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Micah 6:5

Micah 6:5

O my people, remember now what Balak king of Moab consulted,
&c.] What a scheme he had laid; what contrivances he had formed; what consultations he had with a soothsayer or diviner he sent for to curse Israel; how he sought to get the God of Israel on his side, and to set him against them, that he might be rid of them, and they be ruined and destroyed. The Moabites were the descendants of Moab, a son of Lot, by one of his daughters; when they first set up their kingdom is not certain; nor who their kings in succession were before Balak: it appears there was a former king, whom the king of the Amorites fought with, and took away his land from him, ( Numbers 21:26 ) ; who probably was Zippor, the father of Balak, and whom he succeeded; the kingdom being recovered by him, or by this his son; however, he was on the throne when Israel was upon the borders of his kingdom, which threw him into a panic; upon which he sent messengers to a neighbouring magician next mentioned, to advise with him what to do in this his extremity; and the Jews have a tradition, that, because of the multitude of sacrifices he offered, he was worthy to have Ruth, the descendant from him; who, they say, was the daughter of Eglon, the grandson of Balak, king of Moab {s}: and what Balaam the son of Beor answered him;
this man is called a soothsayer, ( Joshua 13:22 ) ; The Jews say he was first a prophet; and so the Apostle Peter calls him, ( 2 Peter 2:16 ) ; and afterwards became a diviner {t}: they differ very much about him, who he was, and from whom he descended. Beor his father is sometimes said to be the son of Laban {u}; and, at other times, Balaam himself is said to be Laban the Syrian {w}, whose soul they suppose transmigrated into Balaam, as it afterwards did into Nabal, according to them. Some F24 take him to be the same with Elihu, who interposed in the dispute between Job and his friends; and others say that he was one of the eunuchs, counsellors, and magicians of Pharaoh, both when Moses was a child, and when he wrought his miracles in Egypt; and that Jannes and Jambres, of whom the Apostle Paul makes mention, ( 2 Timothy 3:8 ) ; were his two sons F25: he was an inhabitant of Pethor, which was situated on the river Euphrates, thought by Junius to be the Pacoria of Ptolemy: he seems to have been a Mesopotamian, though some say a Midianite; but, whether one or the other, he did not live at any great distance from the king of Moab: he was slain by the sword the children of Israel, in the times of Joshua, ( Joshua 13:22 ) ; and, as the Jews say F26 he was, when he was but thirty three or thirty four years of age; they observing upon it, that bloody and deceitful men do not live out, half their days; but this does not seem so well to agree with other things they say of him; however, this soothsayer and sorcerer Balak sent for to curse Israel; whose heart and tongue, though a wicked man, and would fain have done according to Balak's wish and desire, were so overruled by the power of God, that instead of cursing Israel he was obliged to bless them, and to prophesy of their future happiness and prosperity, and of the Messiah, that should spring from them; see history of all this in ( Numbers 22:1-24:25 ) ; from Shittim unto Gilgal, that ye may know the righteousness of the
Lord;
here something must be supplied to make sense of the words; either, "remember what good things I did for you F1, from Shittim to Gilgal"; the former was the place where the children of Israel committed whoredom and idolatry, and was on the other side Jordan; and the latter was the place they came to when they had passed over Jordan, where the covenant of circumcision was renewed, and the first passover kept; now they are called upon to remember the goodness of God unto them from one place to another, and what were done between them; how that at Shittim, though they provoked the Lord to anger, yet he did not cut them all off, but spared a number of them, to enter and possess the land of Canaan; and though Moses died by the way, yet be raised up Joshua to go before them, and in a miraculous manner led them through the river Jordan, and brought them to Gilgal--favours ever to he had in remembrance. So the Targum,

``were not great things done for you in the plain of Shittim unto the house of Gilgal, that the righteousness of the Lord might be known?''
both his justice in punishing offenders at Shittim, and his bounty and kindness, as well as his truth and faithfulness, in sparing others; bestowing his favours on them, and bringing them into the promised land: or it may be supplied thus, as by some, "remember what Balak consulted F2 from Shittim to Gilgal"; that is, with Balaam, and what answer and advice he gave him; which was to send beautiful women among the Israelites, and so tempt them to adultery, and by that means to idolatry; and which scheme and consultation took place at Shittim, by means of which several thousands were slain; and the device was to have continued the temptation even to Gilgal, which, had it not been prevented, in all likelihood would have issued in the destruction of that people; and therefore they had reason to know, own, and acknowledge the goodness and faithfulness of God unto them: or rather, taking the phrase "from Shittim to Gilgal" to be a proverbial one F3, of going from place to place, it may have respect to Balak's having Balaam from place to place, to take a view of the people, and curse them; or how he might set the God of Israel against them, and gain him over to him; and then the sense is this,
``remember how Balak consulted Balaam from place to place, and what answers he returned him; all which was done, that "he (Balak) might know the righteousness of the Lord";''
and so the Syriac version renders it, and it will bear to be so rendered: the thing which Balak chiefly consulted was, how he should get the God of Israel on his side; as it was usual with Heathen princes, when at war, to attempt to get the gods of their enemies from them, and on their side; and inquires of Balaam how this was to be effected; what righteousness it was the Lord required; what duties of religion to be performed; what rites or sacrifices were acceptable to him; and the sum of his questions on this head, and Balaam's answer to them, are contained in the following verses.
FOOTNOTES:

F19 T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 105. 2.
F20 Ib. fol. 106. 1.
F21 Shalshelet Hakabala, fol. 7. 1.
F23 Targum Jon. in Numb. xxii. 5. Targum in 1 Chron. i. 44. Vid. Burkium ib.
F24 Hieron. Quaeat. Hebr. in Genesim, fol. 69. D.
F25 Dibre Hayamim Shel Moseh, fol. 4. 2. & 6. 2. Targum Jon. in Exod. ix. 21. Shemot Rabba, sect. 1. fol. 90. 1. T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 106.
F26 T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 106. 2. Shalshelet Hakabala, fol. 7. 2.
F1 "Recordare qualia bona exhibuerim tibi", Munster; "memento eorum quae gesta sunt", Vatablus; "quae contigerint tibi", Calvin; "memento eorum quae fecerim", Grotius; "recordare quid evenerit tibi", Piscator.
F2 "Memento quid cogifaverit contra te Balac, et quid responderit ei Balaam a Settim" Ribera; so Menochius, Tirinus.
F3 See Bishop Chandler's Defence of Christianity, p. 290.
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