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Balaam’s Third Oracle


Now Balaam saw that it pleased the Lord to bless Israel, so he did not go, as at other times, to look for omens, but set his face toward the wilderness. 2Balaam looked up and saw Israel camping tribe by tribe. Then the spirit of God came upon him, 3and he uttered his oracle, saying:

“The oracle of Balaam son of Beor,

the oracle of the man whose eye is clear,


the oracle of one who hears the words of God,

who sees the vision of the Almighty,

who falls down, but with eyes uncovered:


how fair are your tents, O Jacob,

your encampments, O Israel!


Like palm groves that stretch far away,

like gardens beside a river,

like aloes that the Lord has planted,

like cedar trees beside the waters.


Water shall flow from his buckets,

and his seed shall have abundant water,

his king shall be higher than Agag,

and his kingdom shall be exalted.


God who brings him out of Egypt,

is like the horns of a wild ox for him;

he shall devour the nations that are his foes

and break their bones.

He shall strike with his arrows.


He crouched, he lay down like a lion,

and like a lioness; who will rouse him up?

Blessed is everyone who blesses you,

and cursed is everyone who curses you.”

10 Then Balak’s anger was kindled against Balaam, and he struck his hands together. Balak said to Balaam, “I summoned you to curse my enemies, but instead you have blessed them these three times. 11Now be off with you! Go home! I said, ‘I will reward you richly,’ but the Lord has denied you any reward.” 12And Balaam said to Balak, “Did I not tell your messengers whom you sent to me, 13‘If Balak should give me his house full of silver and gold, I would not be able to go beyond the word of the Lord, to do either good or bad of my own will; what the Lord says, that is what I will say’? 14So now, I am going to my people; let me advise you what this people will do to your people in days to come.”

Balaam’s Fourth Oracle

15 So he uttered his oracle, saying:

“The oracle of Balaam son of Beor,

the oracle of the man whose eye is clear,


the oracle of one who hears the words of God,

and knows the knowledge of the Most High,

who sees the vision of the Almighty,

who falls down, but with his eyes uncovered:


I see him, but not now;

I behold him, but not near—

a star shall come out of Jacob,

and a scepter shall rise out of Israel;

it shall crush the borderlands of Moab,

and the territory of all the Shethites.


Edom will become a possession,

Seir a possession of its enemies,

while Israel does valiantly.


One out of Jacob shall rule,

and destroy the survivors of Ir.”

20 Then he looked on Amalek, and uttered his oracle, saying:

“First among the nations was Amalek,

but its end is to perish forever.”

21 Then he looked on the Kenite, and uttered his oracle, saying:

“Enduring is your dwelling place,

and your nest is set in the rock;


yet Kain is destined for burning.

How long shall Asshur take you away captive?”

23 Again he uttered his oracle, saying:

“Alas, who shall live when God does this?


But ships shall come from Kittim

and shall afflict Asshur and Eber;

and he also shall perish forever.”

25 Then Balaam got up and went back to his place, and Balak also went his way.

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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 (Nu 2:1-34).

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 (Ge 15:12-15), frequently into "a trance."

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 valleysHebrew, "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 Israel.

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 (Joh 8:56).

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 (Ps 60:8; 108:9).

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 1Sa 15:1-35).

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 (Ge 10:24).

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).