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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.

12. And Balaam said unto Balak. Balaam speaks the truth, indeed, yet in a bad spirit, as we have seen: for he excuses himself with servility 171171     “II fait le chien couchant.” — Fr. to Balak, that it did not depend on himself that he did not comply with his wishes, but that God had stood in the way. For he grieves at the loss of his reward; and however grandly he may declaim on the supremacy of God, he still signifies that he has rather acted upon compulsion than willingly executed what was enjoined upon him. By “the word (sermonem) of Jehovah,” 172172     “The commandment of the Lord.” — A. V. he means not only His decree, but what had been dictated to him, and which he would have still greatly desired to alter; but he indicates that he was bound by the power of the Spirit to declare, even against his own will, whatever revelation he received. Thus the word “do” refers to his tongue, or his charge as a prophet; since he had not been hired by Balak to perform any manual act, but only to injure the people by his words. The word “heart” 173173     “Of mine own mind.” — A. V. is contrasted with the revelation of the Spirit; for impostors are said to speak out of their own heart, when they falsely make use of God’s name to cover their own inventions. He, therefore, declares that he was not at liberty to speak “of his own heart,” because he was the minister of the Spirit.

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