And they warred against the Midianites, as the Lord
Whether the Midianites came out against them with an army, and there was a pitched battle between them, is not certain; however the Israelites committed acts of hostility upon them, by entering their cities, plundering their houses, and slaying the inhabitants of them; the Targum of Jonathan is,
``they warred against Midian, and surrounded it in the three corners of it, as the Lord commanded Moses;''for, as Maimonides F2 observes from tradition,
``when they besiege a city to take it, they do not surround it in the four corners of it, but in the three corners of it, and leave a place to flee out, that everyone that would might escape for his life, as it is said, "and they warred against Midian, as the Lord commanded Moses"; by report, or from tradition, it is learnt that so he commanded him;''that is, in such a manner to besiege a city; but for this there is only tradition, for it is not mentioned among the rules after directed to in such a case, ( Deuteronomy 20:10-20 ) ,
and they slew all the males;
which fell into their hands; for, no doubt, there were multitudes that made their escape, since in later times we read of the Midianites, as a very powerful people, and very distressing to Israel, ( Judges 6:1 Judges 6:2 ) these, as Aben Ezra observes, they slew, were such as were grown up, for as for their little ones, them they spared and carried captive, ( Numbers 31:9 ) .
F2 Hilchot Melacim, c. 6. sect. 7.