I am bothered by an incident in the Torah that seems morally unacceptable.
After the incident with Pinchas, the Torah records that Klal Yisroel were commanded to attack Midian to avenge their attempt at seducing them. Klal Yisroel goes to war and kills all the male Midianites but spares the females. This angers Hashem: after all, the women were the whole problem in the first place, and Hashem commands them to kill all the (already defeated) women "who knew men." Klal Yisroel them goes and kills all the women of Midian, sparing 16,000 women who "never knew a man" and taking them as slaves.
A slightly upsetting story, but I can accept it was necessary.
The issue that bothers me to no end is a Gemara in Yavamos 60b that adds the following point to the story: When Hashem commanded them to kill all the women "who knew men", that did not mean all women who actually slept with a man. Rather, it meant all women legally old enough to have intercourse - 3 years and older.
The Gemara then asks the obvious question of how it was possible for Klal Yisroel to identify the age of the girls - after all, a two year old may look like she is three years old, and many three year olds can easily pass as two year olds. The Gemara explains that the Jews lined up the girls in front of the Cohen Gadol wearing the Urim viTumim, and all the girls older than three would be identified as they passed in front of the Urim viTumim.
Assuming those under 2 years old and over 4 years old were readily identifiable and did not need the Urim viTumim to be ferreted out, that leaves a line of 8,000 little girls (who had just watched both their parents and brothers get killed) forced to stand in a long line to see if they will be killed, or spared and allowed to live as a lifelong slaves.
Let us assume that the Jews had a very efficient killing system - with only 5 seconds for each girl to pass in front of the Cohen Gadol and be identified, and 10 seconds for another person to pull the girl aside and kill her or send her off to her master. Even with these unreasonably quick timeframes, that still means that even if Klal Yisroel worked around the clock, it would take a day and a half (33 hours) to get through the line.
How is this not barbaric? Lining up 8k 2 and 3 year old orphan girls for over a full day with a team of executioners at the end of the line who are busy killing half the girls - how is that not a terribly depraved and inhuman event, even compared to other horrors in the history of the world?
Does anyone have any thoughts on this issue?