22 Then the people of Israel traveled to the flatlands of Moab. They camped along the Jordan River across from Jericho.
2Balak saw everything that Israel had done to the Amorites. Balak was the son of Zippor. 3The people of Moab were terrified because there were so many Israelites. In fact, Moab was filled with panic because of the people of Israel.
4The Moabites spoke to the elders of Midian. They said, “This huge mob is going to lick up everything around us. They’ll lick it up as an ox licks up all of the grass in the fields.”
Balak, the son of Zippor, was the king of Moab at that time. 5He sent messengers to get Balaam. Balaam was the son of Beor. Balaam was at the city of Pethor near the Euphrates River. Pethor was in the land where Balaam had been born. Balak told the messengers to say to Balaam,
“A nation has come out of Egypt. They are covering the face of the land. They’ve settled down next to me. 6So come and put a curse on those people. They are too powerful for me. Maybe I’ll be able to win the battle over them. Maybe I’ll be able to drive them out of the country. I know that those you bless will be blessed. And I know that those you put a curse on will be cursed.”
7The elders of Moab and Midian left. They took with them the money they knew Balaam would ask for. They wanted him to use magic and figure things out for them. They came to where Balaam was. And they told him what Balak had said.
8“Spend the night here,” Balaam said to them. “I’ll bring you back the answer the Lord gives me.” So the princes of Moab stayed with him.
9God came to Balaam. He asked, “Who are these men who are with you?”
10Balaam said to God, “Balak king of Moab, the son of Zippor, sent me a message. 11He said, ‘A nation has come out of Egypt. They are covering the whole surface of the land. So come. Put a curse on them for me. Maybe I’ll be able to fight them. Maybe I’ll be able to drive them away.’ ”
12But God said to Balaam, “Do not go with them. You must not put a curse on those people. I have blessed them.”
13The next morning Balaam got up. He said to Balak’s princes, “Go back to your own country. The Lord won’t let me go with you.”
14So the princes of Moab returned to Balak. They said, “Balaam wouldn’t come with us.”
15Then Balak sent other princes. They were more important than the first ones. And there were more of them. 16They came to Balaam. They said,
“Balak, the son of Zippor, says, ‘Don’t let anything keep you from coming to me. 17I’ll make you very rich. I’ll do anything you say. Come. Put a curse on those people for me.’ ”
18But Balaam gave them his answer. He said, “Balak could give me his palace filled with silver and gold. Even then, I still couldn’t do anything at all that goes beyond what the Lord my God commands. 19Stay here tonight, just as the others did. I’ll find out what else the Lord will tell me.”
20That night God came to Balaam. He said, “These men have come to get you. So go with them. But do only what I tell you to do.”
21Balaam got up in the morning. He put a saddle on his donkey. Then he went with the princes of Moab.
22But God was very angry when Balaam went. So the angel of the Lord stood in the road to oppose him. Balaam was riding on his donkey. His two servants were with him. 23The donkey saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road. The angel was holding a sword. He was ready for battle. So the donkey left the road and went into a field. Balaam hit the donkey. He wanted to get it back on the road.
24Then the angel of the Lord stood in a narrow path. The path went between two vineyards. There were walls on both sides. 25The donkey saw the angel of the Lord. So it moved close to the wall. It crushed Balaam’s foot against the wall. He hit the donkey again.
26Then the angel of the Lord moved on ahead. He stood in a narrow place. There was no room to turn, either right or left. 27The donkey saw the angel of the Lord. So it lay down under Balaam. That made him angry. He hit the donkey with his walking stick.
28Then the Lord opened the donkey’s mouth. It said to Balaam, “What have I done to you? Why did you hit me those three times?”
29Balaam answered the donkey. He said, “You have made me look foolish! I wish I had a sword in my hand. If I did, I’d kill you right now.”
30The donkey said to Balaam, “I’m your own donkey. I’m the one you have always ridden. Haven’t you been riding me to this very day? Have I ever made you look foolish before?”
“No,” he said.
31Then the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes. He saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road. He saw that the angel was holding a sword. The angel was ready for battle. So Balaam bowed down. He fell with his face to the ground.
32The angel of the Lord spoke to him. He asked him, “Why have you hit your donkey three times? I have come here to oppose you. What you are doing is foolish. 33The donkey saw me. It turned away from me three times. Suppose it had not turned away. Then I would certainly have killed you by now. But I would have spared the donkey.”
34Balaam spoke to the angel of the Lord. He said, “I have sinned. I didn’t realize you were standing in the road to oppose me. Tell me whether you are pleased with me. If you aren’t, I’ll go back.”
35The angel of the Lord spoke to Balaam. He said, “Go with the men. But say only what I tell you to say.” So Balaam went with the princes of Balak.
36Balak heard that Balaam was coming. So he went out to meet him. They met at a Moabite town near the Arnon River. The town was on the border of Balak’s territory. 37Balak spoke to Balaam. He said, “Didn’t I send messengers to you? I wanted you to come quickly. So why didn’t you come? I can make you very rich.”
38“Well, I’ve come to you now,” Balaam replied. “But I can’t say just anything. I can only speak the words God puts in my mouth.”
39Then Balaam went with Balak to Kiriath Huzoth. 40Balak sacrificed cattle and sheep. He gave some to Balaam. He also gave some to the princes who were with him.
41The next morning Balak took Balaam up to Bamoth Baal. From there he saw part of the people of Israel.
About New International Reader’s Version (1998)
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