Numbers 22:21-23:30 Contemporary English Version (CEV)
21 So Balaam got up the next morning and saddled his donkey, then left with the Moabite officials.
Balaam and His Donkey Meet an Angel
22 Balaam was riding his donkey to Moab, and two of his servants were with him. But God was angry that Balaam had gone, so one of the Lord’s angels stood in the road to stop him. 23 When Balaam’s donkey saw the angel standing there with a sword, it walked off the road and into an open field. Balaam had to beat the donkey to get it back on the road.
24 Then the angel stood between two vineyards, in a narrow path with a stone wall on each side. 25 When the donkey saw the angel, it walked so close to one of the walls that Balaam’s foot scraped against the wall. Balaam beat the donkey again.
26 The angel moved once more and stood in a spot so narrow that there was no room for the donkey to go around. 27 So it just lay down. Balaam lost his temper, then picked up a stick and smacked the donkey.
28 When that happened, the Lord told the donkey to speak, and it asked Balaam, “What have I done to you that made you beat me three times?”
29 “You made me look stupid!” Balaam answered. “If I had a sword, I’d kill you here and now!”
30 “But you’re my owner,” replied the donkey, “and you’ve ridden me many times. Have I ever done anything like this before?”
“No,” Balaam admitted.
31 Just then, the Lord let Balaam see the angel standing in the road, holding a sword, and Balaam bowed down.
32 The angel said, “You had no right to treat your donkey like that! I was the one who blocked your way, because I don’t think you should go to Moab.[a] 33 If your donkey had not seen me and stopped those three times, I would have killed you and let the donkey live.”
34 Balaam replied, “I was wrong. I didn’t know you were trying to stop me. If you don’t think I should go, I’ll return home right now.”
35 “It’s all right for you to go,” the Lord’s angel answered. “But you must say only what I tell you.” So Balaam went on with Balak’s officials.
King Balak Meets Balaam
36 When Balak heard that Balaam was coming, he went to meet him at the town of Ir, which is on the northern border of Moab. 37 Balak asked, “Why didn’t you come when I invited you the first time? Did you think I wasn’t going to pay you?”
38 “I’m here now,” Balaam answered. “But I will say only what God tells me to say.”
39 They left and went to the town of Kiriath-Huzoth, 40 where Balak sacrificed cattle and sheep and gave some of the meat to Balaam and the officials who were with him.
41 The next morning, Balak took Balaam to the town of Bamoth-Baal. From there, Balaam could see some of the Israelites.[b]
Balaam’s First Message
23 Balaam said to Balak, “Build seven altars here, then bring seven bulls and seven rams.”
2 After Balak had done this, they sacrificed a bull and a ram on each altar. 3 Then Balaam said, “Wait here beside your offerings, and I’ll go somewhere to be alone. Maybe the Lord will appear to me. If he does, I will tell you everything he says.” And he left.
4 When God appeared to him, Balaam said, “I have built seven altars and have sacrificed a bull and a ram on each one.”
5 The Lord gave Balaam a message, then sent him back to tell Balak. 6 When Balaam returned, he found Balak and his officials standing beside the offerings.
7 Balaam said:
“King Balak of Moab brought me
9 “From the mountain peaks,
“I hope to obey God
11 Balak said, “What are you doing? I asked you to come and place a curse on my enemies. But you have blessed them instead!”
12 Balaam answered, “I can say only what the Lord tells me.”
Balaam’s Second Message
13 Balak said to Balaam, “Let’s go somewhere else. Maybe if you see a smaller part of the Israelites, you will be able to curse them for me.” 14 So he took Balaam to a field on top of Mount Pisgah where lookouts were stationed.[c] Then he built seven altars there and sacrificed a bull and a ram on each one.
15 “Wait here beside your offerings,” Balaam said. “The Lord will appear to me over there.”
16 The Lord appeared to Balaam and gave him another message, then he told him to go and tell Balak. 17 Balaam went back and saw him and his officials standing beside the offerings.
Balak asked, “What did the Lord say?”
18 Balaam answered:
“Pay close attention
20 “My command from God
25 Balak shouted, “If you’re not going to curse Israel, then at least don’t bless them.”
26 “I’ve already told you,” Balaam answered. “I will say only what the Lord tells me.”
Balaam’s Third Message
27 Balak said to Balaam, “Come on, let’s try another place. Maybe God will let you curse Israel from there.” 28 So he took Balaam to Mount Peor overlooking the desert north of the Dead Sea.
29 Balaam said, “Build seven altars here, then bring me seven bulls and seven rams.”
30 After Balak had done what Balaam asked, he sacrificed a bull and a ram on each altar.
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