Numbers 23:23 MEANING

Numbers 23:23
(23) Surely there is no enchantment against Jacob . . . --The verse may be rendered as follows: For there is no augury in Jacob, and there is no divina-Hon in Israel. At the (set) time it is told to Jacob and to Israel what God hath done (or, doth). The ordinary meaning of the words nahash (omen, or augury) and kesem (soothsaying, or divination), the use of the same preposition in Numbers 23:21 which is there rendered in, and more especially the second clause of the verse, seem to decide the meaning of the former clause to be as it is here given. The Israelites had no need of augury and divination, seeing that God revealed to them His acts. His counsel, and His will. "What is here affirmed of Israel," says Hengstenberg, "applies to the Church of all ages, and also to every individual believer. The Church of God knows from His own Word what God does, and what it has to do in consequence. The wisdom of this world resembles augury and divination. The Church of God, which is in possession of His word, has no need of it." (History of Balaam and his Prophecies, p. 441).

Verse 23. - Enchantment, נָחַשׁ. Rather, "augury." Septuagint, οἰωνισμός. See on Leviticus 19:26, where the practice is forbidden to Israel. Against Jacob, or, "in Jacob," as the marginal reading, and this is favoured by the Septuagint and the Targums, and is equally true and striking. It was the proud peculiarity of Israel that he trusted not to any magic arts or superstitious rites, uncertain in themselves, and always leading to imposture, but to the direction and favour of the Almighty. Divination. קֶסֶם. Septuagint, μαντεία. The art of the soothsayer. According to this time it shall be said of Jacob and of Israel. Rather, "in season," i.e., in God's good time, "it shall be said to Jacob and to Israel. What hath God wrought! or, "what God doeth." The meaning seems to be that augury and divination were useless and vain in the case of Israel, because God himself declared and would declare his mighty acts in behalf of his people, and that by no uncertain vaticination, but by open declaration.

23:11-30 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.Surely there is no enchantment against Jacob, neither is there any divination against Israel,.... Balaam here owns, that all his enchantments and divinations signified nothing, and would never prevail to bring a curse upon Israel; it was a vain thing for him to use them, and as vain for Balak to expect anything from them; neither he nor any other enchanter and soothsayer, using all the arts they are masters of, could ever do any hurt to such a people, who were the peculiar care of God, and were his church, against which the gates of hell could not prevail: or "in Jacob" and "in Israel" (m); and this is the sense of all the Targums, that there are no enchantments nor enchanters, no divinations nor diviners in Israel; these were not agreeable to them, nor suffered among them, and therefore they were acceptable and well pleasing in the sight of God and indeed this sense agrees both with the literal version of the words, and is the sense Jarchi gives of them; that these people were fit for the blessing, because there were no enchanters and diviners among them; though he mentions another, and that is, that Israel had no need of enchanters and diviners, and of their enchantments and divinations, because they had the prophets to inform them, and the Urim and Thummim to declare things unto them:

according to this time it shall be said of Jacob, and of Israel, what hath God wrought! as with respect to this time as well as to time past, and with respect to time to come, even with respect to all times; it shall be said with wonder and amazement, what great things has God done for this people! as bringing them out of the land of Egypt, leading them through the Red sea, feeding and supplying them in the wilderness, protecting them from their enemies there, expelling the inhabitants of the land of Canaan, and setting them there in their stead; and wonderful things has God done for his spiritual Israel, in the redemption of them by Christ, in the beginning and carrying on the work of grace upon their hearts, by his Spirit; and at last he will bring them all to the heavenly Canaan of rest and happiness, and where this will be matter of admiration with them to all eternity, what has God done for us?

(m) "in Jahacob, in Israel", Pagninus, Montanus, &c.

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