Add parallel Print Page Options

A Curse Turns to Blessings

23 Then Balaam said to Balak, “Build me seven altars here and prepare for me here seven bulls and seven rams.” So Balak did just as Balaam had said. Balak and Balaam offered a bull and a ram on each altar. Balaam said to Balak, “Stay here beside your offering. I will go and perhaps Adonai will meet me. Whatever message He shows me, I will tell you. Then he went to a barren height.

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

Adonai put a message into Balaam’s mouth and said, “Return to Balak and speak this.”

Balaam went back to him. Behold, he was standing beside his offering with all the princes of Moab. Then he uttered his oracle and said,

“From Aram, Balak brought me,
    Moab’s king from the mountains of the east:
‘Come! Curse Jacob for me!
‘Come! Denounce Israel!’
How can I curse one
    whom God has not cursed?
How can I denounce one
    whom Adonai has not denounced?
From the rocky peaks I see him.
From the heights I behold him.
Look, he lives as a nation apart,
    and does not consider himself
    as being like the other nations.
10 Who can count Jacob’s dust?
Who can number a fourth of Israel?
Let my soul die the death of the upright,
    and let my end be like his!”

11 Balak said to Balaam, “What have you done to me? I brought you to curse my enemies, but look, you’ve actually blessed them!”

12 But in response he said, “Mustn’t I speak whatever Adonai puts into my mouth?”

13 Then Balak said to him, “Come now with me to another place where you can see a part of them only, not all of them. Curse them for me from there.”

14 He took him to Lookout Field on top of Pisgah. He built seven altars and offered a bull and a ram on each altar.

15 “Stay here beside your offering,” he said to Balak, “while I am meeting over there.”

16 Adonai met Balaam there and put a message into his mouth, and said, “Return to Balak and speak thus.” 17 So he went to him, and behold, he and the princes of Moab were standing beside his offering.

Balak asked him, “What did Adonai say?”

18 So he uttered his oracle and said:

“Rise, Balak! Hear me, son of Zippor!
19 God is not a man who lies,[a]
or a son of man who changes his mind!
Does He speak and then not do it,
    or promise and not fulfill it?
20 Look, I received a command to bless.
He has blessed—I cannot change it!
21 No misfortune is to be seen in Jacob,
    and no misery in Israel!
Adonai their God is with them
    —the King’s shout is among them!
22 God is bringing them from Egypt
    with the strong horns of the wild ox!
23 There is no sorcery effective
    against Jacob,
    nor any divination against Israel!
Now it will be said of Jacob and Israel,
    ‘See what God has done!’
24 The people rise like a lioness,
    like a lion who does not rest
    until he eats his prey
    and drinks his victim’s blood!”

25 Then Balak said to Balaam, “Do not curse them or bless them at all!”

26 Balaam answered and said to Balak, “Haven’t I told you, ‘All that Adonai says, I must do?’

27 Balak said to Balaam, “Come with me to another place. Perhaps it will be pleasing to God and you may curse them for me from there.” 28 So Balak took Balaam to the top of Peor, overlooking the wasteland.

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

30 Balak did just as Balaam said, and offered a bull and a ram on each altar.