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Balak Summons Balaam

22 Then the children of Israel set out and camped in the plains of Moab on the other side of the Jordan from Jericho.

Balak the son of Zippor saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites. Moab was very afraid of the people because they were many, and Moab was distressed because of the children of Israel.

Moab said to the elders of Midian, “Now this company will lick up all that are around us, as the ox licks up the grass of the field.”

And Balak the son of Zippor was king of the Moabites at that time. He sent messengers to Balaam the son of Beor at Pethor, which is by the Euphrates in the land of the sons of his people, to call him, saying,

“A people went out from Egypt. They cover the face of the earth, and they dwell next to me. And now, please come curse this people for me because they are too mighty for me. Perhaps I will prevail, and we will defeat them, and I will drive them out of the land because I know that he whom you bless is blessed, and he whom you curse is cursed.”

The elders of Moab and the elders of Midian went with the divination payments in their hand, and they came to Balaam and spoke to him the words of Balak.

He said to them, “Lodge here tonight, and I will bring you word again, as the Lord will speak to me.” And the leaders of Moab dwelt with Balaam.

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

10 And Balaam said to God, “Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, has sent word to me, saying, 11 ‘A people went out of Egypt who covers the face of the earth. Now come, curse them for me. Perhaps I will be able to battle them and drive them out.’ ”

12 God said to Balaam, “You will not go with them. You will not curse the people because they are blessed.”

13 So Balaam rose up in the morning and said to the princes of Balak, “Go to your land because the Lord refuses to let me to go with you.”

14 The princes of Moab rose up, and they went to Balak and said, “Balaam refuses to come with us.”

15 Again Balak sent officials, more numerous and more honorable than they. 16 They came to Balaam and said to him,

“Thus says Balak the son of Zippor, ‘Please, let nothing hold you back from coming to me, 17 because I will promote you to very great honor, and anything you say to me I will do. Come please, curse this people for me.’ ”

18 Balaam answered the servants of Balak, “If Balak gave me his house full of silver and gold, I am not able to go beyond the command of the Lord my God, to do less or more. 19 Now please remain here tonight, that I may know what more the Lord will say to me.”

20 God came to Balaam at night and said to him, “If the men come to call you, rise up and go with them. But surely the word which I will say to you, that will you do.”

Balaam, the Donkey, and the Angel

21 Balaam rose up in the morning, and saddled his donkey, and went with the princes of Moab. 22 The anger of God was inflamed because he went, and the angel[a] of the Lord stood in the way as an adversary against him. Now he was riding on his donkey, and his two servants were with him. 23 The donkey saw the angel of the Lord standing in the way, and His sword was drawn in His hand, so the donkey turned out of the way and went into the field. Balaam struck the donkey to turn her onto the road.

24 But the angel of the Lord stood in a narrow path of the vineyards, a wall on this side and a wall on that side. 25 When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, she threw herself into the wall and crushed the foot of Balaam against the wall, and he struck her again.

26 The angel of the Lord went further and stood in a narrow place where there was no way to turn either to the right hand or to the left. 27 When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, she fell down under Balaam, and the anger of Balaam was inflamed, and he struck the donkey with a staff. 28 Then the Lord opened the mouth of the donkey, and she said to Balaam, “What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?”

29 And Balaam said to the donkey, “You have mocked me. O that there was a sword in my hand, for now I would kill you.”

30 The donkey said to Balaam, “Am I not your donkey, whom you have ridden since I became yours, to this day? Do I normally do this to you?”

And he said, “No.”

31 Then the Lord opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the way, and His sword was drawn in His hand, and he bowed his head and fell flat on his face.

32 The angel of the Lord said to him, “Why have you struck your donkey these three times? I have come out to oppose you, because your way is perverse before Me. 33 And the donkey saw Me and turned from Me these three times. If she had not turned from Me, surely by now I would have slain you and saved her alive.”

34 Balaam said to the angel of the Lord, “I have sinned because I did not know that You stood in the way against me. Now therefore, if it displeases You, I will return.”

35 The angel of the Lord said to Balaam, “Go with the men. But only speak the word that I tell you to speak.” So Balaam went with the leaders of Balak.

36 When Balak heard that Balaam had come, he went out to meet him in a city of Moab which is on the border of Arnon, which is at the furthest end of the border. 37 Balak said to Balaam, “Did I not earnestly send to summon you? Why did you not come to me? Indeed am I not able to honor you?”

38 And Balaam said to Balak, “I have come to you now. But am I able to speak just anything? The word God puts in my mouth is what I will speak. ”

39 Balaam went with Balak, and they came to Kiriath Huzoth. 40 Balak offered oxen and sheep and sent them to Balaam and to the officials who were with him.

Balaam’s First Prophecy

41 It came to pass on the next day that Balak took Balaam and brought him up to Bamoth Baal, and from there he saw the extent of the people.


  1. Numbers 22:22 At times the Lord speaks directly through an angel (cf. the story of the burning bush in Ex 3:2–4).