And God's anger was kindled because he went
Though he had given him leave to go; but then it was upon condition that the princes called him to go with them, whereas he went without their call, and did not wait for it; and besides, he did not acquaint them, as he did not the messengers before, of what God had said, that he should not curse Israel, nor say anything contrary to this his will, which, had he told them, they would not have taken him with them; moreover, he went with an intention, with a good will to curse Israel, which must be displeasing to God, who knew his heart; so the Targum of Jonathan,
``and the anger of the Lord was strong, because he went to curse them;''likewise, though he had a permission to go, it was in an angry manner, and was not agreeable to the Lord he should go, and therefore should not have gone notwithstanding; or, at least, he might expect some marks of the divine displeasure; so Jarchi observes, he saw that the thing was evil in the eyes of the Lord, or displeasing to him, and yet he desired it; just as the people of Israel, when the Lord bid them go up and possess the land, which case Aben Ezra instances in; they desired persons might be sent before hand to spy out the land, which, though permitted, they smarted for it: for not whatsoever God permits is well pleasing to him; besides, the words may be rendered F8, "when he went", or, "as he was going"; and so not a reason of the Lord's anger, but expresses when it was kindled or broke forth:
and the angel of the Lord stood in the way for an adversary against
that this was not a created angel, one of the ministering spirits, but the eternal one, the angel of Jehovah's presence, appears from ( Numbers 22:35 ) that went before the people of Israel in the wilderness, not only to guide but to guard and protect them; and who was an adversary to their adversaries, and at all times stood up for their help and assistance against all those that hated and opposed them: Jarchi calls him an angel of mercy, who would have restrained Balaam from sinning, that he might not sin and perish, and so was rather a friend than an adversary, had he attended to him:
now he was riding upon his ass, and his two servants were with him;
who, the Targum of Jonathan says, were Jannes and Jambres, the magicians of Egypt, of whom see ( 2 Timothy 3:8 ) these only were with him, the princes of Midian on some account or another being separated from him.
F8 (Klwh yk) "quum iret", Noldius, p. 403.