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The Jewish Study Bible Contextualizes the Hebrew Bible with accompanying scholarly text on Jewish traditions and history.

Chapter 23

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1Balaam said to Balak, “Build me seven altars here and have seven bulls and seven rams ready here for me.” 2Balak did as Balaam directed; and Balak and Balaam offered up a bull and a ram on each altar. 3Then Balaam said to Balak, “Stay here beside your offerings while I am gone. Perhaps the LORD will grant me a manifestation, and whatever He reveals to me I will tell you.” And he went off alone. c Others “to a bare height”; exact meaning of Heb. shephi uncertain.

4God manifested Himself to Balaam, who said to Him, “I have set up the seven altars and offered up a bull and a ram on each altar.” 5And the LORD put a word in Balaam's mouth and said, “Return to Balak and speak thus.”

6So he returned to him and found him standing beside his offerings, and all the Moabite dignitaries with him. 7He took up his theme, and said:

From Aram has Balak brought me, Moab's king from the hills of the East: Come, curse me Jacob, Come, tell Israel's doom! 8How can I damn whom God a Heb. El, as often in these poems. has not damned, How doom when the LORD has not doomed? 9As I see them from the mountain tops, Gaze on them from the heights, There is a people that dwells apart, Not reckoned among the nations, 10Who can count the dust b Cf. Gen. 13.16. of Jacob, Number c Lit. “and the number of.” the dust‐cloud of Israel? May I die the death of the upright, d Heb. yesharim, a play on yeshurun (Jeshurun in Deut. 32.15 ), a name for Israel. May my fate be like theirs!

11Then Balak said to Balaam, “What have you done to me? Here I brought you to damn my enemies, and instead you have blessed them!” 12He replied, “I can only repeat faithfully what the LORD puts in my mouth.” 13Then Balak said to him, “Come with me to another place from which you can see them—you will see only a portion of them; you will not see all of them—and damn them for me from there.” 14With that, he took him to Sedehzophim, e Or “Lookout Point.” on the summit of Pisgah. He built seven altars and offered a bull and a ram on each altar. 15And [Balaam] said to Balak, “Stay here beside your offerings, while I seek a manifestation yonder.”

16The LORD manifested Himself to Balaam and put a word in his mouth, saying, “Return to Balak and speak thus.” 17He went to him and found him standing beside his offerings, and the Moabite dignitaries with him. Balak asked him, “What did the LORD say?” 18And he took up his theme, and said:

Up, Balak, attend, Give ear unto me, son of Zippor! 19God is not man to be capricious, Or mortal to change His mind. Would He speak and not act, Promise and not fulfill? 20My message was to bless: When He blesses, I cannot reverse it. 21No harm is in sight for Jacob, No woe in view for Israel. The LORD their God is with them, And their King's acclaim in their midst. 22God who freed them from Egypt Is for them like the horns a Lit. “eminences,” used figuratively. of the wild ox. 23Lo, there is no augury in Jacob, No divining in Israel: b Cf. Deut. 18.10–15. Jacob is told at once, Yea Israel, what God has planned. c Or, “Else would it be told to Jacob, / Yea to Israel, what God has planned.” 24Lo, a people that rises like a lion, Leaps up like the d‐ Heb. ‘ari, another term for “lion.” king of beasts, ‐d Heb. ‘ari, another term for “lion.” Rests not till it has feasted on prey And drunk the blood of the slain.

25Thereupon Balak said to Balaam, “Don't curse them and don't bless them!” 26In reply, Balaam said to Balak, “But I told you: Whatever the LORD says, that I must do.” 27Then Balak said to Balaam, “Come now, I will take you to another place. Perhaps God will deem it right that you damn them for me there.” 28Balak took Balaam to the peak of Peor, which overlooks the wasteland. e Cf. note on 21.20 . 29Balaam said to Balak, “Build me here seven altars, and have seven bulls and seven rams ready for me here.” 30Balak did as Balaam said: he offered up a bull and a ram on each altar.

Notes:

c Others “to a bare height”; exact meaning of Heb. shephi uncertain.

a Heb. El, as often in these poems.

b Cf. Gen. 13.16.

c Lit. “and the number of.”

d Heb. yesharim, a play on yeshurun (Jeshurun in Deut. 32.15 ), a name for Israel.

e Or “Lookout Point.”

a Lit. “eminences,” used figuratively.

b Cf. Deut. 18.10–15.

c Or, “Else would it be told to Jacob, / Yea to Israel, what God has planned.”

d‐d Heb. ‘ari, another term for “lion.”

e Cf. note on 21.20 .

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