God's killings in Numbers

The moral for Numbers is this: Don't whine.

The people complain about their hardship during the Exodus and God sends a fire to burn them alive. They complain about the food, so God forces them to eat quail until it comes out their noses and then sends a plague for complaining about it. They complain again, and God sends fiery serpents to bite and kill them. Then he kills 14,700 more for complaining about his killings.

But there other killings in Numbers. Ten scouts are killed for their honest report; a man is stoned to death for gathering sticks on the Sabbath; dissenters and their families are buried alive; God's hero, Phineas, impales an interfaith couple while they were having sex; and Moses commands his soldiers to kill all the Midianite males and non-virgin women, keeping all the virgins alive for themselves. Nasty stuff.


18. When the people complained, God burned them to death

19. While the flesh was still between their teeth, the Lord smote them with a very great plague

20. Ten scouts are killed for their honest report

21. Sticks and stones: A man gathering sticks on the Sabbath day is stoned to death

22. Korah and his companions are buried alive (along with their families)

23. God burned 250 people to death for burning incense

24. God killed 14,700 for complaining about God's killings

25. The massacre of the Aradites

26. God sent fiery serpents to bite the people for complaining about the lack of food and water

27. Phinehas's double murder: A killing to end God's killngs

28. The Midianite massacre: Have you saved all the women alive?

18. When the people complained, God burned them to death

Here's a fun little Bible story for you.

It all happens in just two verses.

When the people complained, it displeased the LORD. Numbers 11:1a

The Bible doesn't say what the people were complaining about. Spending years wandering around in the desert following a cloud around? Not having enough food or water? Having friends and family killed for no good reason? It doesn't say.

But whatever it was, God heard it. (He had his hearing aid on.)

And the LORD heard it. 11:1b

So what do you think God did? Did he explain why he was leading them around for 40 years without adequate food or water on a trip that should have taken a few weeks?

Not quite. Here's what he did.

His anger was kindled; and the fire of the LORD burnt among them, and consumed them that were in the uttermost parts of the camp. 11:1c

I don't know for sure, of course, but I think God was trying to teach parents a lesson here. When your kids complain, burn them to death. God teaches best when he teaches by example.

Finally the people beg Moses to make God stop. And God stopped burning people to death.

The people cried unto Moses; and when Moses prayed unto the LORD, the fire was quenched. 11:2

Don't you just love happy endings?

(How many people did God burn to death in this episode? The Bible doesn't say, so I just guessed 100.)

19. While the flesh was still between their teeth, the Lord smote them with a very great plague

In his last killing, God burned people to death for complaining. I suppose this was to teach them a lesson: Don't whine.

But if so, it didn't work. Those that survived God's fire immediately began to whine again, saying,

Who shall give us flesh to eat? We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlic: But now our soul is dried away: there is nothing at all, beside this manna, before our eyes. Numbers 11:4-6

So Moses and God talk things over and God says he'll give them meat, all right. He'll feed them meat until it comes out their noses!

Ye shall not eat one day, nor two days, nor five days, neither ten days, nor twenty days; But even a whole month, until it come out at your nostrils, and it be loathsome unto you. 11:19-20

Where did God get the meat, you ask? From quails. Lots and lots of quails.

And there went forth a wind from the LORD, and brought quails from the sea, and let them fall by the camp, as it were a day's journey on this side, and as it were a day's journey on the other side, round about the camp, and as it were two cubits high upon the face of the earth. 11:31

God coated the ground with dead quails. A meter deep within a circle 60 kilometers in diameter.

How many quails would that be?

Well, let's see. The volume of a meter high cylinder with a diameter of 60 kilometers is about 3 billion cubic meters. Since there are 1000 liters in a cubic meter, that makes 3 trillion liters. If the average volume per quail was 1 liter (that would be a big quail), then there would have been 3 trillion dead quail covering the ground, a million or so for each of the several million Israelites.

So everyone had plenty of meat to eat. And the moral of the story is this: If you are hungry, just ask God to feed you. You may get more than you want. You may get so much that it comes out your nose. But God will feed you.

Or that would be the moral, if it weren't for the next verse.

While the flesh was yet between their teeth, ere it was chewed, the wrath of the LORD was kindled against the people, and the LORD smote the people with a very great plague. 11:33

So God fed the people quail until it came out their noses and then killed many of them with "a very great plague."

Which means we need a new moral for this Bible Story: If you are hungry, don't ask God for help. He'll force you to eat food that you don't like until it comes out your nose and then he'll kill you in a plague.

God hates whiners.

(Since this was "a very great plague," I put the death toll at 10,000.)

20. Ten scouts are killed for their honest report

OK, this one requires a bit of explanation.

The story begins in Numbers 13 where Moses sends out 12 scouts (one from each of the tribes of Israel) to check out the land of Canaan.

Moses sent them to spy out the land of Canaan ... And see the land, what it is, and the people that dwelleth therein, whether they be strong or weak, few or many. Numbers 13:17-18

So the twelve spies go and do that.

When they return, one of the spies (Caleb) says,

Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it. 13:30

But the other ten (the Bible doesn't say what Joshua said) disagree.

The land, through which we have gone to search it, is a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof; and all the people that we saw in it are men of a great stature. And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight. 13:32-33

So Caleb (and Joshua?) say it would be easy to take over the land of Canaan, while the other ten say it would be hard, since the people that live there are giants. (The scouts were like grasshoppers in comparison to them.)

When the people heard the reports, they believed the giant story and were a bit discouraged. So they decided to elect a new leader and go back to Egypt.

All the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night. And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron: and the whole congregation said unto them, Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would God we had died in this wilderness! ... And they said one to another, Let us make a captain, and let us return into Egypt. 14:1-4

When Moses and Aaron hear this, they fell on their faces.

Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces. 14:5

Joshua and Caleb tear their clothes.

Joshua ... and Caleb ... rent their clothes. 14:6

And try to talk the people out of it.

Saying, The land, which we passed through to search it, is an exceeding good land. If the LORD delight in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it us; a land which floweth with milk and honey. 14:7-8

But the people weren't buying it. They didn't want to fight any God-damned giants. So they decide to stone Joshua and Caleb (with stones).

All the congregation bade stone them with stones. 14:10a

And then God, in all his glory, shows up.

The glory of the LORD appeared ... before all the children of Israel. 14:10b

He tells Moses that he's sick of their whining, so he's going to kill them all. He'll smite them with the pestilence and then make some better people to replace them. People who wouldn't whine so damned much.

The LORD said unto Moses, How long will this people provoke me? ... I will smite them with the pestilence, and disinherit them, and will make of thee a greater nation and mightier than they. 14:11-12

But Moses talks him out of it (like he did in killing #12). He says the Egyptians will hear about it and say that God couldn't get the people to obey him so he had to kill them all. How would that look to the neighbors?

Moses said unto the LORD, Then the Egyptians shall hear it ... And they will tell it to the inhabitants of this land ... Because the LORD was not able to bring this people into the land which he sware unto them, therefore he hath slain them in the wilderness. 14:13-16

So God decided not to kill everyone. Not yet, anyway. But he'll make sure that all their carcasses rot in the wilderness (at least all those that are over 20 years old).

Your carcases shall fall in this wilderness; and all that were numbered of you, according to your whole number, from twenty years old and upward which have murmured against me ... But as for you, your carcases, they shall fall in this wilderness. And your children shall wander in the wilderness forty years ... the LORD have said, I will surely do it unto all this evil congregation, that are gathered together against me: in this wilderness they shall be consumed, and there they shall die. 14:29-35

And that would have been the end of the story, except that God was still pissed off about those ten scouts, even though they were just doing their jobs. ("To spy out the land of Canaan ... And see the land, what it is, and the people that dwelleth therein, whether they be strong or weak, few or many.") So he killed them in a plague.

And the men, which Moses sent to search the land, who returned, and made all the congregation to murmur against him, by bringing up a slander upon the land, Even those men that did bring up the evil report upon the land, died by the plague before the LORD. 14:36-37

21. Sticks and stones: A man gathering sticks on the Sabbath day is stoned to death

This one is pretty simple.

A man is caught gathering sticks on the Sabbath day.

While the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man that gathered sticks upon the Sabbath day. Numbers 15:32

The people ask Moses what to do about it.

They ... brought him unto Moses and Aaron ... because it was not declared what should be done to him. 15:33-34

God tells Moses that everyone must stone the Sabbath breaker to death.

The LORD said unto Moses, The man shall be surely put to death: all the congregation shall stone him with stones. 15:35

So that's what they do.

All the congregation brought him without the camp, and stoned him with stones, and he died; as the LORD commanded Moses. 15:36

Immediately after the stoning, God gets down to some more important business -- like instructing the people on how to make fringes on their garments.

The LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and bid them that they make them fringes in the borders of their garments throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringe of the borders a ribband of blue. 15:37-38

You see, God wants us to put fringes on our garments so that when we see the purple fringes we'll say to ourselves, "Oh yeah, I'm supposed to follow all of God's laws."

It shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the LORD, and do them. 15:39a

That way, when we see someone working on the Sabbath, we'll remember to stone him or her to death, on the spot, instead of following our own heart.

That ye seek not after your own heart and your own eyes. 15:39b

People who follow their hearts seldom stone people to death.

22. Korah and his companions are buried alive (along with their families)

Our story begins with Korah and his companions confronting Moses. Here's what they say to him:

Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the LORD is among them: wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the congregation of the LORD? Numbers 16:3

So what do you suppose Moses did when he heard this? Well, he fell on his face, of course. (People are always falling on their faces in the Bible.)

When Moses heard it, he fell upon his face. 16:4

And (while still on his face) offers this ingenious plan:

This do; Take you censers, Korah, and all his company; And put fire therein, and put incense in them before the LORD to morrow: and it shall be that the man whom the LORD doth choose, he shall be holy. 16:6-7

So they're going to have an old-fashioned, incense-swinging, prayer contest, where God picks the winner. How cool is that?

They took every man his censer, and put fire in them, and laid incense thereon, and stood in the door of the tabernacle of the congregation with Moses and Aaron. 16:18

But before they start swinging their censers, God in all his glory shows up.

The glory of the LORD appeared unto all the congregation. 16:19

So God, Moses, and Aaron call a time out to talk things over.

Remember how, just a couple killings ago (20), God threatened to kill everyone for complaining? Yeah, well, he's back at it again. He tells Moses and Aaron to stand back and get the hell out of the way because he's going to kill everybody. The LORD spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying, Separate yourselves from among this congregation, that I may consume them in a moment. 16:20-21

So what do you figure Moses and Aaron do when they hear that? Well, they fell on their faces, of course.

They fell upon their faces. 16:22a

And (while still on their faces) they try to talk God out of it (again).

And said, O God, the God of the spirits of all flesh, shall one man sin, and wilt thou be wroth with all the congregation? 16:22b

It seemed to work again, too, since God came up with a whole new game plan.,/p>

The LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the congregation, saying, Get you up from about the tabernacle of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram. 16:23-24

So they gat up from the tabernacle of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, on every side: and Dathan and Abiram came out, and stood in the door of their tents, and their wives, and their sons, and their little children. And Moses said, Hereby ye shall know that the LORD hath sent me. 16:27-28

If these men die the common death of all men, or if they be visited after the visitation of all men; then the LORD hath not sent me. But if the LORD make a new thing, and the earth open her mouth, and swallow them up, with all that appertain unto them, and they go down quick into the pit; then ye shall understand that these men have provoked the LORD. 16:29-30

So God and Moses arrange this test. If Korah and his companions die a normal, natural death, then God didn't send Moses. But if they (and their families) are buried alive, then Moses is God's special friend.

The test proved to everyone that God is on Moses' side (since the other guys were buried alive).

The earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up.... They, and all that appertained to them, went down alive into the pit, and the earth closed upon them: and they perished from among the congregation. 16:32-33

And that they should get the hell away from him before he buries them alive, too.

And all Israel that were round about them fled at the cry of them: for they said, Lest the earth swallow us up also. 16:34

But how many died in this killing?

Well, there's no way to know for sure, but there were at least three men that opposed Moses (Korah, Dathan, and Abiram), and the story makes it clear that their wives and children were buried alive with them. So if each had at least one wife and one child, that would make at least 9 victims.

23. God burned 250 people to death for burning incense

In his last killing, God showed whose side he's on by opening up the ground and burying alive the leaders that opposed Moses (along with their families). And it made quite an impression on everyone.

All Israel that were round about them fled at the cry of them: for they said, Lest the earth swallow us up also. Numbers 16:34

But they were safe, at least for the moment, because God had his mind on other things. Remember Moses's original plan for dealing with Korah's rebellion? He told him and his associates to burn incense before the Lord and let God choose who is holy.

This do; Take you censers, Korah, and all his company; And put fire therein, and put incense in them before the LORD to morrow: and it shall be that the man whom the LORD doth choose, he shall be holy. 16:6-7

But then God came up with the burying alive thing and the censer-swinging prayer contest was put on hold.

In the meantime, 250 of Korah's followers did as Moses asked and burned some incense. So God burned them all alive to teach them a lesson or something. (If you do what he says, he'll burn you to death?)

There came out a fire from the LORD, and consumed the two hundred and fifty men that offered incense. 16:35

At least I don't have to guess the number of victims this time.

24. God killed 14,700 for complaining about God's killings

In case you haven't been following along, here's what has happened so far in Numbers 16.

Korah and his companions question Moses's leadership, saying "Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the LORD is among them: wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the congregation of the LORD?" (Numbers 16:1-3)

Moses falls on his face. (16:4)

The glory of the Lord appears to the congregation. (16:19)

God tells Moses to get out of the way because he's going to kill everyone. (16:20-21)

Moses and Aaron fall on their faces. (16:22)

Korah, his companions, and their families are buried alive. (16:27-33)

God burns to death 250 men for burning incense. (16:35)

So, as you might expect, the people who had witnessed all this were pretty freaked out by now.

But on the morrow all the congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron, saying, Ye have killed the people of the LORD. Numbers 16:41

Then "the glory of the Lord" appeared (again).

Behold ... the glory of the LORD appeared. 16:42

And God tells Moses he's going to kill everyone (again).

And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Get you up from among this congregation, that I may consume them as in a moment. 16:44-45a

I think you can guess by now what Moses and Aaron did next.

They fell upon their faces. 16:45b

Then Moses told Aaron to burn some incense to try to stop God from killing everyone.

Moses said unto Aaron, Take a censer, and put fire therein from off the altar, and put on incense, and go quickly unto the congregation, and make an atonement for them: for there is wrath gone out from the LORD; the plague is begun. 16:46

And the incense burning worked. (Sometimes God will stop killing if you burn incense; sometimes he'll burn you to death instead. He works in mysterious ways.) But not before 14,700 had died in the plague.

Now they that died in the plague were fourteen thousand and seven hundred, beside them that died about the matter of Korah. 16:49

So in this chapter (Numbers 16), God threatened to kill everyone twice, but settled for killing 14,959 in three separate killing events (nine or so buried alive, 250 burned to death, and 14,700 killed in a plague).

But don't complain about it or he'll kill you, too.

25. The massacre of the Aradites

Don't you just hate God-assisted holy war massacres? I do. They're so damned boring.

But we might as well get used to them because God likes them. A lot. There are about 50 holy war massacres on the list of God's 158 killings in the Bible. So there's just no way to avoid them.

Here's what happened in this one.

King Arad heard that the Israelites were coming, so he fought against them when they tried to invade his land.

When king Arad the Canaanite, which dwelt in the south, heard tell that Israel came by the way of the spies; then he fought against Israel, and took some of them prisoners. Numbers 21:1

So the Israelites asked God for help, promising to kill everyone in several cities.

Israel vowed a vow unto the LORD, and said, If thou wilt indeed deliver this people into my hand, then I will utterly destroy their cities. 21:2

God didn't have to think about this one. Here's how he responded.

The LORD hearkened to the voice of Israel, and delivered up the Canaanites. 21:3a

So the Israelites, with God's help, killed everyone in several Canaanite cities.

And they utterly destroyed them and their cities. 21:3b

I'm glad we got this one over with. It was pretty boring, wasn't it?

God's next killing will be better, I promise.

The Bible doesn't tell us the population of the Aradite cities. So I guessed there were 3 cities, each with 1000 people, for a total of 3000 victims.

26. God sent fiery serpents to bite the people for complaining about the lack of food and water

When it comes to this Bible story, there are only two kinds of believers: those who have never heard of it, and those who are embarrassed by it.

Here's the story.

The Israelites began to complain about the lack of food and water.

The people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread. Numbers 21:5

So God sent fiery serpents to bite the people.

The LORD sent fiery serpents among the people. 21:6a

And many of the people died.

And they bit the people; and much people of Israel died. 21:6b

Then the people apologized to Moses and God for complaining, asking Moses to do something to get rid of God's nasty fiery serpents.

Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD, and against thee; pray unto the LORD, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people. 21:7

God told Moses what to do. Make a fiery serpent out of brass (they had lots of that lying around) and put it on a pole. Then when a bitten person looks at it, he or she won't die.

The LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live. 21:8

So Moses made a brass snake and put it on a pole. And it worked just like God said it would.

Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived. 21:9

Now that's a lot more entertaining than a damned holy war massacre, isn't it?

(Numbers 21.6 says that "much of the people died." But how much is much? I guessed 100.)

27. Phinehas's double murder: A killing to end God's killing

This is really a strange one, and I'm not sure what to do with it.

It all happens in the first few verses of Numbers 25, right after the story about Balaam's talking donkey.

It begins with the people having sex with the daughters of Moab.

The people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab. Numbers 25:1

After sex, they ate dinner with them and worshiped their gods.

They called the people unto the sacrifices of their gods: and the people did eat, and bowed down to their gods. 25:2

This angered God so much that he told Moses to kill all the leaders and hang their dead bodies up on trees so that he wouldn't be so angry anymore.

The anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel. And the LORD said unto Moses, Take all the heads of the people, and hang them up before the LORD against the sun, that the fierce anger of the LORD may be turned away from Israel. 25:3-4

Now this probably wasn't as bad as the King James Version makes it sound. "Take all the heads of the people, and hang them up before the Lord against the sun" sounds like God told Moses to cut off peoples' heads and hang the heads on trees. That would be kind of nasty.

But no. God just wanted Moses to kill the leaders ("the heads of the people") and hang their dead bodies on trees out in the sunshine so "that the fierce anger of the LORD may be turned away from Israel." That's not nearly so bad, now is it?

I can't tell, though, whether Moses did what God asked. Here's the next verse:

Moses said unto the judges of Israel, Slay ye every one his men that were joined unto Baalpeor. 25:5

Moses told the leaders (judges) to kill everyone who was "joined unto Baalpeor." I don't know if being joined to Baalpeor was having sex with the daughters of Moab or not. But clearly Moses wasn't following orders here. God told him to kill the leaders and hang their bodies on trees; Moses told the leaders to kill the people who were joined to Baalpeor. Different thing entirely, I'd say.

Anyway, I guess neither God's nor Moses' plan was executed, because of what happened next:

Behold, one of the children of Israel came and brought unto his brethren a Midianitish woman in the sight of Moses, and in the sight of all the congregation of the children of Israel, who were weeping before the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. 25:6

And then the real hero of the story shows up. Phinehas. He sees the happy couple and sticks a spear through their bellies (while they were having sex?).

When Phinehas ... saw it, he rose up from among the congregation, and took a javelin in his hand; And he went after the man of Israel into the tent, and thrust both of them through, the man of Israel, and the woman through her belly. 25:7-8a

This double murder made God so happy that he stopped killing everyone. You see, while Moses was trying to get the leaders to kill people who had sex with Moabite women and God was trying to get Moses to kill the leaders and hang their bodies on trees, God was also busy killing people with a plague.

So the plague was stayed from the children of Israel. And those that died in the plague were twenty and four thousand. 25:8b-9

Now God had planned to kill everyone, but he stopped with just 24,000 because of Phinehas' holy double murder.

The LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Phinehas ... hath turned my wrath away from the children of Israel, while he was zealous for my sake among them, that I consumed not the children of Israel in my jealousy. 25:10-11

[Paul said that only 23,000 died in the plague (1 Corinthians 10.8), but how would he know?]

So you see my problem here, don't you? How many killings do we have here?

God told Moses to kill the leaders and hang their bodies on trees, but we don't know whether Moses followed God's command.

Moses told the leaders to kill whoever had sex with the Moabite women, but we don't know if his order was carried out either.

Phinehas killed the two people having sex, but we don't know whether God told him to or not. (Even though God was clearly pleased by the killing. So much, in fact that he quit killing after only 24,000 had died, when he'd planned to kill several million.)

And how many died in the plague? Was it 24,000 as Numbers 25:9 says or 23,000 as it says in 1 Corinthians 10.8?

So how do we keep score here? At least 24,000 people died (23,000 if we believe Paul), but in how many separate killing events? And should God get credit for Phinehas's double murder?

I've decided to count Phinehas's double murder and God's plague in God's killings. God clearly deserves credit for the plague, of course, but the Phinehas's affair is less clear.

However both Moses and God ordered people to be killed either for having sex with the Midianites or for allowing them to do so (Numbers 25:3-5), and God was so pleased with the Phinehas's killing that he stopped his own mass murder. So I think God deserves credit for either inspiring or directly ordering Phinehas's murder of the interfaith couple.

So I'm going to ignore Paul and go with 24,002 for this killing.

28. The Midianite massacre: Have you saved all the women alive?

This is a Bible story that everyone should know.

It begins with God telling Moses to take vengeance on the Midianites. (He doesn't say for what, but I guess it was for the sex and dinner party that brought on God's 25th killing.)

The LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Avenge the children of Israel of the Midianites. Numbers 31:1-2

So Moses does what he's told and sends off 12,000 men led by Phinehas (the guy who stopped God from killing everyone by impaling the interracial couple in the last killing) with his "holy instruments" and trumpets.

Moses spake unto the people, saying, Arm some of yourselves unto the war, and let them go against the Midianites, and avenge the LORD of Midian ... So there were delivered ... twelve thousand armed for war. And Moses sent them to the war, a thousand of every tribe, them and Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest, to the war, with the holy instruments, and the trumpets to blow in his hand. 31:3-6

First they killed every male "as the LORD commanded Moses."

They warred against the Midianites, as the LORD commanded Moses; and they slew all the males. 31:7

Next they killed five kings,

They slew the kings of Midian ... namely, Evi, and Rekem, and Zur, and Hur, and Reba. 31:8a

Along with Balaam [the nice guy with the talking ass (Numbers 22:28-30)].

Balaam also ... they slew with the sword. 31:8b

Then they took the women and children captive, collected their animals and valuables, burned the cities, and returned to Moses.

The children of Israel took all the women of Midian captives, and their little ones, and took the spoil of all their cattle, and all their flocks, and all their goods. And they burnt all their cities ... And they brought the captives, and all the prey, and the spoil, unto Moses. 31:9-12

But Moses wasn't pleased. Here's what he said:

Moses was wroth with the officers ... Have ye saved all the women alive? Behold, these caused the children of Israel ... to commit trespass against the LORD ... and there was a plague. 31:14-16

Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves. 31:17-18

[You see, it was the Midianite women who had sex with the Israelites (27).]

So that's what they did. They went back and killed all the non-virgin women, keeping the 32,000 virgins alive for themselves. (I'm not sure how they separated the virgins from the non-virgins, but God probably helped out with that.)

The booty, being ... thirty and two thousand persons in all, of women that had not known man by lying with him. 31:32-35

Since there were 32,000 virgin women saved alive as booty, I figured there must have been about 200,000 killed in this episode, which would include all of the males (men, boys, babies) and non-virgin females.