Numbers 23-25Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)
Balaam’s First Message
23 Balaam said, “Build seven altars here. And prepare seven bulls and seven rams for me.” 2 Balak did what Balaam asked. Then Balak and Balaam killed a ram and a bull on each of the altars.
3 Then Balaam said to Balak, “Stay here near this altar. I will go to another place. Then the Lord will come to me, and he will tell me what I must say.” Then Balaam went away to a higher place.
4 God came to Balaam at that place, and Balaam said, “I have prepared seven altars. And I have killed a bull and a ram as a sacrifice on each altar.”
5 Then the Lord gave Balaam a message for Balak and said, “Go back to Balak and say the things that I have given you to say.”
6 So Balaam went back to Balak. Balak was still standing near the altar, and all the leaders of Moab were standing there with them. 7 Then Balaam spoke, and this was his message:
“Balak, the king of Moab,
11 Balak said to Balaam, “What have you done to me? I brought you here to curse my enemies, but you have blessed them!”
12 But Balaam answered, “I must say the things that the Lord tells me to say.”
13 Then Balak said to him, “So come with me to another place. At that place you can see more of these people. You cannot see all of them—you can only see part of them. Maybe from that place you can curse them for me.” 14 So Balak led Balaam to Watchmen Hills.[a] This was on top of Mount Pisgah. There Balak built seven altars and killed a bull and a ram on each altar as a sacrifice.
15 Then Balaam said to Balak, “Stay here by this altar while I go meet with God over there.”
16 So the Lord came to Balaam and told Balaam what to say. Then he told Balaam to go back to Balak and say these things. 17 So Balaam went to Balak. Balak was still standing near the altar. The leaders of Moab were there with him. Balak saw Balaam coming and said, “What did the Lord say?”
Balaam’s Second Message
18 Then Balaam said this:
“Stand up, Balak, and listen to me.
25 Then Balak said to Balaam, “You didn’t ask for good things to happen to these people, but you didn’t ask for bad things to happen to them either!”
26 Balaam answered, “I told you before that I can only say what the Lord tells me to say.”
27 Then Balak said to Balaam, “So come with me to another place. Maybe God will be pleased and will allow you to curse them from that place.” 28 So Balak led Balaam to the top of Mount Peor, which looks out over the desert.
29 Balaam said, “Build seven altars here. Then prepare seven bulls and seven rams for the altars.” 30 Balak did what Balaam asked. Balak offered the bulls and rams on the altars.
Balaam’s Third Message
24 Balaam saw that the Lord wanted to bless Israel, so he did not try to change that by using any kind of magic. But Balaam turned and looked toward the desert. 2 He looked out across the desert and saw all the Israelites. They were camped with the tribes in their different areas. Then the Spirit of God came on him, 3 and he gave this message:
“This message is from Balaam son of Beor.
5 “People of Jacob, your tents are beautiful!
8 “God brought them out of Egypt.
10 When Balak heard this, he angrily struck his fist against his hand and said to Balaam, “I called you to come and curse my enemies. But you have blessed them. You have blessed them three times. 11 Now leave and go home! I told you that I would give you a very good payment, but the Lord has caused you to lose your reward.”
12 Balaam said to Balak, “You sent men to ask me to come. Don’t you remember what I told them? I said, 13 ‘Even if Balak gives me his most beautiful house filled with silver and gold, I can still say only what the Lord commands me to say. I cannot do anything myself, good or bad. I must say what the Lord commands.’ 14 Now I am going back to my own people. But I will give you this warning. I will tell you what these Israelites will do to you and your people in the future.”
Balaam’s Last Message
15 Then Balaam gave this message:
“This message is from Balaam son of Beor.
17 “I see him coming, but not now.
19 “A new ruler will come from the family of Jacob.
20 Then Balaam saw the Amalekites and said this:
“Amalek is the strongest of all nations,
21 Then Balaam saw the Kenites and said this:
“You believe that your country is safe,
23 Then Balaam said this:
25 Then Balaam got up and went back home, and Balak went his own way.
Israel at Peor
25 While the Israelites were camped near Acacia, the men committed sexual sins[i] with Moabite women. 2-3 The Moabite women invited the men to come and join in their sacrifices to their false gods. So the Israelites joined in worshiping these false gods—they ate the sacrifices and worshiped these gods. There the Israelites began worshiping the false god, Baal of Peor. And the Lord became very angry with them.
4 The Lord said to Moses, “Get all the leaders of these people. Then kill them so that all the people can see.[j] Lay their bodies before the Lord. Then the Lord will not show his anger against all the Israelites.”
5 So Moses said to Israel’s judges, “Each of you must find the men in your tribe who have led people to worship the false god, Baal of Peor. Then you must kill these men.”
6 At the time Moses and all the elders of Israel were gathered together at the entrance to the Meeting Tent. An Israelite man brought a Midianite woman home to his brothers.[k] He did this where Moses and all the leaders could see. Moses and the leaders were very sad. 7 Phinehas was the son of Eleazar and the grandson of Aaron the priest. Phinehas saw this man bring the woman into camp. So he left the meeting and got his spear. 8 He followed the Israelite into the tent. Then he used the spear to kill the Israelite man and the Midianite woman in her tent.[l] He pushed the spear through both of their bodies. At that time there was a great sickness among the Israelites. But when Phinehas killed these two people, the sickness stopped. 9 A total of 24,000 people died from that sickness.
10 The Lord said to Moses, 11 “I was so angry with the Israelites that I wanted to kill them. But Phinehas, son of Eleazar and grandson of Aaron the priest, has saved them from my anger. He did this by showing that he feels strongly, just as I do, that my people must worship only me. 12 Tell Phinehas that I am making a peace agreement with him. 13 This is the agreement: He and all of his family who live after him will always be priests, because he had strong feelings for his God. And he did what was needed to make the Israelites pure.”
14 The Israelite man who was killed with the Midianite woman was named Zimri son of Salu. He was the leader of a family in the tribe of Simeon. 15 And the name of the Midianite woman who was killed was Cozbi.[m] She was the daughter of Zur. Zur was the head of a family and leader of a Midianite tribe.
16 The Lord said to Moses, 17 “The Midianites are your enemies. You must kill them. 18 They have already made you their enemies. They tricked you at Peor. And they tricked you with the woman named Cozbi. She was the daughter of a Midianite leader, but she was killed when the sickness came to the Israelites. That sickness was caused because the people were tricked into worshiping the false god Baal of Peor.”