However, in the Torah, no such problems are referenced. The unmarried women are captured and assimilated into the Israelite tribes, presumably marrying Israelite men. Since girls married young in those days and all female children were kept alive in the story, it also stands to reason that these captured girls were adopted by Israelite families prior to their marriages, both because they would need parents and because they would need assistance in acclimating to their new culture. Why is there no rebellion, though?
The answer lies in cultural differences. The ancient Greeks practiced an extreme form of gender segregation. Men and women generally lived in separate quarters (even married couples), with women doing all the child rearing until the boys were old enough to learn their trade. Women generally did not spend much time outdoors, thus limiting the amount of interaction they had with men even in passing, and they had no individual rights to speak of. To illustrate this point, Herodotus recounts inThe Histories the practices of many contemporary non-Hellenic peoples. One group, he claims, keep men and women so separate that a man is customarily not informed of the birth of his own child until the child reaches the age of five years. In this way, the man is protected from emotional upset should his child fail to survive those first five years. While the group that did this was “barbarian” (not Greek), Herodotus cites the practice as admirable and states the opinion that the Greeks should adopt it–it’s a logical custom to him and not a stretch of the imagination.
The Torah, in contrast to Herodotus’ examples, emphasizes the importance of the fatherly role, and, more importantly, of people marrying who agree on culture and faith. While multiple examples exist both to support and discourage the intermarriage of Israelite men and foreign women, B’midbar 31 is just one of many examples of intermarriage being overlooked so long as the risk of the Israelite wandering off into foreign practices is minimized. These women don’t have the opportunity to seduce Israelite lovers to idolatry, because the women themselves are captives–they are being led to Israelite practices.
The assimilation of captured peoples requires a social mechanism through which assimilation is assured. Ancient Greek culture had no such mechanism or set of mechanisms. Israelite culture, on the contrary, was rife with them: frequent interaction between the sexes, an active role for fathers with their children, an explicit set of guidelines for the treatment of foreigners/newcomers, and an emphasis on communal practice of religious customs.