SAVE THE VIRGINS
mc:He gets is [sic] from the destruction of the Amalekites and the
alleged rape of the Midianite virgins. However, no one on earth can
prove that the Midianite virgins were raped or even used for sexual
No one on earth can prove (1) that the massacre of the Midianites
even happened or (2) that if it did happen, the order to keep the
virgins alive was made because of the value that men in those times
placed on virginity.
No one on earth can prove that massacre of the Midianites ever
happened. However Till and those of his persuasion call it a real
moral atrocity. How could it be considered a moral atrocity if it
didn't happen? All Till can logically say is "if it did happen it
would constitute a moral atrocity." Since he says it can't be proved
that it happened he can't call it a moral atrocity.
If it never happened, then, of course, it wasn't a moral atrocity,
because that which did not happen can't be anything but a tale. If,
however, biblicists like McDonald are going to contend that it did
happen, they must bear the burden of proving that it was morally right
to kill children taken as captives in battle and to kill nonvirgins
but keep the virgins alive for themselves. Anyone who doesn't have an
inerrancy act to grind will read this story and understand that it was
obviously saying that, if it happened, the virgin girls were kept
alive for sexual reasons. For the sake of argument, however, let's
just suppose that McDonald's source [snicker, snicker] Gleason Archer
was right and that the virgins were spared just to be servants. That
still leaves him with the problem of explaining what is so morally
right about forced servitude.
and (2) if it did happen, that the virgin Midianites were kept alive
just to be servants, as McDonald's source quoted in our debate
(Gleason Archer) claimed.
As I pointed out in our oral debate in 1991 if they were used as sex
slaves there would have been no reason at all for God to have been
angry with israel for having sex with them. The account begins in
Numbers chapter 25 where israel was led off into idolatry and
fornication by the Midianites. In Numbers chapter 31 israel was given
clear orders to kill them all. When they brought back the spoils of
both men and women Moses was angry with them and told them to kill all
the men and all the women who had known man by lying with him.
All the men had already been killed, if we are to believe this
Numbers 31:7 They did battle against Midian, as Yahweh had commanded
Moses, and KILLED EVERY MALE. 8 They killed the kings of Midian: Evi,
Rekem, Zur, Hur, and Reba, the five kings of Midian, in addition to
others who were slain by them; and they also killed Balaam son of Beor
with the sword.
The captives that they brought back, according to this inerrant story,
were women and children.
Numbers 31:9 The israelites took the women of Midian and their little
ones captive; and they took all their cattle, their flocks, and all
their goods as booty.
Some of these "little ones" were males, whom Moses ordered his
soldiers to kill.
Numbers 31:14 Moses became angry with the officers of the army, the
commanders of thousands and the commanders of hundreds, who had come
from service in the war. 15 Moses said to them, "Have you allowed all
the women to live? 16 These women here, on Balaam's advice, made the
israelites act treacherously against Yahweh in the affair of Peor, so
that the plague came among the congregation of Yahweh. 17 Now
therefore, kill EVERY MALE AMONG THE LITTLE ONES, and kill every woman
who has known a man by sleeping with him. 18 But all the young girls
who have not known a man by sleeping with him, keep alive for
For the sake of argument, let's just assume that the israelites were
justified in killing the nonvirgin females because of the incident at
Peor. To so assume, we would have to suppose that every last
nonvirgin female brought back as captives had participated in the orgy
at Peor. I will show later that this scenario is inconsistent with
the rest of Numbers 31, but to give McDonald the benefit of the doubt,
let's just assume that every nonvirgin female among these captives had
participated in the event at Peor. That still leaves the males among
the "little ones," whom Moses ordered his men to kill.
Let McDonald explain to us the objective morality in doing that,
because these male children would not have been involved in the orgy
at Peor. Oh, I forgot! The male children were killed to "
cut off the seed of the Midianites." How silly of me not to recognize
These women were probably killed because they could be pregnant and/or
they would lead the israelites off into fornication again.
As I pointed out in our written debate, notice how often McDonald will
resort to "probablies" and "could-bes" to explain biblical
embarrassments. I keep wondering just where someone who has so much
linguistic difficulty writing his native language could have such
amazing insights into what the Bible doesn't say.
Here is a good place to mention that Church-of-Christ preachers often
boast that they speak where the Bible speaks and remain silent where
the Bible is silent, so I would really like for McDonald to show us
where the Bible speaks about all these things that he somehow knows
about the Midianite massacre.
The males were killed to cut off the seed of Midian.
Oh, is that so? Is this speaking where the Bible speaks and remaining
silent where the Bible is silent?
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Didn't Yahweh know that killing these male children would not "cut
off" the seed of Midian? Midianites were mentioned several times
after this, even though EVERY male Midianite had presumably been
killed either in the invasion or the massacre of the "little ones,"
so where did the Midianites mentioned later (Judges 6:2-7, 11-16;
7:1-7, etc.) come from? If there were Midianites later on, what good,
then, did it do to "cut off the seed of the Midianites" by killing
the male "little ones"? Didn't the omniscient Yahweh not know that
killing the males among the "little ones" wouldn't "cut off the seed
of the Midianites"?
You won't forget to answer that, will you?
-- ---------------- --
I assume that everyone is noticing that McDonald is willing to defend
the most despicable of human acts in order to defend his precious
The only ones that were allowed to live were the women who had not
known man by lying with him (virgins). Now if God was going to allow
the israelites to have sex with these virgins, if sex was on the
agenda, he would have punished the israelites and the Midianites for
no reason because they were being punished for committing
fornication. Virginity had nothing to do with qualifying them for
servitude, but it had everything to do with qualifying them for life.
God had strict laws against having sex with someone outside of
marriage. He just didn't allow it. Why would he break that edict in
Is this speaking where the Bible speaks and remaining silent where the
Bible is silent? I have a simple question for McDonald. If this is
really what Moses meant, i.e., just servitude, when he told his
soldiers to keep the virgins alive for themselves, then why didn't he
just say, "Keep the virgins alive to be your servants"? Shouldn't we
have the right to expect an omniscient, omnipotent deity to guide his
inspired ones to communicate in clear language so that disputes like
this one would never arise?
That aside, I would now like to ask McDonald to point out where this
text said anything at all about these virgins working as servants. I
will urge him in his answer to speak where the Bible speaks and remain
silent where the Bible remains silent.
-- ----------- ---
Finally, let's have a look at McDonald's claim that the nonvirgins
were killed because they had led the israelites into idolatry and
fornication. If we are to believed the inspired, inerrant word of
God, only 24,000 israelites were killed for having participated in the
orgy at Peor Num. 25:9). If we assume that each of the 24,000 had
each had a Midianite sexual partner--or maybe they were Moabites (see
Num. 25:1)--that would mean that there had been 24,000 Midianite
participants in the orgy. The tale in Numbers 31, however, tells us
that 32,000 virgins were kept alive that day (to be servants, of
course). Are we to assume then that the young virgins were more
numerous than the nonvirgins, whom we could reasonably assume were of
various ages ranging from adolescence to old age? One would
certainly think that a tribal society would have had more nonvirgins
than virgins in its population. In other words, even if there had
been as many as 24,000 Midianite women involved in the Peor orgy, we
could hardly imagine that all of the nonvirgin captives had been
involved in this incident. To so imagine, we would have to assume
that the israelite men had had multiple partners or that the nonvirgin
captives were fewer than the younger virgins.
All that aside, I have been curious for some time to know how that
israelites were able to determine which women were virgins. Maybe
McDonald can tell us.
-- ----------- ----
In my reply to Archer's "servant explanation," I pointed out that (1)
if these females were kept alive just to be servants, there was no
reason at all to kill the nonvirgins (as if nonvirgins couldn't work
As I pointed out in 1991 I will point out again. Virginity had
nothing to do with qualifying them for servitude; it had everything to
do with qualifying them for life. Nonvirgins would be more apt to
lead the israelite men off into fornication again and eventually into
And in what way was McDonald able to determine that this was Yahweh's
reason for having the nonvirgins massacred? Is he speaking where the
Bible speaks and remaining silent where the Bible is silent. Anyway,
given the importance that men in those ancient societies placed on
virginity, wouldn't a pretty young virgin have been more tempting than
a nonvirgin who had been around the block a few times?
and that (2) the cultural emphasis that societies then placed on
virginity would be a more likely explanation for why the virgins were
spared (if this event actually happened). In support of this view, I
pointed out (1) that when a successor was chosen for Queen Vashti,
only virgins were considered as candidates to fill the position
Yes the culture did place an emphasis on virginity just as our culture
used to and some are trying to get back to that idea. When a
successor was chosen for Vashti virgins were brought before him. Not
because having sex with a virgin was so pleasurable, but because
virgins were considered sexually pure and the Kings servants didn't
want to bring a woman to him who was not sexually pure.
Is everyone noticing how McDonald always knows the motivating factors
in biblical stories, even when there is nothing in the stories that
even implies what he is saying? Is this what he calls speaking where
the Bible speaks and remaining silent where the Bible is silent?
that (2) when David lay on his deathbed, the virgin Abishag was
appointed to lie in bed with him to keep him warm (1 Kings 1:3).
Yes, this is true, but a virgin was brought to him so no scandal could
be started. If she was a virgin and known to be a virgin then people
would not go around talking about her lying with David to keep him
See what I mean? McDonald always knows everything that was involved
behind the scenes in these stories. I could just as well say that
they provided a virgin for David just in case he should regain some of
his former sexual vigor. In such an event, he would have been
rewarded with a female worthy of his stature. That observation would
be just as valid as McDonald's.
Only a woman who was considered sexually pure could do this. If David
was so sick that he needed someone to place her body next to his to
keep him warm, I doubt that he was going to be much interested in sex
Is this speaking where the Bible speaks and remaining silent where the
Bible is silent? I cited this example merely to emphasize the
importance that men in those days attached to virginity. I didn't cite
it so that McDonald could show us how he knows everything that went
on the behind the scenes in this tale. I have shown that the
importance attached to virginity in those days is a very reasonable
explanation for why the nonvirgin Midianite captives were killed but
the virgins kept alive for the men... er, excuse me, to be servants to
I don't recall without reviewing the manuscripts if I mentioned any
other examples, but there are plenty in the Bible that could be
cited. If McDonald doesn't know the value that males in biblical
times put on virginity, then he really has no business trying to be
an apologist. Anyone who doesn't have an inerrancy axe to grind can
look at he text and see the obvious probability that Moses told his
soldiers, who ould all have been males, to keep the virgins alive for
You can bring up all the accounts that you please, but you can't prove
that these virgins were used for sex.
The text certainly implies it, and you can't prove that they were not
so used. Until you can explain why Moses told the men to keep the
virgins alive "for yourselves" rather than to keep them alive to
become servants, reasonable readers will assume the more likely
I do know the value that males in Biblical times placed on virginity,
but it wasn't because having sex with a virgin was so pleasurable. It
was because virgins were considered sexually pure and if a man was
going to find a wife, he would want someone who had not been with
Well, I won't dispute that. To put a little frosting on the cake of
my position in this matter, I will cite the case of Reuben and Bilhah.
Genesis 35:22 While israel lived in that land, Reuben went and lay
with Bilhah his father's concubine; and israel heard of it.
Because of this, Jacob later pronounced a curse of sorts on Reuben.
Genesis 49:3 Reuben, you are my firstborn, my might and the first
fruits of my vigor, excelling in rank and excelling in power. 4
Unstable as water, you shall no longer excel because you went up onto
your father's bed; then you defiled it--you went up onto my couch!
Jewish literature indicates that this offense was so grievous that
Jacob (israel) never had sexual relations with Bilhah again.
And now, children, love the truth, and it shall preserve you. I
counsel you, hear ye Reuben your father. Pay no heed to the sight of
a woman, nor yet associate privately with a female under the authority
of a husband, nor meddle with affairs of womankind. For had I not
seen Bilhah bathing in a covered place, I had not fallen into this
great iniquity. For my mind, dwelling on the woman's nakedness,
suffered me not to sleep until I had done the abominable deed. For
while Jacob our father was absent with Isaac his father, when we were
in Gader, near to Ephratha in Bethlehem, Bilhah was drunk, and lay
asleep uncovered in her chamber; and when I went in and beheld her
nakedness, I wrought that impiety, and leaving her sleeping I
departed. And forthwith an angel of God revealed to my father Jacob
concerning my impiety, and he came and mourned over me, and touched
her no more ("Reuben's Testament" in Testaments of the Twelve
The guys took sexual purity seriously in those days, and that ancient
attitude is sufficient to explain why the israelites were told to keep
the virgin Midianites alive for themselves.
This is enough for McDonald to chew on for a while. I will continue
my reply in part (2).