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Numbers 24-25 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Chapter 24

Balaam, however, perceiving that the Lord was pleased to bless Israel, did not go aside as before to seek omens, but turned his gaze toward the wilderness. When Balaam looked up and saw Israel encamped, tribe by tribe, the spirit of God came upon him, and he recited his poem:

The oracle of Balaam, son of Beor,
    the oracle of the man whose eye is true,
The oracle of one who hears what God says,
    and knows what the Most High knows,
Of one who sees what the Almighty sees,
    in rapture[a] and with eyes unveiled:
How pleasant are your tents, Jacob;
    your encampments, Israel!
Like palm trees spread out,
    like gardens beside a river,
Like aloes the Lord planted,
    like cedars beside water;
Water will drip from their buckets,
    their seed will have plentiful water;
Their king will rise higher than Agag[b]
    and their dominion will be exalted.
They have the like of a wild ox’s horns:
    God who brought them out of Egypt.
They will devour hostile nations,
    break their bones, and crush their loins.
Crouching, they lie like a lion,
    or like a lioness; who will arouse them?
Blessed are those who bless you,
    and cursed are those who curse you!

10 In a blaze of anger at Balaam, Balak clapped his hands[c] and said to him, “It was to lay a curse on my foes that I summoned you here; yet three times now you have actually blessed them! 11 Now flee to your home. I promised to reward you richly, but the Lord has withheld the reward from you!” 12 Balaam replied to Balak, “Did I not even tell the messengers whom you sent to me, 13 ‘Even if Balak gave me his house full of silver and gold, I could not of my own accord do anything, good or evil, contrary to the command of the Lord’? Whatever the Lord says I must say.

The Fourth Oracle. 14 “But now that I am about to go to my own people, let me warn you what this people will do to your people in the days to come.” 15 Then he recited his poem:

The oracle of Balaam, son of Beor,
    the oracle of the man whose eye is true,
16 The oracle of one who hears what God says,
    and knows what the Most High knows,
Of one who sees what the Almighty sees,
    in rapture and with eyes unveiled.
17 I see him, though not now;
    I observe him, though not near:
A star shall advance from Jacob,
    and a scepter[d] shall rise from Israel,
That will crush the brows of Moab,
    and the skull of all the Sethites,
18 Edom will be dispossessed,
    and no survivor is left in Seir.
Israel will act boldly,
19     and Jacob will rule his foes.

20 Upon seeing Amalek, Balaam recited his poem:

First[e] of the nations is Amalek,
    but their end is to perish forever.

21 Upon seeing the Kenites,[f] he recited his poem:

Though your dwelling is safe,
    and your nest is set on a cliff;
22 Yet Kain will be destroyed
    when Asshur[g] takes you captive.

23 Upon seeing[h] [the Ishmaelites?] he recited his poem:

Alas, who shall survive of Ishmael,
24     to deliver them from the hands of the Kittim?
When they have conquered Asshur and conquered Eber,
They too shall perish forever.

25 Then Balaam set out on his journey home; and Balak also went his way.

Chapter 25

Worship of Baal of Peor. While Israel was living at Shittim,[i] the people profaned themselves by prostituting themselves with the Moabite women. These then invited the people to the sacrifices of their god, and the people ate of the sacrifices and bowed down to their god. Israel thereby attached itself to the Baal of Peor, and the Lord’s anger flared up against Israel. The Lord said to Moses: Gather all the leaders of the people, and publicly execute them[j] before the Lord, that the blazing wrath of the Lord may turn away from Israel. So Moses told the Israelite judges, “Each of you kill those of his men who have attached themselves to the Baal of Peor.”[k]

Zeal of Phinehas. At this a certain Israelite came and brought in a Midianite woman[l] to his kindred in the view of Moses and of the whole Israelite community, while they were weeping at the entrance of the tent of meeting. When Phinehas, son of Eleazar, son of Aaron the priest, saw this, he rose up from the assembly, and taking a spear in his hand, followed the Israelite into the tent where he pierced the two of them, the Israelite and the woman. Thus the plague upon the Israelites was checked; but the dead from the plague were twenty-four thousand.

10 Then the Lord said to Moses: 11 Phinehas, son of Eleazar, son of Aaron the priest, has turned my anger from the Israelites by his being as jealous among them as I am; that is why I did not put an end to the Israelites in my jealousy.[m] 12 Announce, therefore, that I hereby give him my covenant of peace,[n] 13 which shall be for him and for his descendants after him the covenant of an everlasting priesthood, because he was jealous on behalf of his God and thus made expiation for the Israelites.

14 [o]The name of the slain Israelite, the one slain with the Midianite woman, was Zimri, son of Salu, prince of a Simeonite ancestral house. 15 The name of the slain Midianite woman was Cozbi, daughter of Zur, who was head of a clan, an ancestral house, in Midian.

Vengeance on the Midianites. 16 [p]The Lord then said to Moses: 17 Treat the Midianites as enemies and strike them, 18 for they have been your enemies by the deceitful dealings they had with you regarding Peor and their kinswoman Cozbi, the daughter of a Midianite prince, who was slain at the time of the plague because of Peor.

III. Second Census of a New Generation and Preparation to Enter the Promised Land

Chapter 26

The Second Census. 19 After the plague

Footnotes:

  1. 24:4 In rapture: lit., “falling,” therefore possibly “in a trance.” However, this interpretation is uncertain.
  2. 24:7 Agag: during Saul’s reign, king of Amalek (1 Sm 15:8), fierce enemy of Israel during the wilderness period; see v. 20 (Ex 17:8–16).
  3. 24:10 Balak clapped his hands: a gesture suggesting contempt or derision, apparently made in anger (cf. Jb 27:23; Lam 2:15).
  4. 24:17 A star…a scepter: some early Christian writers, as well as rabbinic interpreters, understood this prophecy in messianic terms. So, for example, Rabbi Akiba designates Bar Kosiba the messiah in the early second century A.D. by calling him Bar Kokhba, i.e., son of the star, alluding to this passage. Although this text is not referred to anywhere in the New Testament, in a Christian messianic interpretation the star would refer to Jesus, as also the scepter from Israel; cf. Is 11:1. But it is doubtful whether this passage is to be connected with the “star of the Magi” in Mt 2:1–12. The brows of Moab, and the skull of all the Sethites: under the figure of a human being, Moab is specified as the object of conquest by a future leader of Israel. The personification of peoples or toponyms is common enough in the Old Testament; see, e.g., Hos 11:1; Ps 98:8. In Jer 48:45, which paraphrases the latter part of our verse, Moab is depicted as someone whose boasting warrants its ruin. In view of the use of Heb. pe’ah (here “brows”) in Nm 34:3 to indicate a boundary, some see in the “brows” of Moab and the “skull” of the Sethites a representation of features of Moab’s topography, i.e., the borderlands and the interior plateau. The Sethites: cf. Gn 4:25; here probably a general designation for nomadic/tribal groups on the borders of Palestine, unless they are to be identified with the Shutu mentioned in Execration texts of the early second millennium B.C. and the fourteenth century Amarna tablets from Egypt; however, the Shutu are not attested in Moab. On the basis of Gn 4:25 and Gn 25, one might also think of a reference to humanity in general.
  5. 24:20 First: lit., “the beginning.” In the Bible, Amalek is a people indigenous to Palestine and therefore considered as of great antiquity. There is a deliberate contrast here between the words “first” and “end.”
  6. 24:21 The Kenites lived in high strongholds in the mountains of southern Palestine and the Sinai Peninsula, and were skilled in working the various metals found in their territory. Their name is connected, at least by popular etymology, with the Hebrew word for “smith”; of similar sound to qayin, i.e., “Kain” or “smith,” is the Hebrew word for “nest,” qen—hence the play on words in the present passage.
  7. 24:22 Asshur: the mention of Asshur, i.e., Assyria, is not likely before the ninth or eighth centuries B.C.
  8. 24:23–24 Upon seeing: this phrase, lacking the Hebrew text, is found in the Septuagint, but without “the Ishmaelites” designated as the subject of the oracle. The Hebrew text of the oracle itself shows considerable disarray; the translation therefore relies on reconstruction of the putative original and is quite uncertain.
  9. 25:1 Shittim: the full name was Abel-shittim, a locality at the foot of the mountains in the northeastern corner of the plains of Moab (33:49). Prostituting themselves: the application to men of such traditional language for apostasy clearly suggests apostasy was taken to be an inevitable consequence of intermarriage with the Midianite women.
  10. 25:4 Publicly execute them: the same phrase occurs in 2 Sm 21:6–14, where the context shows that at least a part of the penalty consisted in being denied honorable burial. In both passages, dismemberment or impalement (perhaps subsequent to the actual execution) as a punishment for the breaking of covenant pledges, is a possible interpretation of the Hebrew phrase.
  11. 25:5 Thereby Moses apparently alters the Lord’s command to execute all the leaders.
  12. 25:6 Midianite woman: according to 22:4, 7, the Midianites were allied with the Moabites in opposing Israel, while 31:16 claims that Balaam had induced the Midianite women to lure the Israelites away from the Lord. They were weeping: on account of the plague that had struck them; cf. v. 8.
  13. 25:11 My jealousy: God’s desire to maintain an exclusive hold on the allegiance of the Israelites.
  14. 25:12 Covenant of peace: by means of this covenant between God and Phinehas, Phinehas can expect God’s protection, especially from any threat of reprisal for his action; cf. Is 54:10; Ez 34:25; 37:26.
  15. 25:14–15 The noble lineage of the slain couple is mentioned in order to stress the courage of Phinehas in punishing them. The zeal of Phinehas became proverbial; cf. Ps 106:30; Sir 45:23; 1 Mc 2:26, 54.
  16. 25:16–18 The account of the execution of this command is given in 31:1–18.
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 81 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Psalm 81[a]

An Admonition to Fidelity

For the leader; “upon the gittith.”[b] Of Asaph.

I

Sing joyfully to God our strength;
    raise loud shouts to the God of Jacob!
Take up a melody, sound the timbrel,
    the pleasant lyre with a harp.
[c]Blow the shofar at the new moon,
    at the full moon, on our solemn feast.
For this is a law for Israel,
    an edict of the God of Jacob,
He made it a decree for Joseph
    when he came out of the land of Egypt.

II

[d]I heard a tongue I did not know:
    “I removed his shoulder from the burden;[e]
    his hands moved away from the basket.
In distress you called and I rescued you;
    I answered you in secret with thunder;
At the waters of Meribah[f] I tested you: ‘Listen, my people, I will testify against you
Selah
    If only you will listen to me, Israel!
10 There shall be no foreign god among you;[g]
    you shall not bow down to an alien god.
11 ‘I am the Lord your God,
    who brought you up from the land of Egypt.
    Open wide your mouth that I may fill it.’
12 But my people did not listen to my words;
    Israel would not submit to me.
13 So I thrust them away to the hardness of their heart;
    ‘Let them walk in their own machinations.’
14 O that my people would listen to me,
    that Israel would walk in my ways,
15 In a moment I would humble their foes,
    and turn back my hand against their oppressors.
16 Those who hate the Lord will try flattering him,
    but their fate is fixed forever.
17 But Israel I will feed with the finest wheat,
    I will satisfy them with honey from the rock.”

Footnotes:

  1. Psalm 81 At a pilgrimage feast, probably harvest in the fall, the people assemble in the Temple in accord with the Sinai ordinances (Ps 81:2–6). They hear a divine word (mediated by a Temple speaker) telling how God rescued them from slavery in Egypt (Ps 81:7–9), gave them the fundamental commandment of fidelity (Ps 81:9–11), which would bring punishment if they refused to obey (Ps 81:12–13). But if Israel repents, God will be with them once again, bestowing protection and fertility (Ps 81:14–16).
  2. 81:1 Upon the gittith: probably the title of the melody to which the Psalm was to be sung or a musical instrument.
  3. 81:4 New moon…full moon: the pilgrimage feast of harvest began with a great assembly (Lv 23:24; Nm 29:1), used the new moon as a sign (Nm 29:6), and included trumpets (Lv 23:24).
  4. 81:7 I heard a tongue I did not know: a Temple official speaks the word of God (Ps 81:5b–16), which is authoritative and unlike merely human words (cf. Nm 24:4, 16).
  5. 81:7 I removed his shoulder from the burden: A reference to the liberation of Israel from slavery in Egypt. The basket: for carrying clay to make bricks, cf. Ex 1:14.
  6. 81:8 Meribah: place of rebellion in the wilderness; cf. Ex 17:7; Nm 20:13.
  7. 81:10 There shall be no foreign god among you: as in Ps 50 and 95, Israel is challenged to obey the first commandment of fidelity to God after the proclamation of the exodus.
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 16:1-16 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Chapter 16

Paul in Lycaonia: Timothy. He reached [also] Derbe and Lystra where there was a disciple named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek. The brothers in Lystra and Iconium spoke highly of him, and Paul wanted him to come along with him. On account of the Jews of that region, Paul had him circumcised,[a] for they all knew that his father was a Greek. As they traveled from city to city, they handed on to the people for observance the decisions reached by the apostles and presbyters in Jerusalem. Day after day the churches grew stronger in faith and increased in number.

Through Asia Minor. They traveled through the Phrygian and Galatian territory because they had been prevented by the holy Spirit from preaching the message in the province of Asia. When they came to Mysia, they tried to go on into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus[b] did not allow them, so they crossed through Mysia and came down to Troas. During [the] night Paul had a vision. A Macedonian stood before him and implored him with these words, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 When he had seen the vision, we[c] sought passage to Macedonia at once, concluding that God had called us to proclaim the good news to them.

Into Europe. 11 [d]We set sail from Troas, making a straight run for Samothrace, and on the next day to Neapolis, 12 and from there to Philippi, a leading city in that district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. We spent some time in that city. 13 On the sabbath we went outside the city gate along the river where we thought there would be a place of prayer. We sat and spoke with the women who had gathered there. 14 One of them, a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth, from the city of Thyatira, a worshiper of God,[e] listened, and the Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what Paul was saying. 15 After she and her household had been baptized, she offered us an invitation, “If you consider me a believer in the Lord, come and stay at my home,” and she prevailed on us.

Imprisonment at Philippi. 16 As we were going to the place of prayer, we met a slave girl with an oracular spirit,[f] who used to bring a large profit to her owners through her fortune-telling.

Footnotes:

  1. 16:3 Paul had him circumcised: he did this in order that Timothy might be able to associate with the Jews and so perform a ministry among them. Paul did not object to the Jewish Christians’ adherence to the law. But he insisted that the law could not be imposed on the Gentiles. Paul himself lived in accordance with the law, or as exempt from the law, according to particular circumstances (see 1 Cor 9:19–23).
  2. 16:7 The Spirit of Jesus: this is an unusual formulation in Luke’s writings. The parallelism with Acts 16:6 indicates its meaning, the holy Spirit.
  3. 16:10–17 This is the first of the so-called “we-sections” in Acts, where Luke writes as one of Paul’s companions. The other passages are Acts 20:5–15; 21:1–18; 27:1–28:16. Scholars debate whether Luke may not have used the first person plural simply as a literary device to lend color to the narrative. The realism of the narrative, however, lends weight to the argument that the “we” includes Luke or another companion of Paul whose data Luke used as a source.
  4. 16:11–40 The church at Philippi became a flourishing community to which Paul addressed one of his letters (see Introduction to the Letter to the Philippians).
  5. 16:14 A worshiper of God: a “God-fearer.” See note on Acts 8:26–40.
  6. 16:16 With an oracular spirit: literally, “with a Python spirit.” The Python was the serpent or dragon that guarded the Delphic oracle. It later came to designate a “spirit that pronounced oracles” and also a ventriloquist who, it was thought, had such a spirit in the belly.
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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