Numbers 23:1–25:18

Balaam’s First Message

23 Balaam said, “Build me seven altars here, and prepare seven bulls and seven ramse for me.” Balak did as Balaam said, and the two of them offered a bull and a ram on each altar.f

Then Balaam said to Balak, “Stay here beside your offering while I go aside. Perhaps the Lord will come to meet with me.g Whatever he reveals to me I will tell you.” Then he went off to a barren height.

God met with him,h and Balaam said, “I have prepared seven altars, and on each altar I have offered a bull and a ram.”

The Lord put a word in Balaam’s mouthi and said, “Go back to Balak and give him this word.”j

So he went back to him and found him standing beside his offering, with all the Moabite officials.k Then Balaaml spoke his message:m

“Balak brought me from Aram,n

the king of Moab from the eastern mountains.o

‘Come,’ he said, ‘curse Jacob for me;

come, denounce Israel.’p

How can I curse

those whom God has not cursed?q

How can I denounce

those whom the Lord has not denounced?r

From the rocky peaks I see them,

from the heights I view them.s

I see a people who live apart

and do not consider themselves one of the nations.t

10 Who can count the dust of Jacobu

or number even a fourth of Israel?

Let me die the death of the righteous,v

and may my final end be like theirs!w

11 Balak said to Balaam, “What have you done to me? I brought you to curse my enemies,x but you have done nothing but bless them!”y

12 He answered, “Must I not speak what the Lord puts in my mouth?”z

Balaam’s Second Message

13 Then Balak said to him, “Come with me to another placea where you can see them; you will not see them all but only the outskirts of their camp.b And from there, curse them for me.c14 So he took him to the field of Zophim on the top of Pisgah,d and there he built seven altars and offered a bull and a ram on each altar.e

15 Balaam said to Balak, “Stay here beside your offering while I meet with him over there.”

16 The Lord met with Balaam and put a word in his mouthf and said, “Go back to Balak and give him this word.”

17 So he went to him and found him standing beside his offering, with the Moabite officials.g Balak asked him, “What did the Lord say?”

18 Then he spoke his message:h

“Arise, Balak, and listen;

hear me, son of Zippor.i

19 God is not human,j that he should lie,k

not a human being, that he should change his mind.l

Does he speak and then not act?

Does he promisem and not fulfill?

20 I have received a command to bless;n

he has blessed,o and I cannot change it.p

21 “No misfortune is seen in Jacob,q

no misery observeda in Israel.r

The Lord their God is with them;s

the shout of the Kingt is among them.

22 God brought them out of Egypt;u

they have the strength of a wild ox.v

23 There is no divination againstb Jacob,

no evil omensw againstc Israel.

It will now be said of Jacob

and of Israel, ‘See what God has done!’

24 The people rise like a lioness;x

they rouse themselves like a liony

that does not rest till it devours its prey

and drinks the bloodz of its victims.”

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

26 Balaam answered, “Did I not tell you I must do whatever the Lord says?”a

Balaam’s Third Message

27 Then Balak said to Balaam, “Come, let me take you to another place.b Perhaps it will please God to let you curse them for mec from there.” 28 And Balak took Balaam to the top of Peor,d overlooking the wasteland.

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

24 Now when Balaam saw that it pleased the Lord to bless Israel,f he did not resort to divinationg as at other times, but turned his face toward the wilderness.h When Balaam looked out and saw Israel encamped tribe by tribe, the Spirit of God came on himi and he spoke his message:

“The prophecy of Balaam son of Beor,

the prophecy of one whose eye sees clearly,j

the prophecy of one who hears the words of God,k

who sees a vision from the Almighty,a l

who falls prostrate, and whose eyes are opened:

“How beautiful are your tents,m Jacob,

your dwelling places, Israel!

“Like valleys they spread out,

like gardens beside a river,n

like aloeso planted by the Lord,

like cedars beside the waters.p

Water will flow from their buckets;

their seed will have abundant water.

“Their king will be greater than Agag;q

their kingdom will be exalted.r

“God brought them out of Egypt;

they have the strength of a wild ox.

They devour hostile nations

and break their bones in pieces;s

with their arrows they pierce them.t

Like a lion they crouch and lie down,

like a lionessu—who dares to rouse them?

“May those who bless you be blessedv

and those who curse you be cursed!”w

10 Then Balak’s anger burnedx against Balaam. He struck his hands togethery and said to him, “I summoned you to curse my enemies,z but you have blessed thema these three times.b 11 Now leave at once and go home!c I said I would reward you handsomely,d but the Lord has kept you from being rewarded.”

12 Balaam answered Balak, “Did I not tell the messengers you sent me,e 13 ‘Even if Balak gave me all the silver and gold in his palace, I could not do anything of my own accord, good or bad, to go beyond the command of the Lordf—and I must say only what the Lord says’?g 14 Now I am going back to my people, but come, let me warn you of what this people will do to your people in days to come.”h

Balaam’s Fourth Message

15 Then he spoke his message:

“The prophecy of Balaam son of Beor,

the prophecy of one whose eye sees clearly,

16 the prophecy of one who hears the wordsi of God,

who has knowledge from the Most High,j

who sees a vision from the Almighty,

who falls prostrate, and whose eyes are opened:

17 “I see him, but not now;

I behold him, but not near.k

A star will come out of Jacob;l

a scepter will rise out of Israel.m

He will crush the foreheads of Moab,n

the skullsb o ofc all the people of Sheth.d

18 Edomp will be conquered;

Seir,q his enemy, will be conquered,r

but Israels will grow strong.

19 A ruler will come out of Jacobt

and destroy the survivors of the city.”

Balaam’s Fifth Message

20 Then Balaam saw Amaleku and spoke his message:

“Amalek was first among the nations,

but their end will be utter destruction.”v

Balaam’s Sixth Message

21 Then he saw the Kenitesw and spoke his message:

“Your dwelling place is secure,x

your nest is set in a rock;

22 yet you Kenites will be destroyed

when Ashury takes you captive.”

Balaam’s Seventh Message

23 Then he spoke his message:

“Alas! Who can live when God does this?e

24 Ships will come from the shores of Cyprus;z

they will subdue Ashura and Eber,b

but they too will come to ruin.c

25 Then Balaamd got up and returned home, and Balak went his own way.

Moab Seduces Israel

25 While Israel was staying in Shittim,e the men began to indulge in sexual immoralityf with Moabiteg women,h who invited them to the sacrificesi to their gods.j The people ate the sacrificial meal and bowed down before these gods. So Israel yoked themselves tok the Baal of Peor.l And the Lord’s anger burned against them.

The Lord said to Moses, “Take all the leadersm of these people, kill them and exposen them in broad daylight before the Lord,o so that the Lord’s fierce angerp may turn away from Israel.”

So Moses said to Israel’s judges, “Each of you must put to deathq those of your people who have yoked themselves to the Baal of Peor.”r

Then an Israelite man brought into the camp a Midianites woman right before the eyes of Moses and the whole assembly of Israel while they were weepingt at the entrance to the tent of meeting. When Phinehasu son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, the priest, saw this, he left the assembly, took a spearv in his hand and followed the Israelite into the tent. He drove the spear into both of them, right through the Israelite man and into the woman’s stomach. Then the plague against the Israelites was stopped;w but those who died in the plaguex numbered 24,000.y

10 The Lord said to Moses, 11 “Phinehas son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, the priest, has turned my anger away from the Israelites.z Since he was as zealous for my honora among them as I am, I did not put an end to them in my zeal. 12 Therefore tell him I am making my covenant of peaceb with him. 13 He and his descendants will have a covenant of a lasting priesthood,c because he was zealousd for the honore of his God and made atonementf for the Israelites.”g

14 The name of the Israelite who was killed with the Midianite womanh was Zimri son of Salu, the leader of a Simeonite family.i 15 And the name of the Midianite woman who was put to death was Kozbij daughter of Zur, a tribal chief of a Midianite family.k

16 The Lord said to Moses,l 17 “Treat the Midianitesm as enemiesn and kill them.o 18 They treated you as enemies when they deceived you in the Peor incidentp involving their sister Kozbi, the daughter of a Midianite leader, the woman who was killed when the plague came as a result of that incident.”

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