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Balaam Blesses Israel

23 Then Balaam said to King Balak, “Build me seven altars here, and prepare seven young bulls and seven rams for me to sacrifice.” Balak followed his instructions, and the two of them sacrificed a young bull and a ram on each altar.

Then Balaam said to Balak, “Stand here by your burnt offerings, and I will go to see if the Lord will respond to me. Then I will tell you whatever he reveals to me.” So Balaam went alone to the top of a bare hill, and God met him there. Balaam said to him, “I have prepared seven altars and have sacrificed a young bull and a ram on each altar.”

The Lord gave Balaam a message for King Balak. Then he said, “Go back to Balak and give him my message.”

So Balaam returned and found the king standing beside his burnt offerings with all the officials of Moab. This was the message Balaam delivered:

“Balak summoned me to come from Aram;
    the king of Moab brought me from the eastern hills.
‘Come,’ he said, ‘curse Jacob for me!
    Come and announce Israel’s doom.’
But how can I curse those
    whom God has not cursed?
How can I condemn those
    whom the Lord has not condemned?
I see them from the cliff tops;
    I watch them from the hills.
I see a people who live by themselves,
    set apart from other nations.
10 Who can count Jacob’s descendants, as numerous as dust?
    Who can count even a fourth of Israel’s people?
Let me die like the righteous;
    let my life end like theirs.”

11 Then King Balak demanded of Balaam, “What have you done to me? I brought you to curse my enemies. Instead, you have blessed them!”

12 But Balaam replied, “I will speak only the message that the Lord puts in my mouth.”

Balaam’s Second Message

13 Then King Balak told him, “Come with me to another place. There you will see another part of the nation of Israel, but not all of them. Curse at least that many!” 14 So Balak took Balaam to the plateau of Zophim on Pisgah Peak. He built seven altars there and offered a young bull and a ram on each altar.

15 Then Balaam said to the king, “Stand here by your burnt offerings while I go over there to meet the Lord.”

16 And the Lord met Balaam and gave him a message. Then he said, “Go back to Balak and give him my message.”

17 So Balaam returned and found the king standing beside his burnt offerings with all the officials of Moab. “What did the Lord say?” Balak asked eagerly.

18 This was the message Balaam delivered:

“Rise up, Balak, and listen!
    Hear me, son of Zippor.
19 God is not a man, so he does not lie.
    He is not human, so he does not change his mind.
Has he ever spoken and failed to act?
    Has he ever promised and not carried it through?
20 Listen, I received a command to bless;
    God has blessed, and I cannot reverse it!
21 No misfortune is in his plan for Jacob;
    no trouble is in store for Israel.
For the Lord their God is with them;
    he has been proclaimed their king.
22 God brought them out of Egypt;
    for them he is as strong as a wild ox.
23 No curse can touch Jacob;
    no magic has any power against Israel.
For now it will be said of Jacob,
    ‘What wonders God has done for Israel!’
24 These people rise up like a lioness,
    like a majestic lion rousing itself.
They refuse to rest
    until they have feasted on prey,
    drinking the blood of the slaughtered!”

25 Then Balak said to Balaam, “Fine, but if you won’t curse them, at least don’t bless them!”

26 But Balaam replied to Balak, “Didn’t I tell you that I can do only what the Lord tells me?”

Balaam’s Third Message

27 Then King Balak said to Balaam, “Come, I will take you to one more place. Perhaps it will please God to let you curse them from there.”

28 So Balak took Balaam to the top of Mount Peor, overlooking the wasteland.[a] 29 Balaam again told Balak, “Build me seven altars, and prepare seven young bulls and seven rams for me to sacrifice.” 30 So Balak did as Balaam ordered and offered a young bull and a ram on each altar.

24 By now Balaam realized that the Lord was determined to bless Israel, so he did not resort to divination as before. Instead, he turned and looked out toward the wilderness, where he saw the people of Israel camped, tribe by tribe. Then the Spirit of God came upon him, and this is the message he delivered:

“This is the message of Balaam son of Beor,
    the message of the man whose eyes see clearly,
the message of one who hears the words of God,
    who sees a vision from the Almighty,
    who bows down with eyes wide open:
How beautiful are your tents, O Jacob;
    how lovely are your homes, O Israel!
They spread before me like palm groves,[b]
    like gardens by the riverside.
They are like tall trees planted by the Lord,
    like cedars beside the waters.
Water will flow from their buckets;
    their offspring have all they need.
Their king will be greater than Agag;
    their kingdom will be exalted.
God brought them out of Egypt;
    for them he is as strong as a wild ox.
He devours all the nations that oppose him,
    breaking their bones in pieces,
    shooting them with arrows.
Like a lion, Israel crouches and lies down;
    like a lioness, who dares to arouse her?
Blessed is everyone who blesses you, O Israel,
    and cursed is everyone who curses you.”

10 King Balak flew into a rage against Balaam. He angrily clapped his hands and shouted, “I called you to curse my enemies! Instead, you have blessed them three times. 11 Now get out of here! Go back home! I promised to reward you richly, but the Lord has kept you from your reward.”

12 Balaam told Balak, “Don’t you remember what I told your messengers? I said, 13 ‘Even if Balak were to give me his palace filled with silver and gold, I would be powerless to do anything against the will of the Lord.’ I told you that I could say only what the Lord says! 14 Now I am returning to my own people. But first let me tell you what the Israelites will do to your people in the future.”

Balaam’s Final Messages

15 This is the message Balaam delivered:

“This is the message of Balaam son of Beor,
    the message of the man whose eyes see clearly,
16 the message of one who hears the words of God,
    who has knowledge from the Most High,
who sees a vision from the Almighty,
    who bows down with eyes wide open:
17 I see him, but not here and now.
    I perceive him, but far in the distant future.
A star will rise from Jacob;
    a scepter will emerge from Israel.
It will crush the heads of Moab’s people,
    cracking the skulls[c] of the people of Sheth.
18 Edom will be taken over,
    and Seir, its enemy, will be conquered,
    while Israel marches on in triumph.
19 A ruler will rise in Jacob
    who will destroy the survivors of Ir.”

20 Then Balaam looked over toward the people of Amalek and delivered this message:

“Amalek was the greatest of nations,
    but its destiny is destruction!”

21 Then he looked over toward the Kenites and delivered this message:

“Your home is secure;
    your nest is set in the rocks.
22 But the Kenites will be destroyed
    when Assyria[d] takes you captive.”

23 Balaam concluded his messages by saying:

“Alas, who can survive
    unless God has willed it?
24 Ships will come from the coasts of Cyprus[e];
    they will oppress Assyria and afflict Eber,
    but they, too, will be utterly destroyed.”

25 Then Balaam left and returned home, and Balak also went on his way.

Footnotes

  1. 23:28 Or overlooking Jeshimon.
  2. 24:6 Or like a majestic valley.
  3. 24:17 As in Samaritan Pentateuch; the meaning of the Hebrew word is uncertain.
  4. 24:22 Hebrew Asshur; also in 24:24.
  5. 24:24 Hebrew Kittim.