“And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Take the sum of the prey that was taken, both of man and of beast, thou, and Eleazar the priest, and the chief fathers of the congregation: And divide the prey into two parts; between them that took the war upon them, who went out to battle, and between all the congregation: And levy a tribute unto the LORD of the men of war which went out to battle: one soul of five hundred, both of the persons, and of the beeves, and of the asses, and of the sheep: Take it of their half, and give it unto Eleazar the priest, for an heave offering of the LORD.” (Numbers 31:25-29)
The spoils were to be divided with those who fought retaining half of the benefits and the other being given to the rest of the people. The twelve thousand who did the work were the primary beneficiaries, but they were to share with those who were not able to go. Of the soldiers’ portion, one in every five hundred, or two tenths of a percent was to be given to the priests for heave offering.
And of the children of Israel's half, thou shalt take one portion of fifty, of the persons, of the beeves, of the asses, and of the flocks, of all manner of beasts, and give them unto the Levites, which keep the charge of the tabernacle of the LORD.” (Numbers 32:30)
Two percent of the half divided among the people was to go to the Levites. Galatians 6:6 commands, “Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things.” This communication includes sharing of our physical and financial benefit, as we see in Philippians 4:15-16. “Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only. For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity.” Here we have a clear picture of what Paul described.
“And Moses and Eleazar the priest did as the LORD commanded Moses. And the booty, being the rest of the prey which the men of war had caught, was six hundred thousand and seventy thousand and five thousand sheep. And threescore and twelve thousand beeves, Nu 31:34 And threescore and one thousand asses, And thirty and two thousand persons in all, of women that had not known man by lying with him.
And the half, which was the portion of them that went out to war, was in number three hundred thousand and seven and thirty thousand and five hundred sheep: And the LORD'S tribute of the sheep was six hundred and threescore and fifteen. And the beeves were thirty and six thousand; of which the LORD'S tribute was threescore and twelve. Nu 31:39 And the asses were thirty thousand and five hundred; of which the LORD'S tribute was threescore and one. And the persons were sixteen thousand; of which the LORD'S tribute was thirty and two persons. And Moses gave the tribute, which was the LORD'S heave offering, unto Eleazar the priest, as the LORD commanded Moses.
And of the children of Israel's half, which Moses divided from the men that warred, (Now the half that pertained unto the congregation was three hundred thousand and thirty thousand and seven thousand and five hundred sheep, And thirty and six thousand beeves, And thirty thousand asses and five hundred, And sixteen thousand persons;) And sixteen thousand persons;) Even of the children of Israel's half, Moses took one portion of fifty, both of man and of beast, and gave them unto the Levites, which kept the charge of the tabernacle of the LORD; as the LORD commanded Moses.” (Numbers 31:31-47)
The spoils enlarged Israel’s herds a great deal, but there was no serious resistance to taking such a small portion for the Levites or for sacrifices. People like to feel good about giving, and when pressured, they resent it. Many people will cheerfully give a large tip to a waitress, often far more than the normal fifteen percent, but if a tip is automatically added, they resent being forced to pay it. Christians are the same way, resenting any form of pressure. With no sense of pressure, the soldiers offered even more.
“And the officers which were over thousands of the host, the captains of thousands, and captains of hundreds, came near unto Moses: And they said unto Moses, Thy servants have taken the sum of the men of war which are under our charge, and there lacketh not one man of us. We have therefore brought an oblation for the LORD, what every man hath gotten, of jewels of gold, chains, and bracelets, rings, earrings, and tablets, to make an atonement for our souls before the LORD.
And Moses and Eleazar the priest took the gold of them, even all wrought jewels. And all the gold of the offering that they offered up to the LORD, of the captains of thousands, and of the captains of hundreds, was sixteen thousand seven hundred and fifty shekels. (For the men of war had taken spoil, every man for himself.) And Moses and Eleazar the priest took the gold of the captains of thousands and of hundreds, and brought it into the tabernacle of the congregation, for a memorial for the children of Israel before the LORD.” (Numbers 31:48-54)
Twelve thousand men had gone to war, and not a single person had been lost. The soldiers were thankful for that and brought a token of what they had gained to the Lord to show their appreciation. They gave more on their own than had originally been asked.