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Numbers 22:2-24:25 Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

Parashah 40: Balak 22:2–25:9

[In regular years read with Parashah 39, in leap years read separately]

Now Balak the son of Tzippor saw all that Isra’el had done to the Emori. Mo’av was very afraid of the people, because there were so many of them; Mo’av was overcome with dread because of the people of Isra’el. So Mo’av said to the leaders of Midyan, “This horde will lick up everything around us, the way an ox licks up grass in the field.”

Balak the son of Tzippor was king of Mo’av at that time. He sent messengers to Bil‘am the son of B‘or, at P’tor by the [Euphrates] River in his native land, to tell him, “Listen, a people has come out of Egypt, spread over all the land and settled down next to me. Therefore, please come, and curse this people for me, because they are stronger than I am. Maybe I will be able to strike them down and drive them out of the land, for I know that whomever you bless is in fact blessed, and whomever you curse is in fact cursed.” The leaders of Mo’av and Midyan left, taking with them the payment for divining, came to Bil‘am and spoke to him the words of Balak. He said to them, “Stay here tonight, and I will bring you back whatever answer Adonai tells me.” So the princes of Mo’av stayed with Bil‘am.

God came to Bil‘am and said, “Who are these men with you?” 10 Bil‘am said to God, “Balak the son of Tzippor, king of Mo’av, has sent me this message: 11 ‘The people who came out of Egypt have spread over the land; now, come and curse them for me; maybe I will be able to fight against them and drive them out.’” 12 God answered Bil‘am, “You are not to go with them; you are not to curse the people, because they are blessed.”

(RY: v; LY: ii) 13 Bil‘am got up in the morning and said to the princes of Balak, “Return to your own land, because Adonai refuses to give me permission to go with you.” 14 The princes of Mo’av got up, returned to Balak and said, “Bil‘am refuses to come with us.”

15 Balak again sent princes, more of them and of higher status than the first group. 16 They went to Bil‘am and said to him, “Here is what Balak the son of Tzippor says: ‘Please don’t let anything keep you from coming to me. 17 I will reward you very well, and whatever you say to me I will do. So please come, and curse this people for me.’” 18 Bil‘am answered the servants of Balak, “Even if Balak were to give me his palace filled with silver and gold, I cannot go beyond the word of Adonai my God to do anything, great or small. 19 Now, please, you too, stay here tonight; so that I may find out what else Adonai will say to me.” 20 God came to Bil‘am during the night and said to him, “If the men have come to summon you, get up and go with them; but do only what I tell you.”

(LY: iii) 21 So Bil‘am got up in the morning, saddled his donkey and went with the princes of Mo’av. 22 But God’s anger flared up because he went, and the angel of Adonai stationed himself on the path to bar his way. He was riding on his donkey, and his two servants were with him. 23 The donkey saw the angel of Adonai standing on the road, drawn sword in hand; so the donkey turned off the road into the field; and Bil‘am had to beat the donkey to get it back on the road. 24 Then the angel of Adonai stood on the road where it became narrow as it passed among the vineyards and had stone walls on both sides. 25 The donkey saw the angel of Adonai and pushed up against the wall, crushing Bil‘am’s foot against the wall. So he beat it again. 26 The angel of Adonai moved ahead and stood in a place so tight that there was no room to turn either right or left. 27 Again the donkey saw the angel of Adonai and lay down under Bil‘am, which made him so angry that he hit the donkey with his stick. 28 But Adonai enabled the donkey to speak, and it said to Bil‘am, “What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times?” 29 Bil‘am said to the donkey, “It’s because you’ve been making a fool of me! I wish I had a sword in my hand; I would kill you on the spot!” 30 The donkey said to Bil‘am, “I’m your donkey, right? You’ve ridden me all your life, right? Have I ever treated you like this before?” “No,” he admitted. 31 Then Adonai opened Bil‘am’s eyes, so that he could see the angel of Adonai standing in the way with his drawn sword in his hand, and he bowed his head and fell on his face. 32 The angel of Adonai said to him, “Why did you hit your donkey three times like that? I have come out here to bar your way, because you are rushing to oppose me. 33 The donkey saw me and turned aside these three times; and indeed, if she hadn’t turned away from me, I would have killed you by now and saved it alive!” 34 Bil‘am said to the angel of Adonai, “I have sinned. I didn’t know that you were standing on the road to block me. Now, therefore, if what I am doing displeases you, I will go back.” 35 But the angel of Adonai said to Bil‘am, “No, go on with the men; but you are to say only what I tell you to say.” So Bil‘am went along with the princes of Balak.

36 When Balak heard that Bil‘am had come, he went out to meet him in the city of Mo’av at the Arnon border, in the farthest reaches of the territory. 37 Balak said to Bil‘am, “I sent more than once to summon you! Why didn’t you come to me? Did you think I couldn’t pay you enough?” 38 Bil‘am replied to Balak, “Here, I’ve come to you! But I have no power of my own to say anything. The word that God puts in my mouth is what I will say.”

(RY: vi, LY: iv) 39 Bil‘am went with Balak. When they arrived at Kiryat-Hutzot, 40 Balak sacrificed cattle and sheep, then sent to Bil‘am and the princes with him. 41 In the morning Balak took Bil‘am and brought him up to the high places of Ba‘al; from there he could see a portion of the people.

23 Bil‘am said to Balak, “Build me seven altars here, and prepare me seven bulls and seven rams here.” Balak did as Bil‘am said; then Balak and Bil‘am offered a bull and a ram on each altar. Bil‘am said to Balak, “Stand by your burnt offering while I go off; maybe Adonai will come and meet me; and whatever he shows me I will tell you.” He went off to a bare hill. God met Bil‘am, who said to him, “I prepared the seven altars and offered a bull and a ram on each altar.” Then Adonai put a word in Bil‘am’s mouth and said, “Go on back to Balak, and speak as I tell you.” He went back to him, and there, standing by his burnt offering, he with all the princes of Mo’av, he made his pronouncement:

“Balak, the king of Mo’av,
brings me from Aram, from the eastern hills, saying,
‘Come, curse Ya‘akov for me;
come and denounce Isra’el.’

“How am I to curse
those whom God has not cursed?
How am I to denounce
those whom Adonai has not denounced?

“From the top of the rocks I see them,
from the hills I behold them —
yes, a people that will dwell alone
and not think itself one of the nations.

10 “Who has counted the dust of Ya‘akov
or numbered the ashes of Isra’el?
May I die as the righteous die!
May my end be like theirs!”

11 Balak said to Bil‘am, “What have you done to me?! To curse my enemies is why I brought you; and, here, you have totally blessed them!” 12 He answered, “Mustn’t I take care to say just what Adonai puts in my mouth?”

(LY: v) 13 Balak said to him, “All right, come with me to another place where you can see them. You will see only some of them, not all; but you can curse them for me from there.” 14 He took him through the field of Tzofim to the top of the Pisgah Range, built seven altars and offered a bull and a ram on each altar. 15 Bil‘am said to Balak, “Stand here by your burnt offering, while I go over there for a meeting.” 16 Adonai met Bil‘am, put a word in his mouth and said, “Go on back to Balak, and speak as I tell you.” 17 He came to him and stood by his burnt offering, with all the princes of Mo’av. Balak asked him, “What did Adonai say?” 18 Then Bil‘am made his pronouncement:

“Get up, Balak, and listen!
Turn your ears to me, son of Tzippor!

19 “God is not a human who lies
or a mortal who changes his mind.
When he says something, he will do it;
when he makes a promise, he will fulfill it.
20 Look, I am ordered to bless;
when he blesses, I can’t reverse it.

21 “No one has seen guilt in Ya‘akov,
or perceived perversity in Isra’el;
Adonai their God is with them
and acclaimed as king among them.

22 “God, who brought them out of Egypt,
gives them the strength of a wild ox;
23 thus one can’t put a spell on Ya‘akov,
no magic will work against Isra’el.
It can now be said of Ya‘akov and Isra’el,
‘What is this that God has done?!’

24 “Here is a people rising up like a lioness;
like a lion he rears himself up —
he will not lie down till he eats up the prey
and drinks the blood of the slain.”

25 Balak said to Bil‘am, “Obviously, you won’t curse them. But at least don’t bless them!” 26 However, Bil‘am answered Balak, “Didn’t I warn you that I must do everything Adonai says?”

(RY: vii, LY: vi) 27 Balak said to Bil‘am, “Come, I will take you now to another place; maybe it will please God for you to curse them for me from there.” 28 Balak took Bil‘am to the top of P‘or, overlooking the desert. 29 Bil‘am said to Balak, “Build me seven altars here, and prepare me seven bulls and seven rams.” 30 Balak did as Bil‘am said and offered a bull and a ram on each altar.

24 When Bil‘am saw that it pleased Adonai to bless Isra’el, he didn’t go, as at the other times, to make use of divination, but looked out toward the desert. Bil‘am raised his eyes and saw Isra’el encamped tribe by tribe. Then the Spirit of God came upon him, and he made his pronouncement:

“This is the speech of Bil‘am, son of B‘or;
the speech of the man whose eyes have been opened;
the speech of him who hears God’s words;
who sees what Shaddai sees,
who has fallen, yet has open eyes:

“How lovely are your tents, Ya‘akov;
your encampments, Isra’el!
They spread out like valleys,
like gardens by the riverside,
like succulent aloes planted by Adonai,
like cedar trees next to the water.

“Water will flow from their branches,
their seed will have water aplenty.
Their king will be higher than Agag
and his kingdom lifted high.
God, who brought them out of Egypt,
gives them the strength of a wild ox.
They will devour the nations opposing them,
break their bones, pierce them with their arrows.

“When they lie down they crouch like a lion,
or like a lioness — who dares to rouse it?
Blessed be all who bless you!
Cursed be all who curse you!”

10 Balak blazed with fury against Bil‘am. He struck his hands together and said to Bil‘am, “I summoned you to curse my enemies. But here, you have done nothing but bless them — three times already! 11 Now you had better escape to your own place! I had planned to reward you very well, but now Adonai has deprived you of payment.”

12 Bil‘am answered Balak, “Didn’t I tell the messengers you sent me 13 that even if Balak would give me his palace full of silver and gold, I could not of my own accord go beyond the word of Adonai to do either good or bad? that what Adonai said is what I would say? (LY: vii) 14 But now that I am going back to my own people, come, I will warn you what this people will do to your people in the acharit-hayamim. 15 So he made his pronouncement:

“This is the speech of Bil‘am, son of B‘or;
the speech of the man whose eyes have been opened;
16 the speech of him who hears God’s words;
who knows what ‘Elyon knows,
who sees what Shaddai sees,
who has fallen, yet has open eyes:

17 “I see him, but not now;
I behold him, but not soon —
a star will step forth from Ya‘akov,
a scepter will arise from Isra’el,
to crush the corners of Mo’av
and destroy all descendants of Shet.
18 His enemies will be his possessions —
Edom and Se‘ir, possessions.
Isra’el will do valiantly,
19 From Ya‘akov will come someone who will rule,
and he will destroy what is left of the city.”

20 He saw ‘Amalek and made this pronouncement:

“First among nations was ‘Amalek,
but destruction will be its end.”

21 He saw the Keini and made this pronouncement:

“Though your dwelling is firm,
your nest set on rock,
22 Kayin will be wasted
while captive to Ashur.”

23 Finally, he made this pronouncement:

“Oh no! Who can live when God does this?
24 But ships will come from the coast of Kittim
to subdue Ashur and subdue ‘Ever,
but they too will come to destruction.”

25 Then Bil‘am got up, left and returned to his home; and Balak too went his way.

Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

Copyright © 1998 by David H. Stern. All rights reserved.

Numbers 22:2-24:25 New International Version (NIV)

Now Balak son of Zippor saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites, and Moab was terrified because there were so many people. Indeed, Moab was filled with dread because of the Israelites.

The Moabites said to the elders of Midian, “This horde is going to lick up everything around us, as an ox licks up the grass of the field.

So Balak son of Zippor, who was king of Moab at that time, sent messengers to summon Balaam son of Beor, who was at Pethor, near the Euphrates River, in his native land. Balak said:

“A people has come out of Egypt; they cover the face of the land and have settled next to me. Now come and put a curse on these people, because they are too powerful for me. Perhaps then I will 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.”

The elders of Moab and Midian left, taking with them the fee for divination. When they came to Balaam, they told him what Balak had said.

“Spend the night here,” Balaam said to them, “and I will report back to you with the answer the Lord gives me.” So the Moabite officials stayed with him.

God came to Balaam and asked, “Who are these men with you?”

10 Balaam said to God, “Balak son of Zippor, king of Moab, sent me this message: 11 ‘A people that has come out of Egypt covers the face of the land. Now come and put a curse on them for me. Perhaps then I will be able to fight them and drive them away.’”

12 But God said to Balaam, “Do not go with them. You must not put a curse on those people, because they are blessed.

13 The next morning Balaam got up and said to Balak’s officials, “Go back to your own country, for the Lord has refused to let me go with you.”

14 So the Moabite officials returned to Balak and said, “Balaam refused to come with us.”

15 Then Balak sent other officials, more numerous and more distinguished than the first. 16 They came to Balaam and said:

“This is what Balak son of Zippor says: Do not let anything keep you from coming to me, 17 because I will reward you handsomely and do whatever you say. Come and put a curse on these people for me.”

18 But Balaam answered them, “Even if Balak gave me all the silver and gold in his palace, I could not do anything great or small to go beyond the command of the Lord my God. 19 Now spend the night here so that I can find out what else the Lord will tell me.

20 That night God came to Balaam and said, “Since these men have come to summon you, go with them, but do only what I tell you.”

Balaam’s Donkey

21 Balaam got up in the morning, saddled his donkey and went with the Moabite officials. 22 But God was very angry when he went, and the angel of the Lord stood in the road to oppose him. Balaam was riding on his donkey, and his two servants were with him. 23 When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road with a drawn sword in his hand, it turned off the road into a field. Balaam beat it to get it back on the road.

24 Then the angel of the Lord stood in a narrow path through the vineyards, with walls on both sides. 25 When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, it pressed close to the wall, crushing Balaam’s foot against it. So he beat the donkey again.

26 Then the angel of the Lord moved on ahead and stood in a narrow place where there was no room to turn, either to the right or to the left. 27 When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, it lay down under Balaam, and he was angry and beat it with his staff. 28 Then the Lord opened the donkey’s mouth, and it said to Balaam, “What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times?

29 Balaam answered the donkey, “You have made a fool of me! If only I had a sword in my hand, I would kill you right now.

30 The donkey said to Balaam, “Am I not your own donkey, which you have always ridden, to this day? Have I been in the habit of doing this to you?”

“No,” he said.

31 Then the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road with his sword drawn. So he bowed low and fell facedown.

32 The angel of the Lord asked him, “Why have you beaten your donkey these three times? I have come here to oppose you because your path is a reckless one before me.[a] 33 The donkey saw me and turned away from me these three times. If it had not turned away, I would certainly have killed you by now, but I would have spared it.”

34 Balaam said to the angel of the Lord, “I have sinned. I did not realize you were standing in the road to oppose me. Now if you are displeased, I will go back.”

35 The angel of the Lord said to Balaam, “Go with the men, but speak only what I tell you.” So Balaam went with Balak’s officials.

36 When Balak heard that Balaam was coming, he went out to meet him at the Moabite town on the Arnon border, at the edge of his territory. 37 Balak said to Balaam, “Did I not send you an urgent summons? Why didn’t you come to me? Am I really not able to reward you?”

38 “Well, I have come to you now,” Balaam replied. “But I can’t say whatever I please. I must speak only what God puts in my mouth.”

39 Then Balaam went with Balak to Kiriath Huzoth. 40 Balak sacrificed cattle and sheep, and gave some to Balaam and the officials who were with him. 41 The next morning Balak took Balaam up to Bamoth Baal, and from there he could see the outskirts of the Israelite camp.

Balaam’s First Message

23 Balaam said, “Build me seven altars here, and prepare seven bulls and seven rams for me.” Balak did as Balaam said, and the two of them offered a bull and a ram on each altar.

Then Balaam said to Balak, “Stay here beside your offering while I go aside. Perhaps the Lord will come to meet with me. Whatever he reveals to me I will tell you.” Then he went off to a barren height.

God met with him, and Balaam said, “I have prepared seven altars, and on each altar I have offered a bull and a ram.”

The Lord put a word in Balaam’s mouth and said, “Go back to Balak and give him this word.”

So he went back to him and found him standing beside his offering, with all the Moabite officials. Then Balaam spoke his message:

“Balak brought me from Aram,
    the king of Moab from the eastern mountains.
‘Come,’ he said, ‘curse Jacob for me;
    come, denounce Israel.’
How can I curse
    those whom God has not cursed?
How can I denounce
    those whom the Lord has not denounced?
From the rocky peaks I see them,
    from the heights I view them.
I see a people who live apart
    and do not consider themselves one of the nations.
10 Who can count the dust of Jacob
    or number even a fourth of Israel?
Let me die the death of the righteous,
    and may my final end be like theirs!

11 Balak said to Balaam, “What have you done to me? I brought you to curse my enemies, but you have done nothing but bless them!”

12 He answered, “Must I not speak what the Lord puts in my mouth?”

Balaam’s Second Message

13 Then Balak said to him, “Come with me to another place where you can see them; you will not see them all but only the outskirts of their camp. And from there, curse them for me. 14 So he took him to the field of Zophim on the top of Pisgah, and there he built seven altars and offered a bull and a ram on each altar.

15 Balaam said to Balak, “Stay here beside your offering while I meet with him over there.”

16 The Lord met with Balaam and put a word in his mouth and said, “Go back to Balak and give him this word.”

17 So he went to him and found him standing beside his offering, with the Moabite officials. Balak asked him, “What did the Lord say?”

18 Then he spoke his message:

“Arise, Balak, and listen;
    hear me, son of Zippor.
19 God is not human, that he should lie,
    not a human being, that he should change his mind.
Does he speak and then not act?
    Does he promise and not fulfill?
20 I have received a command to bless;
    he has blessed, and I cannot change it.

21 “No misfortune is seen in Jacob,
    no misery observed[b] in Israel.
The Lord their God is with them;
    the shout of the King is among them.
22 God brought them out of Egypt;
    they have the strength of a wild ox.
23 There is no divination against[c] Jacob,
    no evil omens against[d] Israel.
It will now be said of Jacob
    and of Israel, ‘See what God has done!’
24 The people rise like a lioness;
    they rouse themselves like a lion
that does not rest till it devours its prey
    and drinks the blood of its victims.”

25 Then Balak said to Balaam, “Neither curse them at all nor bless them at all!”

26 Balaam answered, “Did I not tell you I must do whatever the Lord says?”

Balaam’s Third Message

27 Then Balak said to Balaam, “Come, let me take you to another place. Perhaps it will please God to let you curse them for me from there.” 28 And Balak took Balaam to the top of Peor, overlooking the wasteland.

29 Balaam said, “Build me seven altars here, and prepare seven bulls and seven rams for me.” 30 Balak did as Balaam had said, and offered a bull and a ram on each altar.

24 Now when Balaam saw that it pleased the Lord to bless Israel, he did not resort to divination as at other times, but turned his face toward the wilderness. When Balaam looked out and saw Israel encamped tribe by tribe, the Spirit of God came on him and he spoke his message:

“The prophecy of Balaam son of Beor,
    the prophecy of one whose eye sees clearly,
the prophecy of one who hears the words of God,
    who sees a vision from the Almighty,[e]
    who falls prostrate, and whose eyes are opened:

“How beautiful are your tents, Jacob,
    your dwelling places, Israel!

“Like valleys they spread out,
    like gardens beside a river,
like aloes planted by the Lord,
    like cedars beside the waters.
Water will flow from their buckets;
    their seed will have abundant water.

“Their king will be greater than Agag;
    their kingdom will be exalted.

“God brought them out of Egypt;
    they have the strength of a wild ox.
They devour hostile nations
    and break their bones in pieces;
    with their arrows they pierce them.
Like a lion they crouch and lie down,
    like a lioness—who dares to rouse them?

“May those who bless you be blessed
    and those who curse you be cursed!”

10 Then Balak’s anger burned against Balaam. He struck his hands together and said to him, “I summoned you to curse my enemies, but you have blessed them these three times. 11 Now leave at once and go home! I said I would reward you handsomely, but the Lord has kept you from being rewarded.”

12 Balaam answered Balak, “Did I not tell the messengers you sent me, 13 ‘Even if Balak gave me all the silver and gold in his palace, I could not do anything of my own accord, good or bad, to go beyond the command of the Lord—and I must say only what the Lord says’? 14 Now I am going back to my people, but come, let me warn you of what this people will do to your people in days to come.”

Balaam’s Fourth Message

15 Then he spoke his message:

“The prophecy of Balaam son of Beor,
    the prophecy of one whose eye sees clearly,
16 the prophecy of one who hears the words of God,
    who has knowledge from the Most High,
who sees a vision from the Almighty,
    who falls prostrate, and whose eyes are opened:

17 “I see him, but not now;
    I behold him, but not near.
A star will come out of Jacob;
    a scepter will rise out of Israel.
He will crush the foreheads of Moab,
    the skulls[f] of[g] all the people of Sheth.[h]
18 Edom will be conquered;
    Seir, his enemy, will be conquered,
    but Israel will grow strong.
19 A ruler will come out of Jacob
    and destroy the survivors of the city.”

Balaam’s Fifth Message

20 Then Balaam saw Amalek and spoke his message:

“Amalek was first among the nations,
    but their end will be utter destruction.”

Balaam’s Sixth Message

21 Then he saw the Kenites and spoke his message:

“Your dwelling place is secure,
    your nest is set in a rock;
22 yet you Kenites will be destroyed
    when Ashur takes you captive.”

Balaam’s Seventh Message

23 Then he spoke his message:

“Alas! Who can live when God does this?[i]
24     Ships will come from the shores of Cyprus;
they will subdue Ashur and Eber,
    but they too will come to ruin.

25 Then Balaam got up and returned home, and Balak went his own way.

Footnotes:

  1. Numbers 22:32 The meaning of the Hebrew for this clause is uncertain.
  2. Numbers 23:21 Or He has not looked on Jacob’s offenses / or on the wrongs found
  3. Numbers 23:23 Or in
  4. Numbers 23:23 Or in
  5. Numbers 24:4 Hebrew Shaddai; also in verse 16
  6. Numbers 24:17 Samaritan Pentateuch (see also Jer. 48:45); the meaning of the word in the Masoretic Text is uncertain.
  7. Numbers 24:17 Or possibly Moab, / batter
  8. Numbers 24:17 Or all the noisy boasters
  9. Numbers 24:23 Masoretic Text; with a different word division of the Hebrew The people from the islands will gather from the north.
New International Version (NIV)

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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