Take the vengeance of the Children of Israel from the Children of
Israel from the Midianites (Numbers 31:2)
In this verse, Hashem refers to the
vengeance of the Children of Israel. In the next verse, however, when Moshe passes Hashems instructions on to the Jews, he speaks of
HASHEMs vengeance against Midian. Indeed, since Moshe uses a different expression, the Torah does not say that Moshe was quoting Hashems word; it says only that Moshe spoke to the people, saying, which implies that his words were his own rephrasing of the Divine command. Why did Moshe paraphrase Hashems words and what right did he have to do
Rashi says that whenever someone stands up against Israel, it is as if he stood against Hashem. Thus Moshe was merely restating Hashems words in a way that would be more compelling to the
people. If Moshe had ordered the Jews to extract vengeance for transgressions against them, they might have been willing to forgive any wrongs done them and forgo taking vengeance. However, they had no right to forgive offenses against Hashem. Therefore, once Moshe said that HASHEMs honor was
involved, the people had no choice but to follow his orders.