Who Are the Midianites?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, June 6, 2016 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

This week we’re continuing taking a look at different people groups who are talked about in the Bible, other than the people of Israel. Today we’re looking at the Midianites.

The Midianites are the descendants of Midian, who was the fourth son of Abraham by his lesser-known wife, Keturah (Genesis 25:1-2). The Midianites were an Arabian tribe who lived primarily in the northern deserts of Arabia. They were so dominant that they essentially ruled the Arabian peninsula, even though their primary way of life was as shepherds. They were nomadic and did not settle in one particular location.

We first hear about the Midianites as a nation in Genesis 37:28, when Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers to a Midianite caravan. The MIdianites then sold Joseph to Potiphar in Egypt in Genesis 37:36. The next Biblical mention of them is generations later when Moses fled Egypt to Midian (Exodus 2:15-21).

Because of this, the Midianites were generally friendly to the people of Israel right after their exodus from Egypt, as long as the Israelites stayed on the outlying part of the Midianites’ lands. But when Israel started to get too far into the Midian lands, the Midianites joined forces with the Moabites to try and get rid of them before they took over. They convinced the Israelites to join in a festival to worship a pagan god, and Israel did. Naturally, God was not happy about this, so the Israelites were cursed. This resulted in a plague on Israel, where more than 24,000 of the people died. (You can read the full story in Numbers 22-25.) But the Midianites did not go unpunished for this; their cities were conquered and burned, and 5 of their kings died (Joshua 13:21-22).

But that was not the end of the Midianites. Around 250 years later they had regained their strength as a nation, and they joined with the Amalekites to wage war against Israel. But God raised up Gideon to fight them (Judges 6-7), and that was the end of the Midianites for good.

As you can see, God used the people of Midian in various ways in relation to His chosen people of the Israelites. They are both friend and foe at various times, and always used to further God’s plan for His people and for the world. How is God using the people around you in your life, even those who are different than you? Are you allowing God to use you to further His Kingdom in the lives of those around you?

[Note: Much of this material was taken from the Easton Dictionary of the Bible.]

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