Bamidbar (Numbers): Balak > Ch 22

Balak, the king of Moab, wants to defeat the Israelites. He sends messengers to ask Balaam, who is favored by G-d, to curse the Israelites.

  • The children of Israel journeyed and encamped in the plains of Moab, across the Jordan from Jericho. Balak the son of Zippor saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites. Moab became terrified of the people, for they were numerous, and Moab became disgusted because of the children of Israel. Moab said to the elders of Midian, "Now this assembly will eat up everything around us, as the ox eats up the greens of the field. Balak the son of Zippor was king of Moab at that time.
  • He sent messengers to Balaam the son of Beor, to Pethor, which is by the river of the land of his people, to call for him, saying, "A people has come out of Egypt, and behold, they have covered the "eye" of the land, and they are stationed opposite me. So now, please come and curse this people for me, for they are too powerful for me. Perhaps I will be able to wage war against them and drive them out of the land, for I know that whomever you bless is blessed and whomever you curse is cursed." So the elders of Moab and the elders of Midian went, with magic charms in their hands, and they came to Balaam and conveyed Balak's message to him. He said to them, "Lodge here for the night, and I will give you an answer when the Lord speaks to me." So the Moabite nobles stayed with Balaam.


In a dream, G-d tells Balaam to deny Balak’s request. Balak continues to send dignitaries until Balaam goes with them.

  • G-d came to Balaam and said, "Who are these men with you?" Balaam said to G-d, "Balak the son of Zippor the king of Moab has sent [them] to me, [saying]: "Behold the people coming out of Egypt, a nation, has covered the 'eye' of the earth. Come and curse them for me, perhaps I will be able to fight against them and drive them out." G-d said to Balaam, "You shall not go with them! You shall not curse the people because they are blessed."
  • When Balaam arose in the morning, he said to Balak's nobles, "Return to your country, for the Lord has refused to let me go with you." Moab's nobles arose and came to Balak and said, "Balaam refuses to come with us." So Balak continued to send dignitaries, more and higher in rank than these. They came to Balaam and said to him, "So said Balak the son of Zippor, 'Please do not hesitate to come to me. For I will honor you greatly and do whatever you tell me to do. So please come and curse this people for me.'" Balaam answered and said to Balak's servants, "Even if Balak gives me a house full of silver and gold, I cannot do anything small or great that would transgress the word of the Lord, my G-d. Now, you too, please remain here overnight, and I will know what the Lord will continue to speak with me."


G-d sends an angel to stand in Balaam’s way. Balaam’s donkey sees the angel and refuses to walk forward. Balaam beats the donkey. Donkey talks to him. G-d allows Balaam to see the angel. Angel tells him to continue on his way, but do as G-d says.

  • G-d came to Balaam at night and said to him, "If these men have come to call for you, arise and go with them, but the word I speak to you-that you shall do." In the morning Balaam arose, saddled his she-donkey and went with the Moabite dignitaries. G-d's wrath flared because he was going, and an angel of the Lord stationed himself on the road to thwart him, and he was riding on his she-donkey, and his two servants were with him. The she-donkey saw the angel of the Lord stationed on the road with his sword drawn in his hand; so the she-donkey turned aside from the road and went into a field. Balaam beat the she-donkey to get it back onto the road. The angel of the Lord stood in a path of the vineyards, with a fence on this side and a fence on that side. The she-donkey saw the angel of the Lord, and she was pressed against the wall. She pressed Balaam's leg against the wall, and he beat her again. The angel of the Lord continued going ahead, and he stood in a narrow place, where there was no room to turn right or left. The she-donkey saw the angel of the Lord, and it crouched down under Balaam. Balaam's anger flared, and he beat the she-donkey with a stick. The Lord opened the mouth of the she-donkey, and she said to Balaam, "What have I done to you that you have struck me these three times?" Balaam said to the she-donkey, "For you have humiliated me; if I had a sword in my hand, I would kill you right now." The she-donkey said to Balaam, "Am I not your she-donkey on which you have ridden since you first started until now? Have I been accustomed to do this to you?" He said, "No."
  • The Lord opened Balaam's eyes, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road, with a sword drawn in his hand. He bowed and prostrated himself on his face. The angel of the Lord said to him, "Why have you beaten your she-donkey these three times? Behold, I have came out to thwart you, for the one embarking on the journey has hastened against me. When the she-donkey saw me, it turned aside these three times. Had she not turned aside before me, now also I would also have killed you and spared her [the she-donkey]." Balaam said to the angel of the Lord, "I have sinned, for I did not know that you were standing on the road before me. Now, if it displeases you, I will return." The angel of the Lord said to Balaam, "Go with these men, but the word I will speak to you-that you shall speak." So Balaam went with Balak's dignitaries.
  • Balak heard that Balaam was coming; so he went out toward him to the city of Moab which is on the border of Arnon-at the extreme edge of the border. Balak said to Balaam, "Did I not send to you to call for you? Why did you not come to me? Am I indeed incapable of honoring you?" Balaam said to Balak, "Behold I have come to you, do I have any power to say anything? The word G-d puts into my mouth-that I will speak." Balaam went with Balak, and they arrived at Kiryath Huzoth [a city of streets]. Balak slaughtered cattle and sheep and sent [some] to Balaam and to the dignitaries with him. And in the morning Balak took Balaam and led him up to Bamoth Baal, and from there he saw part of the people.


 

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