A A | V Verses | Listen

Balak and Balaam

written by Moses* in Numbers 22:1-24:25
written by Moses* in Numbers 22:1-24:25
written by Moses* in Numbers 22:1-24:25
written by Moses* in Numbers 22:1-24:25

Numbers 22-24

22:1 Then the people of Israel set out and camped in the plains of Moab beyond the Jordan at Jericho. And Balak the son of Zippor saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites. And Moab was in great dread of the people, because they were many. Moab was overcome with fear of the people of Israel. And Moab said to the elders of Midian, “This horde will now lick up all that is around us, as the ox licks up the grass of the field.” So Balak the son of Zippor, who was king of Moab at that time, sent messengers to Balaam the son of Beor at Pethor, which is near the River in the land of the people of Amaw, to call him, saying, “Behold, a people has come out of Egypt. They cover the face of the earth, and they are dwelling opposite me. Come now, curse this people for me, since they are too mighty for me. Perhaps I shall be able to defeat them and drive them from the land, for I know that he whom you bless is blessed, and he whom you curse is cursed.”

So the elders of Moab and the elders of Midian departed with the fees for divination in their hand. And they came to Balaam and gave him Balak's message. And he said to them, “Lodge here tonight, and I will bring back word to you, as the Lord speaks to me.” So the princes of Moab stayed with Balaam. And God came to Balaam and said, “Who are these men with you?” 10 And Balaam said to God, “Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, has sent to me, saying, 11 ‘Behold, a people has come out of Egypt, and it covers the face of the earth. Now come, curse them for me. Perhaps I shall be able to fight against them and drive them out.’” 12 God said to Balaam, “You shall not go with them. You shall not curse the people, for they are blessed.” 13 So Balaam rose in the morning and said to the princes of Balak, “Go to your own land, for the Lord has refused to let me go with you.” 14 So the princes of Moab rose and went to Balak and said, “Balaam refuses to come with us.”

15 Once again Balak sent princes, more in number and more honorable than these. 16 And they came to Balaam and said to him, “Thus says Balak the son of Zippor: ‘Let nothing hinder you from coming to me, 17 for I will surely do you great honor, and whatever you say to me I will do. Come, curse this people for me.’” 18 But Balaam answered and said to the servants of Balak, “Though Balak were to give me his house full of silver and gold, I could not go beyond the command of the Lord my God to do less or more. 19 So you, too, please stay here tonight, that I may know what more the Lord will say to me.” 20 And God came to Balaam at night and said to him, “If the men have come to call you, rise, go with them; but only do what I tell you.” 21 So Balaam rose in the morning and saddled his donkey and went with the princes of Moab.

22 But God's anger was kindled because he went, and the angel of the Lord took his stand in the way as his adversary. Now he was riding on the donkey, and his two servants were with him. 23 And the donkey saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road, with a drawn sword in his hand. And the donkey turned aside out of the road and went into the field. And Balaam struck the donkey, to turn her into the road. 24 Then the angel of the Lord stood in a narrow path between the vineyards, with a wall on either side. 25 And when the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, she pushed against the wall and pressed Balaam's foot against the wall. So he struck her again. 26 Then the angel of the Lord went ahead and stood in a narrow place, where there was no way to turn either to the right or to the left. 27 When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, she lay down under Balaam. And Balaam's anger was kindled, and he struck the donkey with his staff. 28 Then the Lord opened the mouth of the donkey, and she said to Balaam, “What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?” 29 And Balaam said to the donkey, “Because you have made a fool of me. I wish I had a sword in my hand, for then I would kill you.” 30 And the donkey said to Balaam, “Am I not your donkey, on which you have ridden all your life long to this day? Is it my habit to treat you this way?” And he said, “No.”

31 Then the Lord opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the way, with his drawn sword in his hand. And he bowed down and fell on his face. 32 And the angel of the Lord said to him, “Why have you struck your donkey these three times? Behold, I have come out to oppose you because your way is perverse before me. 33 The donkey saw me and turned aside before me these three times. If she had not turned aside from me, surely just now I would have killed you and let her live.” 34 Then Balaam said to the angel of the Lord, “I have sinned, for I did not know that you stood in the road against me. Now therefore, if it is evil in your sight, I will turn back.” 35 And the angel of the Lord said to Balaam, “Go with the men, but speak only the word that I tell you.” So Balaam went on with the princes of Balak.

36 When Balak heard that Balaam had come, he went out to meet him at the city of Moab, on the border formed by the Arnon, at the extremity of the border. 37 And Balak said to Balaam, “Did I not send to you to call you? Why did you not come to me? Am I not able to honor you?” 38 Balaam said to Balak, “Behold, I have come to you! Have I now any power of my own to speak anything? The word that God puts in my mouth, that must I speak.” 39 Then Balaam went with Balak, and they came to Kiriath-huzoth. 40 And Balak sacrificed oxen and sheep, and sent for Balaam and for the princes who were with him.

41 And in the morning Balak took Balaam and brought him up to Bamoth-baal, and from there he saw a fraction of the people.

23:1 And Balaam said to Balak, “Build for me here seven altars, and prepare for me here seven bulls and seven rams.” Balak did as Balaam had said. And Balak and Balaam offered on each altar a bull and a ram. And Balaam said to Balak, “Stand beside your burnt offering, and I will go. Perhaps the Lord will come to meet me, and whatever he shows me I will tell you.” And he went to a bare height, and God met Balaam. And Balaam said to him, “I have arranged the seven altars and I have offered on each altar a bull and a ram.” And the Lord put a word in Balaam's mouth and said, “Return to Balak, and thus you shall speak.” And he returned to him, and behold, he and all the princes of Moab were standing beside his burnt offering. And Balaam took up his discourse and said,

“From Aram Balak has brought me,
the king of Moab from the eastern mountains:
‘Come, curse Jacob for me,
and come, denounce Israel!’
How can I curse whom God has not cursed?
How can I denounce whom the Lord has not denounced?
For from the top of the crags I see him,
from the hills I behold him;
behold, a people dwelling alone,
and not counting itself among the nations!
10 Who can count the dust of Jacob
or number the fourth part of Israel?
Let me die the death of the upright,
and let my end be like his!”

11 And Balak said to Balaam, “What have you done to me? I took you to curse my enemies, and behold, you have done nothing but bless them.” 12 And he answered and said, “Must I not take care to speak what the Lord puts in my mouth?”

13 And Balak said to him, “Please come with me to another place, from which you may see them. You shall see only a fraction of them and shall not see them all. Then curse them for me from there.” 14 And he took him to the field of Zophim, to the top of Pisgah, and built seven altars and offered a bull and a ram on each altar. 15 Balaam said to Balak, “Stand here beside your burnt offering, while I meet the Lord over there.” 16 And the Lord met Balaam and put a word in his mouth and said, “Return to Balak, and thus shall you speak.” 17 And he came to him, and behold, he was standing beside his burnt offering, and the princes of Moab with him. And Balak said to him, “What has the Lord spoken?” 18 And Balaam took up his discourse and said,

“Rise, Balak, and hear;
give ear to me, O son of Zippor:
19 God is not man, that he should lie,
or a son of man, that he should change his mind.
Has he said, and will he not do it?
Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?
20 Behold, I received a command to bless:
he has blessed, and I cannot revoke it.
21 He has not beheld misfortune in Jacob,
nor has he seen trouble in Israel.
The Lord their God is with them,
and the shout of a king is among them.
22 God brings them out of Egypt
and is for them like the horns of the wild ox.
23 For there is no enchantment against Jacob,
no divination against Israel;
now it shall be said of Jacob and Israel,
‘What has God wrought!’
24 Behold, a people! As a lioness it rises up
and as a lion it lifts itself;
it does not lie down until it has devoured the prey
and drunk the blood of the slain.”

25 And Balak said to Balaam, “Do not curse them at all, and do not bless them at all.” 26 But Balaam answered Balak, “Did I not tell you, ‘All that the Lord says, that I must do’?” 27 And Balak said to Balaam, “Come now, I will take you to another place. Perhaps it will please God that you may curse them for me from there.” 28 So Balak took Balaam to the top of Peor, which overlooks the desert. 29 And Balaam said to Balak, “Build for me here seven altars and prepare for me here seven bulls and seven rams.” 30 And Balak did as Balaam had said, and offered a bull and a ram on each altar.

24:1 When Balaam saw that it pleased the Lord to bless Israel, he did not go, as at other times, to look for omens, but set his face toward the wilderness. And Balaam lifted up his eyes and saw Israel camping tribe by tribe. And the Spirit of God came upon him, and he took up his discourse and said,

“The oracle of Balaam the son of Beor,
the oracle of the man whose eye is opened,
the oracle of him who hears the words of God,
who sees the vision of the Almighty,
falling down with his eyes uncovered:
How lovely are your tents, O Jacob,
your encampments, O Israel!
Like palm groves that stretch afar,
like gardens beside a river,
like aloes that the Lord has planted,
like cedar trees beside the waters.
Water shall flow from his buckets,
and his seed shall be in many waters;
his king shall be higher than Agag,
and his kingdom shall be exalted.
God brings him out of Egypt
and is for him like the horns of the wild ox;
he shall eat up the nations, his adversaries,
and shall break their bones in pieces
and pierce them through with his arrows.
He crouched, he lay down like a lion
and like a lioness; who will rouse him up?
Blessed are those who bless you,
and cursed are those who curse you.”

10 And Balak's anger was kindled against Balaam, and he struck his hands together. And Balak said to Balaam, “I called you to curse my enemies, and behold, you have blessed them these three times. 11 Therefore now flee to your own place. I said, ‘I will certainly honor you,’ but the Lord has held you back from honor.” 12 And Balaam said to Balak, “Did I not tell your messengers whom you sent to me, 13 ‘If Balak should give me his house full of silver and gold, I would not be able to go beyond the word of the Lord, to do either good or bad of my own will. What the Lord speaks, that will I speak’? 14 And now, behold, I am going to my people. Come, I will let you know what this people will do to your people in the latter days.”

15 And he took up his discourse and said,

“The oracle of Balaam the son of Beor,
the oracle of the man whose eye is opened,
16 the oracle of him who hears the words of God,
and knows the knowledge of the Most High,
who sees the vision of the Almighty,
falling down with his eyes uncovered:
17 I see him, but not now;
I behold him, but not near:
a star shall come out of Jacob,
and a scepter shall rise out of Israel;
it shall crush the forehead of Moab
and break down all the sons of Sheth.
18 Edom shall be dispossessed;
Seir also, his enemies, shall be dispossessed.
Israel is doing valiantly.
19 And one from Jacob shall exercise dominion
and destroy the survivors of cities!”

20 Then he looked on Amalek and took up his discourse and said,

“Amalek was the first among the nations,
but its end is utter destruction.”

21 And he looked on the Kenite, and took up his discourse and said,

“Enduring is your dwelling place,
and your nest is set in the rock.
22 Nevertheless, Kain shall be burned
when Asshur takes you away captive.”

23 And he took up his discourse and said,

“Alas, who shall live when God does this?
24 But ships shall come from Kittim
and shall afflict Asshur and Eber;
and he too shall come to utter destruction.”

25 Then Balaam rose and went back to his place. And Balak also went his way.

1 Israel moved from there to the hills of Moab, where they camped across the Jordan River from the town of Jericho.

King Balak of Moab Hires Balaam To Curse Israel

2-3 When King Balak of Moab and his people heard how many Israelites there were and what they had done to the Amorites, he and the Moabites were terrified and panicked. 4 They said to the Midianite leaders, “That huge mob of Israelites will wipe out everything in sight, like a bull eating grass in a field.”

So King Balak 5 sent a message to Balaam son of Beor who lived among his relatives in the town of Pethor near the Euphrates River. It said:

I need your help. A large group of people has come here from Egypt and settled near my territory. 6 They are too powerful for us to defeat, so would you come and place a curse on them? Maybe then we can run them off. I know that anyone you bless will be successful, but anyone you curse will fail.

7 The leaders of Moab and Midian left and took along money to pay Balaam. When they got to his house, they gave him Balak's message.

8 “Spend the night here,” Balaam replied, “and tomorrow I will tell you the Lord's answer.” So the officials stayed at his house.

9 During the night, God asked Balaam, “Who are these people at your house?”

10 “They are messengers from King Balak of Moab,” Balaam answered. “He sent them 11 to ask me to go to Moab and put a curse on the people who have come there from Egypt. They have settled everywhere around him, and he wants to run them off.”

12 But God replied, “Don't go with Balak's messengers. I have blessed those people who have come from Egypt, so don't curse them.”

13 The next morning, Balaam said to Balak's officials, “Go on back home. The Lord says I cannot go with you.”

14 The officials left and told Balak that Balaam refused to come.

15 Then Balak sent a larger group of officials, who were even more important than the first ones. 16 They went to Balaam and told him that Balak had said, “Balaam, if you come to Moab, 17 I'll pay you very well and do whatever you ask. Just come and place a curse on these people.”

18 Balaam answered, “Even if Balak offered me a palace full of silver or gold, I wouldn't do anything to disobey the Lord my God. 19 You are welcome to spend the night here, just as the others did. I will find out if the Lord has something else to say about this.”

20 That night, God said, “Balaam, I'll let you go to Moab with Balak's messengers, but do only what I say.”

21 So Balaam got up the next morning and saddled his donkey, then left with the Moabite officials.

Balaam and His Donkey Meet an Angel

22 Balaam was riding his donkey to Moab, and two of his servants were with him. But God was angry that Balaam had gone, so one of the Lord's angels stood in the road to stop him. 23 When Balaam's donkey saw the angel standing there with a sword, it walked off the road and into an open field. Balaam had to beat the donkey to get it back on the road.

24 Then the angel stood between two vineyards, in a narrow path with a stone wall on each side. 25 When the donkey saw the angel, it walked so close to one of the walls that Balaam's foot scraped against the wall. Balaam beat the donkey again.

26 The angel moved once more and stood in a spot so narrow that there was no room for the donkey to go around. 27 So it just lay down. Balaam lost his temper, then picked up a stick and whacked the donkey.

28 When that happened, the Lord told the donkey to speak, and it asked Balaam, “What have I done that made you beat me three times?”

29 “You made me look stupid!” Balaam answered. “If I had a sword, I'd kill you here and now!”

30 “But you're my owner,” answered the donkey, “and you've ridden me many times. Have I ever done anything like this before?”

“No,” Balaam admitted.

31 Just then, the Lord let Balaam see the angel standing in the road, holding a sword, and Balaam bowed down.

32 The angel said, “You had no right to treat your donkey like that! I was the one who blocked your way, because I don't think you should go to Moab. 33 If your donkey had not seen me and stopped those three times, I would have killed you and let the donkey live.”

34 Balaam replied, “I was wrong. I didn't know you were trying to stop me. If you don't think I should go, I'll return home at once.”

35 “It's all right for you to go,” the Lord's angel answered. “But you must say only what I tell you.” So Balaam went on with Balak's officials.

King Balak Meets Balaam

36 When Balak heard that Balaam was coming, he went to meet him at the town of Ir on the Arnon River, which is the northern border of Moab. 37 Balak asked, “Why didn't you come when I invited you the first time? Did you think I wasn't going to pay you?”

38 “I'm here now,” Balaam answered. “But I will say only what God tells me to say.”

39 They left and went to the town of Kiriath-Huzoth, 40 where Balak sacrificed cattle and sheep and gave some of the meat to Balaam and the officials who were with him.

41 The next morning, Balak took Balaam to the town of Bamoth-Baal. From there, Balaam could see some of the Israelites.

Balaam's First Message

1 Balaam said to Balak, “Build seven altars here, then bring seven bulls and seven rams.”

2 After Balak had done this, they sacrificed a bull and a ram on each altar. 3 Then Balaam said, “Wait here beside your offerings, and I'll go somewhere to be alone. Maybe the Lord will appear to me. If he does, I will tell you everything he says.” And he left.

4 When God appeared to him, Balaam said, “I have built seven altars and have sacrificed a bull and a ram on each one.”

5 The Lord gave Balaam a message, then sent him back to tell Balak. 6 When Balaam returned, he found Balak and his officials standing beside the offerings.

7 Balaam said:

“King Balak of Moab brought me

from the hills of Syria

to curse Israel

and announce its doom.

8 But I can't go against God!

He did not curse

or condemn Israel.

* 9 “From the mountain peaks,

I look down and see Israel,

the obedient people of God.

10 They are living alone in peace.

And though they are many,

they don't bother

the other nations.

“I hope to obey God

for as long as I live

and to die in such peace.”

11 Balak said, “What are you doing? I asked you to come and place a curse on my enemies. But you have blessed them instead!”

12 Balaam answered, “I can say only what the Lord tells me.”

Balaam's Second Message

13 Balak said to Balaam, “Let's go somewhere else. Maybe if you see a smaller part of the Israelites, you will be able to curse them for me.” 14 So he took Balaam to a field on top of Mount Pisgah where lookouts were stationed. Then he built seven altars there and sacrificed a bull and a ram on each one.

15 “Wait here beside your offerings,” Balaam said. “The Lord will appear to me over there.”

16 The Lord appeared to Balaam and gave him another message, then he told him to go and tell Balak. 17 Balaam went back and saw him and his officials standing beside the offerings.

Balak asked, “What did the Lord say?”

18 Balaam answered:

“Pay close attention

to my words—

19 God is no mere human!

He doesn't tell lies

or change his mind.

God always keeps his promises.

20 “My command from God

was to bless these people,

and there's nothing I can do

to change what he has done.

21 Israel's king is the Lord God.

He lives there with them

and intends them no harm.

22 With the strength of a wild ox,

God led Israel out of Egypt.

23 No magic charms can work

against them—

just look what God has done

for his people.

24 They are like angry lions

ready to attack;

and they won't rest

until their victim

is gobbled up.”

25 Balak shouted, “If you're not going to curse Israel, then at least don't bless them.”

26 “I've already told you,” Balaam answered. “I will say only what the Lord tells me.”

Balaam's Third Message

27 Balak said to Balaam, “Come on, let's try another place. Maybe God will let you curse Israel from there.” 28 So he took Balaam to Mount Peor overlooking the desert north of the Dead Sea.

29 Balaam said, “Build seven altars here, then bring me seven bulls and seven rams.”

30 After Balak had done what Balaam asked, he sacrificed a bull and a ram on each altar.

1 Balaam was sure that the Lord would tell him to bless Israel again. So he did not use any magic to find out what the Lord wanted him to do, as he had the first two times. Instead, he looked out toward the desert 2 and saw the tribes of Israel camped below. Just then, God's Spirit took control of him, 3 and Balaam said:

“I am the son of Beor,

and my words are true,

so listen to my message!

4 It comes from the Lord,

the God All-Powerful.

I bowed down to him

and saw a vision of Israel.

5 “People of Israel,

your camp is lovely.

6 It's like a grove of palm trees

or a garden beside a river.

You are like tall aloe trees

that the Lord has planted,

or like cedars

growing near water.

7 You and your descendants

will prosper like an orchard

beside a stream.

Your king will rule with power

and be a greater king

than Agag the Amalekite.

8 With the strength of a wild ox,

God led you out of Egypt.

You will defeat your enemies,

shooting them with arrows

and crushing their bones.

9 Like a lion you lie down,

resting after an attack.

Who would dare disturb you?

“Anyone who blesses you

will be blessed;

anyone who curses you

will be cursed.”

10 When Balak heard this, he was so furious that he pounded his fist against his hand and said, “I called you here to place a curse on my enemies, and you've blessed them three times. 11 Leave now and go home! I told you I would pay you well, but since the Lord didn't let you do what I asked, you won't be paid.”

12 Balaam answered, “I told your messengers 13 that even if you offered me a palace full of silver or gold, I would still obey the Lord. And I explained that I would say only what he told me. 14 So I'm going back home, but I'm leaving you with a warning about what the Israelites will someday do to your nation.”

Balaam's Fourth Message

15 Balaam said:

“I am the son of Beor,

and my words are true,

so listen to my message!

16 My knowledge comes

from God Most High,

the Lord All-Powerful.

I bowed down to him

and saw a vision of Israel.

17 “What I saw in my vision

hasn't happened yet.

But someday, a king of Israel

will appear like a star.

He will wipe out you Moabites

and destroy those tribes

who live in the desert.

18 Israel will conquer Edom

and capture the land

of that enemy nation.

19 The king of Israel will rule

and destroy the survivors

of every town there.

20 “And I saw this vision

about the Amalekites:

Their nation is now great,

but it will someday

disappear forever.

21 “And this is what I saw

about the Kenites:

They think they're safe,

living among the rocks,

22 but they will be wiped out

when Assyria conquers them.

23 “No one can survive

if God plans destruction.

24 Ships will come from Cyprus,

bringing people who will invade

the lands of Assyria and Eber.

But finally, Cyprus itself

will be ruined.”

25 After Balaam finished, he started home, and Balak also left.

The King of Moab Sends for Balaam

1 The Israelites moved on and set up camp in the plains of Moab east of the Jordan and opposite Jericho.

2 When the king of Moab, Balak son of Zippor, heard what the Israelites had done to the Amorites and how many Israelites there were, 3 he and all his people became terrified. 4 The Moabites said to the leaders of the Midianites, “This horde will soon destroy everything around us, like a bull eating the grass in a pasture.” So King Balak 5 sent messengers to summon Balaam son of Beor, who was at Pethor near the Euphrates River in the land of Amaw. They brought him this message from Balak: “I want you to know that a whole nation has come from Egypt; its people are spreading out everywhere and threatening to take over our land. 6 They outnumber us, so please come and put a curse on them for me. Then perhaps we will be able to defeat them and drive them out of the land. I know that when you pronounce a blessing, people are blessed, and when you pronounce a curse, they are placed under a curse.”

7 So the Moabite and Midianite leaders took with them the payment for the curse, went to Balaam, and gave him Balak's message. 8 Balaam said to them, “Spend the night here, and tomorrow I will report to you whatever the Lord tells me.” So the Moabite leaders stayed with Balaam.

9 God came to Balaam and asked, “Who are these people that are staying with you?”

10 He answered, “King Balak of Moab has sent them to tell me 11 that a people who came from Egypt has spread out over the whole land. He wants me to curse them for him, so that he can fight them and drive them out.”

12 God said to Balaam, “Do not go with them, and do not put a curse on the people of Israel, because they have my blessing.”

13 The next morning Balaam went to Balak's messengers and said, “Go back home; the Lord has refused to let me go with you.” 14 So they returned to Balak and told him that Balaam had refused to come with them.

15 Then Balak sent a larger number of leaders, who were more important than the first. 16 They went to Balaam and gave him this message from Balak: “Please don't let anything prevent you from coming to me! 17 I will reward you richly and do anything you say. Please come and curse these people for me.”

18 But Balaam answered, “Even if Balak gave me all the silver and gold in his palace, I could not disobey the command of the Lord my God in even the smallest matter. 19 But please spend the night, as the others did, so that I may learn whether or not the Lord has something else to tell me.”

20 That night God came to Balaam and said, “If these men have come to ask you to go with them, get ready and go, but do only what I tell you.” 21 So the next morning Balaam saddled his donkey and went with the Moabite leaders.

Balaam and His Donkey

22 God was angry that Balaam was going, and as Balaam was riding along on his donkey, accompanied by his two servants, the angel of the Lord stood in the road to bar his way. 23 When the donkey saw the angel standing there holding a sword, it left the road and turned into the fields. Balaam beat the donkey and brought it back onto the road. 24 Then the angel stood where the road narrowed between two vineyards and had a stone wall on each side. 25 When the donkey saw the angel, it moved over against the wall and crushed Balaam's foot against it. Again Balaam beat the donkey. 26 Once more the angel moved ahead; he stood in a narrow place where there was no room at all to pass on either side. 27 This time, when the donkey saw the angel, it lay down. Balaam lost his temper and began to beat the donkey with his stick. 28 Then the Lord gave the donkey the power of speech, and it said to Balaam, “What have I done to you? Why have you beaten me these three times?”

29 Balaam answered, “Because you have made a fool of me! If I had a sword, I would kill you.”

30 The donkey replied, “Am I not the same donkey on which you have ridden all your life? Have I ever treated you like this before?”

“No,” he answered.

31 Then the Lord let Balaam see the angel standing there with his sword; and Balaam threw himself face downward on the ground. 32 The angel demanded, “Why have you beaten your donkey three times like this? I have come to bar your way, because you should not be making this journey. 33 But your donkey saw me and turned aside three times. If it hadn't, I would have killed you and spared the donkey.”

34 Balaam replied, “I have sinned. I did not know that you were standing in the road to oppose me; but now if you think it is wrong for me to go on, I will return home.”

35 But the angel said, “Go on with these men, but say only what I tell you to say.” So Balaam went on with them.

Balak Welcomes Balaam

36 When Balak heard that Balaam was coming, he went to meet him at Ar, a city on the Arnon River at the border of Moab. 37 Balak said to him, “Why didn't you come when I sent for you the first time? Did you think I wasn't able to reward you enough?”

38 Balaam answered, “I came, didn't I? But now, what power do I have? I can say only what God tells me to say.” 39 So Balaam went with Balak to the town of Huzoth, 40 where Balak slaughtered cattle and sheep and gave some of the meat to Balaam and the leaders who were with him.

Balaam's First Prophecy

41 The next morning Balak took Balaam up to Bamoth Baal, from where Balaam could see a part of the people of Israel.

1 He said to Balak, “Build seven altars here for me, and bring me seven bulls and seven rams.”

2 Balak did as he was told, and he and Balaam offered a bull and a ram on each altar. 3 Then Balaam said to Balak, “Stand here by your burnt offering, while I go to see whether or not the Lord will meet me. I will tell you whatever he reveals to me.” So he went alone to the top of a hill, 4 and God met him. Balaam said to him, “I have built the seven altars and offered a bull and a ram on each.”

5 The Lord told Balaam what to say and sent him back to Balak to give him his message. 6 So he went back and found Balak still standing by his burnt offering with all the leaders of Moab.

7 Balaam uttered this prophecy:

“Balak king of Moab has brought me

From Syria, from the eastern mountains.

‘Come speak for me,’ he said.

‘Put a curse on the people of Israel.’

8 How can I curse what God has not cursed,

Or speak of doom when the Lord has not?

9 From the high rocks I can see them;

I can watch them from the hills.

They are a nation that lives alone;

They know they are blessed more than other nations.

10 The descendants of Israel are like the dust—

There are too many of them to be counted.

Let me end my days like one of God's people;

Let me die in peace like the righteous.”

11 Then Balak said to Balaam, “What have you done to me? I brought you here to curse my enemies, but all you have done is bless them.”

12 He answered, “I can say only what the Lord tells me to say.”

Balaam's Second Prophecy

13 Then Balak said to Balaam, “Come with me to another place from which you can see only some of the Israelites. Curse them for me from there.” 14 He took him to the field of Zophim on the top of Mount Pisgah. There also he built seven altars and offered a bull and a ram on each of them.

15 Balaam said to Balak, “Stand here by your burnt offering, and I will meet God over there.”

16 The Lord met Balaam, told him what to say, and sent him back to Balak to give him his message. 17 So he went back and found Balak still standing by his burnt offering, with the leaders of Moab. Balak asked what the Lord had said, 18 and Balaam uttered this prophecy:

“Come, Balak son of Zippor,

And listen to what I have to say.

19 God is not like people, who lie;

He is not a human who changes his mind.

Whatever he promises, he does;

He speaks, and it is done.

20 I have been instructed to bless,

And when God blesses, I cannot call it back.

21 I foresee that Israel's future

Will bring her no misfortune or trouble.

The Lord their God is with them;

They proclaim that he is their king.

22 God has brought them out of Egypt;

He fights for them like a wild ox.

23 There is no magic charm, no witchcraft,

That can be used against the nation of Israel.

Now people will say about Israel,

‘Look what God has done!’

24 The nation of Israel is like a mighty lion:

It doesn't rest until it has torn and devoured,

Until it has drunk the blood of those it has killed.”

25 Then Balak said to Balaam, “You refuse to curse the people of Israel, but at least don't bless them!”

26 Balaam answered, “Didn't I tell you that I had to do everything that the Lord told me?”

Balaam's Third Prophecy

27 Balak said, “Come with me, and I will take you to another place. Perhaps God will be willing to let you curse them for me from there.” 28 So he took Balaam to the top of Mount Peor overlooking the desert. 29 Balaam said to him, “Build seven altars for me here and bring me seven bulls and seven rams.” 30 Balak did as he was told, and offered a bull and a ram on each altar.

1 By now Balaam knew that the Lord wanted him to bless the people of Israel, so he did not go to look for omens, as he had done before. He turned toward the desert 2 and saw the people of Israel camped tribe by tribe. The spirit of God took control of him, 3 and he uttered this prophecy:

“The message of Balaam son of Beor,

The words of the man who can see clearly,

4 Who can hear what God is saying.

With staring eyes I see in a trance

A vision from Almighty God.

5 The tents of Israel are beautiful,

6 Like long rows of palms

Or gardens beside a river,

Like aloes planted by the Lord

Or cedars beside the water.

7 They will have abundant rainfall

And plant their seed in well-watered fields.

Their king shall be greater than Agag,

And his rule shall be extended far and wide.

8 God brought them out of Egypt;

He fights for them like a wild ox.

They devour their enemies,

Crush their bones, smash their arrows.

9 The nation is like a mighty lion;

When it is sleeping, no one dares wake it.

Whoever blesses Israel will be blessed,

And whoever curses Israel will be cursed.”

10 Balak clenched his fists in anger and said to Balaam, “I called you to curse my enemies, but three times now you have blessed them instead. 11 Now get on home! I promised to reward you, but the Lord has kept you from getting the reward.”

12 Balaam answered, “I told the messengers you sent to me that 13 even if you gave me all the silver and gold in your palace, I could not disobey the command of the Lord by doing anything of myself. I will say only what the Lord tells me to say.”

Balaam's Final Prophecies

14 Balaam said to Balak, “Now I am going back to my own people, but before I go, I am warning you what the people of Israel will do to your people in the future.” 15 Then he uttered this prophecy:

“The message of Balaam son of Beor,

The words of the man who can see clearly,

16 Who can hear what God is saying

And receive the knowledge that comes from the Most High.

With staring eyes I see in a trance

A vision from Almighty God.

17 I look into the future,

And I see the nation of Israel.

A king, like a bright star, will arise in that nation.

Like a comet he will come from Israel.

He will strike the leaders of Moab

And beat down all the people of Seth.

18 He will conquer his enemies in Edom

And make their land his property,

While Israel continues victorious.

19 The nation of Israel will trample them down

And wipe out the last survivors.”

20 Then in his vision Balaam saw the Amalekites and uttered this prophecy:

“Amalek was the most powerful nation of all,

But at the end it will perish forever.”

21 In his vision he saw the Kenites, and uttered this prophecy:

“The place where you live is secure,

Safe as a nest set high on a cliff,

22 But you Kenites will be destroyed

When Assyria takes you captive.”

23 Balaam uttered this prophecy:

“Who are these people gathering in the north?

24 Invaders will sail from Cyprus;

They will conquer Assyria and Eber,

But they, in turn, will perish forever.”

25 Then Balaam got ready and went back home, and Balak went on his way.

Balaam Refuses to Curse Israel

22:1 The Israelites traveled on and camped in the plains of Moab on the side of the Jordan River across from Jericho. 2 Balak son of Zippor saw all that the Israelites had done to the Amorites. 3 And the Moabites were greatly afraid of the people, because they were so numerous. The Moabites were sick with fear because of the Israelites.

4 So the Moabites said to the elders of Midian, “Now this mass of people will lick up everything around us, as the bull devours the grass of the field. Now Balak son of Zippor was king of the Moabites at this time. 5 And he sent messengers to Balaam son of Beor at Pethor, which is by the Euphrates River in the land of Amaw, to summon him, saying, “Look, a nation has come out of Egypt. They cover the face of the earth, and they are settling next to me. 6 So now, please come and curse this nation for me, for they are too powerful for me. Perhaps I will prevail so that we may conquer them and drive them out of the land. For I know that whoever you bless is blessed, and whoever you curse is cursed.”

7 So the elders of Moab and the elders of Midian departed with the fee for divination in their hand. They came to Balaam and reported to him the words of Balak. 8 He replied to them, “Stay here tonight, and I will bring back to you whatever word the Lord may speak to me.” So the princes of Moab stayed with Balaam. 9 And God came to Balaam and said, “Who are these men with you?” 10 Balaam said to God, “Balak son of Zippor, king of Moab, has sent a message to me, saying, 11 “Look, a nation has come out of Egypt, and it covers the face of the earth. Come now and put a curse on them for me; perhaps I will be able to defeat them and drive them out.” 12 But God said to Balaam, “You must not go with them; you must not curse the people, for they are blessed.”

13 So Balaam got up in the morning, and said to the princes of Balak, “Go to your land, for the Lord has refused to permit me to go with you.” 14 So the princes of Moab departed and went back to Balak and said, “Balaam refused to come with us.”

Balaam Accompanies the Moabite Princes

15 Balak again sent princes, more numerous and more distinguished than the first. 16 And they came to Balaam and said to him, “Thus says Balak son of Zippor: ‘Please do not let anything hinder you from coming to me. 17 For I will honor you greatly, and whatever you tell me I will do. So come, put a curse on this nation for me.’”

18 Balaam replied to the servants of Balak, “Even if Balak would give me his palace full of silver and gold, I could not transgress the commandment of the Lord my God to do less or more. 19 Now therefore, please stay the night here also, that I may know what more the Lord might say to me.” 20 God came to Balaam that night, and said to him, “If the men have come to call you, get up and go with them; but the word that I will say to you, that you must do.” 21 So Balaam got up in the morning, saddled his donkey, and went with the princes of Moab.

God Opposes Balaam

22 Then God’s anger was kindled because he went, and the angel of the Lord stood in the road to oppose him. Now he was riding on his donkey and his two servants were with him. 23 And the donkey saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road with his sword drawn in his hand, so the donkey turned aside from the road and went into the field. But Balaam beat the donkey, to make her turn back to the road.

24 Then the angel of the Lord stood in a path among the vineyards, where there was a wall on either side. 25 And when the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, she pressed herself into the wall, and crushed Balaam’s foot against the wall. So he beat her again.

26 Then the angel of the Lord went farther, and stood in a narrow place, where there was no way to turn either to the right or to the left. 27 When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, she crouched down under Balaam. Then Balaam was angry, and he beat his donkey with a staff.

28 Then the Lord opened the mouth of the donkey, and she said to Balaam, “What have I done to you that you have beaten me these three times?” 29 And Balaam said to the donkey, “You have made me look stupid; I wish there were a sword in my hand, for I would kill you right now.” 30 The donkey said to Balaam, “Am not I your donkey that you have ridden ever since I was yours until this day? Have I ever attempted to treat you this way?” And he said, “No.” 31 Then the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the way with his sword drawn in his hand; so he bowed his head and threw himself down with his face to the ground. 32 The angel of the Lord said to him, “Why have you beaten your donkey these three times? Look, I came out to oppose you because what you are doing is perverse before me. 33 The donkey saw me and turned from me these three times. If she had not turned from me, I would have killed you but saved her alive.” 34 Balaam said to the angel of the Lord, “I have sinned, for I did not know that you stood against me in the road. So now, if it is evil in your sight, I will go back home.” 35 But the angel of the Lord said to Balaam, “Go with the men, but you may only speak the word that I will speak to you.” So Balaam went with the princes of Balak.

Balaam Meets Balak

36 When Balak heard that Balaam was coming, he went out to meet him at a city of Moab which was on the border of the Arnon at the boundary of his territory. 37 Balak said to Balaam, “Did I not send again and again to you to summon you? Why did you not come to me? Am I not able to honor you?” 38 Balaam said to Balak, “Look, I have come to you. Now, am I able to speak just anything? I must speak only the word that God puts in my mouth.” 39 So Balaam went with Balak, and they came to Kiriath-huzoth. 40 And Balak sacrificed bulls and sheep, and sent some to Balaam, and to the princes who were with him. 41 Then on the next morning Balak took Balaam, and brought him up to Bamoth Baal. From there he saw the extent of the nation.

Balaam Blesses Israel

23:1 Balaam said to Balak, “Build me seven altars here, and prepare for me here seven bulls and seven rams.” 2 So Balak did just as Balaam had said. Balak and Balaam then offered on each altar a bull and a ram. 3 Balaam said to Balak, “Station yourself by your burnt offering, and I will go off; perhaps the Lord will come to meet me, and whatever he reveals to me I will tell you.” Then he went to a deserted height.

4 Then God met Balaam, who said to him, “I have prepared seven altars, and I have offered on each altar a bull and a ram.” 5 Then the Lord put a message in Balaam’s mouth and said, “Return to Balak, and speak what I tell you.”

6 So he returned to him, and he was still standing by his burnt offering, he and all the princes of Moab. 7 Then Balaam uttered his oracle, saying,

“Balak, the king of Moab, brought me from Aram,

out of the mountains of the east, saying,

‘Come, pronounce a curse on Jacob for me;

come, denounce Israel.’

8 How can I curse one whom God has not cursed,

or how can I denounce one whom the Lord has not denounced?

9 For from the top of the rocks I see them;

from the hills I watch them.

Indeed, a nation that lives alone,

and it will not be reckoned among the nations.

10 Who can count the dust of Jacob,

Or number the fourth part of Israel?

Let me die the death of the upright,

and let the end of my life be like theirs.”

Balaam Relocates

11 Then Balak said to Balaam, “What have you done to me? I brought you to curse my enemies, but on the contrary you have only blessed them!” 12 Balaam replied, “Must I not be careful to speak what the Lord has put in my mouth?” 13 Balak said to him, “Please come with me to another place from which you can observe them. You will see only a part of them, but you will not see all of them. Curse them for me from there.”

14 So Balak brought Balaam to the field of Zophim, to the top of Pisgah, where he built seven altars and offered a bull and a ram on each altar. 15 And Balaam said to Balak, “Station yourself here by your burnt offering, while I meet the Lord there. 16 Then the Lord met Balaam and put a message in his mouth and said, “Return to Balak, and speak what I tell you.” 17 When Balaam came to him, he was still standing by his burnt offering, along with the princes of Moab. And Balak said to him, “What has the Lord spoken?”

Balaam Prophesies Again

18 Balaam uttered his oracle, and said,

“Rise up, Balak, and hear;

Listen to me, son of Zippor:

19 God is not a man, that he should lie,

nor a human being, that he should change his mind.

Has he said, and will he not do it?

Or has he spoken, and will he not make it happen?

20 Indeed, I have received a command to bless;

he has blessed, and I cannot reverse it.

21 He has not looked on iniquity in Jacob,

nor has he seen trouble in Israel.

The Lord their God is with them;

his acclamation as king is among them.

22 God brought them out of Egypt.

They have, as it were, the strength of a wild bull.

23 For there is no spell against Jacob,

nor is there any divination against Israel.

At this time it must be said of Jacob

and of Israel, ‘Look at what God has done!’

24 Indeed, the people will rise up like a lioness,

and like a lion raises himself up;

they will not lie down until they eat their prey,

and drink the blood of the slain.”

Balaam Relocates Yet Again

25 Balak said to Balaam, “Neither curse them at all nor bless them at all!” 26 But Balaam replied to Balak, “Did I not tell you, ‘All that the Lord speaks, I must do’?”

27 Balak said to Balaam, “Come, please; I will take you to another place. Perhaps it will please God to let you curse them for me from there.” 28 So Balak took Balaam to the top of Peor, that looks toward the wilderness. 29 Then Balaam said to Balak, “Build seven altars here for me, and prepare seven bulls and seven rams.” 30 So Balak did as Balaam had said, and offered a bull and a ram on each altar.

Balaam Prophesies Yet Again

24:1 When Balaam saw that it pleased the Lord to bless Israel, he did not go as at the other times to seek for omens, but he set his face toward the wilderness. 2 When Balaam lifted up his eyes, he saw Israel camped tribe by tribe; and the Spirit of God came upon him. 3 Then he uttered this oracle:

“The oracle of Balaam son of Beor;

the oracle of the man whose eyes are open;

4 the oracle of the one who hears the words of God,

who sees a vision from the Almighty,

although falling flat on the ground with eyes open:

5 ‘How beautiful are your tents, O Jacob,

and your dwelling places, O Israel!

6 They are like valleys stretched forth,

like gardens by the river’s side,

like aloes that the Lord has planted,

and like cedar trees beside the waters.

7 He will pour the water out of his buckets,

and their descendants will be like abundant water;

their king will be greater than Agag,

and their kingdom will be exalted.

8 God brought them out of Egypt.

They have, as it were, the strength of a young bull;

they will devour hostile people

and will break their bones

and will pierce them through with arrows.

9 They crouch and lie down like a lion,

and as a lioness, who can stir him?

Blessed is the one who blesses you,

and cursed is the one who curses you!’”

10 Then Balak became very angry at Balaam, and he struck his hands together. Balak said to Balaam, “I called you to curse my enemies, and look, you have done nothing but bless them these three times! 11 So now, go back where you came from! I said that I would greatly honor you; but now the Lord has stood in the way of your honor.”

12 Balaam said to Balak, “Did I not also tell your messengers whom you sent to me, 13 ‘If Balak would give me his palace full of silver and gold, I cannot go beyond the commandment of the Lord to do either good or evil of my own will, but whatever the Lord tells me I must speak’? 14 And now, I am about to go back to my own people. Come now, and I will advise you as to what this people will do to your people in the future.”

Balaam Prophesies a Fourth Time

15 Then he uttered this oracle:

“The oracle of Balaam son of Beor;

the oracle of the man whose eyes are open;

16 the oracle of the one who hears the words of God,

and who knows the knowledge of the Most High,

who sees a vision from the Almighty,

although falling flat on the ground with eyes open:

17 ‘I see him, but not now;

I behold him, but not close at hand.

A star will march forth out of Jacob,

and a scepter will rise out of Israel.

He will crush the skulls of Moab,

and the heads of all the sons of Sheth.

18 Edom will be a possession,

Seir, his enemies, will also be a possession;

but Israel will act valiantly.

19 A ruler will be established from Jacob;

he will destroy the remains of the city.’”

Balaam’s Final Prophecies

20 Then Balaam looked on Amalek and delivered this oracle:

“Amalek was the first of the nations,

but his end will be that he will perish.”

21 Then he looked on the Kenites and uttered this oracle:

“Your dwelling place seems strong,

and your nest is set on a rocky cliff.

22 Nevertheless the Kenite will be consumed.

How long will Asshur take you away captive?”

23 Then he uttered this oracle:

“O, who will survive when God does this!

24 Ships will come from the coast of Kittim,

and will afflict Asshur, and will afflict Eber,

and he will also perish forever.”

25 Balaam got up and departed and returned to his home, and Balak also went his way.

The Creation
Adam and Eve
Cain and Abel
The Great Flood
The Tower of Babel
God Calls Abraham
Sodom and Gomorrah
Abraham's Obedience
Isaac Marries Rebekah
Esau's Birthright
Isaac Blesses Jacob
Jacob and Laban
Jacob Wrestles
Revenge against Shechem
Joseph in Prison
Joseph as a Ruler
Family Reunion
Moses' Birth
The Burning Bush
The Ten Plagues
The Exodus
The Red Sea
The Gold Calf
Exploring the Land
Rebellion in the Ranks
Balak and Balaam
Rahab and the Spies
Jericho Falls
Gibeon's Con Artists
Deborah and Barak
Gideon as Judge
Abimelech's Ambition
Samson as Judge
Ruth, Naomi and Boaz
Samuel is Born
Samuel the Prophet
Saul Becomes King
Jonathan's Bravery
Saul's Disobedience
David Kills Goliath
David and Jonathan
Nabal and Abigail
Saul's Death
David's Success
David and Bathsheba
Amnon and Tamar
Absalom
Solomon's Wisdom
Jeroboam and Rehoboam
Elijah's Challenge
God Speaks to Elijah
Micaiah the Prophet
Chariot of Fire
Elisha Heals Naaman
Famine and Unbelief
Joash and Jehoiada
Hezekiah Trusts God
Josiah's Reign
Fall of Jerusalem
David's Power
David's Census
Jehoshaphat and Ahab
Ezra Rebuilds the Altar
Nehemiah Builds the Wall
Enemy Opposition
Nehemiah's Justice
Esther Saves the Jews
Job is Tested
Ezekiel's Vision
The Fiery Furnace
The Lions' Den
Jonah
Jesus is Born
Wise Men and King Herod
Jesus is Tempted
Jesus Feeds 5,000
The Bread of Life
Jesus Walks on Water
The Good Samaritan
The Lost Son
Jesus Raises Lazarus
Jesus and Zacchaeus
The Triumphal Entry
The Last Supper
Jesus' Trial
Jesus' Crucifixion
Jesus' Resurrection
Jesus' Ascension
The Holy Spirit Comes
The Apostles' Courage
Ananias and Sapphira
Philip and the Eunuch
Saul Encounters Jesus
Peter and Cornelius
Paul in Corinth
Paul in Ephesus
Paul Goes to Rome