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1 And Balaam said unto Balak, Build me here seven altars, and prepare me here seven oxen and seven rams.

2 And Balak did as Balaam had spoken; and Balak and Balaam offered on every altar a bullock and a ram.

3 And Balaam said unto Balak, Stand by thy burnt offering, and I will go: peradventure the LORD will come to meet me: and whatsoever he sheweth me I will tell thee. And he went to an high place.

4 And God met Balaam: and he said unto him, I have prepared seven altars, and I have offered upon every altar a bullock and a ram.

5 And the LORD put a word in Balaam's mouth, and said, Return unto Balak, and thus thou shalt speak.

6 And he returned unto him, and, lo, he stood by his burnt sacrifice, he, and all the princes of Moab.

7 And he took up his parable, and said, Balak the king of Moab hath brought me from Aram, out of the mountains of the east, saying, Come, curse me Jacob, and come, defy Israel.

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

9 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.

10 Who can count the dust of Jacob, and the number of the fourth part of Israel? Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his!

11 And Balak said unto Balaam, What hast thou done unto me? I took thee to curse mine enemies, and, behold, thou hast blessed them altogether.

12 And he answered and said, Must I not take heed to speak that which the LORD hath put in my mouth?

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

14 And he brought him into the field of Zophim, to the top of Pisgah, and built seven altars, and offered a bullock and a ram on every altar.

15 And he said unto Balak, Stand here by thy burnt offering, while I meet the LORD yonder.

16 And the LORD met Balaam, and put a word in his mouth, and said, Go again unto Balak, and say thus.

17 And when he came to him, behold, he stood by his burnt offering, and the princes of Moab with him. And Balak said unto him, What hath the LORD spoken?

18 And he took up his parable, and said, Rise up, Balak, and hear; hearken unto me, thou son of Zippor:

19 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?

20 Behold, I have received commandment to bless: and he hath blessed; and I cannot reverse it.

21 He hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither hath he seen perverseness in Israel: the LORD his God is with him, and the shout of a king is among them.

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

23 Surely there is no enchantment against Jacob, neither is there any divination against Israel: according to this time it shall be said of Jacob and of Israel, What hath God wrought!

24 Behold, the people shall rise up as a great lion, and lift up himself as a young lion: he shall not lie down until he eat of the prey, and drink the blood of the slain.

25 And Balak said unto Balaam, Neither curse them at all, nor bless them at all.

26 But Balaam answered and said unto Balak, Told not I thee, saying, All that the LORD speaketh, that I must do?

27 And Balak said unto Balaam, Come, I pray thee, I will bring thee unto another place; peradventure it will please God that thou mayest curse me them from thence.

28 And Balak brought Balaam unto the top of Peor, that looketh toward Jeshimon.

29 And Balaam said unto Balak, Build me here seven altars, and prepare me here seven bullocks and seven rams.

30 And Balak did as Balaam had said, and offered a bullock and a ram on every altar.

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

  • Andy G van den Berg on Numbers 23:23
    On NUMBERS 23:19

    The Word of God is God (John 1:1) and is not of any private interpretation (2 Peter 1:20).

    The word 'Repent' in different forms (repent, repentance, repented, repentest, repenteth, repenting, repentings) is mentioned 110 times in the KJV, and means a lot more than what people by nature have been conditioned to believe. The word 'repent' used in the New Testament was translated from the Greek word "metanoeo", and means to change, transform, to think differently or reconsider.

    It is the key principle of all the teachings of Jesus Christ and the axiom (basis) of the Word of God and a prerequisite and primary requirement for the salvation of mankind. It actually means the changing of spirits - to turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan unto God (Acts 26:18).

    For a better understanding and the 'spiritual truth' of what it means to repent, and learn how and by whom mankind has been deceived (Rev. 12:9) and what people must do to be reunited with the true and living God, we invite you to seek Him according to the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive (Matthew 7:7; John 14:17).

    You need not that any man teach you (Isaiah 54:13; 6:45; 1 John 2:27), as mankind follows after an image of a false god and a false Christ (Matthew 24:24; Mark 13:22; Gal. 4:8; 2 Cor. 11:13-15; Rev. 12:9).

    It is only by revelation of God that people will come to know the true Christ (Daniel 12:4,9; Amos 3:7; Matthew 16:17; Luke 2:26; Romans 16:25; 1 Cor. 2:10; Gal. 1:16; Eph. 3:3,5; Rev. 1:1), and only then will you be able to overcome the spirit of this world (1 John 5:4; Rev. 3:21) and learn what 'True Repentance' means, and how this whole world has been deceived (Rev. 12:9). It should also be remembered that it is a narrow way that leadeth unto 'Life', and few there be that find it (Matthew 7:14).

    LUKE 15:10. LIKEWISE, I SAY UNTO YOU, THERE IS JOY IN THE PRESENCE OF THE ANGELS OF GOD OVER ONE SINNER THAT REPENTETH.
  • Anthony Graham on Numbers 23:22
    What is the meaning of the strength of a unicorn aren't unicorn's fictional
  • Bob Hilt - in Reply on Numbers 23:22
    The world turned the Unicorn into a horse like myth, but that is not what it means.

    The Indian rhinoceros (Rhinoceros UNICORNis), is also called the great Indian rhinoceros it has only one horn hence UNI meaning one. The African Rhino has 2 horns.
  • Paul - in Reply on Numbers 23:22
    ....The Rhino is a massive bulwark of muscle and steel like bone...Powerful and mighty...This is the symbol of Ephriam and Manessah...
  • Ngozi on chpter 19 on Numbers 23
    GOD is not a man that He should lie. that whole shows that what He said He will do He does is only in our hands to abide in Him and His words in us to get that.
  • Trudie on Numbers 23
    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 on Numbers 23
    "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 on Numbers 23
    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 on Numbers 23
    If God is for you who can be against you .The isrealiest are blessed by God
  • Anonymous on Numbers 23:19
    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.


 

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