Nu 24:1-25. Balaam
Foretells Israel's Happiness.
1. to seek for—that is, to use
enchantments. His experience on the two former occasions [Nu 23:3, 15] had taught him that these
superstitious accompaniments of his worship were useless, and therefore
he now simply looked towards the camp of Israel, either with a secret
design to curse them, or to await the divine afflatus.
2. he saw Israel abiding in his tents according to
their tribes—that is, in the orderly distribution of the camp
the spirit of God came upon him—Before
the regular ministry of the prophets was instituted, God made use of
various persons as the instruments through whom He revealed His will,
and Balaam was one of these (De 23:5).
3. the man whose eyes are open—that is,
a seer (1Sa
9:9), a prophet, to whom the
visioned future was disclosed—sometimes when falling into a sleep
15:12-15), frequently into "a
5-7. How goodly are thy tents, … O
Israel!—a fine burst of admiration, expressed in highly
poetical strains. All travellers describe the beauty which the circular
area of Bedouin tents impart to the desert. How impressive, then, must
have been the view, as seen from the heights of Abarim, of the immense
camp of Israel extended over the subjacent plains.
6. As the valleys—Hebrew,
"brooks," the watercourses of the mountains.
lign aloes—an aromatic shrub on the
banks of his native Euphrates, the conical form of which suggested an
apt resemblance to a tent. The redundant imagery of these verses
depicts the humble origin, rapid progress, and prosperity of
7. his king shall be higher than
Agag—The Amalekites were then the most powerful of all the
desert tribes, and "Agag" a title common to their kings.
10-14. Balak's anger was kindled against Balaam,
and he smote his hands together—The "smiting of the hands
together" is, among Oriental people, an indication of the most violent
rage (see Eze 21:17; 22:13) and ignominious dismissal.
15. he took his parable—or prophecy,
uttered in a poetical style.
17. I shall see him—rather, "I do see"
or "I have seen him"—a prophetic sight, like that of Abraham
him—that is, Israel.
there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a
Sceptre shall rise out of Israel—This imagery, in the
hieroglyphic language of the East, denotes some eminent
ruler—primarily David; but secondarily and pre-eminently, the
Messiah (see on Ge 49:10).
corners—border, often used for a whole
country (Ex 8:2; Ps 74:17).
children of Sheth—some prince of Moab;
or, according to some, "the children of the East."
18. Edom shall be a possession—This
prophecy was accomplished by David (2Sa 8:14).
Seir—seen in the south, and poetically
used for Edom. The double conquest of Moab and Edom is alluded to
19. Out of Jacob shall come he that shall have
dominion—David, and particularly Christ.
that remaineth of the city—those who
flee from the field to fortified places (Ps 60:9).
20. Amalek … his latter end shall be that he
perish for ever—Their territory was seen at the remote
extremity of the desert. (See on Ex 17:13; also
21. Kenites … nest in a
rock—Though securely established among the clefts in the high
rocks of En-gedi towards the west, they should be gradually reduced by
a succession of enemies till the Assyrian invader carried them into
captivity (Jud 1:16; 4:11, 16, 17; also
2Ki 15:29; 17:6).
23. who shall live when God doeth
this!—Few shall escape the desolation that shall send a
Nebuchadnezzar to scourge all those regions.
24. Chittim—the countries lying on the
Mediterranean, particularly Greece and Italy (Da 11:29, 30). The Assyrians were themselves to
be overthrown—first, by the Greeks under Alexander the Great and
his successors; secondly, by the Romans.
Eber—the posterity of the Hebrews
he also shall perish—that is, the
conqueror of Asher and Eber, namely, the Greek and Roman empires.
25. Balaam rose up, and went … to his
place—Mesopotamia, to which, however, he did not return. (See
on Nu 31:8).