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SECTION XX.

BALAK KING OF MOAB SENDETH FOR THE PROPHET

BALAAM TO CURSE ISRAEL.

From Numb. Chap. xxii.

AND the children of Israel set forward, and pitched in the plains of Moab, on this side Jordan by Jericho.

And Balak the son of Zippor saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites.

And Moab was sore afraid of the people, because they were many: and Moab was distressed, because of the children of Israel.

And Moab said unto the elders of Midian, Now shall this company lick up all that are round about us, as the ox licketh

up
the
grass

of the field. And Balak the son of Zippor was king of the Moabites at that time.

He sent messengers therefore unto Balaan the son of Beor, to Pethòr, which is by the river of the land of the children of his people, to call him, saying, Behold, there is a people come out from Egypt: behold, they cover the face of the earth, and they abide over against

Ine.

Come now therefore, I pray thee, curse me this people, for they are too mighty for me: peradventure I shall prevail, that we may smite them, and that I may drive them out of the land : for I wot that he whom thou blessest, is blessed, and he whom thou cursest, is 'cursed.

And the elders of Moab, and the elders of Midian departed, with the rewards of divination in their hand; and they came unto Balaam, and spake unto him the words of Balak.

And he said unto them, Lodge here this night, and

unto me.

I will bring you word again as the LORD shall speak

And the princes of Moab abode with Balaam.

And God came unto Balaam, and said, What men are these with thee?

And Balaam said unto God, Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, hath sent unto me, saying, Behold, there is a people come out of Egypt, which covereth the face of the earth ; come now, curse me them; peradventure I shall be able to overcome them, and drive them out. And God said unto Balaam, Thou shalt not

go

with them, thou shalt not curse the people : for they are blessed.

And Baļaam rose up in the morning, and said unto the princes of Balak, Get ye into your land: for the Lord refuseth to give me leave to go

with

you. And the princes of Moab rose up, and they went unto, Balak, and said, Balaam refuseth to come with us.

And Balak sent yet again princes, more, and more honourable than they.

.came to Balaam, and said to him, Thus saith Balak, the son of Zippor, Let nothing, I pray thee, hinder thee from coming unto me:

For I will promote thee unto very great honour, and I will do whatsoever thou sayest unto me: Come there«, fore, I pray thee, curse me this people.

And Balaam answered and said unto the servants of Balak, If Balak would give me his house full of silver and gold, I cannot go beyond the word of the LORD my God, to do less or more.

Now therefore, I pray you, tarry ye also here this night, that I may know what the LORD will say unto

And they

me more.

And God came unto Balaam at night, and said unto

ass, and

him, If the men come to call thee, rise up, and go with them; but yet the word which I shall say unto thee, that shalt thou do.

And Balaam rose up in the morning, and saddled his ass, and went with the princes of Moab.

And God's anger was kindled because he went: and the angel of the LORD stood in the way, for an adversary against him. Now he was riding upon his his two servants were with him.

And the ass saw the angel of the LORD standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand : and the ass turned aside out of the way, and went into the field :: and Balaam smote the ass to turn her into the way.

But the angel of the LORD stood in a path of the vineyards, a wall being on this side, and a wall on that side.

And when the ass saw the angel of the LORD she thrust herself unto the wall, and crushed Balaam's foot against the wall : And he smote her again.

And the angel of the Lord went further, and stood' in a narrow place, where was no way to turn either to the right hand or to the left.

And when the ass saw the angel of the Lord, she fell down under Balaam. And Balaam's anger was kindled, and he smote the ass with a staff.

And the LORD opened the mouth of the ass, and she said unto Balaam, What have I done unto thee, that thou hast smitten me these three times ?

And Balaam said unto the ass, Because thou hast. mocked me;

I would there were a sword in mine hand; for now would I kill thee.

And the ass said unto Balaam, Am not I thine ass, upon which thou hast ridden ever since I was thine; unto this day? was I ever wont to do so unto thee?' And he said, Nay.

Then

Then the LORD opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the LORD standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand : and he bowed down his head, and fell flat on his face.

And the angel of the LORD said unto him, Wherefore hast thou smitten thine ass these three times ? be. hold I went out to withstand thee, because thy way is perverse before me.

And the ass saw me, and turned from me these three times : unless she had turned from me, surely now also I had slain thee, and saved her alive.

And Balaam said unto the angel of the Lord, I have sinned; for I knew not that thou stoodest in the way against me; now therefore if it displease thee, I will get me back again.

And the angel of the LORD said unto Balaam, Go with the men : but only the word that I shall speak unto thee, that thou shilt speak. So Balaam went with the princes of Balak.

And when Balak heard that Balaam was come, he went out to meet him, unto a city of Moab, which is in the border of Arnon, which is in the utmost coast.

And Balak said unto Balaam, Did I not earnestly send unto thee, to call thee? Wherefore camest thou not unto me? Am I not able indeed to promote thee to honour ?

And Balaam said unto Balak, Lo, I am come unto thee: have I now any power at all to say any thing? the 'word that God putteth in my mouth, that shall I speak.

And Balaam went with Balak, and they came unto Kirjath-huzoth.

And Balak offered oxen and sheep, and sent to Balaam, and to the princes that were with him.

ANNO

ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS. The Moabites were descended from Moab, one of the sons of Lot. They retained the worship of the true GOD among

them till the time of Moses, but had corrupted their religion by mixing the worship of idols with it; they paid adoration in particular to Baal-Peor, supposed by some to be an image of the Sun; Baal signifies LORD, Peor the place where his temple was.

The Midianites (as we have before observed) descended from one of the sons of Abraham, by his wife Keturah. We find from the scriptures, that in the days of Moses, sacrifices were offered to the LORD God in the southern parts of Midian, for Jethro was priest there, but in the northern territories all kinds of abominations were practised.

The Midianites were very numerous, sometimes they mixed with the Ishmaelites *, and at others united with the Moabites; some of them were shepherds, who moved their tents, and drove their cattle before them, even in times of war; others were merchants who acquired immense riches; and, by exchanging their gold and jewels with their brethren, for flocks and herds, enriched them also.

Moses had received no commission to attack either the Moabites or the Midianites, therefore he would not have molested them; but it appears that these two nations had great dread of the Israelites.

It was a superstitious custom in use amongst the heathens t, to present gifts to magicians for pronouncing curses on their enemies, in the names of their idols, at the beginning of a war, which they thought would insure them victory. All nations had heard of the

* See Section Ivi, vol. i,

+ Patrick's Commentaries.

wonders

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