Numbers Chapter 22 |
1The Israelites then marched on and encamped in the steppes of Moab, across the Jordan from Jericho.
2Balak son of Zippor saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites.
3Moab was alarmed because that people was so numerous. Moab dreaded the Israelites,
4and Moab said to the elders of Midian, “Now this horde will lick clean all that is about us as an ox licks up the grass of the field.”
Balak son of Zippor, who was king of Moab at that time, 5sent messengers to Balaam son of Beor in Pethor, which is by the Euphrates, in the land of his kinsfolk, to invite him, saying, “There is a people that came out of Egypt; it hides the earth from view, and it is settled next to me. 6Come then, put a curse upon this people for me, since they are too numerous for me; perhaps I can thus defeat them and drive them out of the land. For I know that he whom you bless is blessed indeed, and he whom you curse is cursed.”
7The elders of Moab and the elders of Midian, versed in divina- tion, set out. They came to Balaam and gave him Balak’s message. 8He said to them, “Spend the night here, and I shall reply to you as the Lord may instruct me.” So the Moabite dignitaries stayed with Balaam.
9God came to Balaam and said, “What do these people want of you?” 10Balaam said to God, “Balak son of Zippor, king of Moab, sent me this message: 11Here is a people that came out from Egypt and hides the earth from view. Come now and curse them for me; perhaps I can engage them in battle and drive them off.” 12But God said to Balaam, “Do not go with them. You must not curse that people, for they are blessed.”
13Balaam arose in the morning and said to Balak’s dignitaries, “Go back to your own country, for the Lord will not let me go with you.” 14The Moabite dignitaries left, and they came to Balak and said, “Balaam refused to come with us.”
15Then Balak sent other dignitaries, more numerous and distinguished than the first. 16They came to Balaam and said to him, “Thus says Balak son of Zippor: Please do not refuse to come to me. 17I will reward you richly and I will do anything you ask of me. Only come and damn this people for me.” 18Balaam replied to Balak’s officials, “Though Balak were to give me his house full of silver and gold, I could not do anything, big or little, contrary to the command of the Lord my God. 19So you, too, stay here overnight, and let me find out what else the Lord may say to me.” 20That night God came to Balaam and said to him, “If these men have come to invite you, you may go with them. But whatever I command you, that you shall do.”
21When he arose in the morning, Balaam saddled his ass and departed with the Moabite dignitaries.
22But God was incensed at his going; so an angel of the Lord placed himself in his way as an adversary.
He was riding on his she-ass, with his two servants alongside, 23when the ass caught sight of the angel of the Lord standing in the way, with his drawn sword in his hand. The ass swerved from the road and went into the fields; and Balaam beat the ass to turn her back onto the road. 24The angel of the Lord then stationed himself in a lane between the vineyards, with a fence on either side. 25The ass, seeing the angel of the Lord, pressed herself against the wall and squeezed Balaam’s foot against the wall; so he beat her again. 26Once more the angel of the Lord moved forward and stationed himself on a spot so narrow that there was no room to swerve right or left. 27When the ass now saw the angel of the Lord, she lay down under Balaam; and Balaam was furious and beat the ass with his stick.
28Then the Lord opened the ass’s mouth, and she said to Balaam, “What have I done to you that you have beaten me these three times?” 29Balaam said to the ass, “You have made a mockery of me! If I had a sword with me, I’d kill you.” 30The ass said to Balaam, “Look, I am the ass that you have been riding all along until this day! Have I been in the habit of doing thus to you?” And he answered, “No.”
31Then the Lord uncovered Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the way, his drawn sword in his hand; thereupon he bowed right down to the ground. 32The angel of the Lord said to him, “Why have you beaten your ass these three times? It is I who came out as an adversary, for the errand is obnoxious to me. 33And when the ass saw me, she shied away because of me those three times. If she had not shied away from me, you are the one I should have killed, while sparing her.” 34Balaam said to the angel of the Lord, “I erred because I did not know that you were standing in my way. If you still disapprove, I will turn back.” 35But the angel of the Lord said to Balaam, “Go with the men. But you must say nothing except what I tell you.” So Balaam went on with Balak’s dignitaries.
36When Balak heard that Balaam was coming, he went out to meet him at Ir-moab, which is on the Arnon border, at its farthest point. 37Balak said to Balaam, “When I first sent to invite you, why didn’t you come to me? Am I really unable to reward you?” 38But Balaam said to Balak, “And now that I have come to you, have I the power to speak freely? I can utter only the word that God puts into my mouth.”
39Balaam went with Balak and they came to Kiriath-huzoth. 40Balak sacrificed oxen and sheep, and had them served to Balaam and the dignitaries with him. 41In the morning Balak took Balaam up to Bamoth-baal. From there he could see a portion of the people.