James Tissot, “The Women of Midian Led Captive by the Hebrews,” 1896-1900
Each week The Arty Semite connects the Torah reading — however tenuously — with a classic work of rock and roll.
This week’s parsha, Mattot, opens with laws on vows and how to annul them.
The central part of the parsha tells of the war of revenge on Midian, in which the whole tribe is wiped out in revenge for their own attempt to destroy Israel. The spoils are accounted for and tithed.
Finally the tribes of Reuven, Gad and half of Menashe are settled in the lands already conquered east of the River Jordan. In return for these lands, these tribes are drafted — on oath — to fight for the other tribes on the west side of the Jordan.