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Balaam’s Third Oracle


Now Balaam saw that it pleased the L ord 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 L ord 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 L ord 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 L ord, to do either good or bad of my own will; what the L ord 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.

1. And when Balaam saw that it pleased the Lord. It is evident that Balaam, in order to gratify the wicked king for the sake of the reward, endeavored by various shifts and expedients to obtain an answer in accordance with his wishes. Thus do the wicked seek to propitiate God by delusive means, just as we soothe children by coaxing. And God for some time allowed him 163163     “Inhiare fallaci oraculo.” — Lat. “Q’uil fust comme a la chasse, pour obtenir quelque fausse revelation;” to be, as it were, in chase of some false revelation. — Fr. to gloat upon his fallacious oracle. He now, however, lays closer constraint upon him, and, breaking off all delay, dictates an answer, which He compels him to deliver. For his obedience is not here praised as if, when he understood the will of God, he yielded voluntarily and abandoned his monstrous cupidity; but, because now there was no more room for subterfuge, he dared not stir his foot, as if God had put forth His hand to retain him in his place.

When it is said that “the Spirit of God was upon him,” 164164     A. V., “came upon him.” after he turned his eyes “toward the wilderness” and beheld the camp of Israel, how they were marshalled “according to their tribes,” we must understand it thus: not that he was influenced by a sincere feeling of good-will, so that the sight itself suggested grounds for blessing; but that he was induced by the inspiration of the same Spirit, who afterwards put forth His influence in the prophecy itself. It is said, then, that the Spirit of God was upon him, not as if it had begun to inspire him at that particular moment when he cast his eyes upon the camp of Israel; but because it prompted him to look in that direction, in order that the impulse of prophecy might be stronger in him, as respecting a thing actually before his eyes. But after the Spirit had thus affected his senses, or at any rate had prepared them to be fit instruments for the execution of his office, it then also directed his tongue to prophesy; but in an extraordinary manner, so that a divine majesty shone forth in the sudden change, as if he were transformed into a new man. In a word, “the Spirit of God was upon him,” shewing by manifest token that He was the author of his address, and that he did not speak of his own natural intelligence. To the same intent it is said that “he took up his parable,” because 165165     “Sa facon de parler a eu une gravite authentique, pour toucher plus au vif ceux qui l’orroyent;” his manner of speaking possessed a genuine grandeur, in order to touch more closely to the quick those that might hear it. — Fr. the character of his address was marked with unusual grandeur and magnificent brilliancy.

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