Israel Sins in Moab
“It takes little time for the men of Israel to be attracted by the Midianite women in Moab, and equally little time to be seduced into worshiping Baal of Peor, the fertility god which the women worship. Israel’s seduction serves as a good example of how personal relationships — particularly wrong 0nes — can easily influence religious preferences, and why the Israelites are so severely restricted from mixing with foreigners.”
Read Numbers 25
Destruction of the Midianites
“Because of their willful disobedience, and pursuant to God’s promise, he sends a plague which claims 24,000 lives. That God would then punish the Midianites for their great wickedness is understandable, but the account of that punishment is difficult for some to accept.”
Read Numbers 31
“How can a loving God either direct or condone such action? The answer is undoubtedly very complex. As for the women, it was they who turned the Israelites away from the Lord at Peor. As for the young boys, perhaps they would have presented a continuing threat to Israel as they grew into manhood. (Such a threat will indeed be confirmed some years later when Midianites from other areas engage in war against Israel.) The young girls, on the other hand, were to be taken as slaves into the homes of the Israelites, where they would at least be spared inevitable spiritual enslavement of the sensuous worship of Baal of Peor. (There is no suggestion that Moses meant for the Israelites to take them as wives or concubines.)”
All quotations taken from The Daily Bible.