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23 For there is no spell[a] against[b] Jacob,
nor is there any divination against Israel.
At this time[c] it must be said[d] of Jacob
and of Israel, ‘Look at[e] what God has done!’

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  1. Numbers 23:23 tn The words נַחַשׁ (nakhash, “magic curse, omen”) and קֶסֶם (qesem, “prediction, divination”) describe two techniques of consulting gods. The first concerns omens generally, perhaps the flight of birds (HALOT 690 s.v.). The second relates to casting lots, sometimes done with arrows (Ezek 21:26). See N. H. Snaith, Leviticus and Numbers (NCB), 295-296.
  2. Numbers 23:23 tn The ASV says “with Jacob,” but most translations use “against” (both are theoretically possible) because of the context, esp. v. 20.
  3. Numbers 23:23 tn The form is the preposition “like, as” and the word for “time”—according to the time, about this time, now.
  4. Numbers 23:23 tn The Niphal imperfect here carries the nuance of obligation—one has to say in amazement that God has done something marvelous or “it must be said.”
  5. Numbers 23:23 tn The words “look at” are not in the Hebrew text but have been added in the translation for clarity.

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