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Numbers 22-23 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Chapter 22

Then the Israelites moved on and encamped in the plains of Moab[a] on the other side of the Jordan opposite Jericho.

Balaam Summoned. Now Balak, son of Zippor, saw all that Israel did to the Amorites, and Moab feared the Israelites greatly because they were numerous. Moab was in dread of the Israelites. So Moab said to the elders of Midian, “Now this horde will devour everything around us as an ox devours the grass of the field.” At that time Balak, son of Zippor, was king of Moab; and he sent messengers to Balaam, son of Beor, at Pethor on the river, in the land of the Ammonites,[b] to summon him with these words, “A people has come out of Egypt! They have covered up the earth and are settling down opposite me! Now come, curse this people for me,[c] since they are stronger than I am. Perhaps I may be able to defeat them and drive them out of the land. For I know that whoever you bless is blessed and whoever you curse is cursed.” So the elders of Moab and the elders of Midian, themselves experts in divination,[d] left and went to Balaam, to whom they gave Balak’s message. He said to them, “Stay here overnight, and I will give you whatever answer the Lord gives me.” So the princes of Moab lodged with Balaam.

Then God came to Balaam and said: Who are these men with you? 10 Balaam answered God, “Balak, son of Zippor, king of Moab, sent me the message: 11 ‘This people that has come out of Egypt has covered up the earth. Now come, lay a curse on them for me; perhaps I may be able to fight them and drive them out.’” 12 But God said to Balaam: Do not go with them and do not curse this people, for they are blessed. 13 The next morning Balaam arose and told the princes of Balak, “Go back to your own country, for the Lord has refused to let me go with you.” 14 So the princes of Moab went back to Balak with the report, “Balaam refused to come with us.”

Second Appeal to Balaam. 15 Balak yet again sent princes, who were more numerous and more distinguished than the others. 16 On coming to Balaam they told him, “Thus says Balak, son of Zippor: Please do not refuse to come to me. 17 I will reward you very handsomely and will do anything you ask of me. Come, lay a curse on this people for me.” 18 But Balaam replied to Balak’s servants, “Even if Balak gave me his house full of silver and gold, I could not do anything, small or great, contrary to the command of the Lord, my God. 19 But, you too stay here overnight, so that I may learn what else the Lord may say to me.” 20 That night God came to Balaam and said to him: If these men have come to summon you, go back with them; yet only on the condition that you do exactly as I tell you. 21 So the next morning when Balaam arose, he saddled his donkey,[e] and went off with the princes of Moab.

The Talking Donkey. 22 But now God’s anger flared up[f] at him for going, and the angel of the Lord took up a position on the road as his adversary. As Balaam was riding along on his donkey, accompanied by two of his servants, 23 the donkey saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road with sword drawn. The donkey turned off the road and went into the field, and Balaam beat the donkey to bring her back on the road. 24 Then the angel of the Lord stood in a narrow lane between vineyards with a stone wall on each side. 25 When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord there, she pressed against the wall; and since she squeezed Balaam’s leg against the wall, he beat her again. 26 Then the angel of the Lord again went ahead, and stood next in a passage so narrow that there was no room to move either to the right or to the left. 27 When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord there, she lay down under Balaam. Balaam’s anger flared up and he beat the donkey with his stick.

28 Then the Lord opened the mouth of the donkey, and she asked Balaam, “What have I done to you that you beat me these three times?” 29 “You have acted so willfully against me,” said Balaam to the donkey, “that if I only had a sword at hand, I would kill you here and now.” 30 But the donkey said to Balaam, “Am I not your donkey, on which you have always ridden until now? Have I been in the habit of treating you this way before?” “No,” he replied.

31 Then the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes, so that he saw the angel of the Lord standing on the road with sword drawn; and he knelt and bowed down to the ground. 32 But the angel of the Lord said to him: “Why have you beaten your donkey these three times? I have come as an adversary because this rash journey of yours is against my will. 33 When the donkey saw me, she turned away from me these three times. If she had not turned away from me, you are the one I would have killed, though I would have spared her.” 34 Then Balaam said to the angel of the Lord, “I have sinned. Yet I did not know that you took up a position to oppose my journey. Since it has displeased you, I will go back home.” 35 But the angel of the Lord said to Balaam: “Go with the men; but you may say only what I tell you.” So Balaam went on with the princes of Balak.

36 When Balak heard that Balaam was coming, he went out to meet him at Ar-Moab on the border formed by the Arnon, at its most distant point. 37 And Balak said to Balaam, “Did I not send an urgent summons to you? Why did you not come to me? Did you think I could not reward you?” 38 Balaam answered Balak, “Well, I have come to you after all. But what power have I to say anything? I can speak only what God puts in my mouth.” 39 Then Balaam went with Balak, and they came to Kiriath-huzoth. 40 Here Balak sacrificed oxen and sheep, and sent portions to Balaam and to the princes who were with him.

The First Oracle. 41 The next morning Balak took Balaam up on Bamoth-baal, and from there he could see some of the people.

Chapter 23

Then Balaam said to Balak, “Build me seven altars here, and here prepare seven bulls and seven rams for me.” So Balak did as Balaam had ordered, and Balak and Balaam offered a bull and a ram on each altar. Balaam said to Balak, “Stand here by your burnt offering while I go over there. Perhaps the Lord will meet me, and then I will tell you whatever he lets me see.” And so he went out on the barren height. Then God met Balaam, and Balak said to him: “I have erected the seven altars, and have offered a bull and a ram on each altar.” The Lord put an utterance in Balaam’s mouth, and said: Go back to Balak, and speak accordingly. So he went back to Balak, who was still standing by his burnt offering together with all the princes of Moab. Then Balaam recited his poem:

From Aram[g] Balak has led me here,
    Moab’s king, from the mountains of Qedem:
“Come, curse for me Jacob,
    come, denounce Israel.”
How can I lay a curse on the one whom God has not cursed?
    How denounce the one whom the Lord has not denounced?
For from the top of the crags I see him,
    from the heights I behold him.
Here is a people that lives apart[h]
    and does not reckon itself among the nations.
10 Who has ever counted the dust of Jacob,
    who numbered Israel’s dust-cloud?[i]
May I die the death of the just,
    may my end be like theirs!

11 “What have you done to me?” cried Balak to Balaam. “It was to lay a curse on my foes that I brought you here; but instead, you have blessed them!” 12 Balaam replied, “Is it not what the Lord puts in my mouth that I take care to repeat?”

The Second Oracle. 13 Then Balak said to him, “Please come with me to another place[j] from which you can see them; but you will see only some, not all of them, and from there lay a curse on them for me.” 14 So he brought him to a lookout post on the top of Pisgah, where he built seven altars and offered a bull and a ram on each of them. 15 Balaam then said to Balak, “Stand here by your burnt offering, while I seek a meeting over there.” 16 Then the Lord met Balaam, and, having put an utterance in his mouth, said to him: Return to Balak, and speak accordingly. 17 So he went to Balak, who was still standing by his burnt offering together with the princes of Moab. When Balak asked him, “What did the Lord say?” 18 Balaam recited his poem:

Rise, Balak, and listen;
    give ear to my testimony, son of Zippor!
19 God is not a human being who speaks falsely,
    nor a mortal, who feels regret.
Is God one to speak and not act,
    to decree and not bring it to pass?
20 I was summoned to bless;
    I will bless; I cannot revoke it!
21 Misfortune I do not see in Jacob,
    nor do I see misery[k] in Israel.
The Lord, their God, is with them;
    among them is the war-cry of their King.
22 They have the like of a wild ox’s horns:[l]
    God who brought them out of Egypt.
23 No, there is no augury against Jacob,
    nor divination against Israel.
Now it is said of Jacob,
    of Israel, “Look what God has done!”
24 Here is a people that rises up like a lioness,
    and gets up like a lion;
It does not rest till it has devoured its prey
    and has drunk the blood of the slain.

25 “Neither lay a curse on them nor bless them,” said Balak to Balaam. 26 But Balaam answered Balak, “Did I not tell you, ‘Everything the Lord tells me I must do’?”

The Third Oracle. 27 Then Balak said to Balaam, “Come, let me bring you to another place; perhaps God will approve of your laying a curse on them for me from there.” 28 So he took Balaam to the top of Peor, that overlooks Jeshimon. 29 Balaam then said to Balak, “Build me seven altars here; and here prepare for me seven bulls and seven rams.” 30 And Balak did as Balaam had ordered, offering a bull and a ram on each altar.

Footnotes:

  1. 22:1 The plains of Moab: the lowlands to the northeast of the Dead Sea, between the Jordan and the foothills below Mount Nebo. Here the Israelites remained until they crossed the Jordan, according to Jos 1–4. Jericho lay to the west of the Jordan.
  2. 22:5 In the land of the Ammonites: the translation rests on a slight emendation of the traditional Hebrew text in accordance with the tradition represented by the Vulgate. While Pethor remains unidentified, this verse supports an identification of Balaam’s homeland in the Transjordan (cf. the Deir ‘Alla Inscriptions), over against other traditions in the text which connect Balaam with Syria (23:7; Dt 23:5).
  3. 22:6 Curse this people for me: Balak believed that Balaam, known in the tradition as a diviner (cf. Jos 13:22), could utter a curse upon Israel which would come to pass.
  4. 22:7 Experts in divination: lit., “divination was in their hand,” i.e., “in their possession”; cf. Ezr 7:25.
  5. 22:21 Donkey: technically a she-donkey; Heb. aton.
  6. 22:22 God’s anger flared up: God’s apparent change of mind became a source of much speculation in the tradition. So, for example, God was angry, not merely because Balaam was going to Balak, for he had God’s permission for the journey (v. 20), but perhaps because he was tempted by greed to curse Israel against God’s command (cf. 2 Pt 2:15; Jude 11; compare Nm 22:32). Adversary: Heb. satan; see also v. 32; cf. 1 Sm 29:4; 2 Sm 19:22; 1 Kgs 11; Jb 1–2; Ps 109:6; Zec 3:1–2; 1 Chr 21:1.
  7. 23:7 Aram: the ancient name of the region later known as Syria. The mountains of Qedem: Qedem is the name for a region in northern Syria. Qedem also means “eastern.” Perhaps this designates the low ranges in the Syrian desert. The “mountains of old” is also a possible translation.
  8. 23:9 A people that lives apart: that is, “securely”; cf. Dt 33:28.
  9. 23:10 The dust of Jacob…Israel’s dust-cloud: the Israelites will be as numerous as the dust kicked up by Israel in its march through the wilderness.
  10. 23:13 To another place: Balak thought that if Balaam would view Israel from a different site, he could deliver a different kind of omen.
  11. 23:21 Misfortune…misery: Balaam states that he is unable to see any evils for Israel.
  12. 23:22 A wild ox’s horns: Israel possesses the strength of a wild ox because of God’s presence among them. Compare the claim by the psalmist, the Lord is “my rock…my saving horn” (Ps 18:3).
New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Scripture texts, prefaces, introductions, footnotes and cross references used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Psalm 80 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Psalm 80[a]

Prayer to Restore God’s Vineyard

For the leader; according to “Lilies.” Eduth.[b] A psalm of Asaph.

I

O Shepherd of Israel, lend an ear,
    you who guide Joseph like a flock!
Seated upon the cherubim, shine forth
    upon Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasseh.
Stir up your power, and come to save us.
    O God, restore us;
    light up your face and we shall be saved.

II

Lord of hosts,
    how long will you smolder in anger
    while your people pray?
You have fed them the bread of tears,
    made them drink tears in great measure.[c]
You have left us to be fought over by our neighbors;
    our enemies deride us.
O God of hosts, restore us;
    light up your face and we shall be saved.

III

You brought a vine[d] out of Egypt;
    you drove out nations and planted it.
10 You cleared out what was before it;
    it took deep root and filled the land.
11 The mountains were covered by its shadow,
    the cedars of God by its branches.
12 It sent out its boughs as far as the sea,[e]
    its shoots as far as the river.
13 Why have you broken down its walls,
    so that all who pass along the way pluck its fruit?
14 The boar from the forest strips the vine;
    the beast of the field feeds upon it.
15 Turn back again, God of hosts;
    look down from heaven and see;
Visit this vine,
16     the stock your right hand has planted,
    and the son[f] whom you made strong for yourself.
17 Those who would burn or cut it down—
    may they perish at your rebuke.
18 May your hand be with the man on your right,[g]
    with the son of man whom you made strong for yourself.
19 Then we will not withdraw from you;
    revive us, and we will call on your name.
20 Lord God of hosts, restore us;
    light up your face and we shall be saved.

Footnotes:

  1. Psalm 80 A community lament in time of military defeat. Using the familiar image of Israel as a vineyard, the people complain that God has broken down the wall protecting the once splendid vine brought from Egypt (Ps 80:9–14). They pray that God will again turn to them and use the Davidic king to lead them to victory (Ps 80:15–19).
  2. 80:1 Lilies…. Eduth: the first term is probably the title of the melody to which the Psalm was to be sung; the second is unexplained.
  3. 80:6 Both the Septuagint and the Vulgate translate this verse in the first person, i.e., “You have fed us the bread of tears.”
  4. 80:9 A vine: a frequent metaphor for Israel, cf. Is 5:1–7; 27:2–5; Jer 2:21; Hos 10:1; Mt 21:33.
  5. 80:12 The sea: the Mediterranean. The river: the Euphrates, cf. Gn 15:18; 1 Kgs 5:1. The terms may also have a mythic nuance—the seas that surround the earth; sea and river are sometimes paralleled in poetry.
  6. 80:16 The Vulgate and Septuagint use “son of man.”
  7. 80:18 The man on your right: the Davidic king who will lead the army in battle.
New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Scripture texts, prefaces, introductions, footnotes and cross references used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Acts 15:22-41 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Letter of the Apostles. 22 Then the apostles and presbyters, in agreement with the whole church, decided to choose representatives and to send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. The ones chosen were Judas, who was called Barsabbas, and Silas, leaders among the brothers. 23 This is the letter delivered by them: “The apostles and the presbyters, your brothers, to the brothers in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia of Gentile origin: greetings. 24 Since we have heard that some of our number [who went out] without any mandate from us have upset you with their teachings and disturbed your peace of mind, 25 we have with one accord decided to choose representatives and to send them to you along with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, 26 who have dedicated their lives to the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27 So we are sending Judas and Silas who will also convey this same message by word of mouth: 28 ‘It is the decision of the holy Spirit and of us not to place on you any burden beyond these necessities, 29 namely, to abstain from meat sacrificed to idols, from blood, from meats of strangled animals, and from unlawful marriage. If you keep free of these, you will be doing what is right. Farewell.’”

Delegates at Antioch. 30 And so they were sent on their journey. Upon their arrival in Antioch they called the assembly together and delivered the letter. 31 When the people read it, they were delighted with the exhortation. 32 Judas and Silas, who were themselves prophets, exhorted and strengthened the brothers with many words. 33 After they had spent some time there, they were sent off with greetings of peace from the brothers to those who had commissioned them. [34 ][a] 35 But Paul and Barnabas remained in Antioch, teaching and proclaiming with many others the word of the Lord.

V. The Mission of Paul to the Ends of the Earth

Paul and Barnabas Separate. 36 [b]After some time, Paul said to Barnabas, “Come, let us make a return visit to see how the brothers are getting on in all the cities where we proclaimed the word of the Lord.” 37 Barnabas wanted to take with them also John, who was called Mark, 38 but Paul insisted that they should not take with them someone who had deserted them at Pamphylia and who had not continued with them in their work. 39 So sharp was their disagreement that they separated. Barnabas took Mark and sailed to Cyprus. 40 But Paul chose Silas and departed after being commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord. 41 He traveled through Syria and Cilicia bringing strength to the churches.

Footnotes:

  1. 15:34 Some manuscripts add, in various wordings, “But Silas decided to remain there.”
  2. 15:36–18:22 This continuous narrative recounts Paul’s second missionary journey. On the internal evidence of the Lucan account, it lasted about three years. Paul first visited the communities he had established on his first journey (Acts 16:1–5), then pushed on into Macedonia, where he established communities at Philippi, Thessalonica, and Beroea (Acts 16:7–17:5). To escape the hostility of the Jews of Thessalonica, he left for Greece and while resident in Athens attempted, without success, to establish an effective Christian community there. From Athens he proceeded to Corinth and, after a stay of a year and a half, returned to Antioch by way of Ephesus and Jerusalem (Acts 17:16–18:22). Luke does not concern himself with the structure or statistics of the communities but aims to show the general progress of the gospel in the Gentile world as well as its continued failure to take root in the Jewish community.
New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Scripture texts, prefaces, introductions, footnotes and cross references used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

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