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1 And Balaam saide vnto Balak, Build me here seuen Altars, and prepare mee here seuen oxen, and seuen rammes.

2 And Balak did as Balaam had spoken, and Balak & Balaam offered on euery altar a bullocke and a ramme.

3 And Balaam said vnto Balak, Stand by thy burnt offring, and I wil goe: peraduenture the Lord will come to meete mee; and whatsoeuer he sheweth me, I will tell thee. And he went to an high place.

4 And God met Balaam, and he said vnto him, I haue prepared seuen altars, and I haue offered vpon euery altar a bullocke and a ramme.

5 And the Lord put a word in Balaams mouth, and said, Returne vnto Balak, & thus thou shalt speake.

6 And he returned vnto him, and loe, he stood by his burnt sacrifice, hee, and all the Princes of Moab.

7 And he tooke vp his parable, and said, Balak the King of Moab hath brought mee from Aram, out of the mountaines of the East, saying, Come, curse me Iacob, and come, defie Israel.

8 How shall I curse, whom God hath not cursed? or how shall I defie, whom the Lord hath not defied?

9 For from the top of the rockes I see him, and from the hilles I behold him: loe, the people shall dwell alone, and shall not bee reckoned among the nations.

10 Who can count the dust of Iacob, and the number of the fourth part of Israel? Let mee die the death of the righteous, & let my last end be like his.

11 And Balak saide vnto Balaam, What hast thou done vnto me? I tooke thee to curse mine enemies, and behold, thou hast blessed them altogether.

12 And he answered, and said, Must I not take heede to speake that which the Lord hath put in my mouth?

13 And Balak said vnto him, Come, I pray thee, with me, vnto another place, from whence thou mayest see them: thou shalt see but the vtmost part of them, and shalt not see them all: and curse me them from thence.

14 And hee brought him into the fielde of Zophim, to the toppe of Pisgah, and built seuen altars, and offered a bullocke and a ramme on euery altar.

15 And he said vnto Balak, Stand here by thy burnt offering, while I meete the Lord yonder.

16 And the Lord met Balaam, and put a word in his mouth, and saide, Goe againe vnto Balak, and say thus.

17 And when hee came to him, behold, he stood by his burnt offring, and the Princes of Moab with him. And Balak said vnto him, What hath the Lord spoken?

18 And he tooke vp his parable, and said, Rise vp Balak, & heare; hearken vnto me, thou sonne of Zippor:

19 God is not a man that he should lie, neither the sonne of man, that hee should repent: hath he said, and shall he not doe it? or, hath hee spoken, and shall he not make it good?

20 Behold, I haue receiued commandement to blesse: and hee hath blessed, and I cannot reuerse it.

21 Hee hath not beheld iniquitie in Iacob, neither hath he seene peruersenesse in Israel: the Lord his God is with him, and the shoute of a King is among them.

22 God brought them out of Egypt; he hath as it were the strength of an Unicorne.

23 Surely there is no inchantment against Iacob, neither is there any diuination against Israel: according to this time it shalbe said of Iacob, and of Israel, What hath God wrought!

24 Beholde, the people shall rise vp as a great Lion, and lift vp himselfe as a yong Lion: hee shall not lie downe vntill he eate of the pray, and drinke the blood of the slaine.

25 And Balak said vnto Balaam, Neither curse them at all, nor blesse them at all.

26 But Balaam answered, and said vnto Balak, Told not I thee, saying, All that the Lord speaketh, that I must doe?

27 And Balak saide vnto Balaam, Come, I pray thee, I will bring thee vnto another place, peraduenture it will please God, that thou mayest curse me them from thence.

28 And Balak brought Balaam vnto the top of Peor, that looketh toward Ieshimon.

29 And Balaam saide vnto Balak, Build mee here seuen altars, and prepare me here seuen bullocks, and seuen rammes.

30 And Balak did as Balaam had said, and offred a bullocke and a ramme on euery altar.

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Commentary for Numbers 23

Balak's sacrifice, Balaam pronounces a blessing instead of a curse. (1-10) Balak's disappointment, and second sacrifice, Balaam again blesses Israel. (11-30)1-10 With the camps of Israel full in view, Balaam ordered seven altars to be built, and a bullock and a ram to be offered on each. Oh the sottishness of superstition, to imagine that God will be at man's beck! The curse is turned into a blessing, by the overruling power of God, in love to Israel. God designed to serve his own glory by Balaam, and therefore met him. If God put a word into the mouth of Balaam, who would have defied God and Israel, surely he will not be wanting to those who desire to glorify God, and to edify his people; it shall be given what they should speak. He who opened the mouth of the ass, caused the mouth of this wicked man to speak words as contrary to the desire of his heart, as those of the ass were to the powers of the brute. The miracle was as great in the one case as in the other. Balaam pronounces Israel safe. He owns he could do no more than God suffered him to do. He pronounces them happy in their distinction from the rest of the nations. Happy in their numbers, which made them both honourable and formidable. Happy in their last end. Death is the end of all men; even the righteous must die, and it is good for us to think of this with regard to ourselves, as Balaam does here, speaking of his own death. He pronounces the righteous truly blessed, not only while they live, but when they die; which makes their death even more desirable than life itself. But there are many who desire to die the death of the righteous, but do not endeavour to live the life of the righteous; gladly would they have an end like theirs, but not a way like theirs. They would be saints in heaven, but not saints on earth. This saying of Balaam's is only a wish, not a prayer; it is a vain wish, being only a wish for the end, without any care for the means. Many seek to quiet their consciences with the promise of future amendment, or take up with some false hope, while they neglect the only way of salvation, by which a sinner can be righteous before God.

11-30 Balak was angry with Balaam. Thus a confession of God's overruling power is extorted from a wicked prophet, to the confusion of a wicked prince. A second time the curse is turned into a blessing; and this blessing is both larger and stronger than the former. Men change their minds, and break their words; but God never changes his mind, and therefore never recalls his promise. And when in Scripture he is said to repent, it does not mean any change of his mind; but only a change of his way. There was sin in Jacob, and God saw it; but there was not such as might provoke him to give them up to ruin. If the Lord sees that we trust in his mercy, and accept of his salvation; that we indulge no secret lust, and continue not in rebellion, but endeavour to serve and glorify him; we may be sure that he looks upon us as accepted in Christ, that our sins are all pardoned. Oh the wonders of providence and grace, the wonders of redeeming love, of pardoning mercy, of the new-creating Spirit! Balak had no hope of ruining Israel, and Balaam showed that he had more reason to fear being ruined by them. Since Balaam cannot say what he would have him, Balak wished him to say nothing. But though there are many devices in man's heart, God's counsels shall stand. Yet they resolve to make another attempt, though they had no promise on which to build their hopes. Let us, who have a promise that the vision at the end shall speak and not lie, continue earnest in prayer, #Lu 18:1|.

Commentary by Matthew Henry, 1710.

Discussion for Numbers 23

  • Trudie
    One of the questions for this chapter was how many times did Balaam bless Isreal. The answer that comes up is 4, but in chapter 24, vs10 it says he blessed them these three times. Please check on this and make the necessary correction for the answer.
  • A disciple
    "How shall I curse, whom God hath not cursed? or how shall I defy, whom the LORD hath not defied? For from the top of the rocks I see him, and from the hills I behold him: lo, the people shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned among the nations." Israel wears the garments of her widowhood among the Nations, and her enemies mark her sins against the LORD; but God will save Israel before all!
  • Peter A. Okebukola
    We must keep remembering that "God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?" We must keep trusting God and believing that if we stay at the centre of His will, He will do what He says He will do in our life.
  • Iola johnson
    If God is for you who can be against you .The isrealiest are blessed by God
  • Anonymous for verse 19
    Numbers 23:19 prevents an heart attack in me every time the evil one hurls his spear of the fear of death at me, for God has promised me long life and welbeing in Ephessians 6:1-3.
  • Mabodi Thanyanie Chris for verse 23
    whatever God has blessed its blessed indeed, satan and his agents can try to curse it but they won 't succeed. they will end up knowing that Jehovah is God and He is above everything.

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