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And the Moabites were greatly afraid of the people, because they were so numerous. The Moabites were sick with fear because of the Israelites.

So the Moabites said to the elders of Midian, “Now this mass of people[a] will lick up everything around us, as the bull devours the grass of the field.” Now Balak son of Zippor was king of the Moabites at this time. And he sent messengers to Balaam[b] son of Beor at Pethor, which is by the Euphrates River[c] in the land of Amaw,[d] to summon him, saying, “Look, a nation has come out of Egypt. They cover the face[e] of the earth, and they are settling next to me.

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  1. Numbers 22:4 tn The word is simply “company,” but in the context he must mean a vast company—a horde of people.
  2. Numbers 22:5 sn There is much literature on pagan diviners and especially prophecy in places in the east like Mari (see, for example, H. B. Huffmon, “Prophecy in the Mari Letters,” BA 31 [1968]: 101-24). Balaam appears to be a pagan diviner who was of some reputation; he was called to curse the Israelites, but God intervened and gave him blessings only. The passage forms a nice complement to texts that deal with blessings and curses. It shows that no one can curse someone whom God has blessed.
  3. Numbers 22:5 tn Heb “by the river”; in most contexts this expression refers to the Euphrates River (cf. NAB, NCV, NRSV, TEV, CEV, NLT).
  4. Numbers 22:5 tn Heb “in the land of Amaw” (cf. NAB, NRSV, TEV); traditionally “in the land of the sons of his people.” The LXX has “by the river of the land.”
  5. Numbers 22:5 tn Heb “eye.” So also in v. 11.