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Numbers 23Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

Balaam’s Oracles

23 Then Balaam said to Balak, “Build me seven altars here and prepare seven bulls and seven rams for me.” So Balak did as Balaam directed, and they offered a bull and a ram on each altar. Balaam said to Balak, “Stay here by your burnt offering while I am gone. Maybe the Lord[a] will meet with me. I will tell you whatever He reveals to me.” So he went to a barren hill.

God[b] met with him and Balaam said to Him, “I have arranged seven altars and offered a bull and a ram on each altar.” Then the Lord put a message in Balaam’s mouth and said, “Return to Balak and say what I tell you.”

So he returned to Balak, who was standing there by his burnt offering with all the officials of Moab.

Balaam’s First Oracle

Balaam proclaimed his poem:

Balak brought me from Aram;
the king of Moab, from the eastern mountains:
“Come, put a curse on Jacob for me;
come, denounce Israel!”
How can I curse someone God has not cursed?
How can I denounce someone the Lord has not denounced?
I see them from the top of rocky cliffs,
and I watch them from the hills.
There is a people living alone;
it does not consider itself among the nations.
10 Who has counted the dust of Jacob
or numbered the dust clouds[c] of Israel?
Let me die the death of the upright;
let the end of my life be like theirs.

11 “What have you done to me?” Balak asked Balaam. “I brought you to curse my enemies, but look, you have only blessed them!”

12 He answered, “Shouldn’t I say exactly what the Lord puts in my mouth?”

Balaam’s Second Oracle

13 Then Balak said to him, “Please come with me to another place where you can see them. You will only see the outskirts of their camp; you won’t see all of them. From there, put a curse on them for me.” 14 So Balak took him to Lookout Field[d] on top of Pisgah, built seven altars, and offered a bull and a ram on each altar.

15 Balaam said to Balak, “Stay here by your burnt offering while I seek the Lord over there.”

16 The Lord met with Balaam and put a message in his mouth. Then He said, “Return to Balak and say what I tell you.”

17 So he returned to Balak, who was standing there by his burnt offering with the officials of Moab. Balak asked him, “What did the Lord say?”

18 Balaam proclaimed his poem:

Balak, get up and listen;
son of Zippor, pay attention to what I say!
19 God is not a man who lies,
or a son of man who changes His mind.
Does He speak and not act,
or promise and not fulfill?
20 I have indeed received a command to bless;
since He has blessed,[e] I cannot change it.
21 He considers no disaster for Jacob;
He sees no trouble for Israel.[f]
The Lord their God is with them,
and there is rejoicing over the King among them.
22 God brought them out of Egypt;
He is like the horns of a wild ox for them.[g]
23 There is no magic curse against Jacob
and no divination against Israel.
It will now be said about Jacob and Israel,
“What great things God has done!”
24 A people rise up like a lioness;
They rouse themselves like a lion.
They will not lie down until they devour the prey
and drink the blood of the slain.

25 Then Balak told Balaam, “Don’t curse them and don’t bless them!”

26 But Balaam answered him, “Didn’t I tell you: Whatever the Lord says, I must do?”

Balaam’s Third Oracle

27 Again Balak said to Balaam, “Please come. I will take you to another place. Maybe it will be agreeable to God that you can put a curse on them for me there.” 28 So Balak took Balaam to the top of Peor, which overlooks the wasteland.[h]

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

Footnotes:

  1. Numbers 23:3 DSS, LXX, Sam read Maybe God
  2. Numbers 23:4 DSS, Sam read The Angel of God
  3. Numbers 23:10 Or numbered a fourth
  4. Numbers 23:14 Or to the field of Zophim
  5. Numbers 23:20 Sam, LXX read since I will bless
  6. Numbers 23:21 Or not observe sin in Jacob; not see wrongdoing
  7. Numbers 23:22 Or Egypt; they have the horns of a wild ox
  8. Numbers 23:28 Or overlooks Jeshimon
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