And Moab said unto the elders of Midian
Whom the king of Moab sent for to consult with what to do in the present case, for the good and safety of both people; for, according to the Targum of Jonathan, they were one people and one kingdom unto this time, at least had been confederates, by what is said ( Genesis 36:35 ) though Jarchi thinks there was always a mutual hatred of each other, and that Midian now came against Moab to war, but for fear of Israel a peace was made between them, just as it was with Herod and Pontius Pilate in another case, ( Luke 23:12 ) , however, they were friends as well as neighbours now; and by which it appears, that this Midian was not that where Jethro lived, which was on the Red sea, near Mount Sinai, in Arabia Felix; this was near the river Arnon, and the Moabites in Arabia Petraea; and though both the one and the other descended from Midian, the son of Abraham by Keturah, yet they had spread themselves, or the one was a colony from the other, and might be distinguished into southern and northern Midianites; the latter were those near Moab; and these elders of Midian, addressed by the king of Moab, being now at his court, whether sent for or not, are the same with the five kings or princes of Midian, as they are called, ( Numbers 31:8 ) ( Joshua 13:21 ) as Aben Ezra observes:
now shall this company lick up all [that are] round about us;
consume us, and all our people, and all adjoining to us, and depending on us:
as the ox licketh up the grass of the field;
as easily, and as soon, and as completely and entirely; nor are we any more able to oppose them than the grass of the field is to resist and hinder the ox from devouring it:
and Balak the son of Zippor was king of the Moabites at that time;
according to the Targum of Jonathan, Midianites and Moabites reigned by turns so long a time; and that Balak was a Midianite, and so says Jarchi, and unfit for the kingdom, and was set over them through necessity for a time: but it seems rather that he was king in succession after his father Zippor; and the design of the expression is only to show, that he who was before mentioned, ( Numbers 22:2 ) was the then reigning prince when this affair happened.