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The Book of Numbers: Chapter 23

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1Then Balaam said to Balak, “Build me seven altars, and prepare seven bullocks and seven rams for me here.” 2So he did as Balaam had ordered, offering a bullock and a ram on each altar. And Balak said to him, “I have erected the seven altars, and have offered a bullock and a ram on each.” 3Balaam then said to him, “Stand here by your holocaust while I go over there. Perhaps the LORD will meet me, and then I will tell you whatever he lets me see.” He went out on the barren height, 4and God met him. 5When he had put an utterance in Balaam's mouth, the LORD said to him, “Go back to Balak, and speak accordingly.” 6So he went back to Balak, who was still standing by his holocaust together with all the princes of Moab. 7Then Balaam gave voice to his oracle:

From Aram* has Balak brought me here, Moab's king, from the Eastern Mountains: q Nm 22, 6 . “Come and lay a curse for me on Jacob, come and denounce Israel.” 8How can I curse whom God has not cursed? How denounce whom the LORDhas not denounced? 9For from the top of the crags I see him, from the heights I behold him. Here is a people that lives apart* and does not reckon itself among the nations. 10Who has ever counted the dust of Jacob, or numbered Israel's wind‐borne particles?* May I die the death of the just, may my descendants be as many as theirs!

11“What have you done to me?” cried Balak to Balaam. “It was to curse my foes that I brought you here; instead, you have even blessed them.” 12Balaam replied, “Is it not what the LORD puts in my mouth that I must repeat with care?”

The Second Oracle. 13Then Balak said to him, “Please come with me to another place* from which you can see only some and not all of them, and from there curse them for me.” 14So he brought him to the lookout field on the top of Pisgah, where he built seven altars and offered a bullock and a ram on each of them. 15Balaam then said to Balak, “Stand here by your holocaust, while I seek a meeting over there.” 16Then the LORD met Balaam, and having put an utterance in his mouth, he said to him, “Go back to Balak, and speak accordingly.” 17So he went back to Balak, who was still standing by his holocaust together with the princes of Moab. When Balak asked him, “What did the LORD say?” 18Balaam gave voice to his oracle:

Be aroused, O Balak, and hearken; give ear to my testimony, O son of Zippor! 19God is not man that he should speak falsely, nor human, that he should change his mind. Is he one to speak and not act, to decree and not fulfill? 20It is a blessing I have been given to pronounce; a blessing which I cannot restrain. 21Misfortune is not observed in Jacob, nor misery* seen in Israel. The LORD, his God, is with him; with him is the triumph of his King. 22It is God who brought him out of Egypt, r Nm 24, 8 . a wild bull of towering might.* 23No, there is no sorcery against Jacob, nor omen against Israel. It shall yet be said of Jacob, and of Israel, “Behold what God has wrought!” 24Here is a people that springs up like a lioness, and stalks forth like a lion; It rests not till it has devoured its prey and has drunk the blood of the slain. s Nm 24, 9; Gn 49, 9 .

25“Even though you cannot curse them,” said Balak to Balaam, “at least do not bless them.” 26But Balaam answered Balak, “Did I not warn you that I must do all that the LORD tells me?”

The Third Oracle. 27Then Balak said to Balaam, “Come, let me bring you to another place; perhaps God will approve of your cursing them for me from there.” 28So he took Balaam to the top of Peor, that overlooks Jeshimon. 29Balaam then said to him, “Here build me seven altars; and here prepare for me seven bullocks and seven rams.” 30And Balak did as Balaam had ordered, offering a bullock and a ram on each altar.

Notes:

q: Nm 22, 6 .

r: Nm 24, 8 .

s: Nm 24, 9; Gn 49, 9 .

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