Balak asks Balaam to curse the Israelites. Balak asks Balaam again. A donkey speaks to Balaam.
VERSE 1. The children of Israel traveled, and encamped in the plains of Moab beyond the Jordan at Jericho.
VERSE 2. Balak the son of Zippor saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites.
VERSE 3. Moab was very afraid of the people, because they were many. Moab was distressed because of the children of Israel.
Moab was very afraid of the people. They were filled with dread. They were terrified.
In a military conflict, it helps when your enemies fears you.
VERSE 4. Moab said to the elders of Midian, “Now this multitude will lick up all that is around us, as the ox licks up the grass of the field.” Balak the son of Zippor was king of Moab at that time.
VERSE 5. He sent messengers to Balaam the son of Beor, to Pethor, which is by the River, to the land of the children of his people, to call him, saying, “Behold, there is a people who came out of Egypt. Behold, they cover the surface of the earth, and they are staying opposite me.
Balaam the son of Beor. Balaam was not an Israelite.
He is mentioned in the New Testament. but in a way that is not flattering:
Revelation 2:14. But I have a few things against you, because you have there some who hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to throw a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality.
to Pethor, which is by the River. Other sources identify that land as “Ammon.”
VERSE 6. Please come now therefore, and curse this people for me; for they are too mighty for me. Perhaps I shall prevail, that we may strike 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.”
curse this people for me. That is, “come and put a curse on these people.”
Apparently in those days you could hire a prophet to curse your enemies.
VERSE 7. The elders of Moab and the elders of Midian departed with the rewards of divination in their hand. They came to Balaam, and spoke to him the words of Balak.
the rewards. That is, a handsome payment.
of divination. Divination is an attempt to gain insight into a question or situation by way of an occultic, standardized process or ritual.
VERSE 8. He said to them, “Lodge here this night, and I will bring you word again, as the LORD shall speak to me.” The princes of Moab stayed with Balaam.
God came to Balaam. The LORD God appeared to Balaam, even though he was apparently not an Israelite.
VERSE 10. Balaam said to God, “Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, has said to me,
VERSE 11. ‘Behold, the people that has come out of Egypt covers the surface of the earth. Now, come curse them for me. Perhaps I shall be able to fight against them, and shall drive them out.’ ”
come curse them for me. This is very clear. The king of Moab wants to hire Balaam to curse the Israelites.
VERSE 12. God said to Balaam, “You shall not go with them. You shall not curse the people, for they are blessed.”
You shall not curse the people. The LORD God prevented his people from being cursed.
they are blessed. The LORD God says the Israelites are blessed!
And so are you.
VERSE 13. Balaam rose up in the morning, and said to the princes of Balak, “Go to your land; for the LORD refuses to permit me to go with you.”
the LORD refuses to permit me to go with you. Balaam obeyed the voice of the LORD God.
VERSE 14. The princes of Moab rose up, and they went to Balak, and said, “Balaam refuses to come with us.”
VERSE 15. Balak again sent princes, more, and more honorable than they.
VERSE 16. They came to Balaam, and said to him, “Balak the son of Zippor says, ‘Please let nothing hinder you from coming to me,
VERSE 17. for I will promote you to very great honor, and whatever you say to me I will do. Please come therefore, and curse this people for me.’ ”
VERSE 18. Balaam answered the servants of Balak, “If Balak would give me his house full of silver and gold, I can’t go beyond the word of the LORD my God, to do less or more.
I can’t go beyond the word of the LORD my God. Balaam is obedient to the voice of the LORD God.
VERSE 19. Now therefore please stay here tonight as well, that I may know what else the LORD will speak to me.”
VERSE 20. God came to Balaam at night, and said to him, “If the men have come to call you, rise up, go with them; but only the word which I speak to you, that you shall do.”
rise up, go with them. The LORD God tells Balaam to go with the princes of Moab.
only the word which I speak to you. The LORD God will provide further guidance along the way.
The LORD God often works that way:
- He gives us direction
- He waits until we act upon it
- Then further guidance arrives
VERSE 21. Balaam rose up in the morning, and saddled his donkey, and went with the princes of Moab.
VERSE 22. God’s anger burned because he went; and the LORD’s angel placed himself in the way as an adversary against him. Now he was riding on his donkey, and his two servants were with him.
God’s anger burned because he went. This is confusing:
- In verse 20 above, the LORD God said “rise up, go with them.”
- But now the LORD God is angry because Balaam obeyed.
VERSE 23. The donkey saw the LORD’s angel standing in the way, with his sword drawn in his hand; and the donkey turned out of the path, and went into the field. Balaam struck the donkey, to turn her into the path.
Balaam struck the donkey. Balaam is cruel to the donkey.
VERSE 24. Then the LORD’s angel stood in a narrow path between the vineyards, a wall being on this side, and a wall on that side.
VERSE 25. The donkey saw the LORD’s angel, and she thrust herself to the wall, and crushed Balaam’s foot against the wall. He struck her again.
He struck her again. Balaam is cruel to the donkey. This is the second time.
VERSE 26. The LORD’s angel went further, and stood in a narrow place, where there was no way to turn either to the right hand or to the left.
VERSE 27. The donkey saw the LORD’s angel, and she lay down under Balaam. Balaam’s anger burned, and he struck the donkey with his staff.
he struck the donkey with his staff. Balaam is cruel to the donkey. This is the third time. And he is using a weapon.
VERSE 28. The LORD opened the mouth of the donkey, and she said to Balaam, “What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?”
VERSE 29. Balaam said to the donkey, “Because you have mocked me, I wish there were a sword in my hand, for now I would have killed you.”
Balaam said to the donkey. A donkey speaks. Balaam is NOT surprised.
Why is Balaam unsurprised? Did animals routinely talk back then?
VERSE 30. The donkey said to Balaam, “Am I not your donkey, on which you have ridden all your life long until today? Was I ever in the habit of doing so to you?” He said, “No.”
VERSE 31. Then the LORD opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the LORD’s angel standing in the way, with his sword drawn in his hand; and he bowed his head, and fell on his face.
he saw the LORD’s angel. Very few of us are able to see into the invisible realm, the reality of the angels.
The powers of the heavenly beings are far beyond our limited human comprehension. When people encounter an angel, their first reaction is fear or terror.
VERSE 32. The LORD’s angel said to him, “Why have you struck your donkey these three times? Behold, I have come out as an adversary, because your way is perverse before me.
VERSE 33. The donkey saw me, and turned away before me these three times. Unless she had turned away from me, surely now I would have killed you, and saved her alive.”
The donkey saw me. The donkey could see into the spirit realm where angels exist.
Is that a natural ability for all animals?
VERSE 34. Balaam said to the LORD’s angel, “I have sinned; for I didn’t know that you stood in the way against me. Now therefore, if it displeases you, I will go back again.”
VERSE 35. The LORD’s angel said to Balaam, “Go with the men; but you shall only speak the word that I shall speak to you.” So Balaam went with the princes of Balak.
VERSE 36. When Balak heard that Balaam had come, he went out to meet him to the City of Moab, which is on the border of the Arnon, which is in the utmost part of the border.
VERSE 37. Balak said to Balaam, “Didn’t I earnestly send for you to summon you? Why didn’t you come to me? Am I not able indeed to promote you to honor?”
VERSE 38. Balaam said to Balak, “Behold, I have come to you. Have I now any power at all to speak anything? I will speak the word that God puts in my mouth.”
VERSE 39. Balaam went with Balak, and they came to Kiriath Huzoth.
VERSE 40. Balak sacrificed cattle and sheep, and sent to Balaam, and to the princes who were with him.
VERSE 41. In the morning, Balak took Balaam, and brought him up into the high places of Baal; and he saw from there part of the people.
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