Bible: Numbers 22-25


Balaam Refuses to Curse Israel


The Israelites traveled on 2  and camped in the plains of Moab on the side of the Jordan River 3  across from Jericho. 4  22:2 Balak son of Zippor saw all that the Israelites had done to the Amorites. 22:3 And the Moabites were greatly afraid of the people, because they were so numerous. The Moabites were sick with fear because of the Israelites.

22:4 So the Moabites said to the elders of Midian, “Now this mass of people 5  will lick up everything around us, as the bull devours the grass of the field. Now Balak son of Zippor was king of the Moabites at this time. 22:5 And he sent messengers to Balaam 6  son of Beor at Pethor, which is by the Euphrates River 7  in the land of Amaw, 8  to summon him, saying, “Look, a nation has come out of Egypt. They cover the face 9  of the earth, and they are settling next to me. 22:6 So 10  now, please come and curse this nation 11  for me, for they are too powerful for me. Perhaps I will prevail so that we may conquer them 12  and drive them out of the land. For I know that whoever you bless is blessed, 13  and whoever you curse is cursed.”

22:7 So the elders of Moab and the elders of Midian departed with the fee for divination in their hand. They came to Balaam and reported 14  to him the words of Balak. 22:8 He replied to them, “Stay 15  here tonight, and I will bring back to you whatever word the Lord may speak to me.” So the princes of Moab stayed with Balaam. 22:9 And God came to Balaam and said, “Who are these men with you? 22:10 Balaam said to God, “Balak son of Zippor, king of Moab, has sent a message to me, saying, 22:11 Look, a nation has come out 16  of Egypt, and it covers the face of the earth. Come now and put a curse on them for me; perhaps I will be able to defeat them 17  and drive them out.” 18  22:12 But God said to Balaam, “You must not go with them; you must not curse the people, 19  for they are blessed.” 20 

22:13 So Balaam got up in the morning, and said to the princes of Balak, “Go to your land, 21  for the Lord has refused to permit me to go 22  with you.” 22:14 So the princes of Moab departed 23  and went back to Balak and said, “Balaam refused to come with us.”

Balaam Accompanies the Moabite Princes

22:15 Balak again sent princes, 24  more numerous and more distinguished than the first. 25  22:16 And they came to Balaam and said to him, “Thus says Balak son of Zippor: ‘Please do not let anything hinder you from coming 26  to me. 22:17 For I will honor you greatly, 27  and whatever you tell me I will do. So come, put a curse on this nation for me.’

22:18 Balaam replied 28  to the servants of Balak, “Even if Balak would give me his palace full of silver and gold, I could not transgress the commandment 29  of the Lord my God 30  to do less or more. 22:19 Now therefore, please stay 31  the night here also, that I may know what more the Lord might say to me.” 32  22:20 God came to Balaam that night, and said to him, “If the men have come to call you, get up and go with them; but the word that I will say to you, that you must do.” 22:21 So Balaam got up in the morning, saddled his donkey, and went with the princes of Moab.

God Opposes Balaam

22:22 Then God’s anger was kindled 33  because he went, and the angel of the Lord stood in the road to oppose 34  him. Now he was riding on his donkey and his two servants were with him. 22:23 And the donkey saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road with 35  his sword drawn in his hand, so the donkey turned aside from the road and went into the field. But Balaam beat the donkey, to make her turn back to the road.

22:24 Then the angel of the Lord stood in a path 36  among the vineyards, where there was a wall on either side. 37  22:25 And when the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, she pressed herself into the wall, and crushed Balaam’s foot against the wall. So he beat her again. 38 

22:26 Then the angel of the Lord went farther, and stood in a narrow place, where there was no way to turn either to the right or to the left. 22:27 When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, she crouched down under Balaam. Then Balaam was angry, and he beat his donkey with a staff.

22:28 Then the Lord opened the mouth of the donkey, and she said to Balaam, “What have I done to you that you have beaten me these three times? 22:29 And Balaam said to the donkey, “You have made me look stupid; I wish 39  there were a sword in my hand, for I would kill you right now.” 22:30 The donkey said to Balaam, “Am not I your donkey that you have ridden ever since I was yours until this day? Have I ever attempted 40  to treat you this way?” 41  And he said, “No.” 22:31 Then the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the way with his sword drawn in his hand; so he bowed his head and threw himself down with his face to the ground. 42  22:32 The angel of the Lord said to him, “Why have you beaten your donkey these three times? Look, I came out to oppose you because what you are doing 43  is perverse before me. 44  22:33 The donkey saw me and turned from me these three times. If 45  she had not turned from me, I would have killed you but saved her alive.” 22:34 Balaam said to the angel of the Lord, “I have sinned, for I did not know that you stood against me in the road. 46  So now, if it is evil in your sight, 47  I will go back home.” 48  22:35 But the angel of the Lord said to Balaam, “Go with the men, but you may only speak 49  the word that I will speak to you.” 50  So Balaam went with the princes of Balak.

Balaam Meets Balak

22:36 When Balak heard that Balaam was coming, he went out to meet him at a city of Moab which was on the border of the Arnon at the boundary of his territory. 22:37 Balak said to Balaam, “Did I not send again and again 51  to you to summon you? Why did you not come to me? Am I not able to honor you? 52  22:38 Balaam said to Balak, “Look, I have come to you. Now, am I able 53  to speak 54  just anything? I must speak 55  only the word that God puts in my mouth.” 22:39 So Balaam went with Balak, and they came to Kiriath-huzoth. 22:40 And Balak sacrificed bulls and sheep, and sent some 56  to Balaam, and to the princes who were with him. 22:41 Then on the next morning Balak took Balaam, and brought him up to Bamoth Baal. 57  From there he saw the extent of the nation.


Balaam Blesses Israel


Balaam said to Balak, “Build me seven altars here, and prepare for me here seven bulls and seven rams.” 23:2 So Balak did just as Balaam had said. Balak and Balaam then offered on each 59  altar a bull and a ram. 23:3 Balaam said to Balak, “Station yourself 60  by your burnt offering, and I will go off; perhaps the Lord will come to meet me, and whatever he reveals to me 61  I will tell you.” 62  Then he went to a deserted height. 63 

23:4 Then God met Balaam, who 64  said to him, “I have prepared seven altars, and I have offered on each altar a bull and a ram.” 23:5 Then the Lord put a message 65  in Balaam’s mouth and said, “Return to Balak, and speak what I tell you.” 66 

23:6 So he returned to him, and he was still 67  standing by his burnt offering, he and all the princes of Moab. 23:7 Then Balaam 68  uttered 69  his oracle, saying,

Balak, the king of Moab, brought me 70  from Aram,

out of the mountains of the east, saying,

‘Come, pronounce a curse on Jacob for me;

come, denounce Israel.’ 71 

23:8 How 72  can I curse 73  one whom God has not cursed,

or how can I denounce one whom the Lord has not denounced?

23:9 For from the top of the rocks I see them; 74 

from the hills I watch them. 75 

Indeed, a nation that lives alone,

and it will not be reckoned 76  among the nations.

23:10 Who 77  can count 78  the dust 79  of Jacob,

Or number 80  the fourth part of Israel?

Let me 81  die the death of the upright, 82 

and let the end of my life 83  be like theirs.” 84 

Balaam Relocates

23:11 Then Balak said to Balaam, “What have you done to me? I brought you to curse my enemies, but on the contrary 85  you have only blessed them! 86  23:12 Balaam replied, 87 Must I not be careful 88  to speak what the Lord has put in my mouth? 89  23:13 Balak said to him, “Please come with me to another place from which you can observe them. You will see only a part of them, but you will not see all of them. Curse them for me from there.”

23:14 So Balak brought Balaam 90  to the field of Zophim, to the top of Pisgah, 91  where 92  he built seven altars and offered a bull and a ram on each altar. 23:15 And Balaam 93  said to Balak, “Station yourself here 94  by your burnt offering, while I meet the Lord there. 23:16 Then the Lord met Balaam and put a message 95  in his mouth and said, “Return to Balak, and speak what I tell you.” 23:17 When Balaam 96  came to him, he was still standing by his burnt offering, along with the princes of Moab. And Balak said to him, “What has the Lord spoken?

Balaam Prophesies Again

23:18 Balaam 97  uttered 98  his oracle, and said,

Rise up, 99  Balak, and hear;

Listen to me, son of Zippor:

23:19 God is not a man, that he should lie,

nor a human being, 100  that he should change his mind.

Has he said, and will he not do it?

Or has he spoken, and will he not make it happen? 101 

23:20 Indeed, I have received a command 102  to bless;

he has blessed, 103  and I cannot reverse it. 104 

23:21 He 105  has not looked on iniquity in Jacob, 106 

nor has he seen trouble 107  in Israel.

The Lord their God is with them;

his acclamation 108  as king is among them.

23:22 God brought them 109  out of Egypt.

They have, as it were, the strength of a wild bull. 110 

23:23 For there is no spell against 111  Jacob,

nor is there any divination against Israel.

At this time 112  it must be said 113  of Jacob

and of Israel, ‘Look at 114  what God has done!’

23:24 Indeed, the people will rise up like a lioness,

and like a lion raises himself up;

they will not lie down until they eat their 115  prey,

and drink the blood of the slain.” 116 

Balaam Relocates Yet Again

23:25 Balak said to Balaam, “Neither curse them at all 117  nor bless them at all! 118  23:26 But Balaam replied 119  to Balak, “Did I not tell you, ‘All that the Lord speaks, 120  I must do?

23:27 Balak said to Balaam, “Come, please; I will take you to another place. Perhaps it will please God 121  to let you curse them for me from there.” 122  23:28 So Balak took Balaam to the top of Peor, that looks toward the wilderness. 123  23:29 Then Balaam said to Balak, “Build seven altars here for me, and prepare seven bulls and seven rams.” 23:30 So Balak did as Balaam had said, and offered a bull and a ram on each altar.


Balaam Prophesies Yet Again


When Balaam saw that it pleased the Lord to bless Israel, 125  he did not go as at the other times 126  to seek for omens, 127  but he set his face 128  toward the wilderness. 24:2 When Balaam lifted up his eyes, he saw Israel camped tribe by tribe; 129  and the Spirit of God came upon him. 24:3 Then he uttered this oracle: 130 

“The oracle 131  of Balaam son of Beor;

the oracle of the man whose eyes are open; 132 

24:4 the oracle of the one who hears the words of God,

who sees a vision from the Almighty,

although falling flat on the ground 133  with eyes open: 134 

24:5How 135  beautiful are your tents, O Jacob,

and your dwelling places, O Israel!

24:6 They are like 136  valleys 137  stretched forth,

like gardens by the river’s side,

like aloes 138  that the Lord has planted,

and like cedar trees beside the waters.

24:7 He will pour the water out of his buckets, 139 

and their descendants will be like abundant 140  water; 141 

their king will be greater than Agag, 142 

and their kingdom will be exalted.

24:8 God brought them out of Egypt.

They have, as it were, the strength of a young bull;

they will devour hostile people 143 

and will break their bones

and will pierce them through with arrows.

24:9 They crouch and lie down like a lion,

and as a lioness, 144  who can stir him?

Blessed is the one who blesses you,

and cursed is the one who curses you!’

24:10 Then Balak became very angry at Balaam, and he struck his hands together. 145  Balak said to Balaam, “I called you to curse my enemies, and look, you have done nothing but bless 146  them these three times! 24:11 So now, go back where you came from! 147  I said that I would greatly honor you; but now the Lord has stood in the way of your honor.”

24:12 Balaam said to Balak, “Did I not also tell your messengers whom you sent to me, 24:13 If Balak would give me his palace full of silver and gold, I cannot go beyond 148  the commandment 149  of the Lord to do either good or evil of my own will, 150  but whatever the Lord tells me I must speak? 24:14 And now, I am about to go 151  back to my own people. Come now, and I will advise you as to what this people will do to your people in the future.” 152 

Balaam Prophesies a Fourth Time

24:15 Then he uttered this oracle: 153 

“The oracle of Balaam son of Beor;

the oracle of the man whose eyes are open;

24:16 the oracle of the one who hears the words of God,

and who knows the knowledge of the Most High,

who sees a vision from the Almighty,

although falling flat on the ground with eyes open:

24:17I see him, but not now;

I behold him, but not close at hand. 154 

A star 155  will march forth 156  out of Jacob,

and a scepter 157  will rise out of Israel.

He will crush the skulls 158  of Moab,

and the heads 159  of all the sons of Sheth. 160 

24:18 Edom will be a possession,

Seir, 161  his enemies, will also be a possession;

but Israel will act valiantly.

24:19 A ruler will be established from Jacob;

he will destroy the remains of the city.’ 162 

Balaam’s Final Prophecies

24:20 Then Balaam 163  looked on Amalek and delivered this oracle: 164 

“Amalek was the first 165  of the nations,

but his end will be that he will perish.”

24:21 Then he looked on the Kenites and uttered this oracle:

“Your dwelling place seems strong,

and your nest 166  is set on a rocky cliff.

24:22 Nevertheless the Kenite will be consumed. 167 

How long will Asshur take you away captive?

24:23 Then he uttered this oracle:

“O, who will survive when God does this! 168 

24:24 Ships will come from the coast of Kittim, 169 

and will afflict Asshur, 170  and will afflict Eber,

and he will also perish forever.” 171 

24:25 Balaam got up and departed and returned to his home, 172  and Balak also went his way.


Israel’s Sin with the Moabite Women


When 174  Israel lived in Shittim, the people began to commit sexual immorality 175  with the daughters of Moab. 25:2 These women invited 176  the people to the sacrifices of their gods; then the people ate and bowed down to their gods. 177  25:3 When Israel joined themselves to Baal-peor, 178  the anger of the Lord flared up against Israel.

God’s Punishment

25:4 The Lord said to Moses, “Arrest all the leaders 179  of the people, and hang them up 180  before the Lord in broad daylight, 181  so that the fierce anger of the Lord may be turned away from Israel.” 25:5 So Moses said to the judges of Israel, “Each of you must execute those of his men 182  who were joined to Baal-peor.”

25:6 Just then 183  one of the Israelites came and brought to his brothers 184  a Midianite woman in the plain view of Moses and of 185  the whole community of the Israelites, while they 186  were weeping at the entrance of the tent of meeting. 25:7 When Phinehas son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it, 187  he got up from among the assembly, took a javelin in his hand, 25:8 and went after the Israelite man into the tent 188  and thrust through the Israelite man and into the woman’s abdomen. 189  So the plague was stopped from the Israelites. 190  25:9 Those that died in the plague were 24,000.

The Aftermath

25:10 The Lord spoke to Moses: 25:11 Phinehas son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, has turned my anger away from the Israelites, when he manifested such zeal 191  for my sake among them, so that I did not consume the Israelites in my zeal. 192  25:12 Therefore, announce: 193  ‘I am going to give 194  to him my covenant of peace. 195  25:13 So it will be to him and his descendants after him a covenant of a permanent priesthood, because he has been zealous for his God, 196  and has made atonement 197  for the Israelites.’

25:14 Now the name of the Israelite who was stabbed – the one who was stabbed with the Midianite woman – was Zimri son of Salu, a leader of a clan 198  of the Simeonites. 25:15 The name of the Midianite woman who was killed was Cozbi daughter of Zur. He was a leader 199  over the people of a clan of Midian. 200 

25:16 Then the Lord spoke to Moses: 25:17 Bring trouble 201  to the Midianites, and destroy them, 25:18 because they bring trouble to you by their treachery with which they have deceived 202  you in the matter of Peor, and in the matter of Cozbi, the daughter of a prince of Midian, 203  their sister, who was killed on the day of the plague that happened as a result of Peor.”

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