15 And Moses said unto them, Have ye saved all the women alive?

16 Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the Lord in the matter of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the Lord.

17 Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him.

18 But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.

  • 1
    Does this answer your question? Why does God order the murder of children in Joshua 6:21
    – Steve
    Jun 25, 2021 at 2:03
  • 1
    You atheist friend's argument is a self-defeating because if the intention was sex slaves, then they would have kept all women, not just the virgins. Further, why keep the children if sex-slavery is the intention?
    – Dottard
    Jun 25, 2021 at 11:42
  • A related posting.
    – Lucian
    Jun 26, 2021 at 0:03

2 Answers 2


Look closely at the story, especially V17, 18 - the women who seduced Israel were the ones killed. Many in Israel were killed as well (Num 25).

The correct understanding is the punishment of Midian for the seduction of Israel as well as punishment of the Israelites for the sins committed.


God's rules for acquiring women from another country are recorded in Deuteronomy as follows:

21:10 When thou goest forth to war against thine enemies, and the LORD thy God hath delivered them into thine hands, and thou hast taken them captive,
21:11 And seest among the captives a beautiful woman, and hast a desire unto her, that thou wouldest have her to thy wife;
21:12 Then thou shalt bring her home to thine house; and she shall shave her head, and pare her nails;
21:13 And she shall put the raiment of her captivity from off her, and shall remain in thine house, and bewail her father and her mother a full month: and after that thou shalt go in unto her, and be her husband, and she shall be thy wife.
21:14 And it shall be, if thou have no delight in her, then thou shalt let her go whither she will; but thou shalt not sell her at all for money, thou shalt not make merchandise of her, because thou hast humbled her.

That being the case, who would still think the woman was beautiful after she had been shaved bald? Even after a month, her hair would look like that of a chemo patient. And waiting a month would also require a level of patience which most men bent on having a mere sex slave would not find desirable.

You'd really have to be interested in her to go through all that, and this was for a woman, not a child.

Obviously, this was not about human trafficking at all.

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