Numbers 24

24 When Balaam saw that it pleased the Lord to bless Israel, he did not go as he had done each time before [superstitiously] to meet with omens and signs in the natural world, but he set his face toward the wilderness or desert.

2 And Balaam lifted up his eyes and he saw Israel abiding in their tents according to their tribes. And the Spirit of God came upon him

3 And he took up his [figurative] discourse and said: Balaam son of Beor, the man whose eye is opened [at last, to see clearly the purposes and will of God],

4 He [Balaam] who hears the words of God, who sees the vision of the Almighty, falling down, but having his eyes open and uncovered, he says:

5 How attractive and considerable are your tents, O Jacob, and your tabernacles, O Israel!

6 As valleys are they spread forth, as gardens by the riverside, as [rare spice] of lignaloes which the Lord has planted, and as cedar trees beside the waters.(A)

7 [Israel] shall pour water out of his own buckets [have his own sources of rich blessing and plenty], and his offspring shall dwell by many waters, and his king shall be higher than [a]Agag, and his kingdom shall be exalted.

8 God brought [Israel] forth out of Egypt; [Israel] has strength like the wild ox; he shall eat up the nations, his enemies, crushing their bones and piercing them through with his arrows.

9 He couched, he lay down as a lion; and as a lioness, who shall rouse him? Blessed [of God] is he who blesses you [who prays for and contributes to your welfare] and cursed [of God] is he who curses you [who in word, thought, or deed would bring harm upon you].(B)

10 Then Balak’s anger was kindled against Balaam, and he smote his hands together; and Balak said to Balaam, I called you to curse my enemies, and, behold, you have done nothing but bless them these three times.

11 Therefore now go back where you belong and do it in a hurry! I had intended to promote you to great honor, but behold, the Lord has held you back from honor.

12 Balaam said to Balak, Did I not say to your messengers whom you sent to me,

13 If Balak would give me his house full of silver and gold, I cannot go beyond the command of the Lord, to do either good or bad of my own will, but what the Lord says, that will I speak?

14 And now, behold, I am going to my people; come, I will tell you what this people [Israel] will do to your people [Moab] in the latter days.

15 And he took up his [figurative] discourse, and said: Balaam son of Beor speaks, the man whose eye is opened speaks,

16 He speaks, who heard the words of God and knew the knowledge of the Most High, who saw the vision of the Almighty, falling down, but having his eyes open and uncovered:

17 I see Him, but not now; I behold Him, but He is not near. A [b]star (Star) shall come forth out of Jacob, and a scepter (Scepter) shall rise out of Israel and shall crush all the corners of Moab and break down all the sons of Sheth [Moab’s sons of tumult].(C)

18 And Edom shall be [taken as] a possession, [Mount] Seir also shall be dispossessed, who were Israel’s enemies, while Israel does valiantly.

19 Out of Jacob shall one (One) come having dominion and shall destroy the remnant from the city.

20 [Balaam] looked at Amalek and took up his [prophetic] utterance, and said: Amalek is the foremost of the [neighboring] nations, but in his latter end he shall [c]come to destruction.

21 And he looked at the Kenites and took up his [prophetic] utterance, and said: Strong is your dwelling place, and you set your nest in the rock.

22 Nevertheless the Kenites shall be wasted. How long shall Asshur (Assyria) take you away captive?

23 And he took up his [prophetic] speech, and said: Alas, who shall live when God does this and establishes [Assyria]?

24 But ships shall come from Kittim [Cyprus and the greater part of the Mediterranean’s east coast] and shall afflict Assyria and Eber [the Hebrews, certain Arabs, and descendants of Nahor], and he [the victor] also shall come to destruction.

25 And Balaam rose up, returned to his place, and Balak also went his way.

Footnotes

  1. Numbers 24:7 “Agag” was the title of the Amalekite kings, and it represents here the kingdom of the Gentiles. The Amalekites at that time were the most powerful of all the desert tribes (Num. 24:20).
  2. Numbers 24:17 “This imagery in the hieroglyphic language of the East denotes some eminent ruler—primarily David, but secondarily and preeminently the Messiah” (Robert Jamieson, A.R. Fausett and David Brown, A Commentary). Notice that the principal time for these events is set in the prophecy for “the latter days” (Num. 24:14). “The prophecy [concerning Moab] was partially, or typically, fulfilled in the time of David (II Sam. 8:2). Moab and Edom represented symbolically the enemies of Christ and His church, and as such will eventually be subdued by the King of kings (see Ps. 60:8)” (Charles J. Ellicott, A Bible Commentary). “The star which the wise men from the East saw, and which led them in the way to the newborn ‘King of the Jews,’ refers clearly to the prophecy of Balaam (Matt. 2:1, 2)” (J.P. Lange, A Commentary).
  3. Numbers 24:20 After the time of David (who was forced to rescue two of his wives from Amalekite bandits, I Sam. 30:18), the Amalekites are mentioned again only in Hezekiah’s time (I Chron. 4:43), before “they disappear from the field of history... So that the word of God here also stood fast; and the first of the surrounding tribes who impiously sought to measure their strength with the cause and people of God were likewise the first to lose their national existence” (Patrick Fairbairn, ed., The Imperial Bible-dictionary).

Cross references

  1. Numbers 24:6 : Ps. 1:3.
  2. Numbers 24:9 : Matt. 25:40.
  3. Numbers 24:17 : Matt. 2:2; Rom. 15:12.

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