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Numbers 23The Message (MSG)

23 Balaam said, “Build me seven altars here, and then prepare seven bulls and seven rams.”

Balak did it. Then Balaam and Balak sacrificed a bull and a ram on each of the altars.

Balaam instructed Balak: “Stand watch here beside your Whole-Burnt-Offering while I go off by myself. Maybe God will come and meet with me. Whatever he shows or tells me, I’ll report to you.” Then he went off by himself.

God did meet with Balaam. Balaam said, “I’ve set up seven altars and offered a bull and a ram on each altar.”

Then God gave Balaam a message: “Return to Balak and give him this message.”

6-10 He went back and found him stationed beside his Whole-Burnt-Offering and with him all the nobles of Moab. Then Balaam spoke his message-oracle:

Balak led me here from Aram,
    the king of Moab all the way from the eastern mountains.
“Go, curse Jacob for me;
    go, damn Israel.”
How can I curse whom God has not cursed?
    How can I damn whom God has not damned?
From rock pinnacles I see them,
    from hilltops I survey them:
Look! a people camping off by themselves,
    thinking themselves outsiders among nations.
But who could ever count the dust of Jacob
    or take a census of cloud-of-dust Israel?
I want to die like these right-living people!
    I want an end just like theirs!

11 Balak said to Balaam, “What’s this? I brought you here to curse my enemies, and all you’ve done is bless them.”

12 Balaam answered, “Don’t I have to be careful to say what God gives me to say?”

13 Balak said to him, “Go with me to another place from which you can only see the outskirts of their camp—you won’t be able to see the whole camp. From there, curse them for my sake.”

14 So he took him to Watchmen’s Meadow at the top of Pisgah. He built seven altars there and offered a bull and a ram on each altar.

15 Balaam said to Balak, “Take up your station here beside your Whole-Burnt-Offering while I meet with him over there.”

16 God met with Balaam and gave him a message. He said, “Return to Balak and give him the message.”

17-24 Balaam returned and found him stationed beside his Whole-Burnt-Offering and the nobles of Moab with him. Balak said to him, “What did God say?” Then Balaam spoke his message-oracle:

On your feet, Balak. Listen,
    listen carefully son of Zippor:
God is not man, one given to lies,
    and not a son of man changing his mind.
Does he speak and not do what he says?
    Does he promise and not come through?
I was brought here to bless;
    and now he’s blessed—how can I change that?
He has no bone to pick with Jacob,
    he sees nothing wrong with Israel.
God is with them,
    and they’re with him, shouting praises to their King.
God brought them out of Egypt,
    rampaging like a wild ox.
No magic spells can bind Jacob,
    no incantations can hold back Israel.
People will look at Jacob and Israel and say,
    “What a great thing has God done!”
Look, a people rising to its feet, stretching like a lion,
    a king-of-the-beasts, aroused,
Unsleeping, unresting until its hunt is over
    and it’s eaten and drunk its fill.

25 Balak said to Balaam, “Well, if you can’t curse them, at least don’t bless them.”

26 Balaam replied to Balak, “Didn’t I tell you earlier: ‘All God speaks, and only what he speaks, I speak’?”

27-28 Balak said to Balaam, “Please, let me take you to another place; maybe we can find the right place in God’s eyes where you’ll be able to curse them for me.” So Balak took Balaam to the top of Peor, with a vista over the Jeshimon (Wasteland).

29 Balaam said to Balak, “Build seven altars for me here and prepare seven bulls and seven rams for sacrifice.”

30 Balak did it and presented an offering of a bull and a ram on each of the altars.

The Message (MSG)

Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

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