Bamidbar (Numbers): Balak > Ch 23 & Ch 24

Balaam builds 7 altars and brings offerings. G-d talks to Balaam. Balaam talks to Balak and tells him G-d’s first blessing for Israelites.

  • Balaam said to Balak, "Build me seven altars here, and prepare for me seven bulls and seven rams." Balak did as Balaam had requested, and Balak and Balaam offered up a bull and a ram on [each] altar.
  • Balaam said to Balak, "Stand beside your burnt offering, and I will go. Perhaps the Lord will happen to appear to me, and He will show me something that I can tell you," and he went alone.
  • G-d chanced upon Balaam, and he said to Him, "I have set up the seven altars, and I have offered up a bull and a ram on [each] altar." The Lord placed something into Balaam's mouth, and He said, "Return to Balak and say as follows."
  • When he returned, Balak was standing next to his burnt offering, he and all the Moabite dignitaries. He took up his parable and said, "Balak the king of Moab has brought me from Aram, from the mountains of the east [saying], 'Come, curse Jacob for me and come invoke wrath against Israel.'
    • How can I curse whom G-d has not cursed, and how can I invoke wrath if the Lord has not been angered?
    • For from their beginning, I see them as mountain peaks, and I behold them as hills;
    • It is a nation that will dwell alone, and will not be reckoned among the nations.
    • Who counted the dust of Jacob or the number of a fourth of [or, of the seed of] Israel?
    • May my soul die the death of the upright and let my end be like his."
  • Balak said to Balaam, "What have you done to me? I took you to curse my enemies, but you have blessed them!" He answered, saying, "What the Lord puts into my mouth that I must take care to say."


Balak takes Balaam to a place where he can see a part of the Israelite camp. Balaam builds 7 altars and brings offerings. G-d talks to Balaam. Balaam talks to Balak and tells him G-d’s second blessing for Israelites.

  • Balak said to him, "Come with me to another place from where you will see them; however, you will see only a part of them, not all of them and curse them for me from there. He took him to the field of the lookouts, to the peak of the mountain, and he built seven altars and offered up a bull and a ram on [each] altar.
  • He said to Balak, "Stand here next to your burnt offering and I will be chanced on here.
  • The Lord chanced upon Balaam and placed something into his mouth. He said, "Return to Balak and so you shall speak."
  • When he came to him, he was standing next to his burnt offering, and the Moabite dignitaries were with him, and Balak said to him, "What did the Lord speak?" He took up his parable and said, "Arise, Balak, and hear; listen closely to me, son of Zippor.
    • G-d is not a man that He should lie, nor is He a mortal that He should relent.
    • Would He say and not do, speak and not fulfill? I have received [an instruction] to bless, and He has blessed, and I cannot retract it.
    • He does not look at evil in Jacob, and has seen no perversity in Israel; the Lord, his G-d, is with him, and he has the King's friendship.
    • G-d has brought them out of Egypt with the strength of His loftiness.
    • For there is no divination in Jacob and no soothsaying in Israel. In time it will be said to Jacob and Israel, 'What has G-d wrought?'
    • Behold, a people that rises like a lioness (See Malbim) and raises itself like a lion. It does not lie down until it eats its prey and drinks the blood of the slain."
  • Balak said to Balaam, "You shall neither curse them nor shall you not bless them." Balaam answered and said to Balak, "Have I not spoken to you, saying, 'Everything the Lord speaks that I shall do."


Balak takes Balaam to the peak of Peor. Balaam builds 7 altars and brings offerings. G-d talks to Balaam. Balaam talks to Balak and tells him G-d’s third blessing for Israelites.

  • Balak said to Balaam, "Come now, I will take you to a different place. Perhaps it will please G-d, and you will curse them for me from there. So Balak took Balaam to the peak of Peor, overlooking the wastelands.
  • Balaam said to Balak, "Build me seven altars here and prepare for me seven bulls and seven rams. Balak did as Balaam told him, and offered up a bull and a ram on [each] altar.
  • Balaam saw that it pleased the Lord to bless Israel; so he did not go in search of omens as he had done time and time again, but turned his face toward the desert. Balaam raised his eyes and saw Israel dwelling according to its tribes, and the spirit of G-d rested upon him. He took up his parable and said, "The word of Balaam the son of Beor and the word of the man with an open eye. The word of the one who hears God's sayings, who sees the vision of the Almighty, fallen yet with open eyes.
    • How goodly are your tents, O Jacob, your dwelling places, O Israel! They extend like streams, like gardens by the river, like aloes which the Lord planted, like cedars by the water.
    • Water will flow from his wells, and his seed shall have abundant water;
    • his king shall be raised over Agag, and his kingship exalted.
    • G-d, Who has brought them out of Egypt with the strength of His loftiness He shall consume the nations which are his adversaries, bare their bones and dip His arrows [into their blood].
    • He crouches and lies like a lion and like a lioness; who will dare rouse him? Those who bless you shall be blessed, and those who curse you shall be cursed.
  • Balak's anger flared against Balaam, and he clapped his hands. Balak said to Balaam, "I called you to curse my enemies, but you have blessed them these three times. Now, hurry back to your place. I said I would honor you greatly, but the Lord has deprived you of honor." Balaam said to Balak, "But I even told the messengers you sent to me, saying, 'If Balak gives me his house full of silver and gold, I cannot transgress the word of the Lord to do either good or evil on my own; only what the Lord speaks can I speak.' And now, I am going to my people.


Balaam prophesizes what will happen at the end of days

  • Come, I will advise you...what this people will do to your people at the end of days." He took up his parable and said, "The word of Balaam, son of Beor, the word of a man with an open eye. The word of the one who hears God's sayings and perceives the thoughts of the Most High; who sees the vision of the Almighty, fallen yet with open eyes..
    • I see it, but not now; I behold it, but not soon. A star has gone forth from Jacob, and a staff will arise from Israel which will crush the princes of Moab and uproot all the sons of Seth.
    • Edom shall be possessed, and Seir shall become the possession of his enemies, and Israel shall triumph.
    • A ruler shall come out of Jacob, and destroy the remnant of the city."
    • When he saw Amalek, he took up his parable and said, "Amalek was the first of the nations, and his fate shall be everlasting destruction."
    • When he saw the Kenite, he took up his parable and said, "How firm is your dwelling place, and your nest is set in a cliff.
    • For if Kain is laid waste, how far will Assyria take you captive?"
    • He took up his parable and said, Alas! Who can survive these things from God?
    • Ships will come from the Kittites and afflict Assyria and afflict those on the other side, but he too will perish forever."
  • Balaam arose, went, and returned home, and Balak went on his way.


 
Rashi Commentary

  • fallen yet with open eyes He appeared to him only at night, while he was lying down. [Targum, Onkelos]
  • all the sons of Seth All the nations, for they are all descended from Seth, the son of Adam
  • Amalek was the first of the nations He came before all of them to make war with Israel, and so Targum renders. And his fate shall be to perish by their hand, as it says, “You shall obliterate the remembrance of Amalek” (Deut. 25:19).


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