now to proceed in carrying into effect the command formerly given, to inflict the punishment of divine justice upon
the Midianites. The measure of their iniquity was full. They had lately attempted, at the instigation of Balaam, to lead the Israelites into the grossest wickedness, and had succeeded ; and this people were, in the providence of God, to be the executioners of his vengeance upon them.
Twelve thousand men, armed for war, an equal number being taken from each tribe, were selected for this purpose. We are not told who commanded the expedition. Phinehas, the son of Eleazar the high-priest, attended it; carrying with him, as some suppose,
the ark with its contents, and the sacred trumpets to be blown on the prescribed occasions.
Five kings were slain in the battles that were fought. Balaam, also, who was among them, fell by the sword, miserably cut off in the midst of his days; a signal example of disappointed ambition, and of the retributive vengeance of God. Every man of the Midianites was put to death. Their cities and strong places were destroyed. The women and children were taken captives, and together with many and rich spoils, including the flocks and herds, brought by the victors to the camp of the Israelites.
Moses, Eleazar, and all the princes of the con. gregation went forth, without the camp, to meet them. Their commanders received a severe reproof from Moses for not having made the work of extermination more effectual; and he
out orders on the spot that all the male children, and the wo. men, excepting those of the latter who had not been instrumental in leading the Israelites into sin, should be put to death. The fatal sentence was carried into execution ; and while we recoil in ima. gination at the scene, we must not forget that He who is just and holy in all his ways, had peculiar reasons for directing the removal of these persons from life in this summary manner. He saw it necessary thus to secure his people against further and most ensnaring temptations. Many of the victims of the order had already forfeited their lives hy their numerous and abominable transgressions ; and with regard to others who were comparatively innocent, and the children, God would see that exact and impartial justice should be done them in the future world. He has a right to dispose of the lives of his creatures as he pleases ; nor is it at all more difficult to be reconciled with his character too, that while carrying the sentence of divine justice into effect, the Israelites had uo right whatever to induge any malevolent or cruel feelings. They would have been most criminal in putting any of the captives to death, if they had not received from God an express injunction to that effect; and in doing it, we have every reason to believe, that no barbarity was manifested on their part, nor needless sufferings inflicted.
There was a ceremonial purification to be performed by all the soldiers who had killed any person, or touched any dead body; of themselves, their captives, and their raiment. Seven days were employed in it, and when completed they were permitted to come into the camp.
Moses then, in accordance with a divine command, assisted by Eleazar, and the chiefs of the people, made an estimate of one part of the booty which had been taken from the Midianites, and was still preserved. It amounted to 32,000 persons; 675,000 sheep; 72,000 beeves; and 61,000
In addition to this, there was a great quantity of rich goods and ornaments. The persons, sheep, and cattle he divided into two equal parts, one of which was given to the soldiers who had been on the expedition, and the other to the people who remained at home. Out of what the sol.