Verse 32. "The booty" - It appears from the enumeration here that the Israelites, in this war against the Midianites, took 32, 000 female prisoners, 61, 000 asses, 72, 000 beeves, 675, 000 sheep and small cattle; besides the immense number of males who fell in battle, and the women and children who were slain by the Divine command, ver. 17. And it does not appear that in this expedition, a single man of Israel fell! This was naturally to be expected, because the battle was the Lord's, ver. 49.
As the booty was divided into two equal parts, ver. 22, one for the soldiers employed in the expedition, and the other for those who, being equally willing to be employed, were ordered to stay in the camp; so each of the parties in this booty was to give a certain proportion to the Lord.
The soldiers to give to the Lord one out of every five hundred persons, beeves, asses, and sheep, ver. 28. The people, who by staying at home risked nothing, and had no fatigue, were to give one out of fifty of the above, ver. 30. The booty, its divisions among the soldiers and people, the proportion given by each to the Lord and to the Levites, will be seen in one view by the following table, which I copy from Houbigant.
Total of sheep - 675, 000 To the soldiers - 337, 500.
To the Lord from the soldiers - 675.
To the people - 337, 500.
To the Levites from the people. - 6, 750.
Total of beeves - 72, 00 To the soldiers - 36, 000.
To the Lord from the soldiers - 72.
To the people -36, 000.
To the Levites from the people -720.
Total of asses -1, 000 To the soldiers - 30, 500.
To the Lord from the soldiers - 61.
To the people - 30, 500.
To the Levites from the people - 610.
Total of persons -32, 000 To the soldiers.. 16, 000.
To the Lord from the soldiers - 32.
To the Levites from the people - 320.
To the people - 16, 000.
In this table the booty is equally divided between the people and the soldiers; a five-hundredth part being given to the Lord, and a fiftieth part to the Levites.
Verse 50. "We have-brought an oblation for the Lord" - So it appears there was a great deal of booty taken which did not come into the general account; and of this the soldiers, of their own will, made a very extensive offering to God, because he had preserved them from falling in battle. That not one man should have been slain is a most extraordinary circumstance, and powerfully marks the peculiar superintendence of God's especial providence. The Midianites must certainly have made some resistance; but that was ineffectual, because it was against the Lord. When any nation undertakes a crusade against those whom they are pleased to call the Lord's enemies, let them bring from the contest this proof of their Divine mission, viz., that not one man of them is either lost or missing; and then, and not till then, shall we believe that God hath sent them.
"To make an atonement for our souls" - That is, to make an acknowledgment to God for the preservation of their lives. The gold offered on this occasion amounted to 16, 750 shekels, equal to 37, 869, 16s. 5d. of our money. See the note on "Exodus xxv. 39", where the true value of the shekel is given, and a rule laid down to reduce it to English money.