1: And the sons of Israel set forward, and encamped in the plains of Moab (i.e. which had belonged to Moab) on this side (east) Jordan by Jericho.
2: And Balak (Heb. = waster, to annihilate) the son of Zippor saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites (cp. 21:35).
3: And Moab was sore afraid of the People, because they were many: and Moab was distressed because of the sons of Israel.
4: And Moab said to the elders of Midian, “Now shall this company lick up all that are round about us (Heb. all our circuits), as the ox licks up the grass of the field.” And Balak the son of Zippor was king of the Moabites at that time.
e6 v¹ 22:5-20. Balak's messages to Balaam. w¹ 22:21-35. Balaam's journey. v² 22:36-40. Balak's reception of Balaam. w² 22:41-24:25. Balaam's 4 prophecies. v³ 25:1-18. Balak's teaching by Balaam. See 31:16.
v¹ x 5,6. First message. y 7. Delivered. z 8-11. Received. a 12-14. Forbidden by God (absolutely). x 15. Second message. y 16,17. Delivered. z 18,19. Received. a 20. Permitted by God (conditionally).
5: He sent messengers therefore to Balaam (so written in Greek. In Heb. his name is
Bil‘am.Cp. Josh.13:22 and 24:9,10. 2 Pet. 2:15,16. He was a spiritualist or medium. He is identified by Sayce with Bela, Gen. 36:31,32, where Moses incorporates a list of Edomite kings. According to the Tel-el-Amarna tablets he was a Hittite chieftain, who established a kingdom for himself: and he died fighting against Israel by the side of his Midianite allies, 31:8. Josh. 13:22) the son of Beor (Heb. Be‘ôr=burning or torch. In 1 Peter. 2:15 called Bosor. The Heb. letter y [ayin=‘ô], often pronounced "s" by Greeks) to Pethor (= soothsayer. A city in Aram, 23:7, or Mesopatamia, Deut.23:4), which is by the river of the land of the children of the sons of Amon (i.e. whom he had banded together and led), to call him, saying, “Behold, there is a People come out from Egypt: behold, they cover the face of the earth (Heb. "eye". Fig., "eye" put for what is seen by it), and they sit over against me(i.e. ready for war, having subdued the Amorites, ch.21, cp. Job 38:40. Ps. 10:8; 17:12):
6: Come now therefore, I pray you, curse me this People (Heb. ‘ârar, to wish or speak evil against, as to effect rather than as to act); for they are too mighty for me: perhaps I shall prevail, that we may smite them, and that I may drive them out of the land: for I know that he whom you bless is blessed, and he whom you curse is cursed.”
7: And the elders of Moab and the elders of Midian departed with the rewards of divination in their hand (Fig., put for the money which procures it); and they came to Balaam, and spoke to him the words of Balak.
8: And he said to them, “Lodge here this night, and I will bring you word again, as the Lord shall speak to me:” and the princes of Moab abode with Balaam (Heb. = not of the People, ie. a foreigner).
9: And God came to Balaam, and said (note the change to Elohim = Creator. Only 4 ties: in vv.9,12,20: in connection with Balaam. The #4 having to do with earthly or terrestrial things), “What men are these with you?”
10: And Balaam said to God, “Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, has sent to me, saying,
11: ‘Behold, there is a People (Heb. = the People) come out of Egypt, which covers the face of the earth: come now therefore, curse for me them (Heb. kårab, to pierce with words. Note that this word is only found in Balak's and Balaam's mouth's. Here, first occ, and later in seven other places, see 23:8); perhaps I shall be able to overcome them, and drive them out.’ ”
12: And God said to Balaam, “You shall not go with them (this is absolute. Cp. v.20, where permission is conditional); you shall not curse the people: for they are blessed.”
13: And Balaam rose up in the morning, and said to the princes of Balak (notice what he suppresses), “Get you into your land: for the Lord refuses to give me leave to go with you.”
14: And the princes of Moab rose up, and they went to Balak, and said (notice what they suppresses), “Balaam refuses to come with us.”
15: And Balak sent yet again princes, more, and more honorable than they.
16: And they came to Balaam, and said to him, “Thus says Balak the son of Zippor, ‘Let nothing, I pray you, hinder you from coming to me:
17: For I will promote you to very great honor, and I will do whatsoever you say to me: come therefore, I pray you, curse for me this People.’ ”
18: And Balaam answered and said to the servants of Balak, “If Balak would give me his house full of silver and gold, I cannot go beyond the word of the Lord my God, to do less or more.
19: Now therefore, I pray you, tarry you all also here this night, that I may know what the Lord will say to me more.”
20: And God came to Balaam at night, and said to him, “If the men come to call you (this was the condition with which Balaam did not comply, see v.21), rise up, and go with them; but yet the word which I shall say to you, that shall you do.”
w¹ b 21. Journey commenced. c 22-. Anger of God. d e¹ f¹ -22. The angel. g¹ 23-. The ass. h¹ -23. Balaam. e² f² 24. The angel. g² 25-. The ass. h² -25. Balaam. e³ f³ 26. The angel. g³ 27-. The ass. h³ -27. Balaam. c 28-35-. Rebuke of the Lord. b -35. Journey completed.
21: And Balaam rose up in the morning, and saddled his ass, and went with the princes of Moab (= was really going, without waiting for the condition given by the Lord in v.20. Hence God's anger, see v.22).
22: And God's anger was kindled because he was really going (emphasized to show that even this condition was not meant as a condition, but was to be taken rather as irony. It shows also Balaam's determination to go, whether or no): and the Angel of the Lord stationed Himself in the way for an adversary against him.
Now he was riding upon his ass, and his two servants were with him.
23: And the ass saw the Angel of the Lord standing in the way, and His sword drawn in His hand (as in 1 Chron.21:16. Balaam was going to have Israel killed with the sword): and the ass turned aside out of the way,
and went into the field: and Balaam smote the ass, to turn her into the way.
24: But the Angel of the Lord stood in a narrow way of the vineyards (Heb. mish‘ôl), a wall being on this side, and a wall on that side (especially the wall of a vineyard).
25: And when the ass saw the Angel of the Lord, she thrust herself unto the wall, and crushed Balaam's foot against the wall:
and he smote her again.
26: And the Angel of the Lord went further, and stood in a narrow place (Heb. zâzar, tight spot = trouble), where was no way to turn either to the right hand or to the left.
27: And when the ass saw the Angel of the Lord, she fell down under Balaam:
and Balaam's anger was kindled, and he smote the ass with a staff.
c i 28-. By the ass. Ass's mouth opened. k l -28. The ass. m 29. Balaam. l 30-. The ass. m -30. Balaam. i 31. By the angel. Balaam's eyes opened. k n 32,33. The angel. o 34. Balaam. n 35-. The angel.
28: And the Lord opened the mouth of the ass, and she said to Balaam ("opened" = Heb. pâtah. Cp. v.31. This was Yehovah's work. But how could Satan open the mouth of the serpent which has no organs of speech? Magic? Illusion? since Satan cannot create. Only God can. See Gen. 3:1),
“What have I done to you, that you have smitten me these three times?”
29: And Balaam said to the ass, “Because you have mocked me: I would there were a sword in mine hand, for now would I kill you.”
30: And the ass said to Balaam, “Am not I your ass, upon which you have ridden ever since I was yours to this day? was I ever known to do so to you?”
And he said, “No.”
31: Then the Lord uncovered the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the Angel of the Lord standing in the way, and His sword drawn in His hand: and he bowed down his head, and fell flat on his face.
32: And the Angel of the Lord said to him, “Why have you smitten your ass these three times? behold, I went out to be an adversary you, because your way is perverse
before Me (Heb. ‘avil, occ. only here and Job 16:11 [ungodly]):
33: And the ass saw Me, and turned from Me these three times: unless she had turned from Me, surely now also I had slain you, and saved her alive (note the emphasis on these pronouns).
34: And Balaam said to the Angel of the Lord, “I have sinned; for I knew not that You stood in the way
against me: now therefore, if it displease You, I will get me back again.”
35: And the Angel of the Lord said to Balaam, “Go with the men (Yehovah now overrules the evil for Israel's good): but only the word that I shall speak to you (permission limited), that you shall speak.”
So Balaam went with the princes of Balak.
v² p 36. Meeting (at frontier). q 37,38. Greetings. p 39. Accompanying (to Kirjth-huzoth). q 40. Offering.
36: And when Balak heard that Balaam was come, he went out to meet him unto a city of Moab, which is in the border of Arnon, which is in the utmost border.
37: And Balak said to Balaam, “Did I not earnestly send to you to call you? (see Gen.26:28) why do you not come to me? am I not able indeed to promote you to honor?” (Vain boast!)
38: And Balaam said to Balak, “Lo, I am come to you: have I now any power at all to say any thing? the word that God (Elohim) puts in my mouth (not Yehovah. Note this), that shall I speak.”
39: And Balaam went with Balak, and they came to Kirjath-huzoth (= city of streets. Only occ. of this word).
40: And Balak offered a slain sacrifice of oxen and sheep, and sent to Balaam, and to the princes that were with him.
w² t¹ 22:41-23:26. With enchantments. T² 23:27-24:25. Without enchantments.
t¹ u 22:41. First station: high places. v 23:1,2. Altars and offerings. w 3. Balaam goes to meet Yehovah. x 4,5. Word put in Balaam's mouth. y 6. Return and station. z 7-10. His First parable. a 11. Balak's expostulation. b 12. Balaam's answer. u 13,14-. Second staion: Zophim. v -14. Altars and offerings. w 15. Balaam goes to meet Yehovah. x 16. Word put in Balaam's mouth. y 17. Return and station. z 18-24. His Second parable. a 25. Balak's expostulation. b 26. Balaam's answer.
41: And it came to pass on the next day, that Balak took Balaam, and brought him up into the high places of Baal (= a master, a husband, a lord), that from that place he might see the extremity of the camp of the People.