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Numbers 23-25

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

And Balak did just as Balaam had spoken, and Balak and Balaam offered a bull and a ram on each altar. Then Balaam said to Balak, “Stand by your burnt offering, and I will go; perhaps the Lord will come to meet me, and whatever He shows me I will tell you.” So he went to a desolate height. And God met Balaam, and he said to Him, “I have prepared the seven altars, and I have offered on each altar a bull and a ram.”

Then the Lord put a word in Balaam’s mouth, and said, “Return to Balak, and thus you shall speak.” So he returned to him, and there he was, standing by his burnt offering, he and all the princes of Moab.

And he took up his oracle and said:

“Balak the king of Moab has brought me from Aram,
From the mountains of the east.
‘Come, curse Jacob for me,
And come, denounce Israel!’

“How shall I curse whom God has not cursed?
And how shall I denounce whom the Lord has not denounced?
For from the top of the rocks I see him,
And from the hills I behold him;
There! A people dwelling alone,
Not reckoning itself among the nations.

10 “Who can count the dust[a] of Jacob,
Or number one-fourth of Israel?
Let me die the death of the righteous,
And let my end be like his!”

11 Then Balak said to Balaam, “What have you done to me? I took you to curse my enemies, and look, you have blessed them bountifully!”

12 So he answered and said, “Must I not take heed to speak what the Lord has put in my mouth?”

Balaam’s Second Prophecy

13 Then Balak said to him, “Please come with me to another place from which you may see them; you shall see only the outer part of them, and shall not see them all; curse them for me from there.” 14 So he brought him to the field of Zophim, to the top of Pisgah, and built seven altars, and offered a bull and a ram on each altar.

15 And he said to Balak, “Stand here by your burnt offering while I meet[b] the Lord over there.”

16 Then the Lord met Balaam, and put a word in his mouth, and said, “Go back to Balak, and thus you shall speak.” 17 So he came to him, and there he was, standing by his burnt offering, and the princes of Moab were with him. And Balak said to him, “What has the Lord spoken?”

18 Then he took up his oracle and said:

“Rise up, Balak, and hear!
Listen to me, son of Zippor!

19 “God is not a man, that He should lie,
Nor a son of man, that He should repent.
Has He said, and will He not do?
Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?
20 Behold, I have received a command to bless;
He has blessed, and I cannot reverse it.

21 “He has not observed iniquity in Jacob,
Nor has He seen wickedness in Israel.
The Lord his God is with him,
And the shout of a King is among them.
22 God brings them out of Egypt;
He has strength like a wild ox.

23 “For there is no sorcery against Jacob,
Nor any divination against Israel.
It now must be said of Jacob
And of Israel, ‘Oh, what God has done!’
24 Look, a people rises like a lioness,
And lifts itself up like a lion;
It shall not lie down until it devours the prey,
And drinks the blood of the slain.”

25 Then Balak said to Balaam, “Neither curse them at all, nor bless them at all!”

26 So Balaam answered and said to Balak, “Did I not tell you, saying, ‘All that the Lord speaks, that I must do’?”

Balaam’s Third Prophecy

27 Then Balak said to Balaam, “Please come, I will take you to another place; perhaps it will please God that you may curse them for me from there.” 28 So Balak took Balaam to the top of Peor, that overlooks the wasteland.[c] 29 Then Balaam said to Balak, “Build for me here seven altars, and prepare for me here seven bulls and seven rams.” 30 And Balak did as Balaam had said, and offered a bull and a ram on every altar.

24 Now when Balaam saw that it pleased the Lord to bless Israel, he did not go as at other times, to seek to use sorcery, but he set his face toward the wilderness. And Balaam raised his eyes, and saw Israel encamped according to their tribes; and the Spirit of God came upon him.

Then he took up his oracle and said:

“The utterance of Balaam the son of Beor,
The utterance of the man whose eyes are opened,
The utterance of him who hears the words of God,
Who sees the vision of the Almighty,
Who falls down, with eyes wide open:

“How lovely are your tents, O Jacob!
Your dwellings, O Israel!
Like valleys that stretch out,
Like gardens by the riverside,
Like aloes planted by the Lord,
Like cedars beside the waters.
He shall pour water from his buckets,
And his seed shall be in many waters.

“His king shall be higher than Agag,
And his kingdom shall be exalted.

“God brings him out of Egypt;
He has strength like a wild ox;
He shall consume the nations, his enemies;
He shall break their bones
And pierce them with his arrows.
‘He bows down, he lies down as a lion;
And as a lion, who shall rouse him?’[d]

“Blessed is he who blesses you,
And cursed is he who curses you.”

10 Then Balak’s anger was aroused against Balaam, and he struck his hands together; and Balak said to Balaam, “I called you to curse my enemies, and look, you have bountifully blessed them these three times! 11 Now therefore, flee to your place. I said I would greatly honor you, but in fact, the Lord has kept you back from honor.”

12 So Balaam said to Balak, “Did I not also speak to your messengers whom you sent to me, saying, 13 ‘If Balak were to give me his house full of silver and gold, I could not go beyond the word of the Lord, to do good or bad of my own will. What the Lord says, that I must speak’? 14 And now, indeed, I am going to my people. Come, I will advise you what this people will do to your people in the latter days.”

Balaam’s Fourth Prophecy

15 So he took up his oracle and said:

“The utterance of Balaam the son of Beor,
And the utterance of the man whose eyes are opened;
16 The utterance of him who hears the words of God,
And has the knowledge of the Most High,
Who sees the vision of the Almighty,
Who falls down, with eyes wide open:

17 “I see Him, but not now;
I behold Him, but not near;
A Star shall come out of Jacob;
A Scepter shall rise out of Israel,
And batter the brow of Moab,
And destroy all the sons of tumult.[e]

18 “And Edom shall be a possession;
Seir also, his enemies, shall be a possession,
While Israel does valiantly.
19 Out of Jacob One shall have dominion,
And destroy the remains of the city.”

20 Then he looked on Amalek, and he took up his oracle and said:

“Amalek was first among the nations,
But shall be last until he perishes.”

21 Then he looked on the Kenites, and he took up his oracle and said:

“Firm is your dwelling place,
And your nest is set in the rock;
22 Nevertheless Kain shall be burned.
How long until Asshur carries you away captive?”

23 Then he took up his oracle and said:

“Alas! Who shall live when God does this?
24 But ships shall come from the coasts of Cyprus,[f]
And they shall afflict Asshur and afflict Eber,
And so shall Amalek,[g] until he perishes.”

25 So Balaam rose and departed and returned to his place; Balak also went his way.

Israel’s Harlotry in Moab

25 Now Israel remained in Acacia Grove,[h] and the people began to commit harlotry with the women of Moab. They invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods. So Israel was joined to Baal of Peor, and the anger of the Lord was aroused against Israel.

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Take all the leaders of the people and hang the offenders before the Lord, out in the sun, that the fierce anger of the Lord may turn away from Israel.”

So Moses said to the judges of Israel, “Every one of you kill his men who were joined to Baal of Peor.”

And indeed, one of the children of Israel came and presented to his brethren a Midianite woman in the sight of Moses and in the sight of all the congregation of the children of Israel, who were weeping at the door of the tabernacle of meeting. Now when Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose from among the congregation and took a javelin in his hand; and he went after the man of Israel into the tent and thrust both of them through, the man of Israel, and the woman through her body. So the plague was stopped among the children of Israel. And those who died in the plague were twenty-four thousand.

10 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 11 “Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, has turned back My wrath from the children of Israel, because he was zealous with My zeal among them, so that I did not consume the children of Israel in My zeal. 12 Therefore say, ‘Behold, I give to him My covenant of peace; 13 and it shall be to him and his descendants after him a covenant of an everlasting priesthood, because he was zealous for his God, and made atonement for the children of Israel.’”

14 Now the name of the Israelite who was killed, who was killed with the Midianite woman, was Zimri the son of Salu, a leader of a father’s house among the Simeonites. 15 And the name of the Midianite woman who was killed was Cozbi the daughter of Zur; he was head of the people of a father’s house in Midian.

16 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 17 “Harass the Midianites, and attack them; 18 for they harassed you with their schemes by which they seduced you in the matter of Peor and in the matter of Cozbi, the daughter of a leader of Midian, their sister, who was killed in the day of the plague because of Peor.”

Footnotes:

  1. Numbers 23:10 Or dust cloud
  2. Numbers 23:15 Following Masoretic Text, Targum, and Vulgate; Syriac reads call; Septuagint reads go and ask God.
  3. Numbers 23:28 Hebrew Jeshimon
  4. Numbers 24:9 Genesis 49:9
  5. Numbers 24:17 Hebrew Sheth (compare Jeremiah 48:45)
  6. Numbers 24:24 Hebrew Kittim
  7. Numbers 24:24 Literally he or that one
  8. Numbers 25:1 Hebrew Shittim
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New King James Version (NKJV)

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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