The Torah says that Midyan was Avraham (Tzadik) and Keturah (Tzaddekes) son:

וַיֹּסֶף אַבְרָהָם וַיִּקַּח אִשָּׁה וּשְׁמָהּ קְטוּרָה׃ וַתֵּלֶד לוֹ אֶת־זִמְרָן וְאֶת־יָקְשָׁן וְאֶת־מְדָן וְאֶת־מִדְיָן וְאֶת־יִשְׁבָּק וְאֶת־שׁוּחַ׃
Abraham took another wife, whose name was Keturah. She bore him Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak, and Shuah. (Gen 25.1)

Some 300 years later Moshe exterminates Midyan's nation for being particularly bad to the Israelites.

Was it the same Midyan (I don't see any other Midyan born in Bereshis) and if yes how did this nation come to be so bad it needed full extermination?

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    How did Amalek become so bad it needed full extermination when his great-grandparents were Yitzchak and RIvkah? – Salmononius2 Nov 24 '19 at 3:10
  • It's even more amazing when you think about Midian producing tzadikkim like Yitro and Tzippora and 1-2 generations later needing to be destroyed – Josh K Nov 24 '19 at 19:48
  • If Moshe exterminated Midyan's nation, he didn't do a very good job of it, as they came back to wreak havoc in Gideon's time (Judges 6-8). (Who says Moses exterminated them?) – Tamir Evan Nov 25 '19 at 14:46

One of the main tenets of Judaism is that humans have free choice. That means that in spite being raised in a perfect environment with the the most righteous surroundings, a person can still choose to make the wrong decisions and be evil/do active that warrant punishment (the positive side of this is that we can also always choose positively, in spite of any negative'external forces).

History is unfortunately replete with children of righteous people who are nonetheless wicked sinners (for example, Esav).

Note also that your premises aren't entirely factually correct. The decree to destroy the Midyanim was in retaliation for specific acts they did to us (hiring Bilam and causing us to sin with the women), not because they were judged on some spiritual level to be considered "evil" and therefore destroyed. Also, they didn't receive full extermination, girls under the age of 3 were spared.

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  • THis sounds plausible. I, however, disagree with the dogma of the free choice. Numerous examples in the Torah clearly prove that Tzaddikim are born Tzaddikim and the vice verse. Yaakov and Moses were born good, Eisov was born wicked, they were known to be so from their first moment. – Al Berko Nov 24 '19 at 13:19
  • @AlBerko - that's a rather bombastic set of statements! 1) the dogma of the free choice, 2) the Torah clearly proves that Tzaddikim are born Tzaddikim 3) Yaakov and Moses were born good, 4) Eisov was born wicked, 5) they were known to be so from their first moment. (Maybe their tendencies were apparent, but from there to invalidate free choice???) – Danny Schoemann Nov 25 '19 at 9:14

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