The Bible and Islam on ‘Slave Women’ p3/3

part 3/3

We continue where we left off in Part 2.

3.Islamic teaching on sex-slaves/captives

Muhammad arrived in Yathrib (Medina) in 622 at the invitation of the two main tribes, the Aws and the Khazraj, who had previously been enemies. His role was to reconcile them and provide a constitutional reference for the city. Two Jewish tribes, the Banu Nadir and Banu Qurayzah were confederate with the Aws, whilst the Banu Qaynuqah were confederate the Khazraj.[1]In regard to the actual destruction of the Qurayzah, Watt provides us with this information:

After the unconditional surrender of Qurayzah, Muhammad b. Maslamah was in charge of the men and ‘Abdallah b. Sallam of the women and children… Muhammad …appointed as judge Sa’d b. Mu’adh, the leading man of the Aws, who had been gravely wounded during the siege and died soon after his sentence on Qurayzah. When he was brought to where Muhammad was, all the Aws and the others present swore to abide by his decision. He decreed that all the men of Qurayzah should be put to death and the women and children sold as slaves. This sentence was duly carried out, apparently on the following day[2]

Watt gives a figure of six hundred Qurayzah slaughtered (although others put the figure as high as nine hundred).[3]It is in the Hadith that we meet the most extensive treatment:

Narrated by Aisha

Sahih Al-Bukhari 5.448

…When the Prophet returned from the (battle) of Al-Khandaq (i.e. Trench) and laid down his arms and took a bath Gabriel came to him while he (i.e. Gabriel) was shaking the dust off his head, and said, “You have laid down the arms?” By Allah, I have not laid them down. Go out to them (to attack them).” The Prophet said, “Where?” Gabriel pointed towards Bani Quraiza. So Allah’s Apostle went to them (i.e. Banu Quraiza) (i.e. besieged them). They then surrendered to the Prophet’s judgment but he directed them to Sad to give his verdict concerning them. Sad said, “I give my judgment that their warriors should be killed, their women and children should be taken as captives, and their properties distributed.”….

Whether the actual event is mentioned in fiqh, the treatment handed out to the Qurayzah has continued. For example in Shafi fiqh, non-Muslim subjects of the Islamic state face severe sanctions if break their covenant with the regime:

o11.9 If non-Muslim subjects of the Islamic state refuse to conform to the rules of Islam, or to pay the non-Muslim poll tax, then their agreement with the state has been violated (dis: o11.11) (A: though if only one of them disobeys, it concerns him alone).

o11.10 The agreement is also violated (A: with respect to the offender alone) if the state has stipulated that any of the following things break it, and one of the subjects does so anyway, though if the state has not stipulated that these break the agreement, then they do not; namely, if one of the subject people:

(1) commits adultery with a Muslim woman or marries her;

(2) conceals spies of hostile forces;

(3) leads a Muslim away from Islam;

(4) kills a Muslim;

(5) or mentions something impermissible about Allah, the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), or Islam.

o11.11 When a subject’s agreement with the state has been violated, the caliph chooses between the four alternatives mentioned above in connection with prisoners of war (o9.14).[4]

Obviously, the accusation against the Banu Qurayzah is that by their treachery, they were seeking to overthrow the Islamic State, and thus they refused ‘to conform to the rules of Islam’. As for ‘the four alternatives mentioned above in connection with prisoners of war’, these involve the following:

o9.14 When an adult male is taken captive, the caliph (def: o25) considers the interests (O: of Islam and the Muslims) and decides between the prisoner’s death, slavery, release without paying anything, or ransoming himself in exchange for money or for a Muslim captive held by the enemy. If the prisoner becomes a Muslim (O: before the caliph chooses any of the four alternatives) then he may not be killed, and one of the other three alternatives is chosen.[5]

Often in the history of jihad, prisoners of war have been enslaved, sometimes ransomed (both options were employed by the Barbary Corsairs of North Africa), but an option to slay them remained. This is what happened to the Qurayzah male adults. The option for women and children is clear: ‘o9.13 When a child or a woman is taken captive, they become slaves by the fact of capture, and the woman’s previous marriage is immediately annulled.’[6]Similar opinions are found in the Hanafi madhab:

4026 AL-HEDAYA Vol. II (Hanafi Manual)

[Captives may either he stain, or enslaved, or admitted to become Zimmee]

The Imam, with respect to captives, has it in his choice to flay them, because the prophet put captives to death, – and also, because fslaying them terminates wickedness: – or, if he chose, he may make them slaves, because by enslaving them the evil of them is remedied, at the same time that the Muslims reap an advantage: – or, if he please, he may release them so as to make them freemen and Zimmees, according to what is recorded of Omar: – but it is not lawful so to release the idolaters of Arabia, or apostates, for reasons which shall be hereafter explained.

The implication of this ruling is that it is permissible either to slay or enslave captives. Note the basis of this: the Sunnahof the Prophet – ‘the prophet put captives to death’. Whilst the Qur’an limits the number of wives a man may marry, this does not prevent him enjoying the pleasure of sex-slaves, which in effect was what those women whom ‘your right hand possesses’ were:

Surah Al-Ahzab 33:52

It is not allowed thee to take (other) women henceforth, nor that thou shouldst change them for other wives even though their beauty pleased thee, save those whom thy right hand possesseth.

Islamic law is quite open about the different functions of the male and female slaves. With the former, their role was labour, but with the latter, the primary function was sexual gratification:

4427 AL-HEDAYA Vol. II (Hanafi Manual)

[Defects which operate in the sale of female slaves, but not of males].

A bad smell, from the breath or armpits, is a defect in regard to female slaves, because in many instances the object is to sleep with them(emphasis ours);and the existence of such defects in a bar to the accomplishment of that object. – These, however, are not defects with regard to male slaves; because the object, in purchasing them, is merely to use their services; and to this these defects are not obstacles, since it is possible for a slave to serve his master without the necessary of the master’s fitting down with him, so as to receive annoyance from these defects. – If, however, they proceed from disease, they are considered as defects with regard to male slaves also.

Whoredom and bastardy are defects with regard to a female slave, but not with regard to a male; because the object, in the purchaser of a female slave, is cohabitation and the generation of children, which must be affected by either of the above circumstances; whereas, the object in the purchase of a male slave is the use of his services, the value of which is not depreciated by his committing whoredom. – If, however, a male slave be much addicted to whoredom, our lawyers are of opinion that it is a defect, because in the pursuit of women he neglects the service of his master.

The married condition of the women captives was ignored, it was it considered annulled by virtue of the command of God. This has been emphasised in Islamic law:

AbuSa’id al-KhudriSAHIH MUSLIM3432At the Battle of Hunayn Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) sent an army to Awtas and encountered the enemy and fought with them. Having overcome them and taken them captives, the Companions of Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) seemed to refrain from having intercourse with captive women because of their husbands being polytheists. Then Allah, Most High, sent down regarding that: ‘And women already married, except those whom your right hand possess (iv.24)’ (i.e. they were lawful for them when their Iddah period came to an end). 6904 AL-MUWATTA of Imam Malik29.34.95AbuSa’id al-KhudriWe went out with the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, on the expedition to the Banu al-Mustaliq. We took some Arabs prisoner, and we desired the women as celibacy was hard for us. We wanted the ransom, so we wanted to practise coitus interruptus.  We said, ‘Shall we practise coitus interruptus while the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, is among us before we ask him?  We asked him about that and he said, ‘You don’t have to not do it. There is no self which is to come into existence up to the Day of rising but that it will come into existence.’ Surah An-Nisa 4:24And all married women (are forbidden unto you save those (captives) whom your right hands possess. It is a decree of Allah for you. Reliance of the Travellero9.13 When a child or a woman is taken captive, they become slaves by the fact of capture, and the woman’s previous marriage is immediately annulled. 7405 AL-RISALA (Maliki Manual)32.06 INTERCOURSE WITH NON-MUSLIM WOMENGod – Glorified be He – has prohibited sexual intercourse with unbelieving women who do not happen to belong to People of the Book, that is, Christians and Jews, whether this is to take place on account of ownership or marriage. But Muslims can have relations with women belonging to People of the Book through ownership (that is, as concubines). It is also lawful to have relations through marriage with their freeborn women. But relations with their slave women through marriage is forbidden both to a freeborn Muslim and a Muslim slave.  

Note also the difference between the Biblical model of effectively emancipating a captive woman by marriage and the Islamic practice, whereby aslave wife is inferior to a free wife; the husband has a lesser obligation to the former than he does to the latter:

3346 AL-HEDAYA Vol. I (Hanafi Manual)

[Partition, where the wives are of different rank or degree, must be adjusted accordingly]

If a man be married to two wives, one of them a free woman, and the other a slave, he must divide his time into three portions, cohabiting two portions with the former and one with the latter, because the same is recorded of Ali; and also, because, as it is lawful to marry a free woman upon a slave, but not a slave upon a free woman*, it hence appears that the rights of the former in marriage are short of those of the latter. – And a Mokatiba, Modabbira, or Um-Walid, are, with respect to their right of partition, the same as slaves.

*  By marrying one woman upon another is to be understood a man marrying a woman when he is already possessed of a wife; the expression is merely idiomatical.

CONCLUSION

There is a vast difference between the Biblical treatment of captive women and that of Islam. In the latter, they can become sex-slaves, concubines for the gratification of their masters. In the former, they must be honourably married and treated with respect. Essentially, they join the People of YHWH. The two models are diametrically opposed, rather than being equivalent.


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[1]Guillaume, Alfred, Islam, (Harmondsworth: Penguin, Second Edition 1956, 1978 printing), p. 38.

[2]Watt, W. Montgomery, Muhammad at Medina, (Karachi: Oxford University Press, 1956, 1988), p. 214.

[3]Ibid., p. 216.

[4]al-Misri, Ahmad, Reliance of the Traveller: A Classic Manual of Islamic Sacred Law, (Delhi: Aamna Publishers, 1991, 1994, ed. Nuh Ha Mim Keller), p. 609.

[5]Ibid., p. 604.

[6]Ibid.

The Bible and Islam on ‘Slave Women’ p2/3

Part 2/3

We continue where we left off in Part 1.

2. Marriage to prisoners of war

There was a difference between the wars of Biblical Israel against the Canaanites of Palestine and the peoples elsewhere – Deuteronomy 20:

10 “When you draw near to a city to fight against it, offer terms of peace to it.11 And if it responds to you peaceably and it opens to you, then all the people who are found in it shall do forced labour for you and shall serve you.12 But if it makes no peace with you, but makes war against you, then you shall besiege it.13 And when YHWH your God gives it into your hand, you shall put all its males to the sword,14 but the women and the little ones, the livestock, and everything else in the city, all its spoil, you shall take as plunder for yourselves. And you shall enjoy the spoil of your enemies, which YHWH your God has given you.15 Thus you shall do to all the cities that are very far from you, which are not cities of the nations here.16 But in the cities of these peoples that YHWH your God is giving you for an inheritance, you shall save alive nothing that breathes,17 but you shall devote them to complete destruction, the Hittites and the Amorites, the Canaanites and the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites, as YHWH your God has commanded,18 that they may not teach you to do according to all their abominable practices that they have done for their gods, and so you sin against YHWH your God.

It does not say about the recalcitrant cities that were far off that the women could be raped, any more than could be the children. The implication is that after the execution of the combatants (adult males), the women and children would do forced labour, as in v11. Note that women and children perform the same duties, and these are laid out – labour, not sex! The reference to captive women in the subsequent chapter must be seen in this context (Deuteronomy 21.10ff):

10 “When you go out to war against your enemies, and YHWH your God gives them into your hand and you take them captive, 11 and you see among the captives a beautiful woman, and you desire to take her to be your wife, 12 and you bring her home to your house, she shall shave her head and pare her nails. 13 And she shall take off the clothes in which she was captured and shall remain in your house and lament her father and her mother a full month. After that you may go in to her and be her husband, and she shall be your wife. 14 But if you no longer delight in her, you shall let her go where she wants. But you shall not sell her for money, nor shall you treat her as a slave, since you have humiliated her.

Observe the reaction of the Israelite man: ‘According to Deut. 21.11, though the soldier has apparently only seen the woman among the captives, he ‘loves’ her, קשח. This term is used elsewhere in Deuteronomy of YHWH’s love for Israel (7.7; 10.15)…’[1]Notice what then text doesnotsay: it does not say that a beautiful woman can be enslaved as a concubine, i.e. a sex slave. Rather, it indicates that a woman – who is now without adult male support, having no father, elder brothers, etc. (and if she is a widow, no husband) – can be married to a Hebrew man. Note that she has to be treated with respect – she is given time to mourn her family, and thereafter she cannot be sold or treated as a slave, but rather, honourably, as a wife. Neither does it refer to a man taking multiple captive women as wives. Essentially, the captive woman is thereby emancipated (freed) from captivity and forced labour to enjoy the honoured status of a free Israelite woman – a wife.

The other relevant text is Numbers 31, which begins with the command of YHWH to slay the Midianites involved in the Baal-Peor incident:

YHWH spoke to Moses, saying,“Avenge the people of Israel on the Midianites. Afterward you shall be gathered to your people.”So Moses spoke to the people, saying, “Arm men from among you for the war, that they may go against Midian to execute YHWH’s vengeance on Midian…They warred against Midian, as YHWH commanded Moses, and killed every male.They killed the kings of Midian with the rest of their slain, Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur, and Reba, the five kings of Midian. And they also killed Balaam the son of Beor with the sword.And the people of Israel took captive the women of Midian and their little ones, and they took as plunder all their cattle, their flocks, and all their goods.10 All their cities in the places where they lived, and all their encampments, they burned with fire,11 and took all the spoil and all the plunder, both of man and of beast.12 Then they brought the captives and the plunder and the spoil to Moses, and to Eleazar the priest, and to the congregation of the people of Israel, at the camp on the plains of Moab by the Jordan at Jericho.

Note the plurality of kings mentioned, and the destruction of the Midianite cities, which bears some resemblance to what happened later in Canaan. However, observe Moses’ reaction to the fact that the Israelite commanders handled the offending Midianites the way a later ‘far off’ people were to be treated:

14 And Moses was 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 let all the women live?16 Behold, these, on Balaam’s advice, caused the people of Israel to act treacherously against YHWH in the incident of Peor, and so the plague came among the congregation of YHWH.17 Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known man by lying with him.18 But all the young girls who have not known man by lying with him keep alive for yourselves.

(“And all the youngsters among the women, who have not known lying (with a) male [cf. v. 17], you shall cause to live for yourselves.” (Literal translation) )

We must remember that Israel was commanded to slay the Canaanites because of their evil ways, which included sexual perversion/immorality, and not to intermarry with them, since they would draw Israel away from YHWH. This is what happened at Shittim, where, apparently on the advice of the prophet Balaam, whom king Balak hired to curse Israel, the women seduced the Israelite men sexually and religiously to engage in pagan worship. This suggests that the action of the women was planned and contrived as a kind of ‘honey-trap’ manoeuvre similar to that employed by modern espionage services – in this case, to get the Israelites to betray YHWH. That action made the women combatants, who had therefore to be executed.

An exception is made for virgins – v18, since obviously they were of a better character than the women who prostituted themselves, and were also innocent of the ‘honey-trap’ seduction of the Israelite men. Such virgins could be honourably married. There is nothing to suggest that they could be made concubines/sex slaves. The same conditions as held for the women in Deuteronomy 21.10ff prevailed in this instance as well. Remember, the Decalogue forbade illicit sexual activity – i.e. extra-marital sex, so no woman of any background could be raped. So, Biblical teaching on beautiful female captives is that they must be married and essentially converted to the faith of YHWH. They were not objects of sexual molestation. 

This was a radical departure from conditions that prevailed in the region:

The female slave, like her brother, the male slave, was treated as a commodity. She was leased for work, given as a pledge, handed over as a part of a dowry, or presented as a gift to the temple. In addition to her routine duties as a maid servant, she was subject also to burdens peculiar to her sex. Ownership of a female slave meant not only the right to employ her physical strength, but also, and in many cases primarily, the exploitation of her charms by the male members of her master’s household and the utilization of her body for the breeding of slave children. The highest position a female slave could achieve was to become a child-bearing concubine to her master, and the lowest, to be used as a professional prostitute.

According to the Hammurabi Code a slave-concubine and her children were to be set free after the death of the owner. Children born of a union between a female slave and her master, however, did not share in the inheritance of their father, unless they had been adopted by him during his lifetime.[2]

Such a slave could be molested even by other slaves under her master’s direction: ‘Within the household the female slave, in addition to her regular duties as a maid, was also used as a means to increase the number of slaves, and was therefore promiscuously mated with the male slaves.’[3]Hence, even under the famous Code of Hammurabi, a female slave could be sexually molested. Apart, from being bought at sale, slaves were often the result of war booty, so the Biblical record stands apart. 

We will continue with our discussion in part 3.


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[1]Reeder, Caryn A., ‘Deuteronomy 21.10-14 and/as Wartime Rape’, Journal for the Study of the Old Testament41(3), March 16, 2017, p. 320.

[2]Mendelsohn, Isaac, Slavery in the Ancient Near East, (West Port: Greenwood Press, 1978), p. 50.

[3]Ibid., P. 52.

The Bible and Islam on ‘Slave Women’ p1/3

Part 1/3

INTRODUCTION

  1. The Biblical accusation against Canaanite religion and ban on inter-marriage

The overarching Biblical accusation against the Canaanites is that they were guilty of ‘abominations’. Amongst those abominations was that of human sacrifice – specifically child sacrifice, Deuteronomy 12:.32: ‘…for every abominable act which YHWH hates they have done for their gods; for they even burn their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods.’ Again, in chapter 18:9ff, we read of the practices of the Canaanites in relation to infant sacrifice:

When you enter the land which YHWH your God gives you, you shall not learn to imitate the detestable things of those nations. 10.There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, 11.or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. 12.For whoever does these things is detestable to YHWH; and because of these detestable things YHWH your God will drive them out before you. 

It is clear from these texts that the Canaanite religion was occultic in nature, and involved child sacrifice. From what is stated in Leviticus 18.21ff, it is appears that alongside child sacrifice, the Canaanites also practised homosexuality and bestiality:

You shall not give any of your offspring to offer them to Molech, nor shall you profane the name of your God; I am YHWH. 22.You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination. 23.Also you shall not have intercourse with any animal to be defiled with it, nor shall any woman stand before an animal to mate with it; it is a perversion. 24.Do not defile yourselves by any of these things; for by all these the nations which I am casting out before you have become defiled. 25.For the land has become defiled, therefore I have brought its punishment upon it, so the land has spewed out its inhabitants. 

It also appears that that the Canaanites practised temple prostitution (of both sexes), Deuteronomy 23.17-18, cf. Genesis 38:21, 1 Kings 14.24: ‘There were also male cultprostitutes in the land. They did according to all the abominations of the nations which YHWH dispossessed before the sons of Israel.’ There is a further implication in Leviticus 18 that the Canaanites practised incest, with the possible implication of paedophilia:

6.None of you shall approach any blood relative of his to uncover nakedness… 7. You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father, that is, the nakedness of your mother. She is your mother; you are not to uncover her nakedness… 9.The nakedness of your sister, either your father’s daughter or your mother’s daughter, whether born at home or born outside, their nakedness you shall not uncover. 10.The nakedness of your son’s daughter or your daughter’s daughter, their nakedness you shall not uncover; for their nakedness is yours.

The very fact that the Israelites are commanded not to have sexual relations with their grandchildren may point to a ban on paedophile activity. What is significant is that v3 begins the passage with this injunction: ‘nor are you to do what is done in the land of Canaan where I am bringing you; you shall not walk in their statutes.’ Furthermore, v24, warns that the Canaanites practised these abominations: ‘Do not defile yourselves by any of these things; for by all these the nations which I am casting out before you have become defiled.’ Essentially, Leviticus 18 bans Israelites from performing sexual activities common to the Canaanites – and these included adultery, incest and probably child molestation. After all, if the Canaanites thought it right to sacrifice children, they probably would not have balked at sexually abusing them.

Thus, according to the Bible, Canaanite religion was devoid of ethical content. Harrison describes it as a ‘crude and debased form of ritual polytheism. It was associated with sensuous fertility-cult worship of a particularly lewd and orgiastic kind…’[1]This, as we have seen, involved the use of sacred prostitutes.[2]Wenham quotes G. E. Wright on this issue: ‘The amazing thing about the gods … in Canaan, is that they had no moral character whatsoever… Worship of these gods carried with it some of the most demoralizing practices then in existence. Among them were child sacrifice…’[3]

Such was the depravity of Canaanite religion, they were to be destroyed and no inter-marriage with them was permissible (save for people like Rahab who had already gone over to the side of YHWH): 

When YHWH your God brings you into the land that you are entering to take possession of it, and clears away many nations before you, the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations more numerous and mightier than you,and when YHWH your God gives them over to you, and you defeat them, then you must devote them to complete destruction. You shall make no covenant with them and show no mercy to them.You shall not intermarry with them, giving your daughters to their sons or taking their daughters for your sons,for they would turn away your sons from following me, to serve other gods. Then the anger of YHWH would be kindled against you, and he would destroy you quickly.But thus shall you deal with them: you shall break down their altars and dash in pieces their pillars and chop down their Asherim and burn their carved images with fire.

Given that Rahab and her family were taken into Israel, it is clear that the ban on inter-marriage was not ethnic, but religious. Canaanite religion and culture was not simply polytheist – it was sexually abusive, not least to children, and also abusive in that it practised child-sacrifice. Remember that it was no new cult but centuries old – an entire civilisation was committed to its values. It was irreformable, as were its people. Even its children were infected with its values – they were like ‘the Cubs of the Caliphate’ under the Islamic State group (IS) who actually participated in executions and boasted of their murderous intent. Again, unlike IS, the Canaanite culture and religion was centuries old, and the children thereof would have been infected with their religious, sexual and murderous depravity, and been a continual threat to both the spiritual and physical well-being of Israelite children.

To some extent, albeit perhaps not so great, such depravity also affected certain peoples neighbouring Palestine, e.g. 2 Kings 3: ‘26 When the king of Moab saw that the battle was going against him, he took with him 700 swordsmen to break through, opposite the king of Edom, but they could not.27 Then he took his oldest son who was to reign in his place and offered him for a burnt offering on the wall. And there came great wrath against Israel. And they withdrew from him and returned to their own land.’ From the Moabite Stone of King Mesha, which is dated c. 840 B.C., we know that their vernacular was very similar to the Canaanite language. It confirms that their god (or chief god) was Chemosh. Judges 11.23-24 indicates that Chemosh was also a god of Ammon. In 1 Kings 11.7 we read: ‘Then Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the abomination of Moab, and for Molech the abomination of the Ammonites…’ The same terminology ‘abomination’ is used for these two gods as for the religion and practises of the Canaanites, indicating the nature of their religion. In Numbers 25 it is implied that the Moabites also worshipped Baal – unless they identified Chemosh with him, perhaps. Deuteronomy 23 is clear about relations with Moabites and Ammonites, which affected marital relations – unless, of course, individuals from those nations forsooktheir religion for YHWH (e.g. Ruth):

“No Ammonite or Moabite may enter the assembly of YHWH. Even to the tenth generation, none of them may enter the assembly of YHWH forever,because they did not meet you with bread and with water on the way, when you came out of Egypt, and because they hired against you Balaam the son of Beor from Pethor of Mesopotamia, to curse you. But YHWH your God would not listen to Balaam; instead YHWH your God turned the curse into a blessing for you, because YHWH your God loved you. You shall not seek their peace or their prosperity all your days forever.

The Phoenicians, of course, were exactly the same people as the Canaanites in Palestine, and worshipped the same gods, principally Baal. The Aramaeans worshipped Rimmon, who was identified with Baal. The Midianites were not a single people but were at most, a tribal league dwelling in the region called Midian: …‘they are also related to or associated with the Edomites, Kenites, Ishmaelites, Hagarites and Kenizzites while there are at least connections with Amalekites and Moabites, and perhaps with Ammonites. All in all, they are an amorphous and complex grouping.’[4]Along with ethnic diversity, there was also religious distinction. Jethro seemed to have worshipped YHWH in some way. The reference to Baal-Peor in Numbers 25 suggests that some Midianites at least worshipped Baal. The context suggests that such worship involved sexual immorality:

While Israel lived in Shittim, the people began to whore with the daughters of Moab.These invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods.So Israel yoked himself to Baal of Peor. And the anger of YHWH was kindled against Israel.And YHWH said to Moses, “Take all the chiefs of the people and hangthem in the sun before YHWH, that the fierce anger of YHWH may turn away from Israel.”And Moses said to the judges of Israel, “Each of you kill those of his men who have yoked themselves to Baal of Peor.”

And behold, one of the people of Israel came and brought a Midianite woman to his family, in the sight of Moses and in the sight of the whole congregation of the people of Israel, while they were weeping in the entrance of the tent of meeting… 16 And YHWH spoke to Moses, saying, 17 “Harass the Midianites and strike them down, 18 for they have harassed you with their wiles, with which they beguiled you in the matter of Peor, and in the matter of Cozbi, the daughter of the chief of Midian, their sister, who was killed on the day of the plague on account of Peor.”

Note that Israelites who committed whoredom with the Midianites were executed. The words of v18 imply that the Midianite women seduced the Israelites into both immorality and idolatry: the two were inter-connected – the idolatrous worship of Baal involved sexual immorality. 

We will continue this discussion in part 2.


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[1]Harrison, Old Testament Times, p. 167.

[2]Ibid., p. 168.

[3]Wenham, John, The Goodness of God, (Leicester: IVP), p. 126, quoting Wright, G. E., and Filson, F. V., The Westminster Historical Atlas to the Bible, (London: 1945), p. 36.

[4]Dumbrell, William J., ‘Midian: A Land or a League?’, Vetus Testamentum, Vol. 25, Fasc. 2, No. 2a. Jubilee Number (May, 1975), p. 323.

Muhammad had black slaves

Muhammad had black slaves.

“Muhammad had many male and female slaves.He used to buy and sell them, but he purchased (more slaves) than he sold, especially after God empowered him by His message, as well as after his immigration from Mecca. He (once) sold one black slave for two. His name was Jacob al-Mudbir.” (Ibn Qayyim al-Jawaziyya, “Zad al-Ma’ad” part 1, p. 160)

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Muhammad – white man with black slaves

Muhammad – white man with black slaves

“Muhammad had many male and female slaves.He used to buy and sell them, but he purchased (more slaves) than he sold, especially after God empowered him by His message, as well as after his immigration from Mecca. He (once) sold one black slave for two. His name was Jacob al-Mudbir.” (Ibn Qayyim al-Jawaziyya, “Zad al-Ma’ad” part 1, p. 160)

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