17 Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him.Before going into specifics I must point out that my views on the OT are unconventional. I am not an inerrantist. Thus I do not feel duty bound to make all such verses right with the reader.I do not intend to try and prove that God makes killing infants ok. Here's a quick overview of my take on the OT:
18 But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.(all quotes NIV unless otherwise noted).
The author of Hebrews tells us:
1:1 "In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.""Various ways" might well include mixtures of human and divine. This passage suggests to me that Jesus is the standard through which we should read the OT. This is backwards historically.It nakes more exigetical sence than does inerrency.
Ihe traditional inerantist view sees the Bible as a memo from the boss to be read to the entire company on the shop floor. In my view the OT is a record of divine/human encounter. Thus it is a mixture of both human and divine outlook. It is written by humans and thus is stained with their cultural outlook.The truth of God breaks through here and there but amid a sea of human perspective.
The purpose of the OT is to crate a framework in which the meaning of Messiah makes sense beyond it's ethnographic borders and in which the mission of Messiah makes sense.
Obviously if we take Jesus as the lens through which to read the OT we can't accept the notion that the God of love would order the killing of infants. we need not accept this as God's command.That was the scribes making assumptions based upon the barbarus culture of the day.
Turning to the specific passage there are a couple of points I would like to make.
First, some scholars think v18 "But all the women and children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves" carries the connotation that these young girls would be sex slaves for Israelite warriors. One could look at it through Mary Poppins sunglasses and say they were to raise them as daughters and then marry them off as adults to repectable Israelite gentelemen, but the vast perpondrence of scholarship sees it as sex slave, at least in connotation. Even the traditional believers embrace this view among its major scholars.
Secondly, one might think the reason for killing the woman was to punish them for having sex.The real reason whch does not justify the act, is because these women lured men of Israel to worhip other Gods throgh their sexual favors.This caused a plague in Israel,thousands died.
"A detailed Historical Examination of numbers 31:18."Discover the Truth, Aug 7,2016. https://discover-the-truth.com/2016/08/07/a-detailed-historical-examination-of-numbers-3118/.
"What do Christans Think About Bible verses numbers 31:17-18." Quora., Jan 7/2030.https://www.quora.com/What-do-Christians-think-about-Bible-verses-Numbers-31-17-